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Title: 'In the way of business' : the role and representation of commerce in the Asian fiction of Joseph Conrad
Author: Francis, A. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis argues that in his Asian fiction Conrad writes through, and interrogates, commerce as part of his depictions of aliens within the commercial, political, and social contexts of the largely colonial south-east Asia of the second half of the nineteenth century, including Arab, Chinese, and Malay trading, and reflects the expansion and globalisation of an increasingly capitalist trade. The thesis aims to demonstrate four main aspects of commerce in this fiction. First, that it is crucial to shaping, and often vivifying, its world. Secondly, that it is pervasive and inextricable from that world. Thirdly, that time and space are increasingly commercialised, and fourthly, that Conrad’s treatment of the complexity of commerce in an informed, historically specific context resists often reductive readings of commerce as simple, homogeneous or necessarily pernicious. The Introduction provides a summary of the methodology and contexts. Chapters 1-3 examine the Lingard Trilogy and the waning of Lingard’s mode of trade in the face of increasing competition and globalisation. Chapter 4 explores Lord Jim, Conrad’s broadest representation of commerce and colonialism in the Asian fiction. Chapter 5 discusses ‘Falk’ and The Shadow-Line as investigations of commerce and dependability. Chapter 6 discusses ‘The End of the Tether’ and 6 discusses ‘The End of the Tether’ and Victory as representations of the forces of later colonial capitalism. The aims of this thesis are pursued by close, often phenomenological, readings of the texts with reference to the region’s –particularly the Dutch East Indies’ – histories, seeking to recover the business conditions present in the culturally specific texture and detail, and in the lived experience of commerce. The readings reflect the particular commercial topics arising in individual works, for example, economic botany in Almayer’s Folly and Lord Jim.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available