ENGC80 - January 31.odt

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17 Apr 2012
January 31, 2012
Modernist Narrative - ENGC80
Heart of Darkness
Conrad is playing with our expectations of the story
Not naming the characters is part of the plan – part of the de-humanizing process
Different types of modernity going on – different responses to this colonialist empire
Heart of Darkness
The very idea of the heart itself is a myth – there is no center to this story
Could be talking about one side of the binary – of light and darkness of the heart
Is it fair to associate darkness & badness
Issue of race
The way people of colour are portrayed – humanized
Clashes with expectations – you'd expect it to be somewhat of a racist text
Comparison: Heart of Darkness (1903) & Country of the Pointed Firs
Idea of "otherness" – various voices
Joseph Conrad
Parents were Polish – they were living under Russian rule and because of this they were
under constant surveillance
While in exile, his parents both died of tuberculosis
He later lived with his uncle – taught him french, latin, etc
Was educated at a very young age
Had an interest in exploring – joined the Marine (15 year long career as a sailor)
He lived a very adventurous life – had too many debts – tried to kill himself but didnt
succeed – got kicked out
He actually travelled to the Congo
The Congo freestate was a Belgian colony
Europeans were not just exploiting Africa for profit but they were bringing to Africa
superior forms of civilization
Degradation, murder of millions of people – only an estimate (5-15 million people
killed over 20 year period)
King Leopold II of Belgium
Established personal monopoly over trade in Congo – he had this vision for Congo
He was sort of the leader/ CEO of this private army in Congo
Leopold was very aware of what he was doing – not sure if he thought he was doing
good by bringing civilization to the Congo
Leopold's aim was power and profit which was concealed by his language – violent
How does colonial rhetoric do harm?
What does language do in this novel?
Political rhetoric is used to confuse people
The word "granting" – you need his permission
We have a framed narration – two character narrators – homo diagetic narrators
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