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Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography

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Overview

Edward W. Said locates Joseph Conrad's fear of personal disintegration in his constant re-narration of the past. Using the author's personal letters as a guide to understanding his fiction, Said draws an important parallel between Conrad's view of his own life and the manner and form of his stories. The critic also argues that the author, who set his fiction in exotic locations like East Asia and Africa, projects political dimensions in his work that mirror a colonialist preoccupation with "civilizing" native peoples. Said then suggests that this dimension should be considered when reading all of Western literature. First published in 1966, Said's critique of the Western self's struggle with modernity signaled the beginnings of his groundbreaking work, Orientalism, and remains a cornerstone of postcolonial studies today.

Columbia University Press

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What People Are Saying

Tony Tanner

Critical monographs generally have a brief life. But once in a while a book appears that establishes itself as a lasting presence. Edward W. Said's Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography is such a preeminent exception. When it was published in 1966, Said's work was recognized as a significant event in Conrad studies. Rejecting the 'purism' of the then-dominant New Criticism, Said opted for a richer, more holistic way of reading Conrad, relating his correspondence to his short fiction to investigate the way in which the novelist 'ordered the chaos of his existence into a highly patterned art.' Said's Conrad joined the handful of monographs still regularly cited by Conradian scholars. The book also represented a major step on the intellectual path of a writer whose reflections influenced the landscape of late twentieth-century thought. Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography is a must for anyone seriously interested in Modernist writing, in Conrad—the first global novelist—and in Edward W. Said.

— The Spectator

Tony Tanner, The Spectator

Critical monographs generally have a brief life. But once in a while a book appears that establishes itself as a lasting presence. Edward W. Said's Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography is such a preeminent exception. When it was published in 1966, Said's work was recognized as a significant event in Conrad studies. Rejecting the 'purism' of the then-dominant New Criticism, Said opted for a richer, more holistic way of reading Conrad, relating his correspondence to his short fiction to investigate the way in which the novelist 'ordered the chaos of his existence into a highly patterned art.' Said's Conrad joined the handful of monographs still regularly cited by Conradian scholars. The book also represented a major step on the intellectual path of a writer whose reflections influenced the landscape of late twentieth-century thought. Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography is a must for anyone seriously interested in Modernist writing, in Conrad—the first global novelist—and in Edward W. Said.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231140058
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 789,904
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward W. Said (1935-2003) was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was the music critic for the Nation and is the author of numerous books, including Music at the Limits, Musical Elaborations, Beginnings: Intention and Method, and Humanism and Democratic Criticism.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Andrew N. RubinPrefaceList of AbbreviationsPart One: Conrad's LettersI. The Claims of IndividualityII. Character and the Knitting Machine, 1896-1912III. The Claims of Fiction, 1896-1912IV. Worlds at War, 1912-1918V. The New Order, 1918-1924Part Two: Conrad's Shorter FictionVI. The Past and the PresentVII. The Craft of the PresentVIII. Truth, Idea, and ImageIX. The Shadow LineChronology, 1889-1924Letter to R. B. Cunninghame Graham, February 8, 1899Selected BibliographyNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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