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Title:Joseph Conrad's Confrontation With Racism
Author(s):Drummond, Doreatha
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:In his ability to discard popular myths of superiority and inferiority, Joseph Conrad revealed his maturing consciousness in regard to people of color. One can chart his growing consciousness by analyzing his literary works since much of what he wrote is to some extent autobiographical and since the process of writing itself helped him to work out his own feelings about his observations and experiences. The extent and rapidity of Conrad's growth is quite evident if one juxtaposes The Nigger of the "Narcissus," written in 1896, and "Amy Foster" (1903) or The Shadow-Line, completed in 1917. His early writings reflect his acceptance and use of common literary stereotypes of the color black, and through a process of color transformation, the people most associated with that color--those descendants of the African race.
Basically, there are three stages that the critic can chart in reference to Conrad's confrontation with accepted moral assumptions regarding people of color. The first stage is observed in writings such as The Nigger of the "Narcissus" and "An Outpost of Progress." Early racial attitudes reflected in these works are explored in the second chapter of this study, called "Myth-Making: Conrad's Early Racial Attitudes." The second stage marks a transitional development in Conradian fiction and, for this reason, chapter three is entitled "The Transition Stage: Conrad's Reevaluation of Racial Attitudes." Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim are works written during this stage.
Joseph Conrad's most mature understanding of racial differences is reflected in chapter four and marks the third and final stage of his developing consciousness in regard to racial biases. Thus, chapter four is named "Myth-Breaking: Conrad's Rejection of the Concepts of Superiority and Inferiority." This chapter explores three works--"Amy Foster," "The Secret Sharer" and The Shadow-Line--in an attempt to prove that by 1903 Conrad had worked free of most of his racial biases. The final chapter, "An Explanation for Conrad's Developing Consciousness," concentrates on those events, activities and associations in the author's life which sparked him to confront his own acceptance of racial myths.
Issue Date:1986
Description:157 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8701476
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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