Abstract

Twentieth-century writers continually claimed that the "nightmare" of contemporary violence was inexpressible. In the past, communal beliefs had justified or condemned the most horrific acts, but the late nineteenth-century crisis of belief made any consensus about the meaning of violence unattainable. This situation produced an aesthetic dilemma because representation always conveys beliefs. Heart of Darkness offered a solution to this dilemma. Standing at the confluence of nineteenth-century realism and turn-of-thecentury symbolism, Joseph Conrad represented the "nightmare" of colonialism by attaching symbolic meanings to realistic accounts of a historically recognizable world. Although this solution has become the target of ethical and political protests, notably those of Chinua Achebe and Fredric Jameson, the multiple meanings of symbolism reflect the competing beliefs of a secular culture. Embedding historical events in multiple narrative patterns, symbolism preserves the structure of meaning without imposing any single meaning.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 98-109
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-05
Open Access
N
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.