cover of book

One of Us: The Mastery of Joseph Conrad
by Geoffrey Galt Harpham
University of Chicago Press, 1997
Cloth: 978-0-226-31695-6 | Paper: 978-0-226-31696-3
Library of Congress Classification PR6005.O4Z74188 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 823.912

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.

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