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Empire and Pilgrimage in Conrad and Joyce

Agata Szczeszak-Brewer

Publication Year: 2010

Though they were born a generation apart, Joseph Conrad and James Joyce shared similar life experiences and similar literary preoccupations. Both left their home countries at a relatively young age and remained lifelong expatriates.

Empire and Pilgrimage in Conrad and Joyce offers a fresh look at these two modernist writers, revealing how their rejection of organized religion and the colonial presence in their native countries allowed them to destabilize traditional notions of power, colonialism, and individual freedom in their texts. Throughout, Agata Szczeszak-Brewer ably demonstrates the ways in which these authors grapple with the same issues--the grand narrative, paralysis, hegemonic practices, the individual's pilgrimage toward unencumbered self-definition--within the rigid bounds of imperial ideologies and myths. The result is an engaging and enlightening investigation of the writings of Conrad and Joyce and of the larger literary movement to which they belonged.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x

Conrad and Joyce: I like to think of them as Corley and Lenehan in “Two Mandarins,” an imaginary short story from a lost collection called Modernists (which also features D. H. Lawrence as Bob Doran, W. B. Yeats as Little Chandler, and T. S. Eliot as Gabriel Conroy). In that story, the two unlikely companions wander through the turn-of-the-century universe, maddeningly unclear in their discourse ...

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pp. xi-xii

I am deeply indebted to Thomas Jackson Rice, my mentor and friend, for invaluable insight, motivation, and an example of exceptional scholarship. Sebastian Knowles gave me useful suggestions and asked challenging questions, as did Georgia Johnston and the anonymous reviewer of the manuscript. ...

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Introduction: Cartographers and Pilgrims

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pp. 1-14

Colonial conquest has always relied on territorial representations—map-making and charting of new itineraries—but also on skillful interpretation of gathered data. In order to claim, appropriate, and exploit new land, European powers sent out explorers, land surveyors, and other “readers” of foreign landscapes who had to tame the real into the symbolic, the ...

Part I: Cosmogony

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1 Cosmogony and Colonialism: Charting Non-Places

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pp. 17-27

Maps, color-coded or not, simplify reality, impose an established symbolic order, and reduce historical and cultural significance to abstract spatial markers. European colonial powers found this taming of fragmented land acquisitions into a coherent picture helpful in expanding and maintaining their control. ...

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2 False Gods of Imperialism in Conrad

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pp. 28-52

Imperialist propaganda in politics, media, arts, and hence in the European collective unconscious was extremely effective in conveniently embedding racist and ethnocentric views in the public discourse mainly because it successfully induced fear of the other and, at the same time, evoked a sense of moral and intellectual superiority and entitlement in European society. ...

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3 “A free lay church in a free lay state”: From the Cosmogonic Discourse to Sacred Secularism in Joyce’s Imagined Community

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pp. 53-83

In “Ireland: Island of Saints and Sages,” Joyce tells us that “what England did in Ireland over the centuries is no different from what the Belgians are doing today in the Congo Free State” (119). Although there are marked parallels between the colonial status of the Irish and the native tribes in parts of Africa, as I pinpoint in my earlier discussion, the colonized Irish and the colonized African ...

Part II: Pilgrimage

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4 Tenuous Itineraries

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pp. 87-97

Modernism and exile. To pronounce these two words in one breath is to acknowledge the importance of displacement and fragmentation in literary and cultural production of the first half of the twentieth century. Is movement possible within and across the rigid boundaries constructed by hegemonic establishments? Are modernist characters and narrators ...

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5 “Circles, circles, circles”: Conrad’s Pilgrimage

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pp. 98-117

Conrad’s long essay “Geography and Some Explorers,” which was first published as “The Romance of Travel,” describes the author’s passage through the Torres Straits in 1888 and provides an account of the changing nature of sailors’ pilgrimages through explored and unknown territories.1 In some ways, Conrad’s portrayal of the long-forgotten world of ...

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6 Teleology without a Telos?: Constitutive Absence in Joyce’s Pilgrimage

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pp. 118-148

Among numerous commentators about the plight of the displaced self and the Sisyphean quest for meaning is James Joyce, a voluntary exile himself, a wanderer, seeker, a pilgrim of sorts, albeit one who has rejected formalized religion. His Leopold Bloom—an Irishman, a Jew, and a cuckold, a “homeless” and alienated character—attempts to escape the double ...

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pp. 149-167

Czesław Miłosz once remarked that an “immigrant will often, for motives of self-defence, cut himself off completely from his land of origin or show toward it a friendly condescension, thereby contrasting his own success to the miseries of those left behind in the old country” (42). Instead of pity and nostalgia, Joseph Conrad and James Joyce expressed mostly ...


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pp. 169-178


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pp. 179-186


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pp. 187-201

E-ISBN-13: 9780813036625
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813035390
Print-ISBN-10: 0813035392

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 712996538
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Empire and Pilgrimage in Conrad and Joyce

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Subject Headings

  • Joyce, James, -- 1882-1941 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Conrad, Joseph, -- 1857-1924 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Literature, Modern ‡x History and criticism.
  • Pilgrims and pilgrimages in literature.
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