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Title: Telling tales : Conrad and narrative technique.
Author: Bell, John.
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis seeks to suggest that prevailing critical approaches to Conrad's work serve to restrict interpretative possibilities rather than to free them. I argue that the segmenting methods of classical narratology have been carried over to Conradian criticism, but that these methods prove inadequate to the technical versatility of Conradian narrative. Furthermore, I suggest that these methods have sometimes been applied inflexibly, to the extent that some of Conrad's most technically original works have been condemned simply because they do not adhere to the narrative structures narratology privileges. I examine in detail Conrad's use, and critical responses to that use, of non-linear chronology, variable perspective, narrative levels, personalised narrators, fragmented narrative, binary thematics and the quintessentially Conradian technique delayed decoding. My illustrations are not drawn exclusively from Conrad's major works, but from wherever I find narrative originality. Consequently, as well as references to many of Conrad's minor works, there are extended discussions of focalisation in the short story 'The Partner', of narrative levels in 'The Tale', and of narrative multiplicity in The Nigger of the ·Narcissus~. My conclusion is that Conrad was a more technically inventive writer than has been recognised, and that that invention tends one way: away from the notion of a single truth hidden at the heart of a work, and towards an art recognising the limits of representation. Many of the techniques I discuss can be seen as provoking the reader to see differently: incommensurable presentations of the same events from different perspectives, multiple conflicting interpretations of characters, narrators whose unreliability is explicitly highlighted rather than implied, narrative mobility, covert plotting. I suggest that in addition to asking his readers to see differently, Conrad, in his most successful works, actually requires us to be otherwise as we read.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Narratology; Sturcturalism; Difference Literature Mass media Performing arts