How Joseph Conrad Shows Us the Creation of The West
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Joseph Conrad's fiction plays witness to the struggle of a new political formation: The West. Culture.pl presents an academic paper by Josiane Paccaud-Huguet which analyses how two of Conrad's works register these changes.
The Idea of Europe in 'Karain' and Lord Jim
Josiane Paccaud-Huguet, Université Lumière-Lyon 2
In The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double Mapping of Europe and Empire, Christopher GoGwilt explores how Conrad's work registers the emergence of a technological, economic, political force, the West, in response to the crisis of modernity. Curiously enough, GoGwilt notes, this new entity eludes representation on the map and seems 'to actively disavow the marks of race, nation, class, and gender on which it is constructed' (105). 'Disavow' is not an accidental word here since this mode of discourse which consists in simultaneously asserting and denying a reality, is at the very basis of fiction, more particularly of what Freud has called the 'family romance': the ego invents a pleasant image of the self in order to patch up the wounds and contradictions of experience. For example, Jim's Patusan offers itself as the projection screen for an assertion which would read like 'I know that I am not a Lord, but all the same'... Or, on a collective level: 'We know that Western culture is founded on class, gender and racial differences, but let's tell ourselves a story in which it is not'...
The view I would like to promote here is that Conrad's West as a transitory idea toward a possibly new idea of Europe is more complex than a simple compensation formation making up for the incoherence of Europe's cultural identity' (GoGwilt 1). If the plot and imagery of his novels do record the emergence of the West, they also register the cost to be paid: the worldwide shattering of cultural traditions which took place at the turn of the 20th-century, the dismantling of symbolic codes both East and West, under the pressure of scientific discourse progressing arm in arm with economic imperatives.
The rise of this uneasy global perspective is clearly stated by the dramatised narrator-gunrunner in 'Karain': 'We tried to enlighten him but our attempts to make clear the irresistible nature of the forces which he desired to arrest failed to discourage his eagerness to strike a blow for his own primitive ideas' (TU 52). The constant effort of the modern writer will be less to enlighten than to find a style able to communicate – or perhaps more appropriately to transfer – the affect generated by these forces, for a public of readers situated, in Joseph Conrad's own words, 'beyond the stage of fairy tales, realistic, romantic or even epic' ('John Galsworthy' 73).
The old order had to die
When dealing with the French Revolution, Conrad speaks of the fate of ideas once they have lost the status of ideal, i.e; virtual values: '... the idea was elevated: but it is the bitter fate of any idea to lose its royal form and power, to lose its 'virtue' the moment it descends from its solitary throne to work its will among the people '... ('Autocracy and War' NLL 73).
The 'degradation of the ideas of freedom and justice' went on with Napoleon in whom Conrad sees a vulture preying upon the body politic of Europe (NLL 73), which actually was already quite weak at the end of the18th-century: the 'lurid blaze' of the French Revolution only exposed its 'insufficiency ... the inferiority of minds, of military and administrative systems' (NLL 73).
Looking back from the standpoint of the 21st-century, it actually seems that it has been the fate of the idea of Europe to be systematically reshaped by political bombs: the French revolution, the break up of Tsarist Russia, the splitting apart of the Hapsburg House, the fall of the Soviet empire. In other words, Europe is a protean idea which tries to respond to the highly symbolic question of borderlines which itself inevitably arouses political appetites and fears as the history of Poland amply shows – and more crucially in the Ukraine situated on the marches of Empire and whose name contains kraina, the land. It may not be accidental if the name Karain is an anagram of kraina, especially in a story subtitled 'a memory'.
For Conrad the degradation of the idea (l) was clearly the result of the collusion of material interests with science and warfare: 'War has 'harnessed science to its gun carriages ... enriched a few respectable manufacturers' ' (NLL 90) and 'Il n'y a plus d'Europe- there is only an armed and trading continent, the home of slowly maturing economical contests for life and death and of loudly proclaimed worldwide ambitions' (NLL 92).
This armed and trading continent is the West and it may not be irrelevant here to recall the unconscious associations of the word occident, more ancient than the imagining of a supranational identity: occidere means both to fall and to kill, as if the two were inextricably bound up in the 'epic' drive to conquer, to own and to know.
Be that as it may, the new idea of Europe for Conrad will have to be built 'on less perishable foundations than those of material interests', it will be 'a concord of Europe': the Concord of this Discord, a true symbolic fiction aiming toward a network of institutions: 'the solidarity of Europeanism... must be the next step towards the advent of Concord and Justice' (NLL 8). Solidarity and justice are two overdetermined words which any Conradian will relate to the declaration of artistic independence in the preface to The Nigger of 'The Narcissus'. For Conrad the artist the construction of the West will less be a matter of disavowal than of poetic justice being rendered to the modern affect whose name is fear: in words which are strikingly close to the preface, the white narrator of 'Karain' evokes the eponymous character's power 'to awaken in the beholders wonder, pain, pity, and a fearful near sense of things invisible, of things dark and mute, that surround the loneliness of mankind' (TU 58). In this respect Karain is clearly Jim's – and Kurtz's – prototype.
Slavoj Zizek has signalled the emergence in Conrad's fiction of the figure of the Father of Enjoyment.
The obscene, uncanny, shadowy double of the Name of the Father...a kind of 'master of enjoyment', a paternal figure which comes closest to the impossible representation of what Kant called 'radical evil', evilness qua ethical attitude, qua pure spirituality. This father is distinguished by a series of features: he is all powerful and cruel to the utmost, an absolute Master for whom there are no limits; yet, simultaneously, he possesses an insight into the very kernel of our (subject's) being, our desire has no secret for him, he knows we are here to kill him and is resigned to it… a knowledge of enjoyment, i.e., the knowledge which is by definition excluded from the Law in its universal-neutral guise: it pertains to the very status of the Law that it is 'blind' to this knowledge. (158-59)
One thinks of Verloc in The Secret Agent, of the old captain wishing death to the whole crew in The Shadow-Line, and of course of Gentleman Brown. The apparition of such a figure is surely connected to the symptomatic fact that Lord Jim refuses to connect the title Lord with an English patronymic: the Name of the Father remains unpronounceable in this novel.
In Lord Jim, 'who once gives way to temptation, in the very instant hazards his total depravity and everlasting ruin' (203) and the least that can be said is that the father's curse comes true: '... the work of his own hands had fallen in ruin upon his head'( 246). A curse indeed hangs on Jim's head throughout, whether it comes from the Little England of his father's parsonage which leaves no chance to him who has betrayed once, or from the other father figure framing his pitiful epic: Stein, whose extended hand and piercing eyes aimed at Marlow's breast (LJ 129) clearly anticipate the ferocious glitter in the eyes of Doramin shooting through Jim's chest.
The German trader turned entomologist, the 'specialist' in abstract philosophy and matters of the romantic imagination, offers the ambivalent 'cure' which Marlow wants for his protégé. And the 'impalpable poesy' of the spectral scene at his commercial House (129) suggests that beyond the romantic aura, also lies a figure of Welt-Politik which 'picks up coins behind the severe and disdainful figure of science whose giant strides have widened for us the horizon of the universe by some few inches' (NLL 88).
Which leads us to one of the fundamental questions raised by Lord Jim: what is the difference between an idea (l) and commercial industrialism? An idea (l) is the abstract object of desire whose possession/enjoyment is rendered inaccessible by some symbolic network. The classic example is courtly love – a socially symbolic code born from a literary genre – which erects a barrier of restraint between the lover and the inaccessible lady-thing.
In short, the ideal generates a code to 'protect' the unattainable thing. If we translate this in terms of modern theory, and of subject/object relations mediated by language, the Name of the Father is the symbolic structure which places a bar on enjoyment (desire for or from a mother figure) and throws the subject into the mesh of human intercourse.
This structural pattern can easily be transposed into the field of political fathers and economic mothers, which inextricably links up psychoanalysis to politics. It is quite striking that the words used by Prince Adam Czartoryski, recorded in Najder's essay on the idea of Europe, exactly fit in this paradigm: 'If we wish to progress, we must have an object we have not yet attained. And in order to be always in progress we must be capable of conceiving an object which will never be attained' (M. Kukiel, Czartoryski and the European Community: 1770-1861, qtd in 'Conrad's Europe', 225).
Unlike the order of ideas and symbolic codes, science and trade, animated by the 'passion of the Real',1 aim at reducing the distance, at tearing materials from the substance of the thing itself for the sake of unmediated (visual) enjoyment: ivory tusks, silver, butterflies and beetles in show cases painted in gold letters – the most accomplished example being Kurtz and the ivory, a perfect ersatz of the Lacanian 'objet a':
We filled the steam-boat with it, and had to pile a lot on the deck. Thus he could see and enjoy as long as he could see, because the appreciation of this favour had remained with him to the last. You should have heard him say, 'My ivory'. Oh, yes, I heard him. 'My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my –' everything belonged to him. (HD 227)
The difference between the ideal and trade, then, corresponds with the two logics entailed by the two meanings of economy: one which is regulated by symbolic law and privileges restraint/containment for the sake of preserving desire, and the other privileging full enjoyment/possession and consumption. Kurtz's embrace with the maternal body of the wilderness clearly points to the prominence of an oral fantasy whose correlate is the growing inconsistency of the Symbolic Other. The old codes are still there, but their value of mere semblance is crudely exposed by the dialectical contradiction between the philanthropic rhetoric of Kurtz's report and the footnote inviting to general extermination: one may note in passing that 'Exterminate all the brutes' may equally involve Kurtz and his likes.
In Lord Jim the underlying patriarchal assumptions are clearly displaced by the emergence of the new logic whereby the object of trade overthrows the ideal, with anxiety as a result. The text subtly plays on the resonances of the word sovereign - the ideal values related to monarchy, and the coin-object bearing the monarch's effigy – to call into question the value of the code as fetish: Jim, the figure incarnating 'the doubt of the sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct' (LJ 35) looks like 'a genuine new sovereign' (32) just as Kurtz has become an ivory ball. As rightly noted by GoGwilt, the hierarchy of the British merchant sailing ship is already 'a mirage' on the Patna (93), before its good name is more explicitly put on trial through two figures: the French lieutenant and Brierly who seems to consider himself superior to anyone, had they been 'Emperor of East and West' (LJ 38).
But what has Jim's faux-pas revealed that was unbearable to Brierly? That the code is pure semblance, the rag of a pretty fiction thrown on the new economic force. Here we simply need to follow the logic of the signifier: if Brierly leaps at his own chosen spot in the sea (39) it may well be to cover the blot which has appeared in the social mirror at the very place where the fetish has fallen. This place is exactly situated where the real bites into the fabric of the symbolic, where the name 'decency' turns out to be simple trading reason.
It is no accident either if the French Lieutenant, entitled by his origin and profession to pronounce on matters of the code, is associated with one of Marlow's moments of vision (87), a true spot of time in which Marlow glimpses 'the blight of futility that lies in wait for men's speeches' (91), the shabbiness behind the man of honour. To this should be immediately added, however, that it is precisely 'the soft spot, the place of decay' (12) in Jim which attracts Marlow at the trial; and if we want to grasp more clearly why the 'fixed standard' becomes a 'shadowy ideal' we need to turn to the gallery of feminine figures which rule Patusan.
Empresses of enjoyment
Like Karain's 'spot of land', Patusan is the stage of a parodic ritual of economic affiliation: it is in the name of Queen Victoria's commercial interests that Stein is introduced as the 'spiritual son' of an old Scotsman 'with a patriarchal white beard' (124) to another strong-willed female ruler, the Wajo Queen.
These two feminine figures also loom in the background of 'Karain', which ends on another strange symbolic ritual. One of the white gunrunners, Hollis, looks for 'a charm, a cure' to soothe Karain's anxiety (TU 79) – just like Marlow for Jim. In his box of personal things he finds a gilt sovereign, one of those innumerable bric-à-brac produced by the British Empire to celebrate Victoria's jubilee. In order to give a more personal turn to his rather grotesque present he inserts the coin in a piece of leather: 'I'll give him something that I shall really miss... I shall make him a thing like those Italian peasants wear, you know' (84). He then passes it around Karain's neck who is thus 'named' a citizen of the Empire of Trinkets. If it is true that Hollis has 'invented the West' here (GoGwilt 60), we must not overlook the caustic treatment of the scene which undergoes a strange visual and virtual distortion: it is as if Victoria's effigy were a hologram changing shape according to the angle of vision.
Why is the cure effective for Karain? Not for the commercial value of the coin but because the image of the Great Queen calls up the memory of another figure, the idealised woman of his dreams who spoke 'in the language of [his] people in the silence of foreign countries' (69). The superposition of the two images therefore suggests that the lost mother has been replaced by a globalised imperative to enjoy issued from a more prosaic economic mother and her shower of trivial objects. If for Karain the white man's fetish operates as a saving fiction against the anxiety of being thrown in global space, the invention of the West is exposed for what it is, a cheap compensation formation, a disguise staged by Her Majesty's economic ambassadors. After all, the British sailor is but another agent of commercial industrialism, just like Jim in Patusan.
The inquiry on the Patna affair actually serves as the progressive revelation of the truth about the whole shipping business. In terms of the economy (which concerns the regulation of flows) and material interests, the mass of pilgrims has been treated just like the abandoned bark of pitch-pine, another cargo of raw material in which the Patna is supposed to have collided. Conrad's writing, however, is careful to give a different treatment to that crowd. We are told that it is 'at the call of an idea' that the pilgrims left their remote countries.
Passing through suffering, meeting strange sights, beset by strange fears, upheld by one desire... they had left their forests, their clearings, the protection of their rulers, their prosperity, their poverty, the surroundings of their youth and the graves of their fathers. (LJ 14)
And the novel's gaze does not hesitate to dive into the human cargo, to stop for a close-up isolating a father and son figure, or a throat 'bared and stretched, as if offering itself to a knife' (LJ 16) – as if indeed about to be sacrificed.
The shadow of sacrifice inevitably calls up the horror of Jewel's mother's story: a story of women's experience, which, however minimally treated by the novel, reveals the orientation of Jim's desire obeying the call of another idea, the appeal of his 'Eastern bride': the idea of death which as Wallace Steven says, is 'the mother of beauty' (355). The grave of Jewel's mother dominates the whole scenery of Patusan and it is her memory, we are told, that Jim has espoused (165): a shadow, not an effigy on a gilt coin.
The poetical unconscious
It is now time to return to another most ambivalent scene in 'Karain', where a woman's desire is at stake. After wandering for two years in the company of Pata Matara who wants to murder his sister – she has betrayed the tribal code of honour by eloping with a Dutch trader – the final act has come. Karain is supposed to shoot the Dutchman but instead he kills his brother in arms, Pata Matara: why should Conrad suddenly subvert the revenge plot? I would suggest that this is because Karain's acte manqué both betrays and tells the truth about an unconscious preference for the feminine figure of his dreams over the tribal code of honour. Incarnated by Pata Matara (a name which unmistakably bears resonances of Pater and Mater), the code demanded no less than the death of the young woman who had dared defy the customs of her community.
In other words, even though by his very gesture he loses the object of his dreams, Karain has saved the young woman from what is called a crime of honour quite common in patriarchal cultures. This strange fable, then, clearly concerns the problem of birth into an alien world cut off from cultural ties. Like Saint Julien l'Hospitalier, his Flaubertian cousin who gave himself up to the enjoyment of killing first the beasts of creation and then his own father and mother, Karain has sacrificed culture and genealogy on the altar of modernity.2
He leaves behind the mythic past even though by stepping on the white gunrunner's ship he opts for another kind of protection, this time economic. In other words: Karain bears on his shoulders the unrest and burden of modernity, correlative of women's liberation from traditional culture and the opening of a new political and poetical space.
If we now look at Lord Jim, it appears that similar forces are at stake. The story of Jewel's mother surely prefigures Jewel's own reduction from a living woman to a living dead in Stein's house. The young woman's resistance to the mourning of Jim points to one thing: she knows only too well that she has been sacrificed on the altar of his family romance with the Eastern bride, that the espousal of the mother's memory means the return to the womb and the tomb. Can we seriously believe in the 'strange uneasy romance' (LJ 169) of Jim with his Jewel/gem when we read that the story of the enormous emerald/gem is contemporary with the white man's arrival – i.e. a fictional construct where romance goes hand in hand with commercial exploitation? Patusan in this respect is old Europe dis-oriented, a projection space for the European mind's desires and fears, and a twilight fantasy on the edge of decomposition – like some sort of Far East Venice3 where Jim, unlike Karain this time, makes the choice of the mythic past.
Which leads us to one question: why should Dain Waris, the local chief's son, be gifted with a 'European mind' defined by 'a tenacity of purpose, a touch of altruism' (157)? Does not Jim betray this very tenacity and altruism when he says to Jewel that there is nothing to fight for and abandons his fellow fighters? Why does he finally deliver himself into the hands of Doramin the patriarch if not to acquire a brand new fame by means of another 'crime of honour', as if finally to restore the revenge Plot of tragedy? It is at this stage that we encounter one shadowy limit of the sovereign power of a fixed standard of conduct. It may be that the sacrificial love for the lost mother's shadow and the love of one's idealised, fixed self-image are two sides of the same coin, and certainly poles apart from the European turn of mind praised in the figure of Dain Waris.
But what is it that makes of Jim or Karain the truly Conradian figures around which so much ink has been shed – in Jim's case at least – if not their surrender to unconscious bodily impulses, their permeability to the modern affect which is fear? Unlike Conrad the man who may have felt still bound to the code by the circumstances of his life, Conrad the writer privileges the affect over the code; his true concern is with the anxiety arising when a silent blind spot contaminates the social mirror. His tales blow up structuring binaries like East/West, Europe/the Orient until the hollow kernel is glimpsed.
If it is true that Conrad's fiction anticipates the globalised world in which we live today, it is with the awareness that we cannot go back to the old order and that we have to invent new symbolic bonds to contain the invasion of the force of self-serving enjoyment: constructing some new-born idea of Europe may be the politician's task, whereas for the artist the whole endeavour will be to enhance human solidarity through the power of the written word: to open the vistas of the poetical unconscious by awakening the memory of the language.
The hub of the Conradian galaxy is, as is well known, a black hole: an enigmatic spot – a stain of fear and uneasy enjoyment. Why does Jim want to return 'to the very spot' of the Patna's wreckage, why does he want 'to see', Marlow wonders?
[Because] his soul knew the accumulated savour of all the fear, all the horror, all the despair of eight hundred human beings pounced upon in the night by a sudden and violent death ... It was one of those bizarre and exciting glimpses through the fog. It was an extraordinary disclosure. He let it out as the most natural thing one could say. He fought down that impulse and then he became conscious of the silence. (LJ 71)
The whole novel revolves around that horrid thing like a luminous halo seen in a 'lurid light',4 compelling the Western eye, 'so often concerned with mere surfaces' (LJ 157) to turn and return, to overturn those surfaces. In Lord Jim as in 'Karain', Conrad produces a tale which 'turns its popular material against the assumptions of the genre' (GoGwilt 44), breaking through the polished surfaces, letting some black, shapeless, pulsating substance appear through the interstices, producing the constant revolutions of the material of language and codes on which the West is constructed.
Several critics have noted the strange detail of the 'torrent [which] wound about like a dropped thread' in the picture postcard of Karain's stage (TU 40). This dropped thread is like a shadow-line 'indicating an incompleteness in the description and an anxiety about the composition of the whole' (GoGwilt 48), something which does not fit in the epic texture and proportions of a prose otherwise so strongly reminiscent of Salambô.
The dropped thread followed by the 'flash of darkness' made by the breeze on the smooth water (40) undermines the imperial adventure story, just like the white piece of worsted which Marlow glimpses around the neck of the dying African in the grove of death. The black or white spot in the field of the visible splinters the Western perspective: it gazes at you, it concerns you and anticipates the atomisation of the surface. These strange poetic alterations affect the values of black, white, East, West, reason, madness and so on. Along similar lines the rhetoric of excess which applies to gender and racial differences5 comes as another case of insistence of the letter which betrays the artificiality of the stereotype.6
The vacillation is also manifest in the confusion of symbolic places at the moment of 'heroic' action, a true symptom which is manifest in the shifting rhetoric of pronouns – the linguistic place binding the political and the poetical unconscious. As Karain aims at Pata Matara he cries out 'Return!', a most ambivalent cry indeed since its addressee could be either the young woman, or Pata Matara with of course consequences going in opposite directions.
This confusion betrays the instability of language which throws Karain out of his safe world: his exile begins, he enters like Dante a 'very sombre and very sad' forest (TU 76). Similarly Jim's acte manqué is based on a linguistic quid pro quo: he jumps in the safety boat instead of George, the dead man called by the crew – and from the moment he has joined them 'his saved life was over' (LJ 69), he has become a living dead. In Under Western Eyes, Razumov's saved life is also over when Haldin mistakes him for whom he is not. Nostromo is killed for the robber which he is/is not. In 'An Outpost of Progress', for a brief point in space and time, Kayerts believes he has been shot while it is the reverse that has happened. The insistence of such scenes involves more than mistaken identity: they unlock the symbolic rivets of social cohesion, the very same rivets which Marlow desperately looks for in Heart of Darkness.
Where fear is concerned it appears that the cultural mapping of differences has little to say. 'Karain' and Lord Jim subtly shift the Near East of Flaubert's Orientalist fantasies to the Far East, producing a dizzying chassé-croisé of compass points. The young moon shines low in the West as the Patna glides on the surface of the Red Sea in the Near East which is itself West of Patusan, itself an Oriental melting-pot of Western fantasies. As Jim leaves for his spot of land untouched by history, he appears 'detached upon the light of the westering sun' to Marlow who looks at him from an Eastern position (LJ 146), later confirmed by his buddhist affiliations in Heart of Darkness. At another moment of parting, as the East Coast turns black and the Western horizon 'one great blaze of gold and crimson' (199), Marlow looks at Jim on the beach watching the schooner fall off. It seems therefore that no fixed standpoint is possible7 in this novel which is less Eurocentric than a European novel that vacillates, constantly reversing figure against ground.8
'Books', Conrad wrote, '[are based] on beliefs and theories that, indestructible in themselves, always change their form – often in the lifetime of one fleeting generation' ('Books', NLL 11). It is certainly the case for Conrad's idea of Europe, omnipresent and manifold in his books, hesitating between the seductions of the West and the need of a code of restraint: a value both economic and literary.
Conrad in Europe
józef teodor konrad korzeniowski
- Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Oxford: OUP, 1996.
- _____. 'John Galsworthy'. (1906). Joseph Conrad: Selected Criticism and The Shadow-Line. Ed. Allan Ingram. London: Methuen, 1986.
- _____. 'Karain'. Tales of Unrest (1898). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977.
- _____. Lord Jim: A Tale. Ed. Thomas C. Moser. New York: Norton, 1996.
- GoGwilt, Christopher. The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double Mapping of Europe and Empire. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1995.
- Najder, Zdzisław. 'Joseph Conrad's Europe'. The Polish Foreign Affair Digest. Vol.1 No.1 (1) (2001): 213-225.
- Paccaud-Huguet, Josiane. 'Gaze, voice and the will to style in 'Karain''. L'Époque Conradienne no. 29 (2003): 1-27.
- Stevens, Wallace. 'Sunday Morning' in Monroe, Harriet, Henderson, Alice Corbin, eds. The New Poetry: An Anthology. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1917: 355.
- Zizek, Slavoy. Enjoy Your Symptom. London: Routledge, 2001.
- _____. Welcome to the Desert of the Real. London: Verso, 2002.
- 1 S. Zizek's recent Welcome to the Desert of the Real. London: Verso, 2002.
- 2 See in this respect J.Paccaud-Huguet, 'Gaze, voice and the will to style in 'Karain''. L'Époque Conradienne no.29 (2003): 11-27.
- 3 'An odd assortment of lost traditions, empty epic gestures, crass repetition of stereotypes and grotesque effects of diminished affiliative schemes' (GoGwilt, 102).
- 4 'I wanted to obtain a sort of lurid light out of the very events' (to Edward Garnett, 12 Nov 1900; CL 2 302).
- 5 For example: 'Such beings open to the Western Eye, so often concerned with mere surfaces, the hidden possibilities of races and lands over which hangs the mystery of unrecorded ages' (LJ 157).
- 6 The use of the 'long-established stereotype of the Malay 'running amok' ' (50) is not Karain's privilege since it most notably applies to Kayerts in the well-named Tales of Unrest.
- 7 Should these poetic alterations be interpreted as an escape from the contingencies of history, 'to create a readership that can overlook the embarrassment of class, nation and race' (GoGwilt 100)? I do not think so: the text exposes them for what they are: unstable constructs for deceptive and often deadly identifications, set up against a hollow gaze or voice in the place of former values.
- 8 See for example the visual shock produced by the extraordinary perspectival shift at the closure of 'Karain' which 'turns the charm of an imperial adventure story into the horrified response to metropolitan, mass produced malaise' (GoGwilt 52).
Originally published 22 April 2008, updated Nov 2017