Authorial Attitude in Joseph Conrad's Third-Person Fiction

Yusuke Takahata

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Mainly examining Joseph Conrad’s third-person novels written in his early to middle career, this thesis argues that when the novelist adopts third-person narration, the works tend to exhibit problems of one kind or another that affect their fictional adequacy to varying degrees, and that these problems are deeply related to the handling of authorial attitude towards the characters, events, and fictional worlds he presents. Chapter 1 discusses three third-person short fictions written in Conrad’s early to middle career to explore the variety of authorial attitudes Conrad’s third-person works exhibit. Chapter 2 analyses ‘The Rescuer’ and argues that the split in the narrative voice between the romantic and the realistic modes, which culminates in the last part of the manuscript where the exploration of Lingard’s Kurtzian idealism comes to focus, largely explains the impasse of the novel. Chapter 3 examines how the introduction of Marlow’s first-person narration in Lord Jim allows Conrad to sidestep the difficulty―as was observed in ‘The Rescuer’―involved in the treatment of romantic protagonists and fictional worlds. Chapter 4 scrutinises how Nostromo, by means of eliminating Decoud and scapegoating Nostromo, avoids the potential trivialisation of its socio-historical panorama which a rigorous anatomisation of the political condition of its fictional world and the resultant nihilistic vision could bring about. In Chapter 5 I compare the authorial attitude in The Secret Agent with that in Nostromo and suggest, in the Conclusion, that there is a certain trade-off between the relative technical flawlessness of The Secret Agent and the emotional effect of Nostromo. The thesis concludes that an extra-heterodiegetic narrator exercising degrees of omniscience was essentially not a congenial device for Conrad, and that this was due to his tendency to be acutely conscious of certain limitations which his own fictional worlds have to carry.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hampson, Robert, Supervisor
  • Gibson, Andrew, Advisor
Award date1 Mar 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016

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