Joseph Conrad's Enchanted Space
This thesis reads Joseph Conrad’s obscure narratives as a formal response to the spatial problems of his historical period. By situating Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Typhoon in the contexts of a disenchanted world, I argue that Conrad’s colonial novels register his protest against the rationalization of the era’s over-exploration of the earth, and the reification of space and human relationships. This thesis aims to solve the tension between Conrad’s artistic goal to “make you see” and the text’s obscurity that prevents the reader from seeing. I suggest that Conrad uses “re-enchanted space” to distance the readers from their “remote goals” in order redirect them to their immediate surroundings. Through the estrangement effect of his narrative, Conrad makes his readers rediscover the familiar.I began by identifying Conrad’s literary impressionism as an innovative narrative technique to re-mystify space. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses fragmented sight and incomprehensible sounds to preserve the authenticity of his European characters’ colonial experiences in Africa. The obscurity of sight and sounds make the African continent an impenetrable space for the readers. Creating the heterotopic Patusan in Southeast Asia in Lord Jim, Conrad uses real-and-imagined geography as an alternative method to re-mystify the world. Conrad’s portrayal of the heterogeneity and ungraspability of space manifests his protest against the reified space. Finally, I argue that in Typhoon, Conrad alters his readers’ conventional perception of space by evoking an intensive storm; in addition, he obscures the nautical world with a hollow-centered storm and de-centered narrative. In this work, Conrad estranges readers from their familiar surroundings by exploring the obscure space of exotic worlds.
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