REPRESSED SOCIAL CONTENT IN A MODERNIST NARRATIVE: THE CASE OF LORD JIM
Keywords:Joseph Conrad, Modernism, Marxist literary criticism, social content, narrative strategies
The paper starts from the assumption that the social content is not absent from the major works of Modernist literature, but merely repressed or displaced through various narrative strategies. While the early critical debate on Modernism – which started with Lukács' writings in the 1930s – condemned this literary movement as apolitical, and too narrowly focused on the subjective, inward experience of an individual, subsequent contributors to the debate took a more balanced approach. The paper pays special attention to Fredric Jameson's theory on the existence of repressed social meaning in Modernist works, and his view that by applying Marxist hermeneutics it is possible to discern it and show how it affects the narrative. Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim (1900) is used in this paper to exemplify the features of Modernism discussed by Jameson. Some of the key scenes and motifs in the novel are analysed with a view to establishing their underlying socio-historical dimension and demonstrating how it contributes to the overall understanding of Conrad's artistic vision.
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