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Cambridge University Press
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September 2009
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In this re-evaluation of the writings of Joseph Conrad, Michael Greaney places language and narrative at the heart of his literary achievement. A trilingual Polish expatriate, Conrad brought a formidable linguistic self-consciousness to the English novel; tensions between speech and writing are the defining obsessions of his career. He sought very early on to develop a 'writing of the voice' based on oral or communal modes of storytelling. Greaney argues that the 'yarns' of his nautical raconteur Marlow are the most challenging expression of this voice-centred aesthetic. But Conrad's suspicion that words are fundamentally untrustworthy is present in everything he wrote. The political novels of his middle period represent a breakthrough from traditional storytelling into the writerly aesthetic of high modernism. Greaney offers an examination of a wide range of Conrad's work which combines recent critical approaches to language in post-structuralism with an impressive command of linguistic theory.


"...challenges old assumptions and engages current controversies in revelatory and rich close readings." Andrea White, California State University at Dominguez Hills, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920

"...a valuable, original, and compellingly written study that will rapidly prove to be an indispensable volume of Conrad criticism." Studies in the Novel

"Given the impressive bibliography and the undeviating argument, this book may best be used as a supplement in teaching college students to read Conrad intelligently. Recommended." Choice

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