Narrating the discourse : a reading of Joseph Conrad's novels
The major aim of this study is to interpret the narrative work of Joseph Conrad as his critical response to various social discourses of his time. Through the narrative transformation of social discourses, Conrad challenges dominant ideologies which are considered through various social discourses. Conrad is aware of the fact that particular discourses which are popular and dominant in certain socio-historical contexts play a crucial role in the maintenance of existing power relations. For him presenting these discourses in his narrative artefact is to place their assumptions in contending situations. Conflicting discourses and dynamics of ideological struggles between various social voices are the fundamental reality which Conrad attempts to present in his narrative. In order to present the dialogic reality of social struggles, Conrad has to risk the traditional narrative authority which enjoys an omniscient control over the voices of characters. As the maritime narratives of the formative period of his writing career show, Conrad is aware of the problem of the traditional narrative authority in mapping the unstable and uncertain reality of power struggles which are imbedded in conflicting social discourses. The first chapter of this study is concerned with the narrative authority which relates to images of captaincy in Conrad's sea stories. It argues that Conrad formulates narrators whose voices are shaped by their struggles with other voices which are positioned in the hierarchical power relations of the late Victorian sailing ships. The following two chapters discuss how the captain/narrator, Marlow, both in Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, challenges colonisation through reporting colonial discourses about and of colonial "heroes". These chapters argue that the narratives, representing the colonial adventurers who are disillusioned by grand ideals of "progress" and "civilisation", attempt to subvert the culturally constructed myth of racial and class superiority. Chapter four reads Nostromo as Conrad's own version of the history of Costaguana whose social and discoursal struggles refuse to comply with the nineteenth century European historical imaginations such as "progress" and "justice".