We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Hearts of Darkness

White Women Write Race

Jane Marcus

Publication Year: 2004

In this book, one of modernism's most insightful critics, Jane Marcus, examines the writings of novelists such as Virginia Woolf, Nancy Cunard, Mulk Raj Anand, and Djuna Barnes-artists whose work coincided with the end of empire and the rise of fascism before the Second World War. All these writers delved into the "dark hearts" of imperialism and totalitarianism, thus tackling some of the most complex cultural issues of the day. Marcus investigates previously unrecognized ways in which social and political tensions are embodied by their works.

The centerpiece of the book is Marcus's dialogue with one of her best-known essays, "Britannia Rules The Waves." In that piece, she argues that The Waves makes a strong anti-imperialist statement. Although many already support that argument, she now goes further in order to question the moral value of such a buried critique on Woolf's part. In "A Very Fine Negress" she analyzes the painful subject of Virginia Woolf's racism in A Room of One's Own. Other chapters traverse the connected issues of modernism, race, and imperialism. In two of them, we follow Nancy Cunard through the making of the Negro anthology and her appearance in a popular novel of the freewheeling Jazz Age. Elsewhere, Marcus delivers a complex analysis of A Passage to India, in a reading that interrogates E. M. Forster's displacement of his fear of white Englishwomen struggling for the vote.

Marcus, as always, brings considerable gifts as both researcher and writer to this collection of new and reprinted essays, a combination resulting in a powerful interpretation of many of modernism's most cherished figures.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.6 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (54.8 KB)
pp. ix-xi

First, my thanks to the editors who first published some of these essays or parts of them: Margaret Higonnet and Joan Templeton, Karen Lawrence, Mary Lynn Broe, Florence Howe, and Mae Henderson and the Harvard English Institute. Second, thanks to the many audiences in the...

read more

1. The Empire Is Written

pdf iconDownload PDF (116.5 KB)
pp. 1-23

Like it or not, the fall of empire and the rise of fascism are written into modernism. Treated separately by historians and literary critics, empire and fascism deserve to be looked at not only in terms of each other, as they doubtless were experienced, but also in terms of race...

read more

2. “A Very Fine Negress”

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.0 KB)
pp. 24-58

Measuring the degrees of irony that raise the temperature of the debate about gender and colonialism, modernism and primitivism, race and nation, in this passage or in its individual words, as they traverse a particular modernist metropolitan passage/flanerie, cannot relieve it...

read more

3. Britannia Rules The Waves

pdf iconDownload PDF (133.9 KB)
pp. 59-85

What has made it impossible for us to live in time like fish in water, like birds in air, like children? It is the fault of Empire! Empire has created the time of history. Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall, of beginning...

read more

4. Laughing at Leviticus: Nightwood as Woman’s Circus Epic

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.2 KB)
pp. 86-118

O monsters, do not leave me alone. . . . I do not confide in you except to tell you about my fear of being alone, you are the most human people I know, the most reassuring in the world. If I call you monsters, then what name can I give to the so-called normal conditions that were foisted upon me? Look there...

read more

5. Bonding and Bondage: Nancy Cunard and The Making of The Negro Anthology

pdf iconDownload PDF (142.5 KB)
pp. 119-149

If it is true that oppression belongs to the culture of the oppressors, then it is also true that cultural historians need to remember that they are the ones who name and catalog histories. Blaming the victim has too often been the result of attributing oppression to those who were...

read more

6. Laying Down the White Woman’s Burden: Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat and Mulk Raj Anand’s Coolie

pdf iconDownload PDF (139.2 KB)
pp. 150-178

Iris Storm (the Nancy Cunard figure in The Green Hat) is “unreproductive,” to use Angela Ingram’s term; her sexuality is not related to motherhood, nor her behavior to traditional maternal self-sacrifice. She is agent (and sign) of the end of European civilization. Primitivism, the...

read more

Coda: How to Recognize a Public Intellectual

pdf iconDownload PDF (46.3 KB)
pp. 179-182

When I say that in about April 1934, human character changed, I am revising Virginia Woolf ’s declaration of a revolution in (bourgeois European) seeing, engendered by the 1910 Cézanne show in London. Nancy Cunard’s huge collaborative book, Negro,—an anthology of writing...


pdf iconDownload PDF (107.9 KB)
pp. 183-199


pdf iconDownload PDF (94.3 KB)
pp. 201-219

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (37.2 KB)
pp. 221

E-ISBN-13: 9780813542515
E-ISBN-10: 0813542510
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813529622

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2004