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By Agnes S. K. Yeow (auth.)
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Additional resources for Conrad’s Eastern Vision: A Vain and Floating Appearance
This book is dedicated to unravelling the strong dialogic relation between history and fiction in Conrad’s Eastern tales. In the process, it will attempt to demonstrate how, for Conrad, the ‘collision of indistinct ideas’ (CL 1: 151) and the contest of ‘many interminable tales’ (CL 1: 382) set the stage for the fallibility of truth and the relativism of facts. This clash of uncertainties yields a relative, evasive, and subjective truth by virtue of a visual surplus which is, more often than not, vaporous, and inscrutable.
Facts alone, Mr. Tesman’ (V 7). After the closure of the coal mine, he tells Davidson, ‘Oh, I am done with facts’ (V 28). In Lord Jim, Jim rails against the tyranny and irrelevance of facts: ‘They wanted facts. Facts! They demanded facts from him, as if facts could explain anything’ (LJ 29)! Marlow declares that the ‘language of facts’ from which one interprets the truth is ‘so often more enigmatic than the craftiest arrangement of words’ (LJ 340). Recounting the proceedings of the official inquiry where Jim and other witnesses are probed for the facts relating to the Patna investigation, Marlow remarks sardonically: ‘You can’t expect the constituted authorities to inquire into the state of a man’s soul – or is it only of his liver’ (LJ 56–7)?
And when [the task] is accomplished – behold! – all the truth of life is there: a moment of vision, a sigh, a smile – and the return to an eternal rest. (NB 20, 22–3) The jumble of facts and fiction Fernando had posed the question: What is the grammar of Conrad’s facts? How are we to find our way about and beyond them with any certainty? To put the problem bluntly, can the 900 [sic] Muslim pilgrims whose safety was in the balance in Lord Jim merely be an embellishment for the moral problem of a pleasant enough young Englishman?
Conrad’s Eastern Vision: A Vain and Floating Appearance by Agnes S. K. Yeow (auth.)