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Title: Sound and modernity in Joseph Conrad's London fiction
Author: Pye, Patricia Jane
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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While Conrad's representation of London has previously been discussed, these readings have not considered his auditory impressions of the city. This thesis explores this neglected area, in the context of London's changing 'soundscape' in the late-Victorian and early Edwardian period. These changes encompassed a reconstructed topography and conflicts over public spaces, in addition to the appearance of new auditory technologies. The thesis argues for the significance of Conrad's sound impressions in this urban context, posing the original question of whether his fictionalized city 'sounds modern'. Alongside the rapid development of a popular press, the 1890s also witnessed a resurgence of interest in oratory, as the power of the 'platform' played its own part in influencing social change. Chapter I focuses on The Nigger of the 'Narcissus ' and considers Conrad's representation of London's social agitators, together with his auditory impressions of the city's vast crowd. More broadly, the chapter also explores the contemporary figure of the 'workman orator', as characterized through The Secret Agent's Verloc. Chapter 2 focuses on the silences and noises of 'The Return' , arguing that these express much about London's social topographics and contemporary fears about urban disorder. Chapter 3 traces the progress of the 'news' across the city in The Secret Agent, arguing that this novel reflects its transitional era, when the newly literate negotiated the move from a traditionally oral- to print-based culture. Finally, Chapter 4 argues for the influence of music hall on Conrad's work, in particular the contemporary interest in the verbal artistry of its comedians. Marlow's comedic tone in Chance is, located in this context, as an expression of popular performance from a notably modem and urbane figure. The thesis concludes by identifying some interrelated themes which reveal the significance of Conrad's sound impressions to wider discussions about the modernity of his fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available