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Chapter 1 - Conrad, Faulkner, and Gothic Incalculability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2022

Seo Hee Im
Affiliation:
Hanyang University, Korea
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Summary

The first chapter claims that the imperial fiction of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner rejects accounting as a totalizing logic, and by extension, questions the English novel’s complicity in propagating that false logic. Accounting, which had remained unobtrusively immanent to realist novels of empire, surfaces to the diegetic level in a classic instance of a thematization of the device and becomes available for critical contemplation. Drawing from Max Weber, Mary Poovey, and Georg Lukács, I attend in particular to the dandy accountant of Heart of Darkness, the accretive narrative structure of Nostromo, and Shreve’s recasting of Sutpen’s life as a debtor’s farce in Absalom, Absalom! If Conrad equates accounting with lying, Faulkner reveals secrets elided in rows of debit and credit one by one as sensational truths; to those ends, both writers invoke Gothic conventions. By dispatching the totalizing technique that had been invented by early modern merchants and finessed by realist novelists to generate faith in a transnational fiduciary community, Conrad and Faulkner impel the discovery of original forms with which to express the modern transnational world order.

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The Late Modernist Novel
A Critique of Global Narrative Reason
, pp. 30 - 59
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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