Conrad's rites of entry and return

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The essay examines rites of entry and return in Conrad's writings. It begins with his account of his examinations in the Merchant Navy as part of his process of naturalisation, but, more importantly, as an introduction into a tradition and a family. it then considers two rites of passage in The Nigger of the 'Narcissus': the roll-call that constitutes the crew as a collective identity and the paying off that disperses them as variously homeless and alienated individuals. It also considers the very different ritual of departure for James Wait in the form of burial at sea. The essay then uses Arnold van Gennep's account of rites of passage to read 'Heart of Darkness' in terms of disrupted or incomplete processes of incorporation. Marlow and the Assistant Commissioner in The Secret Agent are then compared as 'returnees', The essay concludes with an extended reading of Yanko Gooral as the extreme example of a disrupted process of incorporation and an extended reading of Peyrol in The Rover as a returnee undergoing a complex re-incorporation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration, Modernity and Transnationalism in the Work of Joseph Conrad
EditorsKim Salmons, Tania Zulli
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-1-350-16892-3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2021


  • Arrival
  • return
  • rites
  • migration
  • Poland Revisited
  • naturalisation
  • A Personal Record
  • The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'
  • community of labour
  • collective identity
  • homelessness
  • ritual of departure
  • burial ritual
  • incorporation
  • Heart of Darkness
  • reverse culture shock
  • The Secret Agent
  • The Rover
  • Amy Foster
  • Agamben, Giorgio
  • sacrifice

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