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BOOK REVIEWS looking." In a similar assertion, Jones maintains that in his employment of romance devices, Conrad set out to investigate the "surviving hegemonic codes of vision, the framing of the subject, and the physical as well as psychological effects of perspective." These are most intriguing and attractive generalizations which, as a female reader, I am eager to embrace—but I cannot help wishing for more evidence. Such sweeping, insufficiently supported assertions are for me the most unsatisfying aspect of Jones's book. Each made me feel as if I had been offered a grand item on a restaurant menu, only to be brought a tidbit that might or might not contain the ingredients in the promised dish. This disparity between what the book promises and what it delivers in the way of literary criticism may be attributable to its brevity. It is possible that details and examples included in an earlier version succumbed, in the editing, to publishing constraints. In contrast, the book's historical investigation and textual scholarship are thorough and well documented . AU in all, Conrad and Women offers much to broaden our perspective on Conrad. The book goes a long way toward laying the ghost of the "achievement and decline" thesis by enabling readers to see the continuity of the Conrad canon. Most importantly, Jones's book helps to open Conrad's writing to the wider audience he himself sought. Carola M. Kaplan California State University, Pomona Unmanning Conrad Andrew Michael Roberts. Conrad and Masculinity. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000. xi + 250 pp. $42.50 GIVEN THE RAPID EXPANSION of interest in masculinity as an object of academic enquiry in the last decade, the publication of Michael Roberts's Conrad and Masculinity is timely. Eschewing any single theoretical perspective on masculinity, Roberts's study broadly accepts the notion of masculinity as a cultural construct, seeing modernist literary texts such as Conrad's as simultaneously reproducing and, through their self-reflexive nature, questioning patriarchal social structures. Conrad and Masculinity consists of four pairs of thematically linked chapters, examining in turn masculinity's relationship to imperialism, the body, epistemological notions of truth, and vision. Each chapter concentrates upon a single or a small group of texts, moving through Conrad 's oeuvre in an approximately chronological sequence from Almayer s 381 ELT 44 : 3 2001 Folly and An Outcast of the Islands in the first chapter to Victory in the last. In a variety of close readings informed by different theoretical perspectives , Roberts moves away from speculating on Conrad's precise personal sexual politics, preferring to see his texts as reflecting and reflecting upon contemporary crises concerning masculinity. A typical reading strategy would be the one Roberts produces for "Heart of Darkness ." Registering the complexity of Conrad's fiction, Roberts accepts feminist arguments that Conrad's wandering figures in search of truth are usually men, and women such as the Intended become objects, not subjects, of male epistemological quests. At the same time, Roberts argues , the literariness of "Heart of Darkness" allows the reader a "critical purchase" on doxological constructions of masculinity, in that it allows "temporary identification" with women, or with men in feminized positions . Roberts's study has two significant strengths. First, and perhaps the best element of the book, are the numerous close readings of Conrad's fiction, often ably supported by the precise application of narratological terminology. Thus three passages metaphorically relating the streets of London to the sea from Lord Jim, The Nigger of the "Narcissus" and "Karain" are deftly marshaled to show the haunting of modernity by nature in Conrad's representation of masculinity. In a later chapter, Roberts neatly pares back the diegetic levels of The Arrow of Gold, relating its status as a text originally written for a female narratee but then edited by a frame-narrator to failed attempts by Conrad to break loose from conventions of "gender exclusion." Second, as befits a former editor of the Conradian, Roberts shows a wide knowledge of contemporary Conrad criticism, and a consummate ability to summarize and differentiate critical positions. This second strength, however, is paradoxically symptomatic of the fundamental weakness in Conrad and Masculinity: it is, in effect, three incompatible projects in one study...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 381-385
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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