9780313268809 / 0313268800

Darkness at Heart: Fathers and Sons in Conrad (Contributions to the Study of World Literature)


Publisher:Praeger, 1990



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About the book:

Although the fiction of Joseph Conrad has been studied extensively from a psychological perspective, a major theme seemingly neglected is that of ambivalence in the relations between fathers and sons. This volume contains Rising's Freudian and post-Freudian analysis of father/son interactions, at either the family or the social level, in Conrad's work. Defining the father as any older male with power and influence over a younger one, Rising examines wide thematic variations that show Conrad's obsessive concern with paternity-- as an object either of fear and hatred or of longing--and in turn addresses the theme of Conrad's most successful fiction: the protagonist's struggle to find (or keep) his place in a world of men.

In his fiction, Conrad uses an array of fathers and paternal types to achieve a constantly shifting perspective on filial relationships. In a panorama of actual or potential conflict, the author provides portraits of Conrad's father and son, and shows what chance of accommodation he offers. In chapters on the prototype of the father, the jeaopardy of the son on land, and the immunity of the son at sea, the book discusses Conrad's use of an Oedipal compromise, a solution he abandoned in later works. Ultimately, although he appears to have sought new avenues of reconciliation in his last novels, the author demonstrates that the father/son antagonism is never fully resolved in his fiction. In addition to the primary chapters and epilogue, the work contains a bibliography and an index. This book will be an important reference tool for courses in English and psychology, as well as an important addition to academic and public libraries.

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