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One of Us

The Mastery of Joseph Conrad

The concept of mastery straddles a largely unexamined seam in contemporary thought dividing admirable self-control from a reprehensible will to power. Although Joseph Conrad has traditionally been viewed as an admirable master—master mariner, storyteller, and writer—his reputation has been linked in recent years to the negative masteries of racism, imperialism, and patriarchy.

In this book, Geoffrey Galt Harpham delves not only into Conrad’s literary work and reputation but also into the concept of mastery. Outlining a psychology of composition that embraces Conrad’s personal as well as historical circumstances, Harpham sheds new light on traditional issues in Conrad criticism, such as his Polish background and his preoccupation with the sea, by linking them to less frequently discussed subjects, including his elusive sexuality and his idiosyncratic relation to the English language.

One of Us represents both a methodological innovation in the practice of literary criticism and an important contribution to our understanding of how masters—and canons based on them—are made.

226 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1997

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Table of Contents

1. To Be a Pole
The Nation in Coffins
Poland and the Theory of Nations
Polonizing the Novel
2. To Go to Sea
An Unrelated Existence; or, The Law of the Sea
Identification at the Mouth of the River
Sex at the Beginning of Time
3. To Write in English
English as a Seventh Language
The Language of Mastery
On Greatness
Works Cited

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