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Lecture

English 1022E Lecture Notes - Surrealism, Selective Breeding, The English Constitution


Department
English
Course Code
English 1022E
Professor
David Bentley

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Heart of Darkness
1. Symbolists - suggestiveness, reflexivity, epater le bourgeouis
2. Blackwood’s Magazine
3. Subject position
“scramble for Africa” - Leopold II
“...thousands have made the greatest impression by appealing to some vague dream of
glory, or empire, or nationality. The ruder sort of men -- that is, men at ONE stage of
rudeness -- will sacrifice all they hope for, all they have, THEMSELVES, for what is
called an idea -- for some attraction which seems to transcend reality, which aspired to
elevate men by an interest higher, deeper, wider than that of ordinary life.”
-“The English Constitution”
-p.2347: language is problematic because if someone says they’ve seen a tree you don’t know
exactly what kind if it isn’t described; different for everyone
-Surrealist obsession with dreams. Freud dreams.
-When you’re telling a story, you have to assert that you’re a truthful person, or we can’t believe
you. Marlow asserts that he isn’t a liar, but says that it isn’t possible to convey exactly what you
mean.
-Prior to telephone, a disembodied voice was impossible.
-epater de bourgeois - irritate middle class
-Victorians wanted a happy ending in books, and clarity. They didn’t want to be left
baffled.
-Blackwood’s Magazine - middle class debated issues of the day; Conrad publishes
Heart of Darkness, this inconclusive novel to this magazine. What was he trying to get
across?
-Idea of Imperialism
-Conrad wants to address this to the lawyers, accountants that read the magazine.
-Imperialism was at its’ height here.
-An economic imperative underlies imperialism.
-By the end of the Victorian era there was a sense that imperialism was enlightening
people, bringing civilization to them.
-Imperialists were able to:
-educate, elevate, ephevate (?)
-Idea that European Civilizations were the best. Assumption that all other cultures were
inferior and in need of elevation.
-“White Mans Burden” is a classic statement of British Imperialism. Kipling. Published the
same year as Heart of Darkness.
-Year of eugenics. Selective breeding was thought about as good.
-We all bring different perspectives on what you read based on your gender, experiences, etc.
-p.2330 - moving to Bentley because of his experiences.
-fire brings light, but it is also destructive.
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