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The Grammar of IdentityTransnational Fiction and the Nature of the Boundary$
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Stephen Clingman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278497

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278497.001.0001

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Waterways of the Earth

Waterways of the Earth

Joseph Conrad

Chapter:
(p.34) 1 Waterways of the Earth
Source:
The Grammar of Identity
Author(s):

Stephen Clingman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278497.003.0002

Perhaps the reason Conrad's Heart of Darkness remains provocative for us is because we are still contained within its horizon. The chapter unlocks this question by considering Conrad in relation to issues of nationalism and the transnational, particularly in terms of his Polish upbringing and his decision to go to sea. It also considers him in relation to problems of narration, especially his need of a figure such as Marlow (‘no ordinary seaman’), in the light of Conrad's own massively troubling visit to the Congo. Other major Conrad texts are explored — Lord Jim, Nostromo — before the discussion returns to Heart of Darkness to consider its relation to Empire: a world without end or horizon, where the waterways of the earth both connect and divide. Conrad, who made the link between navigation and fiction emblematic, remains a haunting yet prescient figure for us today.

Keywords:   Conrad, Empire, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Marlow, nationalism, narration, navigation, Nostromo, transnational fiction

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