Masaryk University Faculty of Arts
Department of English and American Studies
English Language and Literature
Master‘s Diploma Thesis
Dr. Stephen Paul Hardy, Ph. D.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
…………………………………………….. Author‘s signature
I would sincerely like to thank Dr. Stephen Hardy for all of his assistance, invaluable advice, and endless patience.
3 Table of Contents
I. A General Introduction ….……………………...………………………………...…..5
Lord Jim ……………………………………………………….……………………..24
III. Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling‘s Kim and ―The
Man Who Would Be King‖……………………………….………………………….64
V. Works Cited………………………………….……………….………………………98
VI. English Resume…………………………………..……………………….…………101
VII. Czech Resume……………………………………………………………………….102
4 I. A General Introduction
This thesis endeavours to analyze a number of novels, a novella and a short story by
Conrad and Kipling, namely Conrad‘s ―Heart of Darkness,‖ Nostromo and Lord Jim, and
Kipling‘s Kim and ―The Man Who Would Be King.‖ However, a number of references to other Kipling texts are also provided (e.g. the poems ―If,‖ ―The Ballad of East and West,‖ or
―Recessional‖). As the title suggests, the main objective of this thesis is, within the causal framework of colonialism and imperialism as these two concepts are represented in the texts in question, to investigate aspects of the interplay between sexuality and the sexual instinct and the emphasis on ownership central to the British imperialist and colonialist society of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Put another way, in the context of the selected texts, this thesis intends primarily to explore the ways in which the colonialist and imperialist societies, that intrinsically incorporate, and are based on, possession and ownership, affect the libidinal lives of their members. The desire to accumulate wealth, an essential component of the modern industrialist capital-oriented society, and the sexual desire are treated as a continuum where a cause and an effect can only be identified in ambiguous terms. A typical instance of this continuum is
Kurtz. Kurtz, one of the major characters in the novella ―Heart of Darkness,‖ is driven to the
Congo by his desire to become wealthy enough so as to be allowed to marry his Intended. His colonialist mission could thus be seen as a result of an unsatisfied sexual desire, his undesirable social status being the primary cause of his voyage to the Congo.
Yet when he reaches the Belgian colony and starts to work there as an ivory-post operator, Kurtz begins to exhibit signs of insanity (megalomania, paranoia etc.). He shortly becomes the most efficient ivory collector (i.e. robber) in the whole of the Congo. However, instead of finding satisfaction, Kurtz commences to be controlled by what Evelyn Cobley, in her Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency: Ideology and Fiction, terms ―criminal obsession
5 with efficiency for its own sake‖ (195). Kurtz‘s life undergoes a considerable degree of commodification and alienation in the sense that he becomes a victim of his insatiable quest for possession and ownership. Kurtz seems to forget the reasons why he has come to the
Congo in the first place and is instead devoured by the irrational and eventually destructive inclination to hoard still more and more silver.
So far the title of this thesis has only been clarified partially. Although some basic introduction to the analysis of aspects of sex, sexuality, money, possession, ownership and disillusionment has been provided, it still has to be elucidated what role psychoanalysis is supposed to play in a thesis dealing with colonialism and imperialism as represented by
Conrad and Kipling. The major reason why psychoanalysis is mentioned in the title of this thesis is that the investigation of the two authors in question is based on perspectives presented in the book To Have or to Be written by Erich Fromm in 1976.
Fromm, a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, a psychologist, psychoanalyst, social scientist, and humanist philosopher was born in 1900 to an orthodox Jewish family as an only child. He initially studied jurisprudence at the University of Frankfurt am Main but shortly moved to the sociological department of the University of Heidelberg where his instructors included a number of notable figures such as Alfred Weber, a brother of the famous sociologist Max Weber, Karl Jaspers or the Neo-Kantian philosopher Heinrich
Rickert. In 1927, Fromm opened his own clinical practice and three years later, as a fully trained psychoanalyst, joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research.
Shortly after the Nazi takeover in 1933 Fromm fled to Geneva and, a year later, to
New York City where he started to lecture at Columbia University. In the United States,
Fromm established, or helped establish, a number of scientific and scholarly institutions (e.g. the New York branch of the Washington School of Psychiatry or the William Alanson White
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology). In the late 1940s Fromm relocated
6 to Mexico City where he lived for over two decades. Finally, in 1974 he left America for
Switzerland where he died six years after (this basic biographical information on Fromm comes primarily from the Erich Fromm entries on wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Aside from holding a number of scholarly and scientific positions at various universities and institutes throughout the world, Fromm had his own psychological and psychiatric clinical practice where he treated such conditions as depression, paranoia, insomnia and others. Frequently, maintains Fromm throughout his To Have or to Be, these illnesses were not exclusively caused by tangible neuropathological changes in the brains of the patients but rather by non-medical factors such as the socio-cultural conditions under which these individuals had to live. These conditions mostly refer to the frustration and the sense of inferiority that, Fromm argues, are inherent to the industrial age. In his To Have or to
Be and elsewhere Fromm seeks to analyze the reasons why the industrial age, rather than happiness and satisfaction, eventually begets frustration and disappointment, phenomena that psychiatrists and psychologists like Fromm seem regularly to deal with: ―The Great Promise of Unlimited Progress,‖ argues Fromm at the very beginning of To Have or to Be,
The promise of domination of nature, of material abundance, of the greatest
happiness for the greatest number, and of unimpeded personal freedom – has
sustained the hopes and faith of the generations since the beginning of the
industrial age. To be sure, our civilization began when the human race started
taking active control of nature; but that control remained limited until the
advent of the industrial age. With industrial progress…we could feel that we
were on our way to unlimited production and, hence, unlimited consumption;
that technique made us omnipotent; that science made us omniscient. We were
on our way to becoming gods, supreme beings who could create a second
7 world, using the natural world only as building blocks for our new creation.
For details of how exactly this Great Promise, to use Fromm‘s term, fails the reader is referred to the following two chapters. The same applies to aspects of the difference between having and being, as illustrated by Fromm, and its relevance and applicability to the analysis of
Conrad and Kipling.
A relevant question that could be asked in relation to Fromm is how the 1970s book
To Have or to Be, and more generally the ideas presented by the Frankfurt School, relate to the study of Conrad and Kipling. The aim of this thesis – and particularly the second chapter – is to demonstrate that Conrad can be viewed as one of the late 19th and early 20th century authors whose literature presents ideas that can be seen as similar to those advocated by the members of the Frankfurt School (scepticism and relativity of scientific progress, frustration about, and critique of, capitalism etc.). In addition, focusing on the selected texts by the two authors in question, the analysis provided in the following two chapters endeavours to delineate links between the late 19th and early 20th century colonialism and imperialism, and modern post-war capitalism that Fromm criticizes and subverts throughout his oeuvre.
In Chapter II, a loose comparative analysis of Conrad‘s works (primarily ―Heart of
Darkness‖) and Francis Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel The Great Gatsby is provided. This detour probably needs some clarification as well. In his famous novel, that apparently needs little introduction, Fitzgerald portrays the ruthlessness of capitalism in the 1920s Jazz Age, greed and the ultimate commodification of all aspects of existence. The novel abounds with depictions of class struggle (represented, for example, by Gatsby‘s mostly successful attempt to become rich and thus attractive to his beloved Daisy) and its effects (in the valley of ashes, an unhealthy polluted area created by industrial ashes – in fact a dump – live, one could argue, as a human garbage, those individuals who are unable to become affluent).
8 The major reason why Fitzgerald‘s masterpiece is included in a thesis that investigates
Conrad and Kipling is to suggest both the explicit and implicit connections between the
British colonialism and imperialism (mostly associated with the late 19th and early 20th century), and Conrad‘s depiction of the two, on the one hand and global (i.e. including
American) capitalism of the last about 130 years. Focusing on the three texts by Conrad, the analysis provides references to The Great Gatsby in order to illustrate that colonialism/imperialism and capitalism may in fact be perceived as mutually interconnected and, to some extent, reciprocal. To elucidate, in his Capital, Karl Marx argues – the following statement is a simplified paraphrase – that while colonialism may be seen as a form of international capitalism, capitalism could be viewed as a form of local colonialism. Also, argues Marx, it is the colonial expansion that allowed (not only) the European countries like
England to establish what is generally referred to as the capitalist mode of production:
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and
entombment in mines of the indigenous population of that continent, the
beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa
into a preserve for the commercial hunting of blackskins, are all things that
characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic
proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation. Hard on their
heels follows the commercial war of the European nations, which has the globe
as its battlefield. (Marx 807)
The following lines attempt to place Marx‘s assumption in the context of the analyzed texts. In ―Heart of Darkness‖ Conrad provides an explicit portrayal of the European powers usurping and accumulating wealth (i.e. ivory) which is then to be shipped back to England,
Belgium and so on. This accumulation in turn enables technological and monetary progress of the colonizers; England is thus allowed to manufacture – and, importantly, create, or invest in
9 creating, means of manufacture such as factories, docks and so on – still more boats, weapons, finance expensive expeditions etc. As Marx suggests, colonialism can therefore be seen as a form of international capitalism in the sense that it is only due to the possession of capital that the colonialist missions can be executed. Without the ability or means to produce e.g. a steel steamboat or efficient firearms the colonizers (Kurtz, Marlow and others) would, one could presume, face much difficulty in resisting the Congolese militia and, as a result, the overall efficiency of their colonialist exploits would diminish dramatically.
In Nostromo, the few (mostly) English settlers in the town of Sulaco, an economic hub of the fictitious country of Costaguana, are only able to perpetuate both their existence and the subjugation of the locals due to their economic and technological edge over the natives – Don
Jose, one of the minor characters in the novel, is in charge of The Patriotic Committee, a committee ―which had armed a great proportion of troops in the Sulaco command with an improved model of a military rifle. It had been just discarded for something still more deadly by one of the great European powers‖ (Conrad 1983:158).
In addition, one could argue that Conrad depicts colonialism in Marxian terms, i.e. as an instance of an international dissemination of capital, in that he makes Charles Gould, a silver mogul and a prominent figure of the whole of Costaguana, dependent financially upon the Holroyd House, a San Francisco financial institution. It is only due to the funds coming from the Holroyd House that Gould is able both to resist the local revolutionary forces and continue the operation of the silver mine. The assets invested in Costaguana by the Holroyd
House are then immediately exchanged for silver which is then shipped to San Francisco by
The O.S.N. Company. In Nostromo, Conrad could thus be seen as depicting the rather precarious synergy between colonialism supported by international capitalism on the one hand and accumulation of capital on the other.
10 To be sure, the traditional form of colonialism is absent in Fitzgerald‘s The Great
Gatsby. Neither of the characters in the novel are seamen who travel to distant lands (the traditional depiction of colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th century represented by e.g.
Conrad); nor does the reader encounter any of the traditional or stereotypical images of the unexplored tropical lands such as cannibalism, virtually mystical creatures speaking a seemingly inarticulate language and so on (this depiction of distant lands is more typical of the early colonialist period and is represented in literature by works such as Robinson
The novel, it could be argued, is not entirely devoid of any portrayal of colonialism, nevertheless. To reiterate the Marxian point of view, the capitalist exploitation that is central to Fitzgerald‘s novel is not quite dissimilar from the exploitation inherent to the traditional form of colonialism. In other words, a parallel could be drawn between the way the inhabitants of the aforementioned valley of ashes are colonized (and exploited) and the way the African natives are exploited in e.g. ―Heart of Darkness‖ since neither of the two are allowed to disengage from the socio-political system that oppresses them (the same remark may be relevant to the native Costaguaneros in the time of Gould‘s predecessors). While
Conrad thus mostly pictures colonialism as a form of international dissemination of capital, one could argue that Fitzgerald in some respects depicts capitalism as a form of local colonialism.
A few words may now be said about the structure of this thesis. It is divided into four separate chapters, namely ―A General Introduction;‖ ―Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in
Conrad‘s ―Heart of Darkness,‖ Nostromo and Lord Jim;‖ ―Temptation and Conflict:
Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling‘s Kim and ―The Man Who Would Be King‖;‖ and
―Conclusion.‖ The following paragraphs seek to introduce each of these chapters, presenting some of the major subject matters upon which the investigation centres. Prior to this
11 introduction, however, brief summaries of some of the Conrad and Kipling texts are provided.
This pertains to Nostromo, Lord Jim, Kim and ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ (Conrad‘s novella ―Heart of Darkness‖ presumably requires little introduction since it could be regarded as one of the key and most frequently prescribed texts that are analyzed within the post- colonial theory).
As has been said earlier, Nostromo is a novel set in the fictitious country of
Costaguana which, however, greatly resembles Colombia. This country has long been under the sway of revolutions, warfare, corruption and self-appointed and self-serving rulers/tyrants.
Crucial both to Costaguana and the plot of Conrad‘s novel is The San Tome silver mine owned by Charles Gould, a native Costaguanero of English descent. Gould, whose business suffers from the seemingly endless civil strife and chaos, supports financially and politically a new government formed by Ribiera. Ribiera, Gould believes, has the potential to finally put an end to the debilitating and apparently unending pandemonium affecting Costaguana for decades.
Shortly after Ribiera comes into power it becomes clear, however, that Costaguana has to brace for yet another round of clashes and political instability. One of the revolutionaries,
Montero, even marches into the town of Sulaco, the economic, political and cultural hub of the country. He is only prevented from conquering it and thus expelling the foreign settlers by
Nostromo‘s remarkable abilities and ingenuity. Nostromo, though a mere sailor, (the name could be translated from archaic Italian into English – Nostromo is an Italian expatriate – as
―shipmate‖ or ―bosun‖) is one of the central characters who shape dramatically both the plot of the novel and the socio-political milieu of Costaguana. Nostromo also functions as a symbol of incorruptibility that is contrasted to the omnipresent corruption and chaos.
Towards the ending of the novel Nostromo‘s halo of incorruptibility, so to speak, proves to be merely seeming, nonetheless – feeling unsatisfied due to a lack of respect and
12 recognition, Nostromo steals a box of silver that he is entrusted to transfer from the revolution-struck Sulaco, claiming it has been lost in an accident. In so doing, Nostromo betrays both his reputation and partners, degrading all his previous exploits into the ultimate representation of the destructiveness and hollowness of wealth and illusions. In an introduction to the novel, Martin Seymour-Smith argues that ―no writer, perhaps, demonstrates the spiritual emptiness of modern politics and politicians more effectively than
Conrad, and those who despair of contemporary political arrangements have one of their most powerful arguments in the form of his fiction – and in no single work better than Nostromo‖
Lord Jim is a novel depicting the victories and failures of a young English seaman,
Jim. At the beginning of the novel, Jim, a first mate on an old and derelict boat called the
Patna, is responsible for a cargo of eight hundred Muslim pilgrims journeying to Mecca for the hadj. When in the open seas, the Patna runs into floating debris and is severely damaged.
When it is clear to the crew that the ship must imminently sink, they abandon it, leaving the passengers at the mercy of the sea. Surprisingly, the Patna eventually does not sink, nevertheless, disclosing the cowardice of the crew. As the first mate, Jim is held primarily responsible for the act. Having lost his certificate by a decision of the court, Jim travels, attempting to avoid shame and ridicule, further east until he reaches a remote area of the island of Borneo, Patusan.
In Patusan, Jim encounters Stein, an entomologist and a former trade-post operator.
Hoping his troubled past will remain hidden, Jim settles in Patusan. His exploits – Jim liberates the local Bugis people from Sherif Ali, a bandit who regularly pillages the area, and
Tunku Allang, a corrupt Malay chief – win him both the respect of the locals and the title
Tuan (Lord). Jim thus starts to feel satisfied and his Patna spell seems to be broken. The provisional happy ending, however, is interrupted by an attack of' Gentleman Brown, a white
13 pirate, and his gang. Attempting to loot Patusan and obtain resources necessary for his intended journey to Madagascar, Brown attacks the Bugis people, killing Dain Warris, a son of a local chief Doramin. Feeling responsible for Warris‘ death and unable to defend 'his' people, Jim commits an ostentatious suicide by letting Doramin shoot him in the chest.
Those texts by Conrad and Kipling that this thesis investigates, perhaps with the exception of Nostromo, are narratives whose major theme, one may argue, is journey. In
―Heart of Darkness,‖ Marlow travels up the Congo River the meet Kurtz, in Lord Jim the eponymous character travels as far east as he can in order to escape the opprobrium caused by the Patna incident. Set in the late 19th century India under the British Raj, Kipling‘s Kim seems to be similar in many respects: Kim, ―a white boy…who is not a white boy‖ (Kipling
1994:136), is an orphaned child of Irish parents who died in poverty. Living a life of a vagabond, Kim either does menial work for a local horse-dealer Mahbub Ali or begs in the streets of Lahore. One day, Kim acquaints himself with a Tibetan Lama searching for redemption from what he calls the Wheel of Things (mundane troubles of everyday life and corporeal suffering). Soon afterwards, Kim becomes the lama‘s ―chela‖ or disciple.
While accompanying the lama on his journey, Kim, due to his ability to disguise himself and pass both for a native and a white, is recruited into the Great Game, a British secret service scheme whose aim is to prevent Russian infiltrators from inciting a rebellion in one of the northern provinces. Kim is subsequently mistaken for a Mason and receives a high- class education at St. Xavier‘s. Although Kim seems initially to be enthusiastic about his chance to become a sahib, he soon discovers the socio-political and cultural undertones of such education. Kim learns that the major aim of an institution such as St. Xavier‘s is to
'teach' young men how to become loyal and efficient servants of the Raj government (―St
Xavier's looks down on boys who 'go native all-together.' One must never forget that one is a
14 Sahib, and that some day, when examinations are passed, one will command natives. Kim made a note of this, for he began to understand where examinations led‖ (Kipling 1994:188)).
After Kim finishes his three-year study at St.Xavier‘s, the novel shifts into what may be in some respects referred to as an adventure story. Kim reunites with the lama and both make a trip to the Punjab Himalayas. Surprisingly enough, they incidentally encounter and clash with the Russian agents from whom they obtain plans, maps and other articles demonstrating their subversive activities. It has to be said that as opposed to the aforementioned texts by Conrad, Kipling‘s Kim ends in what could be termed an open happy ending. The lama eventually discovers his healing river that frees him from the Wheel of
Things, the Russian attempts to destabilize the Raj government are unsuccessful. As far as
Kim is concerned, he experiences some degree of dissatisfaction and disillusionment since his identity crisis is far from solved – ―Thou hast said there is neither black nor white,‖ tells Kim the lama early in Chapter XV. ―Why plague me with this talk, Holy One? Let me rub the other foot. It vexes me. I am not a sahib. I am thy chela, and my head is heavy on my shoulders‖ (Kipling 1994:358). This dissatisfaction, however, is, one could argue, incomparably less tormenting than that experienced by Conrad‘s characters such as Jim.
Kipling‘s short story ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ is the last of the primary texts whose plot is introduced here. A frame narrative, the story portrays the feats of the two adventurers, Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, who aspire to become kings of Kafiristan, a remote area in what is now the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. Equipped by twenty top- notch Martini-Henry rifles, Dravot and Carnehan intend to use their technological advance to help the local rulers beat their enemies and subsequently win the crown for themselves.
Initially, they are fairly successful. The Kafirs greatly respect the two, particularly Dravot whom they acclaim as the son of Alexander the Great. As in Kim where the eponymous character is allowed to attend the St. Xavier‘s since he supposedly wears a Masonic amulet on
15 his neck, the theme of Freemasonry plays a major part in ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ as well. In fact, one of the reasons why Dravot, a Mason, wins such an extraordinary amount of reverence from the Kafirs is that he seems to be familiar with one of the rituals that the local shamans perform (this ritual is coincidentally strikingly similar to a secret Masonic ritual).
A turning point in the short story occurs when Dravot decides to break a contract he has closed with Carnehan and marry a local girl (in an attempt to secure the success of their colonialist mission to Kafiristan, Dravot and Carnehan sign a contract, a part of which is a pledge that neither of the two shall ever start a relationship with a woman (―Neither Women nor Liquor‖ (Kipling 2003:12)). When Dravot is intimate with the girl, she bites him. Dravot starts to bleed and thus discloses his mortal status. The local shamans subsequently start to vociferate ―Neither god nor devil, but a man‖ (Kipling 2003:39). Realizing they have been fooled from the beginning, the Kafirs kill Dravot by letting him fall into an abyss, and attempt to kill Carnehan by crucifying him. Since the latter survives for a day, the Kafirs, considering this miraculous, eventually free him. To convince the narrator – as has been suggested earlier, the short story is a frame narrative – that his tale is not fictitious, Carnehan shows him
Dravot‘s head still wearing the crown of the ruler of Kafiristan.
Since the texts that are analyzed in this thesis have already been introduced, synopses of the four chapters may now ensue. The first chapter, ―A General Introduction,‖ presents some of the main objects of analysis, introduces all the primary and a number of secondary sources, and acquaints the reader with the structure of the thesis. Moreover, it seeks to clarify some of the concepts, and their interconnections, that are presented in the chapters to follow.
These include primarily aspects of the mutual relatedness between colonialism/imperialism and capitalism (this relatedness is addressed, among others, in the loose comparative analysis of texts by Conrad and Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby) and the applicability, and relevance, of
16 psychoanalysis for an investigation of literature that deals with colonialism and imperialism
(in this case, Conrad and Kipling).
The second chapter, titled ―Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in Conrad‘s ―Heart of
Darkness,‖ Nostromo and Lord Jim,‖ seeks to address the ways in which colonialism and imperialism are represented, subverted or affirmed in the aforementioned texts by Conrad.
Drawing primarily on Edward Said‘s Culture and Imperialism, Margaret Kohn‘s essay
―Colonialism,‖ and Patrick Wolfe‘s ―Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,‖ the second chapter endeavours to provide some sort of a theoretical background to the study of colonialism and imperialism. The two phenomena are thus defined, compared and contrasted with respect to historical, political and etymological circumstances. Colonialism is subsequently divided into exploitation colonialism and settler colonialism, the former referring to such colonialist practices that are directed towards exploiting both the local population and the local resources, the latter referring to such acts that lead to the establishment of a colony and the extermination of the local population so that a new society, emulating the metropole, can be implanted on a new territory.
Furthermore, the second chapter seeks to demonstrate the complexity of colonialism and imperialism, arguing both that no clear-cut boundaries between the two can be identified and that the two social phenomena should not merely be seen as geopolitical or sociological agents. Instead, it is argued therein that colonialism and imperialism may be perceived as extraordinarily complex phenomena that influence not only the political or economic structure of a country but also, in the extreme case, eating habits (the global expansion of companies such as McDonald‘s or KFC can in some respects be seen as an act of cultural imperialism) or the visual aspects of male genitalia (heavily influenced by the American military intervention, the South Koreans commenced, in the early 1950s, for one reason or another, to perform routine circumcision, in the course of less than a decade transforming South Korea from a
17 country where circumcision was virtually non-existent to a country where the procedure was nearly universal (according to the WHO, the prevalence of male circumcision in South Korea was 80-100% as of 2006)).
The introduction of this topic probably needs some clarification with regard to its seeming irrelevance to the investigation of Conrad and Kipling. As has been said earlier, the second chapter of this thesis provides, aside from analyses of the texts in question, theoretical background for the study of colonialism and imperialism. One of the central issues that this theoretical part addresses is the question of power relations. These are, it is argued therein, strikingly complex as a result of which one cannot easily discriminate the dominating and the dominated or the oppressors and the oppressed (be it a nation, an ethnic group, a political party and so on). The author maintains that similar power relations that supposedly were at play in the 1950s Korea could, in a sense, be comparable to those power relations that may be identified in e.g. Nostromo – although the introduction of circumcision to South Korea by the
Americans in the 1950s cannot as such be seen as an act of what could be called armed imperialism (the Koreans were not forced to introduce the procedure into their culture), it could be argued – evidence is provided later in Chapter II – that the American military intervention to South Korea was imperialist in the first place, one that cannot be interpreted as an egalitarian synergy between two equal nations.
In Nostromo, it is true that Gould‘s workers in some respects admire both their master and the enterprise he administers – ―They [the miners] were proud of, and attached to, the mine. It had secured their confidence and belief. They invested in it with a protecting and invincible virtue as though it were a fetish made by their own hands‖ (Conrad 1983:336).
However, having in mind the overall instability of Costaguana (including, one could presume, the absence of an efficient labour market), it should be added that the workers do not seem to have an alternative. It is pretended that they perceive their positions as miners in enthusiastic
18 terms yet they in fact seem to realize that, once the mine ceases to operate, they must inevitably lose theirs jobs. They thus do not appear to be forced to work for Gould as proverbial slaves – efficient mining methods, notes Conrad a number of times make it possible for Gould to mine silver faster without having to exploit the workers as ruthlessly as before when the mine was operated ―mostly by means of lashes on the backs of slaves‖
(Conrad 1983:75) – neither does Gould, like the Americans in South Korea, use brute force to subjugate them. At the same time, however, for reasons provided later in Chapter II, one cannot see the relationship between the miners and Gould in egalitarian terms.
Furthermore, the second chapter seeks to compare and contrast the three Conrad texts in question with regard to aspects of the theme of desire (both sexual and non-sexual) within the context of colonialism and imperialism. To be more precise, it investigates, among others, aspects of what Stephen Ross, in his Conrad and Empire, a work wherein Conrad is interpreted as an author prophesying the end of the nation-state and the emergence of virtually omnipotent multi-national corporations, terms ―the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject‖ (42). Put another way, one of the aims of the second chapter is to address the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to accumulate wealth with respect to the selected characters from the aforementioned texts.
Rather than carrying out a mere textual commentary, the analysis provided in the second chapter is theme-based, focusing on similarities and interconnections among a number of characters, primarily Kurtz (―Heart of Darkness‖), Charles Gould (Nostromo), Martin
Decoud (Nostromo), Jim (Lord Jim) and Stein (Lord Jim). The second chapter also investigates the development of the central characters in question, attempting to analyze what can be inferred from this development about imperialism and colonialism as such.
Moreover, the whole thesis takes into consideration the notion of contrapuntal reading, proposed by Edward Said in his Culture and Imperialism, and demonstrates in what ways this
19 notion can be useful and perhaps even necessary while investigating a piece of literature that deals with the interaction between a number of different societies, cultures etc. The textual analysis of Conrad and Kipling, that is provided in this thesis, seeks to be comparably contrapuntal, i.e. one that takes into consideration ―what is involved when an author shows, for instance, that a colonial sugar plantation is seen as important to the process of maintaining a particular style of life in England‖ (Said 9). To elucidate the notion, ―contrapuntal reading must take account of both processes, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it, which can be done by extending our reading of the texts to include what was once forcibly excluded‖
(Said 9). If a reader intends to read a text contrapuntally they have to do so with an
―awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts‖ (Said 50). Another essential feature of contrapuntal analysis is the awareness that what is silenced in a text can in fact be equally important, or more important, than what is said.
The relevance and importance of the contrapuntal perspective for the study of texts dealing with colonialism and imperialism are demonstrated throughout this thesis. As far as the second chapter is concerned, the primary objects of the contrapuntal analysis are the San
Tome mine in Nostromo, the interaction between Jim and the natives of Patusan in Lord Jim and aspects of the Kurtz character in ―Heart of Darkness.‖ In addition, the second chapter seeks to analyze the ways in which Conrad gives voice to, or silences, the Other (i.e. the natives from the colonies) as well as to what extent it is true or untrue that the non-European countries are perceived by Conrad as a mere ―metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the European enters at his own peril.‖ This quotation comes from Chinua Achebe‘s 1975 lecture given at the University of Massachusetts. The lecture, titled ―An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness,‖ addresses
Conrad‘s apparent treatment of the Africans as inherently inferior beings without language or
20 human expression. Conrad, argues Achebe further on, depicts Africa as a mere ―foil to
Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe‘s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.‖
The third chapter, titled ―Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in
Kipling‘s Kim and ―The Man Who Would Be King,‖ elaborates on some of the aspects of the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to amass wealth. Yet as opposed to the second chapter, this is done from what could be referred to as an evolutionary perspective. The object of the analysis is the ways in which Kipling portrays what Erich Fromm in his To Have or to
Be terms ―the ever-decreasing determination of behaviour by instincts‖ (136): in an attempt to secure the success of their colonialist mission to Kafiristan, Dravot and Carnehan sign a contract, a part of which is a pledge that neither of the two shall ever start a relationship with a woman (―Neither Women nor Liquor‖ (Kipling 2003:12)). Their sexual instinct is thus to be seen as consciously suppressed, which, the protagonists believe, is a necessary sacrifice that they both have to make before they commence their journey to Kafiristian where, presumes
Dravot, ―we are going…to be Kings‖ (Kipling 2003:12).
In addition, drawing on John Kucich‘s Imperial Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class, an elaborately written book discussing aspects of the interplay between the imperialist expansion and (sexual) masochism, that is portrayed as a means of building and maintaining the empire, the third chapter addressed the ways in which self-denial, forced celibacy and, if the notion is taken to its extreme, suicide function as vehicles that not only help maintain the empire overseas but also help create what may be called the imperialist attitude (i.e. a public consent with the imperialist expansion, ethical justification of the empire and so on).
The third chapter of this thesis further attempts to compare and contrast Conrad and
Kipling with regard to those themes that the two authors seem both to be concerned with.
21 These include desire/temptation; idealism/false expectations; and what Ross terms ―the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject‖ (42). The aim is, among others, to argue that, while Conrad and Kipling seem in many respects different, they may not justifiably be perceived as one contradicting the other (in his The
Mythology of Imperialism, Jonah Raskin claims that ―Conrad and Kipling are fundamentally dissimilar…Kipling was an imperialist. Conrad was an anti-imperialist‖ (55). One of the aims of the third chapter is thus to argue against this assumption, suggesting that despite a number of differences, both authors may in many respects be seen as fairly similar and, perhaps, even comparable).
Moreover, the third chapter of this thesis addresses linguistic aspects of Kipling‘s texts, focusing primarily on the postcolonial notions of abrogation and appropriation.
Although the analysis of various aspects of language centres upon Kipling and his Kim, other sources, including those written by Conrad, are considered as well. In her article ―Postcolonial
Studies: Language,‖ Jennifer Margulis demonstrates the supreme relevance of language in analysing texts dealing with colonialism and imperialism as follows:
Language is often a central question in postcolonial studies. During
colonization, colonizers usually imposed or encouraged the dominance of their
native language onto the peoples they colonized, even forbidding natives to
speak their mother tongues. Many writers educated under colonization recount
how students were demoted, humiliated, or even beaten for speaking their
native language in colonial schools. In response to the systematic imposition of
colonial languages, some postcolonial writers and activists advocate a
complete return to the use of indigenous languages. Others see the language
(e.g. English) imposed by the colonizer as a more practical alternative, using
the colonial language both to enhance inter-nation communication…and to
22 counter a colonial past through de-forming a ―standard‖ European tongue and
re-forming it in new literary forms. (1)
This deformation and reformation of the master tongue seem roughly to coincide with the notions of abrogation and appropriation. These notions are discussed in considerable detail in the postcolonial book The Empire Writes Back authored by Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin.
Therein, a radical rejection of the Eurocentric perception of language and literature is provided by Ashcroft et al. and the notions of abrogation and appropriation are elucidated, the former referring to ―a refusal of the categories of the imperial culture, its aesthetic, its illusory standard of normative or ―correct‖ usage, and its assumption of a traditional and fixed meaning ―inscribed‖ in the words‖ (38), the latter referring to ―the process by which the language is made to ―bear the burden‖ of one‘s own cultural experience…Language is adopted as a tool and utilized to express widely differing cultural experiences‖ (38-39).
The final chapter of this thesis, titled ―Conclusion,‖ briefly summarizes the major concepts investigated, providing some additional information that is not included in the foregoing chapters on account of coherence and cohesion. In addition, it seeks to emphasize the diachronic relevance of the study of colonialism and imperialism and, more specifically,
Conrad and Kipling (that is, what can be inferred from some of the critical events in the texts in question, or the development of their characters, about the long-term and short-term effects of colonialism and imperialism). In so doing, the hermeneutical complexity of the two phenomena is re-demonstrated.
23 II. Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Nostromo and
The aim of this chapter is to explore the ways in which colonialism and imperialism are represented, affirmed or subverted in a novella and two novels by Joseph Conrad, namely
―Heart of Darkness,‖ Nostromo and Lord Jim. It begins with an attempt to elucidate the apparently mutually exchangeable terms colonialism and imperialism, demonstrating that the borderline between the two is rather difficult to delineate. In addition, imperialism, defined by
Said in his Culture and Imperialism as ―the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan centre ruling a distant territory,‖ (8) and colonialism that Said refers to as ―the implanting of settlements on distant territory‖ (8) are contrasted to what may be termed cultural interaction – a process in which a nation influences another nation in one way or another, yet this influence cannot be regarded either as a result of imperialism or colonialism. This will be done both with respect to the three texts by Conrad and a number of social and political phenomena of the late 19th and 20th century.
While discussing aspects of the imperialism/colonialism divide, a number of sources, in addition to Said‘s Culture and Imperialism, are taken into consideration. These include e.g.
Kohn‘s essay ―Colonialism‖ wherein, among others, a historical overview of the two notions from antiquity till present is provided as well as an etymological elucidation of the terms, and
Wolfe‘s ―Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,‖ a text that discusses the contrast between exploitation colonialism and settler colonialism, the former referring to such colonialist practices that are directed towards exploiting both the local population and the local resources, the latter referring to such acts that lead to the establishment of a colony and the extermination of the local population so that a new society, emulating the metropole, can be implanted on a new territory: ―Settler colonialism,‖ argues Wolfe, thus ―destroys to
24 replace.‖ Wolfe then adds that, as far as settler colonialism is concerned, ―invasion‖ is to be seen as ―a structure, not an event‖ (3).
Aside from colonialism and imperialism that both presuppose unequal power relations, a relationship between two countries may be based on equal power relations. That is, while one country may influence another, this influence may not necessarily be seen as based on explicit exploitation or annihilation. If this is the case, the term cultural interaction can be introduced. One could argue that a number of instances of cultural interaction can be identified in the contemporary world: the so called ‗mcdonaldization‘ and ‗cocacolization‘ of the world as well as the unprecedented proliferation of the English language across the globe may serve as examples.
Yet each of these issues seems to be relatively long-familiar and fairly abundantly researched by social scientists and scholars: e.g. in The McDonaldization of Society, George
Ritzer discusses aspects of how the fast food chain has become an element determining the behaviour of large masses of people across the globe: ―The principles of the fast-food restaurant,‖ maintains Ritzer, ―are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world‖ (2); in Linguistic Imperialism, Robert Phillipson investigates the phenomenon of English as an international language, focusing on the whys and wherefores of the language‘s dominant position. According to Phillipson, the British
Council, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can be identified as the three major institutions that promote English globally, attempting to preserve its dominant position at the expense of other languages. This is done, argues Phillipson (271), by intrinsic (English is a noble as well as a superior language), extrinsic (no other language boasts such a large number of speakers, qualified teachers etc.), and functional arguments. These refer, rather ambiguously, to the apparent fact that English appears to be extraordinarily useful and practical/functional language.
25 It could be argued, however, that not all forms of cultural interaction boast such a wide critical coverage and general awareness. One of these may be the introduction of male circumcision to South Korea (and elsewhere) by the United States in the 1950s (and onwards).
In the second chapter of this thesis, this issue will primarily be discussed as an example of how difficult it is to distinguish a mere cultural interaction from imperialism. As far as this particular cultural phenomenon is concerned, the analysis is based on the following sources:
DaiSik Kim‘s ―Male circumcision: a South Korean perspective,‖ Karen Paige‘s ―The Ritual of Circumcision‖ and Raning Krishnan‘s ―Early History of US Imperialism in Korea.‖
Furthermore, the second chapter endeavours to compare and contrast the three Conrad texts in question with regard to aspects of the theme of desire (both sexual and non-sexual) in the context of colonialism and imperialism. To be more precise, it studies, among others, aspects of what Stephen Ross, in his Conrad and Empire, a work wherein Conrad is interpreted as an author prophesying the end of the nation-state and the emergence of virtually omnipotent multi-national corporations, terms ―the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject‖ (42). Put another way, this chapter discusses the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to accumulate wealth with respect to the selected characters from the aforementioned texts. Rather than carrying out a mere textual commentary, the analysis is theme-based, focusing on similarities and interconnections among a number of characters, primarily Kurtz (―Heart of Darkness‖), Charles Gould
(Nostromo), Martin Decoud (Nostromo), Jim (Lord Jim) and Stein (Lord Jim). The chapter also investigates the development of the central characters in question, attempting to analyze what can be inferred from this development about imperialism and colonialism as such.
This chapter is not limited to the analysis of the three texts by Conrad, nevertheless. It also includes references to Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby and strives, from the radically humanist point of view presented by Erich Fromm in his To Have or to Be, to focus on how
26 the modern industrial capital-oriented society tends to exile some of its members on account of their inability, or refusal, to participate in what Fromm refers to as ―the having mode of existence‖ (12) – i.e. human existence that is based on consumption, greed and the need to fulfil every human desire.
Although the relevance of Fitzgerald‘s magnum opus to Conrad may seem questionable, it can be argued that both The Great Gatsby and the three texts by Conrad can be seen as critiques of the hollowness of laissez-faire capitalism and the decadence, alienation and destruction it seems inevitably to induce. Gatsby‘s bootlegging career that he embarks on so as to become worthy of his beloved Daisy seems, in a sense, to be foretold by Kurtz‘s exploits in the Congo (―Heart of Darkness‖) where he is driven in order to improve his social status; Nick Carraway‘s realization of the essence of the true self as well as the dangers of committing oneself to a dream, then appears to be paralleled by Jim‘s breakdown in Patusan
(Lord Jim) or Martin Decoud‘s psychological collapse on a boat off the cost of the Great
Isabel island (Nostromo).
In The Great Gatsby, the dichotomy between those who are considered successful by society (i.e. those who are rich and powerful) and those who are not (i.e. the poor and the exploited) is determined geographically: while the former live in either West Egg or East Egg, the latter reside in the valley of ashes (in fact a stretch of land made up of industrial ashes that symbolizes the social and moral decay of the society and its apotheosis of wealth and power).
This chapter attempts to analyze aspects of a comparable ‗valley-of-ashes‘ theme throughout the selected texts by Conrad, asserting that the Congo (in case of ―Heart of Darkness‖), South
America (in case of Nostromo) and South East Pacific (in case of Lord Jim) are, as the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby, exile destinations where expatriates from Europe move either to start a new life in ―the being mode of existence‖ (12), to use Fromm‘s notion, accumulate wealth in order to satisfy the demands of the society of their origin, or both at the same time.
27 Although the relevance of To Have or to Be – a 1976 philosophical text written by
Fromm, a member of the Frankfurt School – to Conrad may also seem questionable, one could argue that both Fromm and Conrad seem primarily interested in aspects of why a large number of the members of the developed Western societies, in spite of being secured materially, experience, rather than happiness, depression and frustration: ―We are,‖ maintains
Fromm, ―a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent – people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save‖
(13). This point seems to be particularly resonant both in the Kurtz character in ―Heart of
Darkness‖ (who is driven to destruction by his obsession with possession) and the whole novel Nostromo, where silver acts as an agent that brings destruction to virtually anyone associated with it (Gould, Emilia, Decoud, Nostromo, Dr. Monygham etc). Taking into consideration perspectives provided by Fromm in his To Have or to Be, one may argue, could thus be seen as essential to understand fully the dynamics involved in the process of educated and intellectually gifted people (e.g. Kurtz or Decoud) gradually becoming destructive and destructed.
Furthermore, drawing on the notion of contrapuntal reading, proposed by Said in his
Culture and Imperialism, the analysis of Conrad‘s texts is intended to be comparably contrapuntal, i.e. one that takes into consideration ―what is involved when an author shows, for instance, that a colonial sugar plantation is seen as important to the process of maintaining a particular style of life in England‖ (Said 9). In other words, ―contrapuntal reading must take account of both processes, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it, which can be done by extending our reading of the texts to include what was once forcibly excluded‖ (Said 9).
Reading contrapuntally thus means reading with an ―awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts‖ (Said 50).
28 To illustrate the point, if an author depicts a black family who work as servants for white aristocrats in, say, Jamaica, and the author simultaneously stresses the black family‘s material security, health and general happiness provided by the whites, a non-contrapuntal reader may conclude that the black family is truly content with their lives. Yet in contrapuntal terms one also has to take into consideration that, in order to be able to work for the whites and live ‗happy‘ lives, the black family have to abandon their traditional customs and accept a bigger or lesser degree of disruption of the traditional social structure (e.g. they may not be able to meet their fellow villagers or relatives as frequently as they would like to, participate in rituals etc.).
As far as the second chapter of this thesis is concerned, the major subjects of contrapuntal interpretation are the San Tome mine in Nostromo, the interaction between Jim and the natives of Patusan in Lord Jim and aspects of the Kurtz character in ―Heart of
Darkness.‖ Moreover, this chapter seeks to analyze the ways in which Conrad gives voice to, or silences, the Other (i.e. the natives from the colonies) as well as to what extent it is justifiable to claim that the non-European countries are perceived by Conrad as a mere
―metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the European enters at his own peril.‖ This citation comes from Chinua Achebe‘s 1975 lecture given at the
University of Massachusetts. The lecture, titled ―An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's
Heart of Darkness,‖ addresses Conrad‘s apparent treatment of the Africans as inherently inferior beings without language or human expression. Conrad, argues Achebe, depicts Africa as a mere ―foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe's own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.‖
As has been suggested earlier, the terms colonialism and imperialism may seem to be mutually exchangeable. However, certain differences could be pointed out. From the etymological point of view, the word ―colony‖ is derived from the Latin term ―colonus,‖
29 meaning ―farmer.‖ The etymological origin of the word ―imperium‖ is the Latin expression
―imperio,‖ meaning ―to command.‖ Therefore,
the practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to a new
territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining
political allegiance to their country of origin [while] the term imperialism
draws attention to the way that one country exercises power over another,
whether through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect mechanisms of control.
Imperialism could thus be perceived as a rather abstract theoretical or ideological notion whose objective frequently, though not always, is justification of the colonialist practices, i.e. the subjugation of the native population and the exploitation of the local resources. Early in ―Heart of Darkness,‖ Marlow, conversing with other sailors on board the
Nellie, presents the following point:
The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those
who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not
a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only.
An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an
unselfish belief in the idea—something you can set up, and bow down before,
and offer a sacrifice to… (10)
What Marlow seems to do is in fact suggest a borderline between what may be called colonialism, in this case exploitation colonialism, and what may already be understood as imperialism, i.e. ―the conquest of the earth‖ justified by ―an idea at the back of it.‖ What he also demonstrates is the difference in tangibility of the two concepts. While colonialism is fairly tangible in the sense that the colonialist practices are directed towards a concrete tangible goal – in ―Heart of Darkness‖ it is the acquisition of ivory, in Nostromo silver –
30 imperialism is considerably more abstract and ambiguous. Perhaps this ambiguity may be understood as an attempt to obfuscate the fact that ―the idea at the back of it‖ is a mere justification for the exploitation of the native population, regardless of whether it is disguised as an act of mission civilisatrice or not; perhaps, by using this term, Marlow attempts to describe the social Darwinian or geographically determinist dynamic operating within the
British society in the late 19th century, i.e. the belief in the colonialist exploitation being only a by-product of the British superiority that grants the British the right to possess still more and more land as well as resources (including slave labour).
Furthermore, Kohn maintains that ―the term colonialism is frequently used to describe the settlement of North America, Australia…Algeria, and Brazil, places that were controlled by a large population of permanent European residents [whereas] the term imperialism,‖ continues Kohn, ―often describes cases in which a foreign government administers a territory without significant settlement.‖ In theoretical terms, such a definition seems to be appropriate in the sense that it captures the differences between e.g. North America settled by the British expatriates in the 17th century and equatorial Africa or the Philippines of the late 19th century where there was no such permanent settlement. However, this definition has limitations as well. In terms of the novel Nostromo, the following lines attempt to demonstrate that colonialism and imperialism should not be perceived as binary oppositions excluding one another, but rather as constituting a continuum where one concept gradually becomes another and vice versa. It could thus be argued that the dynamics operating in Costaguana are both colonialist and imperialist.
Indeed, there is no major permanent settlement in Costaguana and, such as there is, is limited to the port of Sulaco where several affluent families of European descent live. One could thus suppose that the territory is under imperialist domination only. However, such a conclusion may not necessarily be quite appropriate. To elucidate the point, let us consider the
31 relationship between Charles Gould and the native Costaguaneros and the Holroyd House of
San Francisco on whom Gould depends heavily in financial terms. While the influence of the
American capital may be interpreted as an instance of imperialism – the Americans do not have any settlement in Costaguana yet they shape its society and politics by providing Gould with funds, enabling him to continue to develop and operate the San Tome mine – the relationship between Gould and the Costaguaneros carries certain traces of colonialism.
The Gould family, as opposed to Kurtz, cannot be seen as one-off invaders who come to a foreign country to loot, exploit and run away. The Goulds, whose ancestors ―fought in the cause of independence under Bolivar, in that famous English legion which on the battlefield of Carabobo had been saluted by the great Liberator as Saviours of his country‖ (Conrad
1983:71), have been established in Costaguana for three generations and are an integral force shaping the social and political composition of the whole country. One could indeed speculate whether Gould‘s grandfather‘s initial motive to come to Costaguana was truly to fight for the freedom of the country – whatever this freedom is supposed to refer to – or whether his major incentive was in fact to amass wealth. Irrespective of what the truth is, the Goulds have stayed in Costaguana long enough to be considered permanent citizens. Indeed, despite the turbulent political situation in the country, Gould stands resolute against Sotillo and is reluctant to leave
Costaguana in order not to surrender the silver mine to the rebels (by doing so, it may seem,
Gould displays some emotional ties to the country. The question is, of course, whether these emotions are false, and whether he is exclusively interested in the mine and its wealth rather than the country as such).
Regardless of what the truth is, it seems fairly justifiable to claim that Gould can be identified as being situated somewhere in the centre of the imperialism/colonialism continuum. He was not invited to the country and his aim is to exploit it. Yet, it should be noted, he intends to make his business long-term profitable (in fact, admits Gould, ―there is no
32 going back. Where could we begin life afresh? We are in now for all that there is in us‖
(Conrad 1983:100)). Therefore, he can be seen as a representation both of settler colonialism and exploitation colonialism, and, due to his dependence on the Holroyd House, of imperialism.
In order to understand the dynamics involved in colonialism and imperialism it may be worthwhile to introduce the theme of seamanship which is, one could argue, central to the three analyzed texts. In Nostromo, The O.S.N. Company is a representation of the British efficiency. The company ―stands very high for trustworthiness‖ (Conrad 1983:44) as a result of which ―people declare that under the Company‘s care their lives and property were safer on the water than in their own houses on shore‖ (Conrad 1983:44). The O.S.N. Company may thus be seen as an instance of imperialist domination. A more or less explicit reference to The
British East India Company, an institution that played a significant part in the British conquest of India and other parts of South East Asia, The O.S.N. Company can be viewed as a means of building and maintaining empire, an instance of knowledge and technology (e.g. steamship, cartography etc.) becoming power, that introduces and perpetuates unequal power relations between the imperialists and the subjugated peoples. Without the O.S.N. Company, headed by
Captain Mitchell, one may argue Gould would not be able to continue operating the mine and exporting silver out of Costaguana. This would immediately result in Gould‘s losing financial support from the Holroyd House.
What is more, the proliferation of companies such as The O.S.N. or The British East
India Company throughout the world may, to a certain degree, be interpreted as an instance of settler colonialism. By despatching a large navy to various places, be it Costaguana in
Nostromo or Malaysia/Indonesia/Philippines in Lord Jim, the metropole indirectly ―settles‖ these territories. The only difference is that in this case the settlement is not represented by people establishing villages or towns on a distant territory but rather by sailors on board ships
33 who establish trade routes and ports (in his The Imperial British Navy; How the Colonies
Began to Think Imperially upon the Future of the Navy, an imperialist non-fiction book portraying, and calling for, the emergence of a large navy federation (Canadian, Australian,
New Zealander, South African and, surprisingly, Indian) that is supposed to defend, along with the British naval forces, the whole of the British Empire, H.C. Ferraby maintains that
―the British Empire is the child of the sea and only by the sea can it live‖ (13)).
As a matter of fact, it could be suggested that the major reason why Jim‘s failure to remain on board the sinking Patna (which, however, eventually does not sink, leaving no casualties or tangible damage to the cargo) results in his being stripped of his certificate, and perhaps more importantly, being compelled, to use George Panichas‘ words (Joseph Conrad:
His Moral Vision), ―in the end to peer into his deepest self and then to relinquish the charm and innocence of illusions‖ (15), and to admit that his ―heroic dream of saving people from sinking ships, cutting away masts in a hurricane, swimming through a surf with a line does not square with what he really represents: one who falls from grace, and whose crime is a breach of faith with the community of mankind‖ (Panichas 15), is that he proves to be inefficient and thus harmful to the reputation of the British seamanship in Asia.
What seems to matter to the jury judging Jim most, one could infer, is therefore not the tangible material consequences of Jim‘s escape, which are virtually non-existent. Rather,
Jim‘s guilt rests in stripping the British naval officers of their privileged status and the British navy of its flawless reputation, both severe hindrances to the colonialist and imperialist expansion of the metropole. Without an efficient navy, one could argue, Britain would lose a fundamental instrument not only for its own expansion but also its own survival: ―The
Empire,‖ proposes Ferraby, ―is a living organism whose parts are all interdependent and highly sensitive in their relations. A stab at the heart may put it to death more suddenly, but
34 perhaps not more surely, than the severing of a remote artery or the wound of a nerve centre‖
As has been proposed earlier, both colonialism and imperialism presume the existence of unequal power relations between the colonists and the colonized. Therefore, some kind of domination is an inherent part of both. With regard to the practice of male circumcision introduced by the United States in South Korea in the 1950s, the following lines attempt to demonstrate that it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to draw a concrete line between what can be considered domination and what is merely a cultural interaction based on more or less equal power relations.
In ―Male circumcision: a South Korean perspective,‖ DaiSik Kim argues that
Throughout their long history, Koreans did not circumcise males until 1945,
when Korea gained its independence after 36 years of Japanese occupation.
Independence brought trusteeship by the American military in the southern
half of the country. Many thousands of American troops were involved in the
Korean War, starting from its outbreak in 1950, and remain heavily involved in
the military institutions. The present day routine circumcision of teenage and
adult males, as well as infant boys in South Korea, has its roots in this
American involvement; 1950 can be safely regarded as the year when wide-
scale circumcision started in South Korea. (28)
A relevant question here seems to be why did the Koreans accede to such a cultural intervention in the first place? Why did they, in the course of merely a decade, willingly and freely transform South Korea from a country where circumcision had been virtually non- existent to a country where circumcision prevalence is still one of the highest in the world? Is it possible, one may also ask, to identify a parallel between the proliferation of companies such as McDonalds across the world, that, aside from their products, also spread certain
35 ideologies (one should eat fast, only unified and standardized food should be served, a
BigMac bought in downtown London should be exactly the same as one bought at the outskirts of, say, Karachi), and circumcision, that its promoters, e.g. ―Bill Gates [who] has donated $50 million to an ambitious program to circumcise up to 650,000 men from the
African nations of Swaziland and Zambia in an attempt to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is ravaging the continent‖ (gatesfoundation.org), frequently associate with health, cleanliness, resistance to STDs, lower risk of penile cancer etc?
Another question that can be raised here is whether such an influence can be regarded as an instance of imperialism or whether it can only be seen as a cultural interaction based on equal relations. Although the introduction of circumcision to South Korea may be considered a reproduction of American beliefs on a distant area, the United States did not use, at least not directly, their military or economic superiority to forcefully impose their cultural practices on the South Koreans. Yet if one considers the historical and socio-political circumstances, such a view may be challenged. Circumcision, suggests Kim, appeared in South Korea when the country became independent of the Japanese colonial rule whose end was indeed precipitated by the American military intervention in the area. It should be pointed out, however, that to perceive the relationship between South Korea and the United States as one between a liberated nation and a liberating nation where equal power relations apply may be fairly misleading.
In fact, the American-Korean interaction started not during the Second World War but in 1882 when the Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation between the Kingdom of Choson (Korea) and the United States was signed. This treaty, maintained Ronald Reagan
100 years after in a speech, ―marked a new chapter in the history of Northeast Asia and was the auspicious beginning of an enduring partnership between the United States and
Korea…Americans are proud,‖ emphasized Reagan, ―of the role they have played in Korean
36 history, especially during these last 100 years. In 1945, American solders were crucial to the restoration of this ancient land‘s independence.‖ Under the veneer of mock-politeness, however, Reagan seems to be reluctant to speak of certain historical facts and events that had preceded the singing of the treaty. To be precise, according to Krishnan, head of the Centre for East Asian Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University at New Delhi, and his ―Early
History of US Imperialism in Korea,‖ Reagan was
indulging in something more than rhetoric. He was distorting the history of
US-Korean relations and the American role in Korean history…US-Korean
relations did not begin with the Treaty of 1882. It would also be wrong to
characterize the Treaty as marking a new chapter in the history of Northeast
Asia in any positive sense. The Treaty was preceded by more than a decade
and a half of stormy relations marked by the efforts of the Koreans to resist the
intimidatory and aggressive activities of the US armed vessels and naval
expeditionary forces to force open the Hermit Kingdom. The Treaty should
therefore been seen more as a product of the gunboat diplomacy that the US
employed just like any other imperialist power of the 19th century. (3)
One could thus conclude that, while the sharp increase in the number of circumcised South
Koreans was not the result of a direct imperialist imposition of the metropole‘s beliefs and values on a distant territory, certain dynamics behind this social change may be seen as essentially imperialist.
It would indeed be far beyond the confines of this thesis to analyze in detail all historical and socio-political aspects of circumcision. The actual reasons why the South
Koreans commenced to perform the procedure are thus relatively unclear and perhaps even irrelevant to the study of Conrad, Kipling and colonialism/imperialism. One may perhaps speculate that the introduction of circumcision to South Korea could be seen as a form of
37 cultural emulation where the newly liberated country emulates the cultural practices of the liberating nation. Such a claim, however, needs further evidence.
As has been suggested earlier, efficiency is an essential theme in all the Conrad texts in question. In each of these texts, (the belief in) efficiency seems to play a central role. In
―Heart of Darkness,‖ Kurtz‘s belief in efficiency gives way to what Evelyn Cobley, in her
Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency: Ideology and Fiction, terms ―criminal obsession with efficiency for its own sake‖ (195). Ivory is no longer a commodity, an object of trade or commerce. Instead, it becomes ―a privileged signifier or fetish‖ (195). As far as Nostromo is concerned, modern technology (new rifles, advanced mining methods, the steamship) provides the Europeans of Sulaco with means to defy a considerably larger number of the natives. Efficient mining methods make it possible for Gould to mine silver faster without having to exploit the workers as ruthlessly as before when the mine was operated ―mostly by means of lashes on the backs of slaves‖ (Conrad 75).
In Lord Jim, Jim could be characterized as an antithesis to efficiency and discipline, a man determined to ―lounge safely through existence‖ (Conrad 13). Jim is depicted by Conrad as an individual ―attuned to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea [who] loves short passages, good deck-chairs, large native crews, and the distinction of being white‖ (13), one who ―shuddered at the thought of hard work, and led precariously easy lives, always on the verge of dismissal, always on the verge of engagement, serving Chinamen, Arabs, half-castes
– would have served the devil himself had he made it easy enough‖ (13). The following paragraphs attempt to investigate aspects of the interplay between desire (sexual and asexual) and efficiency, focusing, in terms of the aforementioned texts, on the bipolarity of desire in the colonial context (i.e. the fact that desire can simultaneously be seen both as a motivation for a colonialist exploitation and a destructive force that decreases the colonizers‘ ability to establish and maintain a dominion).
38 In his To Have or to Be, Fromm analyzes aspects of what he terms The Great Promise
– ―the promise of domination of nature, of material abundance, of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, and of unimpeded personal freedom‖ (11) – and attempts to determine the reasons why the modern industrial society appears to fail to fulfil this promise, as a result of which ―we are a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent – people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save‖ (13). Fromm (12-13) further maintains that the failure of the Great Promise
―was built into the industrial system by its two main psychological premises: (1) that the aim of life is happiness, that is, maximum pleasure, defined as the satisfaction of any desire or subjective need a person may feel (radical hedonism); (2) that egotism, selfishness, and greed, as the system needs to generate them in order to function, lead to harmony and peace.‖ He then concludes by arguing that ―pursuit of happiness does not produce well-being‖ (15).
This argument appears to be resonant both in terms of ―Heart of Darkness‖ and
Nostromo. Kurtz, haunted by an inferiority complex caused by his low social status that stands in the way of his sexual desire and social aspirations, embarks on a journey to the
Congo in order to procure wealth and thus become worthy of his Intended. In his Conrad and
Empire, a non-fiction work wherein the Anglo-Polish author is seen as foretelling the end of the nation-state and the emergence of virtually omnipotent multi-national corporations,
Stephen Ross refers to Kurtz as
a victim of the impingement of Imperial economic imperatives into the
libidinal life of the subject. His desire for the Intended is thwarted by class
considerations that ultimately come down to money; in response, he undertakes
a particularly dangerous but promisingly lucrative enterprise to earn the
satisfaction of his libidinal desire – all under the sign of such honourable
intentions as serve to assuage public uneasiness about imperialism and private
39 qualms about not only the pursuit of sexual gratification, but social status and
respectability as well… Being designated as not good enough because he is not
rich enough, Kurtz unthinkingly buys into the very system that so reduces him.
That is, he not only ties his own worth to his financial wherewithal, but also
makes the Intended into a commodity, the right to enjoyment of which he can
earn. Accepting the notion that success as a human being is tied to financial
success, Kurtz goes off to become a self-made man, intending to use the
machinery of capitalist social climbing as a means to the end of his libidinal
desires…Faced with the indefinite deferral of his libidinal desire, Kurtz
devotes all his energy to procuring ivory, believing that the satisfaction of his
personal desire is inextricably tied to his generation of wealth for the
In the light of Fromm‘s arguments provided above, Kurtz could thus, in Fromm‘s terms, be seen as a radical hedonist. His life is directed towards the satiation of all the desires he feels
(the desire to become rich; to be respected both by other people and, perhaps more importantly, himself; and to be loved). Yet, as Fromm suggests, ―unrestricted satisfaction of all desires is not conducive to well-being, nor is it the way to happiness or even maximum pleasure‖ (12) for one desire tends to breed another. Kurtz travels to the Congo in order to make money so that his love for the Intended can be consummated. Yet the Intended, one could maintain, soon becomes, rather than an object of a true love, a commodity. The consummation of the relationship can only occur if Kurtz is rich enough, the Intended can therefore be viewed as a trophy wife, the same position that is also occupied by a number of
―wild and gorgeous…savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent‖ (Conrad 1994:88)
40 Charles Gould of Nostromo seems to be similar to Kurtz in some respects, dissimilar in others. His desire to operate the San Tome mine soon turns into obsession, silver ceases to be a commodity or an object of trade and instead becomes a fetish (like ivory for Kurtz).
What is more, instead of bringing Gould happiness (or, one could argue, anyone associated with it), the mine is depicted as a destructive element both to the people and the country. In his Joseph Conrad: His Moral Vision, Panichas refers to Gould as
supremely ―a great captain of industry‖ whose ambition is concretized finally
in the ―Consolidated San Tome mines‖ with their endless resources of silver,
gold, copper, lead, cobalt. To achieve his goal in the face of constant political
strife and revolution requires of him steadfastness. His vision of power
becomes his mistress and his destiny, as well as his exclusive moral purpose.
Instead of becoming an independent master of his life out of the reach of the restraints of the
British society – Gould is reluctant to return to England and fulfil his father‘s promise not to continue the operation of the mine and instead seek a career in Britain – Gould seems to
―become [a] cog in the bureaucratic machine, with [his] thoughts, feelings, and tastes manipulated by government and industry and the mass communications that they control‖
(Fromm 12). He lives, it could be argued, in enslavement as he is dependent on the ―financial backing from the great house of Holroyd‖ (Conrad 1983:203).
Furthermore, one of the similarities between Gould and Kurtz is the interference of material interests into the sexual lives of the individuals. However, the two characters differ in that the dynamics behind this interference appear to take different trajectories: as has been suggested, Kurtz endeavours to amass wealth in order to become worthy of his Intended, a goal he never reaches, and is instead ―faced with the indefinite deferral of his libidinal desire
[as a result of which] he devotes all his energy to procuring ivory, believing that the
41 satisfaction of his personal desire is inextricably tied to his generation of wealth…for the
Company‖ (Ross 42). The Intended thus becomes commoditised and asexualized even before
Kurtz actually takes possession of her. Gould, on the contrary, does not have to win Emilia‘s love; the two are a married couple constituted by two opposite poles, a materialist who lives his life in the having mode of existence (i.e. a life that is directed towards ownership) and an altruist that is more concerned about being than having – when Nostromo, shot and dying, attempts to disclose to Emilia the location of the stolen bar of silver, she stops him, saying:
―Oh, no! No!...Isn‘t it lost and done with? Isn‘t there enough treasure without it to make everybody in the world miserable‖ (Conrad 1983:458)?
In addition, while for Kurtz, one could assert, the Intended is merely an abstract vision, inaccessible and out of reach, Emilia is for Gould a concrete person whose company he can share daily. Towards the ending of the novel, the Goulds, however, experience a considerable degree of alienation caused by Charles‘ preoccupation with the management of the San Tome mine and the fact that ―he had to keep a tight hand on his feelings, dealing with thieves and rascals, in constant danger for himself and wife for so many years, that it had become a second nature‖ (Conrad 1983:406). As a result, Charles becomes as unattainable for
Emilia as the Intended for Kurtz. In his article ―Sex, Silver, and Biblical Analogues: Thematic and Intertextual Resolutions at the End of Nostromo,‖ Brian Richardson provides an analysis of Nostromo with regard to sex and sexuality, focusing, as the title suggests, on the symbolic interplay between silver and sex: ―We may now,‖ proposes Richardson (301), ―look at the intertwined role of silver and sexuality in the book or, more precisely, how silver acts as a fetish and takes the place of sexual love, a connection that has not received adequate attention from Conrad scholars. Early in the book,‖ continues Richardson, ―we see Nostromo suddenly encounter his lover, Paquita. He has no time for her; when she publicly demands a present, the penniless Nostromo invites her to climb onto his boot and cut the silver buttons off his coat
42 before he rides away (98). Mrs. Gould,‖ concludes Richardson (301), ―loses her husband to the administration of the silver mine, or as the narrator phrases it, ―the latest phase of the history of the mine Mrs. Gould knew from personal experience. It was in essence the history of their married life‖.‖
Conrad may perhaps also be interpreted in Freudian terms. In his To Have or to Be,
Fromm (87-88) introduces Freud‘s concept of the anal character. An apology has to be provided for the length of the following quotation. This concept, however, appears to be relevant to Conrad in that in all the three texts analyzed in this thesis, one (or more) anal characters appear and shape the narrative in a substantial way. Understanding this concept, one could argue, thus enables a more consolidated approach to the two novels and the novella in question.
A helpful approach to understand the mode of having is to recall one of
Freud‘s most significant findings, that after going through their infant phase of
mere passive receptivity followed by a phase of aggressive exploitative
receptivity all children, before they reach maturity, go through a phase
designated the anal-erotic. Freud discovered that this phase often remains
dominant during a person‘s development, and that when it does it leads to the
development of the anal character, i.e. the character of a person whose main
energy in life is directed towards having, saving, and hoarding money and
material things as well as feelings, gestures, words, energy. It is the character
of the stingy individual and is usually connected with such traits as orderliness,
punctuality, stubbornness, each to a more than ordinary degree. An important
aspect of Freud‘s concept is the symbolic connection between money and
faeces – gold and dirt – of which he quotes a number of examples…What
matters is that Freud‘s view that the predominant orientation in possession
43 occurs in the period before the achievement of full maturity and is pathological
if it remains permanent. For Freud…the person exclusively concerned with
having and possession is a neurotic, mentally sick person; hence it would
follow that the society in which most of the members are anal characters is a
Although Conrad does not provide the reader with a portrayal of either Kurtz‘s or Gould‘s childhood, and it is thus difficult to determine whether their ―narcissistic obsession with possession‖ (Ross 41) has been formulated before the achievement of full maturity, the claim that both protagonists can be perceived as anal characters seems to be justifiable. What is more, both characters appear to vindicate Freud‘s aforementioned argument; that is, that an individual whose exclusive concern is having and possession is neurotic and, one could infer, destructive. To illustrate the point, Kurtz gives himself to the pursuit of wealth so unswervingly that, in the view of Ross, he
ends up capitulating to the logic of the very imperative that frustrated his desire
in the first place. Initially seeking the satisfaction of his desire, Kurtz makes a
Faustian deal with the Company and enters the realm of capitalist desire and
production in which there is no such thing as satisfaction, but only the
perpetuation of desire. Kurtz thus exemplifies the interplay between
historically specific social forces and enduring psychic processes; in his
journey towards ―the horror‖ he experiences the historically specific capitalist
exploitation of the enduring psychic reality of desire. Leaving the Intended
suspended at home as an indicator of the frustrated desire that has not found a
fresh and seemingly boundless outlet in economic activity, Kurtz submits to the
logic of Imperial capitalist desire, eschewing all restraint in the full-scale and
full-time pursuit of satiation. (Ross 43)
44 As a result, he not only destroys himself – ―potentially a splendid leader,‖ maintains John
Stape in his The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad, ―celebrated for his intoxicating eloquence, [Kurtz‘s] persuasive genius [as well as his] grandiose ambitions are [eventually] reduced to the exclamation ―Exterminate all the brutes!‖‖ (50) which he utters just before his death – but also the area for which he has a responsibility (Marlow soon discovers that
Kurtz‘s supposed efficiency is only a myth since his ―methods had [in fact] ruined the district‖ (Conrad 1994:83).
Gould‘s life, one could assert, is likewise destructive, actually and potentially.
Although Gould himself, as opposed to Kurtz, does not eventually die his obsession with not losing a single bar of silver indirectly causes the death of Decoud and Nostromo and has, as has been suggested earlier, negative effects on Emilia such as estrangement and alienation from her husband. The potential destructiveness of Gould rests in the fact that, in order to secure that the San Tome mine is never surrendered to the enemy (be it the Monterists, Sotillo or any one else), he is ready to scientifically destroy is, destroy ―the whole plant, buildings, and workshops of the mine with heavy charges of dynamite; block with ruins the main tunnel, break down the pathways, blow up the dam of the water-power, shatter the famous Gould
Concession into fragments, flying sky-high out of a horrified world‖ (Conrad 1983:338):
―Ever canny, and perhaps echoing his author‘s sense of the ironic structures of power,‖ maintains Sarah Cole in her At the Violet Hour: Modernism and Violence in England and
Ireland, Gould thus
ensures continued ownership of the mine (and thus, in his view, the mine‘s
protection) by threatening its complete destruction…Gould‘s use of dynamite
as prophylactic against political upheaval represents a brilliant reimagining of
the contemporary infatuation with dynamite as the material par excellence of
anarchism and revolution. By surrounding the mine, dynamite creates a safety
45 wall around it; by promising to explode the mountain completely, it leaves the
partial explosion (the gash) intact, thus continuing to yield its many treasures,
material and cultural – the creation, in fact, of an entirely new republic – in the
interested of the English and their allies. (126)
It could, to a certain extent, be argued that the ultimate sign of a person living in the having mode of existence is the person‘s desire to become immortal, to own things (or feelings, for that matter) even after one‘s death. Gould seems to be influenced by such a desire. By ordering that the mine be destroyed completely in case the enemy forces advance or the political composition of the country changes dramatically, Gould exerts power in order to secure that the mine belongs either to him or no one at all. In a sense, such an act may then be seen as an implicit form of last will, a sign of Gould‘s readiness to ―let the heavens fall‖
(Conrad 1983:340) should the circumstances require it.
The preceding paragraphs were conceived as a loose comparative analysis of Gould and Kurtz with regard to money, power and desire in the context of colonialism and imperialism. Although the two characters are in many respects similar, certain similarities between Kurtz and Martin Decoud could be identified as well. To be more precise, both Kurtz and Decoud are intellectuals – the former praised for his eloquence, the latter for his intellectual rigor and political visions and passions (in fact, Decoud is one of the key individuals who are responsible for the emergence of the Occidental Republic) – whose lofty ideas gradually become corrupted until both discover the hollowness of those ideas and themselves: while Kurtz‘s famous eloquence is finally reduced to the exclamation
―exterminate all the brutes‖ (Conrad 1994:50) that, proposes Gisela Argyle in her Germany as
Model and Monster: Allusions in English Fiction 1830s – 1930s, ―implicitly includes himself and with him civilized Europe‖ (145), Decoud becomes a victim of the ―disillusioned weariness which is the retribution meted out to intellectual audacity‖ (Conrad 1983:160) and,
46 contemplating alone about emptiness of life and the universe, ―the brilliant Costaguanero of the boulevards [dies] from solitude and want of faith in himself and others…losing all belief in the reality of his action past and to come‖ (Conrad 1983:244). Eventually, all his intellectual abilities and prowess as well as his political visions and passions are reduced to stealing four bars of silver that he subsequently fastens upon himself and, weighted by these bars, disappears without a trace in the ocean, burying the four ingots as well as himself forever. Decoud‘s death could thus perhaps be seen as the only non-metaphorical death caused by the San Tome silver.
What is more, whereas in Gould‘s, as opposed to Kurtz‘s, life unsatisfied sexual desire does not seem to play an explicit role, it seems to be an issue as far as Decoud is concerned.
The dynamics behind such a libidinal interference differ somewhat, nevertheless. Kurtz, seeking to become wealthy enough to be allowed to marry his Intended, an absent and unreachable being living in England, goes to the Congo where he gradually becomes obsessed with efficiency, an obsession that, to a great extent, contributes to his ultimate destruction.
Decoud, on the contrary, is in love with Antonia, a person whose presence he can enjoy anytime. He desires to ―carry her off to Europe, away from the endlessness of civil strife, whose folly seemed even harder to bear than its ignominy‖ (Conrad 1983:177) yet he does not experience discrimination on account of his social status. Although Decoud claims that ―there is nothing I would not do for the sake of Antonia‖ (Conrad 1983:222), what he does not have to do, as opposed to Kurtz, is to become rich in order to become worthy of his loved one.
Rather than due to the unsatisfied desire for Antonia that would result in an obsession with efficiency, Decoud thus commits suicide since he completely loses faith in himself; according to Patrick Braitlinger (Fictions of State: Culture and Credit in Britain, 1694-1994) he perceives ―the self as the ultimate fetish‖ (217); however, when he discovers that the self is the self of a hollow man, a dream that is not intended ever to become reality, he decides to put
47 an end both to the illusion and his life. In his ―The Allegorical Nostromo: Following
Nostromo’s Characters as Allegories,‖ another Conrad scholar, Matthew Waller, suggests that each of the characters, regardless of whether they are interpreted separately or in combination, could be viewed as an allegory representing one or another aspect of the modern industrialist/capitalist world (idealism, greed, craving for power…). Waller refers to
Nostromo as ―fundamentally a novel about idealism and the dangers of committing oneself to a great dream. If so,‖ continues Waller in his essay,
it is Decoud‘s anti-idealist scepticism that brings all the other
dreamers/idealists into focus. Scepticism -- the doctrine that all is meaningless,
illusory and futile -- is the novel‘s own message, and it is through Decoud‘s
long, losing battle with the dream-ideal that Conrad elocutes his theme most
clearly…Decoud is…not merely a sceptic but an allegory of Scepticism -- to
the extent that his suicide stands as a literary monument to the perils of all true
perception. And yet his is a reluctant, waffling scepticism, marked by fits of
recidivist idealism in which he acts heroically and effectively and seems a
completely different person. Only seems, however; his idealist actions are
marked by a wry disparagement, an acknowledgement of their own phoniness.
He joins the Ribierist cause as a journalist and comments that ―no occupation
is serious‖; he dedicates himself to Antonia with the words, ―I have only the
supreme illusion of a lover.‖ It is safe to say that on some level Decoud never
quite becomes a sincere idealist; but on the other hand he doesn‘t quite make it
to full scepticism either -- until the very end. The novel suggests…that both
extremes are fatal conditions, and his waffling consists of trying to balance
safely between the equal abysses to each side. (2-3)
48 It could be argued that Decoud, in one way or another, constitutes a bridge between efficiency and work ethic embodied by characters such as Kurtz or Gould and idealism and wishful thinking that could be associated with Jim of Lord Jim. Decoud lives in an imaginary world, positioning himself, rather superciliously, above Gould whom he considers, as the
British in general, to be strictly practical – ―it‘s a part of solid English sense,‖ notes Decoud,
―not to think too much; to see only what may be of practical use at the moment. These people are not like ourselves. We have no political reason; we have political passions – sometimes‖
(Conrad 1983:179) and non-intellectual, yet it is Gould who eventually has the last laugh, so to speak, since whereas Decoud commits suicide Gould‘s mine continues to operate due to the emergence of the new separate republic. In a sense, Decoud could thus be seen as an embodiment of scepticism – neither work ethic or efficiency nor idealism or hedonism can, it seems, bring long-term happiness to the individuals involved. Put another way, taking into consideration Fromm‘s dichotomy of having and being, human existence, suggests Conrad, is inevitably tragic, regardless of whether one lives in the being or in the having mode of existence.
In Lord Jim, this form of scepticism is addressed by means of the eponymous character. Having an ―ability in the abstract‖ (Conrad 1926:4), Jim may perhaps be characterized as an individual resisting the British oppressing ideology of efficiency and work ethic, instead seeking to ―lounge safely through existence‖ (Conrad 1926:13). Such a view seems to have certain limitations, nonetheless. While Jim does not appear to be an anal character – i.e. he does not hoard money/silver/ivory like Gould or Kurtz – he is constantly driven, like Decoud, by the desire to become better, to reach intangible and immaterial goals.
He is not haunted, like Kurtz, by megalomania or efficiency for its own sake but rather by ideas and imagination – ―Imagination, the enemy of men, the father of all terrors, unstimulated, sinks to rest in the dullness of exhausted emotion‖ (Conrad 1926:11). The
49 centre of Jim‘s idealized world, one could argue, is not efficiency but perfection, perhaps obsession with perfection that proves to be virtually as destructive as obsession with possession that is responsible for Kurtz‘s death.
Although one may not refer to Jim as an anal character whose existence is directed towards owning, hoarding and depriving, whether he is chiefly interested in loving, sharing and giving – i.e. living in ―the being mode of existence‖ (Fromm 12) – is a matter of opinion.
Rather than dismiss the British society as a whole and start a new different life elsewhere,
Jim, victim to his egoism and idealism, attempts to prove to himself that he is able to procure high standards of living without having to condescend to the ideology of efficiency and hard work. After the court hearing, dealing with his jumping off the sinking Patna, Jim ―would not know where to turn…Certificate gone, career broken, no money to get away, no work that he could obtain as far as he could see. At home he could perhaps get something; but it meant going to his people for help, and that he would not do‖ (Conrad 1926:80). Assuming a role of a fleeing exile, Jim embarks on a journey east that eventually leads him to Patusan. There, he becomes a local ruler, finds a woman, the mixed-race Jewel, whose father is an ex-manager of the trading post, and wins the respect of the locals by eliminating a local bandit.
Even though it may seem that Jim‘s exploits in Patusan provide his pursuit of happiness with concrete realizations, he never quite seems to overcome the disillusionment associated with his abrupt escape from the Patna. What is more, Marlow, one of the people responsible for the resumption of Jim‘s career, ―refuses to view Jim‘s Patusan life in terms of progress, since it appears,‖ claims Jed Esty in his Unseasonable Youth: Modernism,
Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development, ―to have been a temporary charmed exercise in intercultural and interracial romance, a demodernizing of Tuan Jim rather than a modernization of the native subject‖ (98). Rather than prove to be a heroic leader, Jim eventually fails to defend his supreme position within the Patusan people, unable to defend
50 the land from Gentleman Brown‘s raid. Ultimately, realizing the unreality of his dream of becoming a hailed hero, Jim chooses at least to die a heroic death by letting Doramin shoot him dead, an act to which Jewel reacts as follows: ―He has left me . . . you always leave us — for your own ends‖ (Conrad 1926:355). Ultimately, the idealist Jim is thus reduced to ―the shape of a man torn out of her arms by the strength of a dream‖ (Conrad 1926:359).
It cannot justifiably be argued that in Lord Jim Jim is the only exemplification of a sceptical view of progress and efficiency. Stein, the entomologist who sends Jim to Patusan, seems, in many respects, sceptical not only in terms of long-term sustainability of imperialism and colonialism but the human species in general. His intense interest in entomology, accompanied by a disinterest and disbelief in humanity, seems to resonate with what Fromm terms the failure of the Great Promise: efficiency and hard work – or, more generally, imperialism and colonialism – may temporarily help society to develop and living standards to improve, but these are frequently followed by disillusionment and greed that eventually cause destruction of both the colonizers and the colonized: When Stein catches a precious beetle he exclaims: ―Masterpiece! And what of man? Man is amazing, but he is not a masterpiece…sometimes it seems to me that man is come where he is not wanted, where there is no place for him; why should be run about here and there making a great noise about himself, talking about the stars, disturbing the blades of grass‖ (Conrad 1926:208); his description of the insect – ―the beauty…the accuracy, the harmony…the mighty Kosmos in perfect equilibrium produces this‖ (Conrad 1926:208) – seems implicitly to connote the chaos, disharmony and destruction caused by the imperialist expansion and exploitation. What is more, Stein can, in a way, be compared to Kurtz. Both are (ex)managers of a trading post; however, Stein realizes the destructive potential of such a position and keeps his rationality while Kurtz, blinded by his obsession with efficiency, does not. The result is, as has been said a number of times, Kurtz‘s destruction.
51 Lord Jim and ―Heart of Darkness‖ may, in certain respects, seem to be fairly similar.
Both texts have in common the theme of exploration of an unknown territory (in the former case by Jim, in the latter by Marlow), in both texts the river functions as a setting where critical events take place – in Lord Jim, Cornelius, jealous of Jim‘s success, leads Brown along a river to a village where Dain Warris and his father Doramin, both Jim‘s allies, live.
Brown then kills Warris and indirectly causes Jim‘s death (Jim is killed by the grieving father‘s gun). Yet a contrapuntal perspective suggests that Lord Jim, rather than ―Heart of
Darkness,‖ resembles Nostromo: while in ―Heart of Darkness‖ Conrad effectively silences the
Other by portraying the Africans as beings without language, culture or history (i.e. dehumanizes them, to use Achebe‘s term) in both Nostromo and Lord Jim the natives are given voice. ―Conrad‘s Africans,‖ maintains Said (79), ―come from a huge library of
Africanism…as well as from Conrad‘s personal experiences. There is no such thing,‖ continues Said,
as a direct experience, or reflection, of the world in the language of a text.
Conrad‘s impressions of Africa were inevitably influenced by lore and writing
about Africa...what he supplies in ―Heart of Darkness‖ is the result of his
impressions of those texts interacting creatively, together with the
requirements and conventions of narrative and his own special genius and
history. To say that the [novella] reflects Africa…is somewhat pusillanimous
and surely misleading. What we have in ―Heart of Darkness‖…is a politicized,
ideologically saturated Africa which to some intents and purposes was the
imperialized place, with those many interests and ideas furiously at work in it.
Conversely, in Nostromo the Other is given some amount of both metaphorical and non-metaphorical voice. In the non-metaphorical sense, the natives not only are not denied
52 language, as in ―Heart of Darkness,‖ but one could perhaps argue that by challenging the superordinate position of the English language, and substituting it with Spanish – a large number of the Spanish terms that Conrad uses can by no means be considered basic knowledge and require that a non-Spanish speaking reader consults a dictionary – Conrad could be seen as indirectly questioning the British settlers‘ dominance. It is impossible, however, not to mention the fact that the language of one imperialist power is substituted not by one of the native languages of Costaguana but by the language of another imperialist power, Spain.
In metaphorical terms, Conrad gives voice to the natives by providing them with the ability to at least partially defend their own interests: Gould Sr dies due to the general chaos and corruption that prevents him from successfully running the Concession, imploring his son never to return to Costaguana, ―to forget that America existed and [instead] pursue a mercantile career in Europe‖ (Conrad 1983:79); Gould Jr, though referred to as El Rey de
Sulaco, is heavily influenced by the political instability of the country.
As has been suggested, colonialism and imperialism are characterized by unequal power relations between the colonizers and the colonized. Yet in Nostromo, one could assert, power relations seem to be more equal than in ―Heart of Darkness‖ – despite the technological edge that the European settlers have over Montero, Sotillo and other revolutionaries, the colonizers can by no means be perceived as unrestricted rulers. This is evidenced from the very beginning of the novel when Nostromo luckily saves the silver ingots hidden in the
Sulaco Custom House. In ―Heart of Darkness,‖ however, the only opposition to the white encroachment seems to be the bow-and-arrow attack on the steamer made of steel that can in no way cause any damage.
In addition, Gould‘s treatment of the natives differs dramatically from Kurtz‘s. While for Kurtz the African natives seem to be limited to the dehumanized mob that attacks the
53 steamer on board which Marlow travels up the Congo, and his concubines, Gould may, to a certain degree, be viewed as an enlightened imperialist aware of some aspects of long-term sustainability and profitability of imperialism. His workers are not portrayed as slaves, tortured and exploited, but rather as people who seem to have adopted the work ethic credo – and, one could perhaps say, the having mode of existence: ―They were proud of, and attached to, the mine. It had secured their confidence and belief. They invested in it with a protecting and invincible virtue as though it were a fetish made by their own hands‖ (Conrad 1983:336).
It has to be said, however, that although the workers may appear to be content with their living conditions – ―You have proved yourself a just man,‖ claims the emissary from
Hernandez, ―there had been no wrong done to anyone since you called upon the people to work in the mountains‖ (Conrad 1983:306) – such a claim might be challenged if a contrapuntal perspective is employed: Gould, it could be argued, is primarily concerned with material interests. Should the circumstances require it, he continually expresses his willingness and readiness to destroy the silver mine permanently, stripping the workers of jobs and, perhaps, lives.
Moreover, Gould‘s major concern seems to be efficiency – realizing that the most efficient way of operating the mine is not ―by means of lashes on the backs of slaves‖ (Conrad
1983:75) but by means of content qualified labour force, Gould provides the workers with an ideology whose core is efficiency, work ethic and the sense of belonging to a powerful organization. The miners are given the illusion of equality and inclusion, of belonging to Us rather than Them – this is accentuated by Emilia‘s altruism that may be unfeigned – when in fact Gould‘s only motivation to do so seems to be to secure their submission, obedience and decent work output. Gould could thus be referred to as a false humanist who pretends to act for the public good yet his actual motivation is keeping the silver ―flowing northwards‖
54 ―Heart of Darkness,‖ Nostromo and Lord Jim, one could argue, disclose the hollowness and the flaws of late 19th century laissez-faire capitalism (as has been demonstrated in the first chapter, according to Marxism capitalism and colonialism are inseparable and, to a considerable degree, interchangeable). It may thus in some respects be argued that ―Heart of Darkness‖ and Nostromo in a sense anticipate such novels as e.g.
Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald said ―I‘d rather have written Nostromo than any other novel‖). When Conrad claims that ―all Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz‖
(1994:71) he seems to be referring to the impact of the Euro-American society‘s distorted system of values on Kurtz. Kurtz, a bright, multi-talented and resilient young man, is not contented with his social and financial status and, as a result, embarks on a journey to the
Congo to become a self-made man. Initially, he appears to be strikingly successful – his reputation as a brilliant ivory collector (i.e. robber) precedes himself; he is referred to as ―the emissary of light‖ (Conrad 1994:14) and is considered to be a demigod. However, Marlow shortly upon his arrival discovers how hollow and commoditised Kurtz‘s life becomes. As a result, Kurtz falls prey to the get-rich-quick ideology of the time, goes insane and becomes inefficient in the end.
So far, only one psychoanalytical source has been taken into consideration, Fromm‘s
To Have or to Be. A further psychoanalytical view can now be provided by Santosh Neupane, in his article ―A Psychoanalytic Reading of The Great Gatsby.‖ Therein, Neupane comments on aspects of Fitzgerald‘s treatment of capitalism and the apotheosis of wealth and power in
The Great Gatsby. Although Neupane‘s statement may not seem to be relevant to Conrad‘s texts, the aim of the following paragraphs is to reiterate what is said in the first chapter of this thesis and thus demonstrate that such a view has certain limitations.
The Great Gatsby does not celebrate the thrilling capitalist culture it portrays
but, as a Marxist interpretation of the novel makes especially clear, reveals its
55 dark underbelly instead. Through its unattractive characterization of those at
the top of the economic heap and its sharp examination of the ways in which
the American dream not only fails to fulfil its promise but also contributes to
the decay of personal values, Fitzgerald‘s novel stands as a mocking critique of
American capitalist culture and the ideology that promotes it. One of the most
effective ways The Great Gatsby criticizes capitalist culture is by showing the
devastating effects of capitalist ideology even on those who are its most
successful products, and it does so through its representation of
As has been suggested, despite the fact that such a commentary might not necessarily seem to be attributable to ―Heart of Darkness‖ or, say, Nostromo, it should be emphasized that the ideology behind Gatsby‘s and Kurtz‘s exploits seems to be eminently comparable. In order to become worthy of his beloved Daisy, Gatsby attempts, fairly successfully, to make large amounts of money by bootlegging. Kurtz‘s life appears to follow the same trajectory; his motive for amassing wealth seems to be the same – he goes to the Congo to make fortune there in order to win the woman he loves, i.e. his Intended. He travels to Africa, maintains
Cobley in her Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency: Ideology and Fiction, so as to ―make himself acceptable as a suitor to the family of his Intended‖ (195). Initially, both Gatsby and
Kurtz seem to accomplish their goals, eventually, however, they both fail and are reduced to a mere representation of the debilitating effects of capitalist ideology. Whereas Gatsby is killed while swimming in the pool of his magnificent mansion, Kurtz‘s death is precipitated by a number of factors – obsession with efficiency, reluctance to leave the station even though he has not recovered from an illness, and so on. Kurtz could thus be considered, though this may be a slight exaggeration, an exile expelled from Britain since he is not rich enough to live there, a predicament that he is not meant to overcome.
56 The Congo in ―Heart of Darkness‖ could, in one way or another, perhaps be compared with the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby, a stretch of land made up of industrial ashes that symbolize the social and moral decay of the society and its emphasis on wealth and power. It is here that the poor must live and, as a result, lose their health and die. Haunted by the sense of inferiority, Kurtz leaves Britain in order to make enough money to live in it. Indeed, he does not encounter industrial ashes in the Congo yet the Congolese primeval darkness that he encounters seems to operate in a similar way (Marlow discovers, shortly upon his arrival, that
Kurtz has fallen ill multiple times and has not yet fully recovered).
In addition, one of the central themes in The Great Gatsby is the conflict between the old aristocracy – represented by the Buchanans, a socially solid old aristocratic family – and the nouveau riche (Jay Gatsby). However, a similar comparison could be made in terms of
―Heart of Darkness‖ and Nostromo as well: whereas Kurtz could be regarded as a member of the nouveau riche – like Gatsby, Kurtz makes money in a very short time by questionable means – Gould can be considered to be an old aristocrat since the Gould family has been established in Costaguana for three generations. What is more, Gould‘s business is, like Tom
Buchanan‘s, relatively decent, if only since it does not seem to violate the laws of the country.
Lord Jim may seem to be a novel portraying the relationship between the whites and the natives as one of equal power relations. Indeed, the natives of Patusan do not experience such degree of dehumanization as the Congolese locals do in ―Heart of Darkness.‖ Neither does it seem to be appropriate to claim that the Patusan villagers are, like the Congolese locals, ―dehumanized and degraded, seen as grotesques or as a howling mob‖ (Achebe) – in
Patusan, Jim finally appears to succeed in reaching his heroic dreams. He becomes respected by a relatively large number of people, his love for the native Jewel seems, as opposed to
Kurtz‘s relationship with his concubines, honest and true. Metaphorically speaking, by becoming the ruler of Patusan as a result of his killing the local bandit Sherif Ali and
57 protecting the land from the ruthless Malay chief Rajah Tunku Allang, Jim thus fulfils his
―heroic dream of saving people from sinking ships, cutting away masts in a hurricane‖
Such an interpretation, i.e. one suggesting more or less equal power relations between the whites and the natives, however, may only be considered appropriate in non-contrapuntal terms. If one was to adhere to the contrapuntal interpretation of Jim‘s Patusan days, one would have to support Achebe‘s supposition – though it was asserted in relation to ―Heart of
Darkness‖ – that Conrad tends to portray the non-whites as being ―reduced to the role of props.‖ In other words, Lord Jim appears inherently to be a story of white men, a story where the Third World functions as a mere background, ―a metaphysical battlefield…into which the
European enters at his own peril‖ (Achebe).
Although Jim offers Doramin, the local chief of the Bugis tribe, his life, he does it, one could argue, voluntarily so as to redeem himself for his earlier failures, i.e. to stay on board the sinking Patna (which he leaves primarily on account of three other crew members encouraging him to do so, interrupting him from ―cold stone‖ (Conrad 1926:79) passivity) and to secure the Patusans safety (this time, Jim, attempting not to adhere to other people‘s recommendations, vouches for Brown‘s peaceful retreat. Eventually, however, Brown reneges on his promise to leave Patusan for Madagascar without shedding blood, and instead raids one of the villages, killing Doramin‘s son Dain Warris. In other words, Jim, starting to realize that his life is not as honourable and heroic as he desires it to be, chooses at least to die a heroic death. Knowing what would follow, Jim therefore surrenders himself to Doramin who shoots him dead.
In contrapuntal terms, Patusan is thus to be seen as a place where a white tragedy occurs; Jim does not become a victim of the tropical climate, the Rajah or Sherif Ali – in fact,
Jim‘s ability to disengage ―his‖ people from the two villains may be interpreted as an instance
58 of white supremacy over the locals. Rather, as Marlow claims, ―of all mankind Jim had no dealings but with himself, and the question is whether at the last he had not confessed to a faith mightier than the laws of order and progress‖ (Conrad 1926:339). One could perhaps argue that Jim‘s destruction, like Kurtz‘s or Decoud‘s, occurs due to his idealism and escapism.
In his Counsels and Maxims, Schopenhauer suggests that ―we should give no play to imagination…; for imagination is not judgment – it only conjures up visions, inducing an unprofitable and often very painful mood‖ (51). Jim does not seem to heed Schopenhauer‘s advice, nonetheless. Instead, he becomes a victim of ―imagination, the enemy of men, the father of all terrors [that] unstimulated, sinks to rest in the dullness of exhausted emotion‖
(Conrad 1926:11). The discovery of his true self, one could thus argue, consequently results in
Jim‘s death in the jungle of Patusan.
Within the context of colonialism and imperialism, it has been one of the aims of this chapter to investigate aspects of sex, sexuality and desire (both sexual and asexual) in the three texts by Conrad. In each of these texts, one could argue, desire is perceived by Conrad as a more or less destructive force, one that cannot be defied or overwhelmed: although Kurtz is portrayed as a bright and multitalented man, the reader soon discovers that ―powers of darkness claimed him for their own‖ (Conrad 1994:64). Attempting to fulfil his mutually connected sexual and non-sexual desires (i.e. the consummation of the relationship with the
Intended and the improvement of his social status) by following the credo of efficiency, Kurtz gradually discovers the self-delusiveness and the destructive potential of such an ideology.
His famous eloquence and intellectual rigor is subsequently reduced to the exclamation
―Exterminate all the brutes!‖ (Conrad 1994:103).
59 In Nostromo, one could assert, Gould‘s desire to continue the operation of the San
Tome mine regardless of the costs proves comparably destructive as it results, directly or indirectly, in a number of deaths as well as the disintegration of Costaguana and the emergence of The Occidental Republic. Rather than a commodity or an object of trade, silver is portrayed as a fetish, an article Gould is obsessed with. An anal character, Gould is preoccupied with saving and hoarding silver and is reluctant to lose but a single ingot (the irony is that, while the silver mine contains immense wealth, Gould cannot afford to lose but a single ingot as that would result in his being stripped of the financial support from the
A considerable part of the novel is thus, one could argue, concerned with Gould‘s paralysis: Gould‘s idealistic vision of The Consolidated San Tome mines, that would bring happiness to everyone in The Occidental Republic, is contrasted to his inability to transfer but one batch of silver that would subsequently be shipped to San Francisco. Enslaved by the ideology of possession, Gould takes no heed of the destructiveness of his conduct and, as a result, is a witness to the virtual end of his relationship with Emilia and the death of Nostromo and Decoud.
In Lord Jim, the eponymous character‘s desire is slightly different from Gould‘s or
Kurtz‘s. While it may be rather misleading to suggest that Jim is not interested in possession or ownership, he does not appear to be an anal character. An idealist and dreamer, Jim instead seeks to ―lounge safely through existence, shudder[ing] at the thought of hard work…serving
Chinamen, Arabs, half-castes – would have served the devil himself had he made it easy enough‖ (Conrad 1926:13). Jim‘s desire is, ―attuned to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea,‖ to enjoy ―short passages, good deck-chairs, large native crews, and the distinction of being white‖ (Conrad 1926:13). Yet like Kurtz‘s desire, Jim‘s desire finds no satisfaction, either. During his journey to the East, which ends in Patusan, Jim discovers that his vision of
60 himself is a mere sham, an illusion that does not reflect reality. His ―heroic dream of saving people from sinking ships [and] cutting away masts in a hurricane‖ (Panichas 15) seems perfectly incongruent with reality: Jim exhibits, and recognizes, his inability to fulfil the expectations of both the locals (who invest him with the title Tuan – Lord) and himself. It is only in Patusan, one may presume, that Jim discovers his true self, the self of a failed man.
It has to be admitted once again that the second chapter of this thesis may perhaps be seen as slightly 'extratextual', analyzing issues whose immediate relevance to the study of texts by Conrad and Kipling could be regarded as a subject for a debate. These include aspects of the introduction of male circumcision to South Korea by the Americans in the 1950s and references to, as well as a brief analysis of, Fitzgerald‘s novel The Great Gatsby. Though apparently 'extratextual' and perhaps not immediately relevant to the study of Conrad, aspects of male circumcision in South Korea were investigated for two reasons. The first is to demonstrate the surprising complexity of colonialism and imperialism. In other words, it is demonstrated that imperialism/colonialism are not to be seen as being limited to the military and economic expansion across the globe. Instead, as has been demonstrated earlier, it is appropriate to perceive the two as intricately complex phenomena that shape not only the geopolitical structure of the world but also eating habits, manifestations of sexuality or even the appearance of male genitalia.
The aforementioned extratextuality, however, should be seen as merely partial since certain seemingly non-existent similarities could be suggested between e.g. the interaction between the South Koreans and the Americans – that resulted in the introduction of circumcision to South Korea – and, among others, the interaction between the English colonists in Sulaco (particularly Gould) and the native miners. To be more precise, as it is apparently justifiable to claim that the introduction of male circumcision to South Korea was not directly enforced – the Americans neither applied any form of tangible violence to coerce
61 the local population to commence performing the procedure nor introduced any measures punishing the Koreans‘ potential refusal to do so – so, too, does it seem possible to claim that the workers‘ affection for the San Tome mine is more or less honest, if only in the sense that they are not portrayed by Conrad as being forced to work in it.
Put another way, as the Koreans, perhaps momentarily enthusiastic about certain elements in the culture of whom they consider their deliverer, willingly and dedicatedly adopted male circumcision, so, too, one could argue, do Gould‘s employees appear to cherish the existence and operation of the silver mine – the workers ―were proud of, and attached to, the mine. It had secured their confidence and belief. They invested in it with a protecting and invincible virtue as though it were a fetish made by their own hands‖ (Conrad 1983:336).
Another similarity between Nostromo and the actual events in the Korean history could be identified. While the beginnings of the American intervention in Korea could be seen, as Krishnan demonstrates, as ―a product of the gunboat diplomacy that the US employed‖ – the 1950s military intervention in the Korean peninsula was by no means the first US intervention in the area – the United States gradually managed to win the position of a liberator who, at least seemingly, treat the Koreans as equal. Gould‘s ancestors also commence the operation of the San Tome mine using a brute force. Gradually, however,
Gould Jr. replaces slave labourers by machines and modern technology. As a result, the miners are granted relative freedom and are depicted as content wage workers: ―You have proved yourself a just man,‖ claims the emissary from Hernandez, ―there had been no wrong done to anyone since you called upon the people to work in the mountains‖ (Conrad
Moreover, in the second chapter of this thesis Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby has been taken into account. One of the purposes of providing references, as well as a brief analysis, of the novel is also to promote a diachronic perspective of the phenomena associated with, or
62 resulting from, colonialism and imperialism: while Conrad‘s subject matter may seem slightly outdated for a 21st century reader – Conrad is predominantly occupied with sea-faring and the discovery of unknown territories which, however, are well-known to a contemporary reader –
Fitzgerald‘s magnum opus deals with issues that even the 21st century reader may find relevant and topical such as greed, envy, desire to become better, rich, powerful or loved, and so on. What is more, the setting of The Great Gatsby seems more accessible to the present- day reader as well – instead of remote territories such as the Congo or Patusan, Fitzgerald situates the plot of the novel in New York City. In addition, as opposed to Conrad‘s characters whose occupations can largely be considered 'non-standard' (an ivory post operator, a South
America silver mine boss, a South-East Asia seaman…), Fitzgerald‘s protagonists are real estate agents, stock exchange brokers, garage workers and so on.
Yet, having this in mind, one can argue, as the author of this thesis does earlier, that the two writers may seem to be comparable in many respects: both are concerned with aspects of desire to become respected and loved as well as its debilitating and destructive abilities, and both appear to structure their narratives around the theme of disillusionment that the protagonists experience once they realize that their dreams, fantasies and desires can never be
(fully) satiated. In other words, they discover the limits of what Fromm terms ―the having mode of existence‖ – the more they have the less satisfied they are portrayed to actually be, an issue that, though investigated in detail by Fitzgerald and generally associated with the Jazz
Age, can be traced back to Conrad and, in many respects, to colonialism and imperialism.
63 III. Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling’s Kim and “The
Man Who Would Be King”
The aim of the second chapter was to investigate the ways in which colonialism and imperialism are represented, affirmed or subverted in the selected texts by Joseph Conrad.
The major focus of this investigation were the following themes: desire (sexual as well as asexual); idealism/imagination, with regard to their destructive potential; obsession with possession and ownership; and contrapuntality (i.e. attention was paid to the often contradictory interpretations of certain cultural or historical phenomena by the whites and the natives). Aspects of colonialism and imperialism were discussed both in textual and extratextual terms. That is, aside from the two aforementioned novels and the novella by
Conrad, a number of socio-political and cultural issues were taken into consideration (for example the cultural complexity of the introduction of male circumcision to South Korea by the Americans during the 1950s).
The major theoretical sources included Edward Said‘s ―Culture and Imperialism,‖
Erich Fromm‘s ―To Have or to Be,‖ Ross‘ Conrad and Empire, and Kohn‘s ―Colonialism.‖
Moreover, Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby was taken into consideration in order to delineate the apparent links between the focus on ownership and wealth in the colonialist and imperialist British society of the late 19th century, as portrayed by means of e.g. Kurtz or
Gould, and the preoccupation with money and power during the 1920s in America, as portrayed by Jay Gatsby‘s attempts to improve upon his social status by bootlegging. A considerable degree of attention was also paid to the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to amass wealth that is most prominent in Kurtz and Jay Gatsby, but can be detected in other characters as well (e.g. Decoud).
The analysis of Kipling‘s texts, i.e. the third chapter, is intended to be analogous to the one presented in the second chapter. Since a theoretical explanation of the terms colonialism
64 and imperialism has already been provided, the second chapter seeks to be less extratextual
(the exceptions include some works by George Eliot and other contemporaries of Kipling and
Conrad. These are, however, only touched upon in a limited number of theoretical texts but are not analysed as such). This means, then, that the investigation is focused predominantly on those texts by Kipling provided in the title, paying considerably less attention to issues whose relevance to the investigation of the two writers in question may seem questionable, but which are presented in the foregoing chapter as necessary in order fully to comprehend the complexity of the notions of colonialism and imperialism (e.g. male circumcision in South
Korea). In addition, while the aim of the third chapter is to analyze closely the novel and the short story provided in the title, Kipling‘s poetry is also taken into consideration. The poems dealt with, or alluded to, include ―If,‖ ―The White Man‘s Burden,‖ and ―The Ballad of the
East and West.‖
In relation to ―The Man Who Would Be King,‖ the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to amass wealth is discussed – drawing on Fromm‘s To Have or to Be – from an evolutionary perspective: the object of the analysis is the ways in which Kipling portrays what Fromm terms ―the ever-decreasing determination of behaviour by instincts‖ (136): in an attempt to secure the success of their colonialist mission to Kafiristan, Dravot and Carnehan sign a contract, a part of which is a pledge that neither of the two shall ever start a relationship with a woman (―Neither Women nor Liquor‖ (Kipling 2003:12)). Their sexual instinct is thus to be seen as consciously suppressed, which, the protagonists believe, is a necessary sacrifice that they both have to make before they commence their journey to Kafiristian where, presumes Dravot, ―we are going…to be Kings‖ (Kipling 2003:12).
In addition, taking into consideration John Kucich‘s Imperial Masochism: British
Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class, an elaborately written book discussing aspects of the interplay between the imperialist expansion and (sexual) masochism, that is portrayed as a
65 means of building and maintaining the empire, the third chapter of this thesis investigates the ways in which self-denial, forced celibacy and, if the notion is taken to its extreme, suicide function as vehicles that not only help maintain the empire overseas but also help create what may be referred to as the imperialist attitude (i.e. a public consent with the imperialist expansion, ethical justification of the empire, and so on). An apology has to be made in advance since, while the investigation as such focuses on Kipling‘s aforementioned short story, the quoted passages by Kucich also deal with George Eliot‘s Daniel Deronda and mention, though briefly, a number of other Kipling‘s contemporaries – Doyle, Butler and others. The reason why these passages are included is that the arguments Kucich presents in relation to Eliot or Doyle seem, to a greater or lesser extent, be applicable and relevant to
Kipling‘s ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ as well.
Another aim of this chapter is to compare and contrast Conrad and Kipling with regard to those themes that the two authors seem both to be concerned with. These include desire/temptation; idealism/false expectations; and what Ross terms ―the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject‖ (42). The goal is, among others, to argue that, while Conrad and Kipling seem in many respects different, they may not be perceived as one contradicting the other – in his The Mythology of Imperialism, Jonah
Raskin claims that ―Conrad and Kipling are fundamentally dissimilar…Kipling was an imperialist. Conrad was an anti-imperialist‖ (55). The third chapter of this thesis therefore endeavours to argue against Raskin‘s statement, suggesting that despite a number of differences, both authors may in many respects be seen as fairly similar and, perhaps, even partially comparable (all the texts that are analyzed in this thesis, excluding perhaps some of
Kipling‘s poems and, to a limited extent, Nostromo, are preoccupied with a young man‘s journey to wealth, fame and satiation of his desires; all the texts depict the interplay between the Europeans and the natives, focusing on its complexity and unequivocalness). In other
66 words, the comparative analysis seeks to be constructive in the sense that, rather than dissimilarities and contradictions, its aim is to search for similarities, common themes, common viewpoints etc.
Moreover, the third chapter investigates linguistic aspects of Kipling‘s texts, focusing primarily on the postcolonial notions of abrogation and appropriation: In her essay
―Postcolonial Studies: Language,‖ Jennifer Margulis testifies to the supreme relevance of language in analysing texts dealing with colonialism and imperialism. She maintains that
Language is often a central question in postcolonial studies. During
colonization, colonizers usually imposed or encouraged the dominance of their
native language onto the peoples they colonized, even forbidding natives to
speak their mother tongues. Many writers educated under colonization recount
how students were demoted, humiliated, or even beaten for speaking their
native language in colonial schools. In response to the systematic imposition of
colonial languages, some postcolonial writers and activists advocate a
complete return to the use of indigenous languages. Others see the language
(e.g. English) imposed by the colonizer as a more practical alternative, using
the colonial language both to enhance inter-nation communication…and to
counter a colonial past through de-forming a ―standard‖ European tongue and
re-forming it in new literary forms. (1)
This deformation and reformation of the master language seem roughly to coincide with the notions of abrogation and appropriation. These notions are discussed in considerable detail in the postcolonial book The Empire Writes Back authored by Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin.
Therein, a radical rejection of the Eurocentric perception of language and literature is provided and the notions of abrogation and appropriation are elucidated, the former referring to ―a refusal of the categories of the imperial culture, its aesthetic, its illusory standard of
67 normative or ―correct‖ usage, and its assumption of a traditional and fixed meaning
―inscribed‖ in the words‖ (38), the latter referring to ―the process by which the language is made to ―bear the burden‖ of one‘s own cultural experience…Language is adopted as a tool and utilized to express widely differing cultural experiences‖ (38-39).
As has been suggested earlier, one of the subjects of the analysis of Kipling‘s texts is aspects of the interaction and conflict between sex, sexuality and sexual instinct on the one hand and the desire to accumulate wealth on the other. Although this issue has already been touched upon in terms of the debilitating effects of Gould‘s desire to continue running the San
Tome mine on his and Emilia‘s married and sexual life – ―the latest phase of the history of the mine Mrs. Gould knew from personal experience. It was in essence the history of their married life‖ (Conrad 1983:222) – the issue has been considered in terms of ―the intertwined role of silver and sexuality in the book or, more precisely, how silver acts as a fetish and takes the place of sexual love‖ (Richardson 301).
While the question of fetish(ism) may indeed be seen as relevant to both Kim and ―The
Man Who Would Be King‖ – throughout Conrad‘s and Kipling‘s texts a number of fetishes aside from silver could be identified (power, money, fame) – drawing on Fromm‘s To Have or to Be, the following paragraphs focus on analyzing the interplay between sex and money in evolutionary terms, particular emphasis being put on the ability/inability and willingness/readiness of certain individuals to resist their sexual instinct in order to achieve material goals.
Attempting to analyze the human biological and sexual evolution, Fromm (136) discovers that ―in the biological evolution of the animal kingdom the human species emerges when two trends in the animal evolution meet.‖ The first trend is ―the growth of brain, particularly of the neocortex,‖ the other is the ―the ever-decreasing determination of behaviour by instincts ('instincts' is used here not in the dated sense of instinct as excluding
68 learning but in the sense of organic drives). Even taking into account the many controversial views about nature of instincts,‖ adds Fromm, ―it is generally accepted that the higher an animal has risen in the stages of evolution, the less is its behaviour determined by phylogenetically programmed instincts.‖ Fromm then suggests that the human species is to be perceived as ―the primate who emerged at the point of evolution where instinctive determination had reached a minimum and the development of the brain a maximum‖ (136).
As far as Kipling‘s short story ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ is concerned, one could argue that this evolutionary perspective could be perceived as relevant. Some of the findings that such a view seems inevitably to produce are fairly paradoxical, nonetheless. If one is to assume, in the light of Fromm‘s assertion, that the lesser the determination of a species‘ behaviour by instincts, the more developed such a species is (an analogical hypothesis would be the less a human being is governed by instincts, the more superior he is), one has to point out the contradiction that Carnehan, though a mere servant of Dravot, is the one who, as opposed to his master, is able to adhere to the Contract, whereby ―you and me
[Dravot and Carnehan] will not…look at any Liquor, nor any Woman black, white or brown‖
(Kipling 2003:16), until their position in Kafiristan is secure enough. However, whereas
Carnehan seems to realize the importance of following the Contract and solidifying his and
Dravot‘s positions within the Kafirs, Dravot appears to be overwhelmed by the newly-gained power and, considering himself strong enough to break his Contract with Carnehan, decides to marry a local woman. The woman, afraid to marry a god – both protagonists are perceived by the natives as gods due to their knowledge of a secret Masonic ritual as well as their ability to shoot a person at a long distance with the Martini Henry weapons – bites Dravot, causing him to bleed and thus disclosing that he is a mere mortal.
Another contradiction that, to a greater or lesser degree, pertains both to Conrad and
Kipling is that those individuals whose behaviour seems determined by instincts only
69 marginally, and should thus, in Fromm‘s terms, be seen as superior/more well-developed are frequently outcasts or vagabonds. In ―The Man Who Would Be King,‖ both Dravot and
Carnehan admit that ―the less said about our professions the better, for we have been most things in our time‖ (Kipling 2003:12). Both protagonists repeatedly refer to themselves as
―loafers‖ (Kipling 2003:8) and ―two harmless lunatics‖ (Kipling 2003:16).
In Kim, the eponymous character is depicted as a stray wanderer and a beggar abusing, to a certain extent, the respect of a lama with whom he travels to the north of India in search of a healing river that, the lama presumes, shall enable him to undergo a complete catharsis that would free him from The Wheel of Things (mundane troubles of everyday life and corporeal suffering). In Fromm‘s terms, it could perhaps be argued that the lama pursues to surrender a life in the having mode of existence in order to start a new life in the being mode of existence.
Kim‘s incentives seem considerably more pragmatic, nevertheless. Acknowledging that ―my father is dead – my mother is dead – my stomach is empty‖ (Kipling 1994:30), Kim scrapes a living as a vagabond and a beggar, hoping that one day he would become a wealthy and respected sahib: ―Give me a rupee‖ (Kipling 1994:31), implores Kim Mahbub Ali, a rich horse-seller who takes part in The Great Game, a British secret service scheme whose aim is to prevent Russian infiltrators from inciting a revolution in one of the provinces of North
India, ―and when I come to my wealth,‖ adds Kim, little knowing how he can possibly do so,
―I will give thee a bond and a pay‖ (Kipling 1994:31). One could maintain that, by doing so,
Kim in fact demands that Mahbub Ali invest in Kim as, in the context of modern financial markets, an individual invests in a company by buying its shares, expecting that such an investment will eventually bring some form of return (e.g. dividends).
What has to be noted about Kim, however, is that, though an outcast and a vagabond, he seems to prove that maintaining him may prove to be an attractive investment opportunity,
70 so to speak, an opportunity that neither Mahbub Ali nor Father Victor, Colonel Creighton or any other British secret service agent seems willing not to exploit. What is more, even the
Buddhist lama whose presence Kim abuses so as to obtain food and shelter does not appear to be inconvenienced by Kim‘s freeloading – displaying her ability to see through Kim‘s disguise, a local woman addresses him thus: ―I am an old woman and not altogether a fool…thou art no more a lawful chela than this my finger is the pole of this wagon. Thou art a casteless Hindu – a bold and unblushing beggar, attached, belike, to the Holy One for the sake of gain‖ (Kipling 1994:93). Rather, the lama realizes, and so does Mahbub Ali, that, in spite of the fact that Kim tends to use the people around him for his own gain, the young boy has plenty to offer them in return: Said perceives the relationship between the lama and Kim as one of synergy and mutual dependence:
We must not forget that the lama depends on Kim for support and guidance,
that Kim‘s achievement is neither to have betrayed the lama‘s values nor to
have let up in his work as junior spy. Throughout the novel Kipling is clear to
show us that the lama, while a wise and good man, needs Kim‘s youth, his
guidance, his wits; the lama even explicitly acknowledges his absolute,
religious need for Kim…Clearly, the Abbot-Lama regards Kim as his saviour.
This relationship of dependence and synergy is summarized by the lama as follows: ―Child, I have lived on thy strength as an old tree lives on the lime of an old wall. Day by day, since
Shamlegh down, I have stolen strength from thee. Therefore, not through any sin of thine, art thou weakened‖ (Kipling 1994:299).
It could thus be argued that Kipling‘s stories question the oversimplified division of people into the respected ones and those who, it may appear, incite disrespect. Although Kim may in some respects be seen as naïve and unable to fully comprehend the complexity of the
71 world in which he suddenly finds himself (i.e. all cultural, political and personal aspects of
The Great Game) – this is, however, no surprise if one takes into consideration the fact that
Kim is a teenager – his insistence on becoming a rich and respected sahib is by all means worth the mention. Kim follows what could be called an American dream, so to speak, yet as opposed to, say, Kurtz he does not, in the course of this pursuit, exhibit signs of losing his wits or rationality. Contrary to Kurtz, Kim does not appear to become a victim of what
Cobley, in her Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency: Ideology and Fiction, refers to as
―criminal obsession with efficiency for its own sake‖ (195). That is, Kim, as opposed to
Kurtz, repeatedly exhibits the ability to approach his participation in The Great Game in rational and pragmatic terms rather than succumb into an obsession or fetishism.
In Fromm‘s terms, it could thus be argued that Kim is able to fathom the borderline between ―existential having‖ and ―characterological having‖ (90) – ―human existence,‖ argues Fromm, ―requires that we have, keep, take care of, and use certain things in order to survive. This holds good for our bodies, for food, shelter, clothing and for the tools necessary to produce our needs. This form of having,‖ continues Fromm, ―may be called existential having because it is rooted in human existence. It is a rationally directed impulse in the pursuit of staying alive – in contrast to the characterological having…which is a passionate drive to retain and keep that is not innate, but,‖ emphasizes Fromm, ―has developed as the result of the impact of social conditions on the human species as it is biologically given‖ (90).
Furthermore, although Kim‘s behaviour is, to a greater or lesser degree, influenced by his zeal to make money by any means necessary, one cannot perceive him as an individual overcome by an obsession that instils in him a false need to accumulate wealth, silver, ivory etc. Kim, like a number of Conrad‘s characters (Kurtz, Gould, Decoud), is a dreamer yet he never fails to lose contact with the reality, so to speak. He is, to paraphrase a line in Kipling‘s poem ―If,‖ able to dream yet does not let the dreams become his master: Despite being a
72 dreamer, Kim never surrenders his down-to-earth approach both to The Great Game and life in general, constantly proving his capacity to ―give no play to imagination…; for imagination is not judgment – it only conjures up visions, inducing an unprofitable and often very painful mood‖ (Schopenhauer 51).
As opposed to Dravot who is easily overcome by the illusion of his own indefectible superiority – ―my god, Carnehan,‖ exclaims Dravot after conquering Kafiristan, ―this is a tremenjus business, and we‘ve got the whole country as far as it‘s worth having. I am the son of Alexander by Queen Semiramis, and you‘re my younger brother and a god too‖ (Kipling
1994:28) – Kim realizes his expendability, mortality and the high degree of relativity of his success – ―I am Kim. I am Kim. And what is Kim‖ (Kipling 1994:374), asks himself the eponymous character, attempting, unsuccessfully, to discover a solution to his identity crisis.
In terms of the analysis of Kipling‘s characters‘ voluntary and, one could argue, calculating resistance to sexual instinct, carried out from the perspective of Erich Fromm, it should be noted that, while Fromm seems correct in his assumption that ―the higher an animal has risen in the stages of evolution, the less is its behaviour determined by phylogenetically programmed instincts‖ (136), his view only seems relevant in biological terms. That is, it is generally acknowledged that a relatively well-developed species such as the human race exhibits better ability to suppress their innate instincts than other less well-developed species such as insect or bacteria. Yet one should, as far as Kipling‘s texts are concerned, distinguish the phylogenetic evolutionary perspective of the human sexuality from a perspective that is socially-constructed and thus a product of its time.
In his Imperial Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class John Kucich elaborates in great detail on aspects of masochism within the British colonialist society from the point of view of race, gender, class, and sexuality. He takes into consideration a plethora of literary as well as non-literary works (e.g. paintings), focusing on how ―the notion that
73 colonial spaces offered opportunities for glorious suicide was deeply conventionalized in
British culture‖ (8). Kucich also points out that, while the British imperialist expansion may seem, to some extent, a positive and constructive phenomenon contributing to the general cultural and economic development of the country, artistic representations of this expansion are frequently quite the opposite and include melancholia, frustration, depression, self- destructiveness, masochism etc: ―In Daniel Deronda,‖ maintains Kucich (7), ―George Eliot could count on readers recognizing the triteness of Rex Gascoigne‘s wish to banish himself to the colonies in order to dramatize his having been jilted in love. The rhetoric of histrionic imperial self-destructiveness,‖ continues Kucich,
has entered quite casually into much contemporary analysis of the imperial
mind. Thus, James Morris echoes a common theme in writing about Gordon by
declaring that he was ―trapped by his own death-wish‖…The unconfirmed but
much relished story that Wolfe [General James Wolfe who fought in the Seven
Years‘ War] read Thomas Gray‘s ―Elegy in a Country Churchyard‖…to his
troops as a way of inspiring them on the eve of battle has helped lionize him as
a melancholic fatalist. This rhetoric of histrionic martyrdom is not simply a
retrospective imposition. It was often recirculated quite deliberately by military
figures and colonists themselves. Robert Baden-Powell‘s cavalierly desperate
dispatches from Mafeking, for instance, were modelled self-consciously on
Gordon‘s from Khartoum. They also titillated the British public with images of
endangered women and children that were bound to evoke memories of the
massacre at Cawnpore during the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion—itself the single most
engrossing spectacle of the British imperialist as victim, with over fifty novels
about the rebellion published before the end of the century. (7-8)
74 In addition, it has to be emphasized, as Kucich does repeatedly, that the image of the British expatriates suffering in the colonies was fostered as a part of political propaganda. This form of what could in some respects be perceived as masochistic ultranationalism was, argues
Kucich further on, to be identified in a large number of texts including a number of poems by
Kipling. ―In the late nineteenth century,‖ suggests Kucich,
the masochistic overtones of imperial suffering were amplified by public
debates about the rapidly growing but increasingly precarious empire. During
this period of ―new imperialism,‖ when many Victorian writers sought to
bolster public support for expansion, images of the imperialist as willing
victim or martyr proliferated. Kipling‘s ―The White Man‘s Burden‖…is
perhaps the most famous expression of masochistic jingoism. With its
rapturous celebration of sacrifice, toil, and ingratitude, it promotes an
apocalyptic vision of history, bestowing on the imperialist the mantle of the
Israelites—a chosen people tried by suffering. In ―Recessional‖…, Kipling
encouraged a national posture of submissive humility in exchange for divine
blessing: ―Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!‖ (19) More vulgar affirmations of
painful self-sacrifice and bravery in the face of death saturated the adventure
fiction for boys that boomed in popularity during the last decades of the
nineteenth century: novels by…Robert Louis Stevenson, W.H.G. Kingston,
Gordon Stables, Arthur Conan Doyle…and many others. This body of fiction
helped foster a fundamentally masochistic ethos of British masculinity, in
which the ability to absorb pain stoically—or even ecstatically— was greatly
In other words, one could conclude, having in mind Kucich‘s assumptions, that Dravot‘s and
Carnehan‘s initially disciplined resistance to sexual temptation is the result of both the
75 relatively advanced status of the human race on the evolutionary ladder – i.e. that the neurological configuration of the human species allows a conscious comprehension of the instinctual dynamics as well as manipulation with them – and the social, political and cultural circumstances in which the two characters originated. Colonialism and imperialism, it could be argued, thus prove to have not only socio-political and cultural implications. Also, the two should be seen as having a dramatic influence upon the sexuality and the sexual lives of those individuals who live in a social milieu shaped by these two phenomena.
Whether such an influence may be regarded as positive or negative would be a subject of a complicated analysis that would require a systematic interdisciplinary study. Such a study is not provided here, nevertheless, since it would necessarily far exceed not only the confines of this thesis, that deals with Conrad and Kipling in the context of colonialism and imperialism, but would also ask for a considerably more thorough sociological, political, biological and sexological approach that would have to be carried out both in synchronic and diachronic terms.
What may be said, however, is that, while it could justifiably be argued that colonialism and imperialism influence human sexuality in a negative way in that they tend to suppress its natural manifestations, it is not legitimate to claim that the period when these two phenomena played a substantial part in shaping the geopolitical constitution of the world – i.e. roughly 17th to early 20th century – was an era when sexual repression was more prominent than before or after. According to a number of notable social theorists interested in the development of human sexuality, e.g. Michel Foucault, it is inappropriate to argue that industrialization of the world went hand in hand with an adoption of new methods of sexual repression, and instead demand that one perceive this interplay between capital and sexuality in rather more complex terms: ―We must...abandon the hypothesis,‖ proposes Foucault in his
The History of Sexuality, ―that modern industrial societies ushered in an age of
76 increased sexual repression. We have not only witnessed a visible explosion of unorthodox sexualities; but,‖ emphasizes Foucault, ―a deployment quite different from the law, even if it is locally dependent on procedures of prohibition, has ensured, through a network of interconnecting mechanisms, the proliferation of specific pleasures and the multiplication of disparate sexualities‖ (49).
It can hardly be denied that colonialism, colonization and imperialism had a tangible impact upon the libidinal lives of those people who were somehow associated or influenced by them (i.e. virtually all individuals living in the imperialist countries such as Britain).
However, to conceive of the industrial age as the period of large-scale sexual repression would, in the view of Foucault and others, be a huge exaggeration. Although it seems to be true, as Kucich demonstrates on a large number of examples throughout his Imperial
Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class, that the 19th century British culture was dramatically influenced by the visions of imperial suffering and therefore sexual repression, some texts (e.g. ―Heart of Darkness‖ or Lord Jim) could, in certain respects, instead be seen as evidence for Foucault‘s assumption: On the one hand Kucich‘s vision of imperial suffering appears to be faithfully portrayed by Kurtz‘s psychological breakdown in the jungle of the Congo or Gould‘s eventually asexual marriage with Antonia. On the other hand, however, by depicting Kurtz as the man who regularly experiences sexual encounters with a large number of black concubines, or the eponymous character Jim as the man who marries a native Patusan girl, Conrad, one could argue, overcomes what could in his time have been viewed by some as either a taboo or a highly-undesirable, though indeed far from non-existent, issue to be discussed (i.e. interracial sexual relationships), contributing, in one way or another, to ―the proliferation of specific pleasures and the multiplication of disparate sexualities‖ (Foucault 49).
77 As has been suggested earlier, the third chapter of this thesis investigates, among others, linguistic aspects of Conrad‘s and Kipling‘s texts. This investigation is implemented with regard to how colonialism and imperialism, as well as reactions to it, influence the discursive practices of both the English and the native authors. In other words, it is the aim of the following paragraphs to delineate, from the semantic, syntactic as well as grammatical and sociolinguistic point of view, the ways in which e.g. a colonial domination of one country by another affects the discourse produced both by the colonizers and, to a lesser degree, the colonized. In addition, the linguistic approach to Kim and ―The Man Who Would Be King‖ should be helpful in demonstrating the complexity of Kipling‘s persona, and serve as evidence against Raskin‘s aforementioned and rather over-generalizing assumption that
―Conrad and Kipling are fundamentally dissimilar… [and while] Kipling was an imperialist.
Conrad was an anti-imperialist‖ (55).
Moreover, the following pages attempt to analyze linguistic aspects of Kim, arguing that, by means of language, Kipling depicts the multifariousness as well as the cultural richness of India, contrasting it to ―the lustreless world of the European bourgeoisie, whose ambience…reconfirms the debasement of contemporary life, the extinction of all dreams of passion, success, and exotic adventure‖ (Said 192). Also, it has to be said that, while in Kim
Kipling‘s concern, presented in his ―The Ballad of East and West,‖ that ―East is East and
West is West, and never the twain shall meet‖ (1), seems to materialize – ―certain things are not known to those who eat with forks‖ (Kipling 1994:172) – the interaction between the
Indian culture and the culture of the imperialist invaders does not appear to be a priori destructive and incompatible as it may seem to be in Conrad – Said considers Kipling‘s Kim unique in the sense that, as opposed to Conrad, George Eliot, Samuel Butler and others who seem to be preoccupied with disillusion and disenchantment – in Conrad‘s terms, this seems to apply to Marlow (―Heart of Darkness‖), Decoud (Nostromo) or Jim (Lord Jim) – Kim
78 cannot be said to experience any major disillusionment since, maintains Said, he is ―someone who has realized that his or her life‘s project – the wish to be great, rich, or distinguished – is mere fancy, illusion, dream‖ (188).
In Kim and, to a lesser degree, ―The Man Who Would Be King,‖ one frequently encounters instances of what postcolonial critics term abrogation and appropriation. Despite the fact that the terms have already defined – abrogation is ―a refusal of the categories of the imperial culture, its aesthetic, its illusory standard of normative or ―correct‖ usage, and its assumption of a traditional and fixed meaning ―inscribed‖ in the words;‖ appropriation refers to ―the process by which the language is made to ―bear the burden‖ of one‘s own cultural experience…Language is adopted as a tool and utilized to express widely differing cultural experiences‖ (Ashcroft et al., 38-39) – it may be found useful to further explicate the two notions as well as identify concrete instances of their manifestation: abrogation is thus to be seen as the natives‘ refusal to speak English. As a result, the language of the imperialist power is abrogated in favour of the native language suppressed by English.
However, it should be noted that the problem with abrogation is that, while it unequivocally provides the native peoples with a decent degree of identity and self-respect, it inevitably results in their being understood exclusively by the members of the same society, so to speak (a nation, a particular area where mutually intelligible languages/dialects are spoken etc.). In other words, a writer who decides to abrogate English and instead use his native tongue imposes upon himself the obvious burden of becoming a local author whose visions, ideas and propositions can only with great difficulties reach its potential readers in
Europe and elsewhere (e.g. by means of translations carried out by a third party). A number of writers from the colonies strive for a considerably larger audience, nevertheless, realizing the substantial limitations of abrogation. As a result, they tend to abandon it, embarking instead upon the process of appropriation of English according to their own particular needs.
79 Appropriation of a language can occur, as has been suggested, on a number of levels – syntactical, grammatical, pragmatic etc. The native appropriators, as opposed to the abrogators, no longer refuse to speak English yet they consciously modify the language so as to fit their own idiosyncratic needs. As a result, the reader of a text written in appropriated
English thus encounters a large amount of non-standard linguistic features that standard
English lacks. The aim of such a process is therefore to counter the Centre (i.e. the imperialist power), rejecting its cultural, moral and political values.
Instead of using the highly centralized and standardized form of English (i.e. RP), an author in the Caribbean, Africa, the Philippines and elsewhere appropriates English according to their own specific needs. English is therefore modified in such a way that it enables the expression of idiosyncratic cultural, ethical, moral and political views that may perhaps not easily be communicated in standard English. Therefore, some postcolonial critics talk about the proverbial death of English written with a capital ―E‖ and the birth of a large number of local englishes (in this case, ―e‖ is not capitalized and the word can be used in plural).
These appropriated englishes can differ in a large number of ways from standard
English: grammatical changes may include periphrastic expression of past tense where the periphrasis does not indicate an emphasis (―I did take it‖ instead of ―I took it;‖ ―I did wash the clothes‖ instead of ―I washed the clothes‖) – a feature of Philippine English; changes in tense and aspect (―he been done work,‖ ―I done fly it,‖ ―I been flown it‖) – these are typical of
African American Vernacular English; phonological changes and so on (phonological appropriation is abundant in Kim – e.g. the word ―train‖ is frequently italicized by Kipling and spelled as ―te-rain,‖ the word ―very‖ is repeatedly spelled as ―veree,‖ emphasizing the peculiarities of the Indian pronunciation of English).
Appropriation of English, however, may be considerably more complicated as it can occur on the pragmatic level as well – appropriated englishes frequently tend to violate the
80 standard structure of adjacency pairs (fixed two-part utterances such as ―How are you?‖ ―I‘m fine, thank you‖) as well as pragmatic or conversational maxims. Although a thorough investigation of the linguistic features of appropriation may be found relevant and topical for a linguist/pragmatician, it is not included in this thesis. Instead, appropriation is analyzed in cultural terms, the major focus of this analysis being the ways in which this phenomenon can be seen as a means of resisting or coping with the imperialist domination.
It could be argued that there are always at least two possible perceptions of appropriation: one by the speakers of the language that becomes appropriated (English in
Kipling‘s and Conrad‘s case) and another by those who are active agents in the process of appropriation (i.e. the natives). While in a British reader such appropriated English, that can be encountered in e.g. Kim, may perhaps evoke illiteracy, primitivism or backwardness of the colonized peoples (i.e. their inferiority), a native reader might perceive the appropriation of language in considerably more positive terms since, in the native reader, a different accent or non-standard grammatical and syntactic constructions may evoke their newly-gained identity, independence of the colonists whose cultural values (including, of course, the language) were forcefully imposed upon the colonized, and national pride.
By means of appropriation the natives also have a chance to free themselves from what may perhaps be seen as a rather schizophrenic situation – on the one hand the natives realize the substantial limits of abrogation, on the other hand, however, they also realize that their virtual inability to abandon English greatly subverts their newly-gained sense of independence and national pride (one could perhaps ask the inhabitants of the Caribbean or
Africa the following question: What kind of nation are you when you are unable or ashamed to speak your own language?).
In this context, appropriation thus seems to be both the most viable and, if analyzed in diachronic terms, the most effective means of resistance (certain linguistic features once
81 exclusive to a non-standard form of English have gradually moved closer to the standard, or are acceptable already). Furthermore, another typical feature of appropriation – the use of a native word which is then translated/described either in parentheses (this form of appropriation is typical of Kim) or in an appendix at the ending of the text (e.g. in Nostromo)
– seems to have contributed to the English language being supplemented by a large number of words coming from the languages of the former colonies. English, or any other former master language, for that matter, thus seems to start to incorporate in itself cultural background of the colonized/post-colonial nations.
The process of appropriation thus combines in itself two trends, the first being the resistance to the language of the colonists forcefully imposed upon the colonized nations, the language that has been, argues Gerald Vizenor in his Manifest Manners, ―the linear tongue of the colonial discoveries, racial cruelties, invented names, the simulation of tribal cultures, manifest manners, and the unheard literature of dominance in tribal communities‖ (105); the second being the communication of the cultural, social and political achievements of the natives: ―At the same time,‖ adds Vizenor,
this mother tongue of para-colonialism has been a language of invincible
imagination and liberation for many people of the post-indian worlds.
English…has carried some of the best stories of endurance, the shadows of
tribal creative literature, and now that same language of dominance bears the
creative literature of distinguished post-indian authors in cities…The shadows
and language of tribal poets and novelists could be the new ghost dance
literature, the shadow literature of liberation that enlivens tribal survivance.
In the light of Vizenor‘s assumptions one could thus argue that appropriation has gradually transformed English as the language of oppression into the language of liberty and successful
82 resistance to this oppression. In addition, appropriation, one could presume, contributed, to a certain extent, to the so called developed nations gradually becoming aware of the existence of the postcolonial nations (by learning foreign words, studying their origin as well as the cultural background of these countries etc.).
The preceding paragraphs may perhaps seem to be rather general. Therefore, bearing in mind the basic theoretical background of the native resistance to the linguistic domination, that has been provided above, the following lines endeavour to investigate aspects of appropriation in the context of the two Kipling texts in question. Moreover, the following paragraphs provide an investigation of the differences between how universality and particularity, in terms of language, are rendered in Conrad and Kipling. Another aim of the following lines is to attempt to challenge Raskin‘s apparently simplistic assumption that while
―Kipling was an imperialist. Conrad was an anti-imperialist‖ (55).
In his famous lecture given in 1975 at the University of Massachusetts, titled ―An
Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness,‖ the prominent Nigerian writer
Chinua Achebe depicts Conrad as an author who dehumanizes and humiliates the native population by not providing them with a language. ―Heart of Darkness‖ is thus to be seen, argues Achebe, as ―an inherently racist piece of literature since it tends to portray the white colonizers as those who have a language as opposed to the natives who lack it.‖ In other words, claims Achebe, whereas the Europeans are provided with a ―human expression,‖ the
Africans seem to lack it. Although Achebe‘s lecture and the views presented therein may seem fairly controversial, the Nigerian author‘s basic point appears to be justifiable: By not providing the natives with a language – in other words an ability to express themselves in human terms – Conrad ―reduced [them],‖ concludes Achebe, ―to the role of props.‖
Although this reduction, to use Achebe‘s words, seems the most prominent in ―Heart of Darkness‖ – Kurtz‘s eloquence and Marlow‘s metaphysical contemplations are in sharp
83 contrast to the perfectly 'non-human' shouts and shrieks of the natives – Nostromo and particularly Lord Jim may also allow such an interpretation: in Patusan, a remote rural area in
Borneo whose existence is known but to a limited number of whites (e.g. Stein), Jim surprisingly experiences no language barriers. He seems easily to communicate with the locals as if their languages were the same (having there been virtually no cultural interaction between Patusan and the colonizers, it would be highly improbable that the Patusans speak
English and perhaps even less probable that Jim is familiar with their local tongue). Conrad‘s texts thus appear to counter Ngũgĩ wa Thiong‘o‘s assumption presented in his Decolonising the Mind that ―a specific culture is not transmitted through language in its universality, but in its particularity as the language of a specific community with a specific history‖ (15).
Instead, one could argue that Conrad‘s, as opposed to Kipling‘s, is a unified and universalized world: On the one hand, Conrad may perhaps be seen as a visionary who unmasks and criticizes the imperialist expansion, slavery and the abuse of technology and power by the white intruders, on the other hand, however, one could add that Conrad implicitly takes the natives‘ inferiority for granted by depicting them, to use Achebe‘s words, as mere props without a language that has power (i.e. a language whose ignorance may, for example, result in the intruder‘s failure to achieve a certain goal. In e.g. ―Heart of Darkness,‖ whether Kurtz or Marlow know the local language seems in no way to affect whether they are able to fulfil their colonialist missions or not). For Conrad, one could argue, the Third World therefore seems to be a homogenized block inhabited by the rather mysterious ―Other,‖ a world that only has a meaning once it is compared to ―Us,‖ that is the so called developed societies.
By contrast, in Kim Kipling portrays India as an extraordinarily diverse area, by no means limiting himself to the intercourse between the whites and the non-whites: e.g. the
Hindus, the Sikhs, the Bengalis, the Akalis, the Afghans, the British, the Russians and many
84 other nationalities, castes or ethnicities all contribute to the cultural complexity of the novel.
While in ―Heart of Darkness‖ or Nostromo one can fairly unequivocally see the interplay between ―Us‖ and ―Them‖ as one between the European invaders and the natives, in Kim an entirely different perspective seems to be offered. Here the ―Us‖ and ―Them‖ does not appear to refer to the British and the Indians but rather the British and the Indians who together defy the Russian infiltrators intending to incite a revolt in one of the provinces in the north –
Colonel Creighton (a British), Mahbub Ali (an Afghan-Indian horse-dealer), Kim (an Irish boy who grew up in India and is depicted by Kipling as ―a white boy…who is not a white boy‖ (Kipling 1994:136)), to name but a few of those who participate in the secret service, all seem almost idyllically united against the Russians.
This idyll, however, should be regarded as ideological: Said demands that the reader should not interpret the surprisingly conflict-free intercourse between the Indians and the
British as an objective reflection of reality but rather as a means of promoting the ideologically saturated vision of India whose ―best destiny [it is] to be ruled by England‖
(Said 176). What is more, it is, according to Said, the major purpose of the novel to demonstrate ―the absence of conflict once Kim is cured of his doubts, the lama of his longing for the River, and India of a few upstarts and foreign agents‖ (Said 176). Although Said seems to appreciate the complexity of the ideological and political undertone of Kim one could argue, however, that his assertion that the novel is entirely devoid of conflict may prove slightly misleading. Rather, one could argue that conflict is permanently present therein, albeit only implicitly.
Whereas in, say, ―Heart of Darkness,‖ Conrad depicts the Congo as a sort of primeval jungle where the only vestige of humanity is the steamer (rapidly contrasted to the shouts and shrieks coming from the jungle) on board which Marlow travels to visit Kurtz – there is absolutely no mention of the ethnic representation of the Congo or perhaps of the conflict
85 between particular local minorities – Kim provides, as has been argued earlier, a journey into the multifariousness and the remarkable ethnic, social and political complexity of India, so to speak.
However, to argue against Said, this complexity does not exclude conflict. Instead – and Said acknowledges this possibility – Kipling demonstrates that the thorough knowledge of India can, to some extent, be used as a means of maintaining control over the country and suppressing, or preventing, the native opposition (i.e. some form of implicit conflict is inherent in this process) – ―you cannot govern India,‖ maintains Said (185), ―unless you know
India, and to know India means to understand the way it operates‖ (in ―The Man Who Would
Be King,‖ one of the reasons why Dravot and Carnehan manage to come to power in
Kafiristan is their knowledge of a secret Masonic ritual that in many ways resembles a native ritual performed by a local shaman as well as the possession of maps, carts and other information. These the two adventurers obtain from another Mason).
Furthermore, it could be argued that another rather effective means of portraying conflict implicitly, used by Kipling in Kim, is the textual employment of stereotypes. In spite of the fact that Kipling seems to treat the Indians in more or less contrapuntal terms – that is, he takes into consideration both the perspectives of the colonizers as well as the colonized – the novel abounds with stereotypical images of whom Kipling calls, rather pejoratively, the
Orientals: ―All hours of the twenty-four are alike to Orientals‖ (Kipling 1994:40); swiftly – as
Orientals understand speed – with long explanations, with abuse and windy talk‖ (Kipling
1994:221); ―He stowed the entire trove about his body, as only Orientals can‖ (Kipling
1994:344); or, early in Chapter 1, ―Kim could lie like an Oriental‖ (Kipling 1994:27).
In addition, Kipling employs a number of pejorative expressions whose aim, one could presume, is to depict the Orientals, to reiterate his term, as different and, indirectly, as inferior. For example, early in Chapter II, when Kim is sent to buy train tickets for the lama‘s
86 money, he does not return all the change. Instead, he keeps what Kipling refers to as ―the immemorial commission of Asia‖ (Kipling 1994:25). Although Said therefore seems correct in his assumption that Kim is a novel where, as opposed to e.g. Nostromo, no direct armed conflict occurs – it is comic that, after they punch the lama in the face, Kim fights the Russian spies with his bare hands. To exaggerate slightly, the war of India is thus humorously reduced to a fist fight – his interpretation of the novel as one where the British and the Indians live side by side without any tension may thus justifiably be viewed as rather unsound and questionable.
Furthermore, it could be argued that another means of depicting conflict between the two civilizations, the British and the Indian, is, aside from those suggested above, the use of appropriation of language: Kim provides a profusion of Indian words. Some of these (e.g. sahib, madrissah) may be regarded as background knowledge and thus familiar to a non-
Indian (or, more precisely, Urdu, Hindi etc.) speaking reader. Others, however, require a translation (e.g. balushai, babu, chatti, coolie, ekka). The problem – and the centre of the argument – is that Kipling only provides a translation or description of each word once only.
Considering the frequency with which these non-English words appear in the novel, one-off translations may be seen as fairly insufficient. In other words, it could be presumed that, while reading Kim, the reader is forced either to go back and re-look up the words (or perhaps consult a dictionary or internet) or simply continue reading without grasping the meaning of all the words.
Such an approach may, of course, be chosen by Kipling to illustrate the complexity and the richness of India. Along with the considerable topographic data – Kipling conscientiously provides the reader with geographic details of Kim‘s and the lama‘s journey – this may be considered a means of implicitly contrasting the vastness and the multifariousness of India to the almost parochial and lustreless England (in her ―Centre and Periphery:
87 Panoramic Visuality in Kim and The Impressionist‖ Charlotte Jorgensen refers to Kim as ―a definitive work of fiction about the British Empire, because it gives imaginative form to quintessential British ideas about India. Kipling makes India exhilaratingly exotic, yet reassuringly familiar at the same time‖ (1)).
However, it could also be suggested that Kipling‘s abundant use of Indian words as well as the rich geographic details may serve yet another purpose – to deliberately confound the reader; to show that India, an extraordinarily large and complex country, is never to be fully understood or, and this should probably be emphasized, governed/subjugated. On the one hand Kipling portrays India, as Said demonstrates, as a country where the British superior position is taken for granted and is expected to continue forever, on the other hand, however,
Kipling attempts to make evident, among others, Father Victor‘s assertion that ―one can never fathom the Oriental mind‖ (Kipling 1994:161), suggesting the presence of an inherent conflict between the two fundamentally different cultures: It seems correct to assume that for Kipling
India is a land of opportunity where, as opposed to Europe, it is possible to ―live out the grand dream of a successful quest [without having to] come up against one‘s own mediocrity and the world‘s corruption and degradation. Isn‘t is possible in India to do everything? Be anything? Go anywhere with impunity‖ (Said 192)? At the same time, however, India is not to be seen as easily governable. Under the veneer of conflict-free intercourse between India and
Britain, as it perhaps may seem to be represented in Kim, one could maintain, hides the real
India, the tremendously huge and complex stretch of land where the British, or any other master nationality, for that matter, are atemporarily and inevitably meant to be no more than a tolerated unwelcome evil.
In addition, it should also be emphasized that Kipling appears to picture India as the land where the conflict between the colonizers and the colonized is unresolved and essentially irresolvable due to the fact that the cultural and socio-political background of the Europeans,
88 one could maintain, does not allow thorough comprehension of some aspects of the Indian society. Kim should thus be seen both as a novel of unification – represented by the illusionary and ideologically saturated cooperation between Mahbub Ali the Afghan, Kim the
Irish-Indian or Creighton the British – and separation – the novel in fact shows, for reasons provided above, that, to paraphrase Kipling‘s famous line, East shall eternally remain East and West shall ad infinitum remain West, interacting in one way or another but never quite understanding or tolerating one another.
To conclude, it has been the aim of this chapter to analyze the novel and the short story by Kipling primarily from the perspective of sex, sexuality, language and intercultural conflict. The themes of desire and sex(uality), investigated in the foregoing chapter on
Conrad, have further been expanded upon and the ways in which both authors render it have been compared and contrasted. Moreover, the third chapter has sought to demonstrate that both Conrad and Kipling should, rather than opposing poles to a greater or lesser degree excluding one another, be perceived as partially comparable (while their approaches to colonialism and imperialism could be seen as slightly different – this applies, among others, to the way the two authors deal with the theme of disillusionment and frustration – they share similar subject matters). In other words, it has been argued against the extraordinarily simplistic definition of Conrad as the anti-imperialist and Kipling as the imperialist, a view, represented e.g. by Raskin, that, one could presume, seems to have, in many respects, become nearly axiomatic.
Instead, it has been argued in favour of the claim that the two writers may in fact be seen as comparable to a considerable extent: for both Conrad and Kipling, desire (sexual as well as non-sexual) is the central theme. Unsatisfied with their social status or the trajectory of their lives, so to speak, Kurtz, Gould, Decoud, Jim as well as Kim, Dravot or Carnehan all
89 strive to change their lives for the better and all, except Kim and perhaps Gould, fail. Kurtz,
Decoud, Jim and Dravot all die (all except Dravot in fact commit suicide); after being corporeally tortured Carnehan is only allowed to survive and return as a deterrent to anyone who may attempt to conquer Kafiristan in the future.
As far as Kim is concerned, some interpretations of the novel (e.g. Said‘s) suggest its inherent optimism as opposed to the integrally fatalist visions presented by Conrad. Yet even here the reader witnesses, to somewhat counter Said‘s assumptions, a considerable degree of disillusionment and false expectations: on the one hand Kim is repeatedly assured of his status of a sahib and seems, as opposed to Conrad‘s characters, to be successful and not a victim of the devastating powers of desire, imagination and dreams – the Russian spies do not eventually manage to incite the rebellion, Kim is able to graduate from St. Xavier‘s where he is 'taught' to be a white man and a servant of the Raj government (―St Xavier's looks down on boys who 'go native all-together.' One must never forget that one is a Sahib, and that some day, when examinations are passed, one will command natives. Kim made a note of this, for he began to understand where examinations led‖ (Kipling 1994:188)), the lama discovers the healing river.
It could be argued, despite this, that the novel does not necessarily provide a happy ending. The reason for this is that Kim‘s major desire for self-determination is left unresolved: as opposed to Gould or Kurtz whose imperialist pursuits are executed so as to obtain power and, most importantly, money, Kim, one can maintain, enlists in The Great Game not only in order to become affluent and respected but also to solve his identity crisis: ―a white boy…who is not a white boy‖ (Kipling 1994:136), Kim roams over India, successfully pretending to be either a native or a white, depending on what the circumstances require, an ability that makes him valuable for the secret service. Kim is, argues Salman Rushdie in his ―Introduction to
Kipling‘s Soldiers Three and In Black and White, ―part bazaar-boy, part sahib‖ (ix) whose
90 crisis of identity Kipling apparently refuses to solve (a parallel could be drawn between Kim‘s identity crisis and the identity crisis that the British experience in India: on the one hand,
Kim‘s reputation precedes himself, his remarkable ability to disguise himself both as a white boy and as a native as well as his language prowess – Kim speaks or understands Hindu,
Urdu, the lama‘s Tibetan tongue etc. – make it possible for him to travel freely and safely to any part of India. On the other hand, however, Kim constantly wonders whether he belongs to the European tradition or the Indian one, a question for which he never manages to find a satisfactory answer).
Similarly, the British colonizers are depicted by Kipling as relatively free, unencumbered by the necessity to regularly face uprisings, rebellions and so on. Yet, as
Kipling reminds the reader a number of times, the British do not, and cannot, fully understand
India in its complexity and are thus reduced to the role of the invader, of the tolerated evil –
―certain things are not known,‖ notices Kipling wittily, ―to those who eat with forks‖
Another major aim of the third chapter of this thesis has been to investigate, in relation to the texts in question, aspects of sex, sexuality, temptation and, particularly, resistance to it within the context of the British imperialist expansion. Moreover, the third chapter has endeavoured to delineate certain aspects of the interplay between the British expansionist and possession-oriented imperialist society and the sexual lives of their members, focusing on
Kipling‘s ―The Man Who Would Be King.‖ Drawing on Fromm‘s evolutionary perspective presented in his To Have or to Be, the analysis has dealt with, but has not been limited to, aspects of the phylogenetic evolution of the sexual instinct in humans. Furthermore, this phylogenetic approach has been contrasted to the socially-constructed changes in perception of human sexuality and the sexual instinct which, it is maintained in Chapter III of this thesis, predominate as far as Kipling‘s short story is concerned. Put another way, Dravot‘s and
91 Carnehan‘s calculating and rigorously pragmatic resolution not to surrender to sexual temptation should be perceived as a result of the modern imperialist society‘s insistence on possession and ownership, an insistence that frequently implies, and requires, the suppression of the sexual instinct.
In the context of the selected texts, this thesis has endeavoured to explore the ways in which the colonialist and imperialist societies, that inherently incorporate, and are based on, possession and ownership, affect the libidinal lives of their members. That is, the desire to accumulate wealth, an essential component of the modern industrialist capital-oriented society, and the sexual desire are approached as a continuum where the cause and the effect can only be identified in fairly ambiguous terms. A typical instance of this continuum, it has been demonstrated, is Kurtz. Kurtz, one of the major characters in the novella ―Heart of
Darkness,‖ is driven to the Congolese jungle by his desire to become wealthy enough so as to be allowed to marry his Intended. His colonialist mission could thus be seen as a result of an unsatisfied sexual desire, his undesirable social status being the primary cause of his voyage to the Congo.
The major subjects of analysis have thus been aspects of sex, sexuality, possession and ownership, and the applicability of psychoanalysis/psychoanalytical perspectives for an investigation of colonialism and imperialism, the major psychoanalytical source taken into consideration being Erich Fromm‘s To Have or to Be. In this respect, the aim of this thesis has been to suggest implicit links between Conrad and, to a lesser degree, other late 19th and early
20th century authors and some perspectives that can be associated with the Frankfurt School
(scepticism and relativity of scientific progress, frustration about, and critique of, capitalism, etc.).
In addition, focusing on the selected texts by the two authors in question, the analysis provided in this thesis has sought to delineate certain links between the late 19th and early 20th century colonialism and imperialism, and modern post-war capitalism that Fromm (as well as
Conrad) appear to criticize and subvert throughout their oeuvres. As has been illustrated in the
93 first introductory chapter, these links can be identified when a Marxian approach to these phenomena is considered.
A few words may now perhaps be added regarding Fromm‘s To Have or to Be. The socio-political, ethical and socio-economic analysis provided therein tends to be both descriptive and prescriptive. That is, aside from identifying causes and implications of, among others, the failure of what he terms The Great Promise, Fromm, taking into consideration historical events of the last roughly 700 years, also seeks to suggest alternative ways of dealing with the crisis described above (i.e. in the first and second chapter): ―Later Mediaeval culture,‖ maintains Fromm,
flourished because people followed the vision of the City of God. Modern
society flourished because people were energised by the vision of the growth
of the Earthly City of Progress. In our century, however, this vision
deteriorated to that of the Tower of Babel, which is not beginning to collapse
and will ultimately bury everybody in its ruins. If the City of God and the
Earthly City were thesis and antithesis, a new synthesis is the only alternative
to chaos; the synthesis between the spiritual core of the Late Mediaeval world
and the development of rational thought and science since the Renaissance.
This synthesis is The City of Being. (197)
By contrast, the analysis presented in this thesis has attempted in no way to be comparably prescriptive. The aim is therefore by no means to advocate or recommend what may in some respects be seen as a new approach to the study of aspects of colonialism and imperialism as represented by Conrad and Kipling. Instead, the links, some of which may be regarded as implicit, some, perhaps, as bordering on the explicit, between perspectives presented by Conrad/Kipling, and those articulated by members of the Frankfurt School as
94 represented by Fromm here, have been provided in order to suggest one of the possible ways of looking at, or investigating, texts covering the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism.
In addition, Fromm seems, in many respects, to perceive the failure of The Great
Promise – representations of which could be identified in a number of Conrad‘s characters such as Kurtz – as a particular, not a universal, event. That is, Fromm appears to portray this failure as an inherent feature of the modern industrial capital-oriented society. Whether this assumption can be regarded as correct or not would indeed be a subject of a more complicated debate. One could, however, legitimately claim that some of the qualities with which Fromm associates the modern (according to Fromm, Martin Luther ushered in the modern period) man – the most typical of which is greed in all its forms – are fairly universal and may not justifiably be seen as strictly period- or culture-specific.
As far as this thesis is concerned, it should probably be noted that its aim has been, with regard to colonialism and imperialism as represented by Conrad and Kipling, to somewhat universalize Fromm‘s (largely Marxist) assumptions. That is, the psychoanalyst‘s ideas are considered to be both relevant and useful for the analysis of the two authors in question; however, alternative perspectives were also accepted and taken into account
(although Conrad‘s characters may, in some respects, undergo similar crises that, according to
Fromm, are presently experienced by modern society, Conrad, it could be argued, can on no account be considered Marxist): while Marxism, to a greater or lesser degree, might be seen as offering positive humanistic outlooks should the class struggle be overcome – an apology has to be made for such an extraordinary simplification of Marx‘s views – Conrad‘s texts, it has been demonstrated throughout this thesis, are typical of fatalism, futility, disillusionment, and death. In Conrad, one could maintain, existence thus seems to be portrayed as inherently tragic.
95 Another aim of this thesis, and particularly the second chapter, has been to demonstrate the extraordinary complexity of colonialism and imperialism, arguing both that no clear-cut boundaries between the two can be identified and that the two social phenomena should not merely be perceived as geopolitical or sociological agents. Rather, colonialism and imperialism might be regarded as singularly complex phenomena that influence not only the political or economic structure of a country, or indeed the geopolitical structure of the globe, but also, in the extreme case, eating habits (the global expansion of companies such as
McDonald‘s or KFC can in some respects be seen as an act of cultural imperialism) or, having in mind the American-Korean military and cultural interaction as a result of which circumcision was introduced in South Korea, the visual aspects of male genitalia.
Furthermore, while some of the phenomena, concepts or perspectives investigated above may, to some extent, be seen as what could be termed 'extratextual' – that is, having seemingly little immediate relevance to the study of Conrad and Kipling – it has been the aim of this thesis to approach these issues in such a way that explicit and implicit connections between actual history of colonialism and imperialism and the literary depictions of the two phenomena, such as can be encountered in the five major Conrad and Kipling texts in question, are manifest. This pertains, among others, to what could be regarded as apparent similarities between the American-Korean interaction and Gould‘s relationship with the employees of the San Tome mine.
In addition, drawing on Said‘s notion of contrapuntal reading, the thesis has endeavoured to be comparably contrapuntal, taking into account ―both processes, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it, which can be done by extending our reading of the texts to include what was once forcibly excluded‖ (Said 9). The author has thus attempted to carry out the analysis with an ―awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse
96 acts‖ (Said 50); an awareness of what a contrapuntal analyst generally considers to be a fact; that is, that what is silenced in a text can in fact be equally important, or perhaps even more important, than what is communicated.
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100 English Resume
Within the context of a number of texts by Conrad and Kipling, this thesis seeks to explore the ways in which the colonialist and imperialist societies, that inherently incorporate, and are based on, possession and ownership, affect the libidinal lives of their members. That is, the desire to accumulate wealth, an essential component of the modern industrialist capital- oriented society, and the sexual desire are perceived as a continuum where unclear causal relations seem to apply. Aside from aspects of sex, sexuality, possession and ownership, the thesis also takes into consideration the seeming applicability of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical perspectives for an investigation of colonialism and imperialism, the major psychoanalytical source taken into consideration being Erich Fromm‘s To Have or to Be.
In addition, focusing on the selected texts by the two authors in question, the thesis attempts to delineate implicit as well as explicit links between the late 19th and early 20th century colonialism and imperialism, and modern post-war capitalism that Fromm (as well as
Conrad) appear to criticize and subvert throughout their oeuvres. In so doing, a Marxian approach to these phenomena is considered.
Another aim of this thesis is to demonstrate the extraordinary complexity of colonialism and imperialism, arguing both that no clear-cut boundaries between the two can be identified and that the two social phenomena should not merely be perceived as geopolitical or sociological agents but rather as singularly complex phenomena that influence considerably more than only the political or economic structure of a country.
The thesis further endeavours to analyze certain linguistic aspects of the texts considered, mainly the postcolonial notions of abrogation and appropriation with regard to their ideological as well as literary functions. Although the linguistic investigation focuses primarily on Kipling‘s novel Kim, other sources, including those written by Conrad, are considered as well.
101 Czech Resume
Předkládaná magisterská práce se zabývá vybranými texty anglických spisovatelů
Conrada a Kiplinga. Analyzuje je především s ohledem na otázky sexu, sexuality a materiální touhy v rámci kontextu společenských jevů kolonialismu a imperialismu. Jedním z klíčových témat jsou pak okolnosti a socio-politické aspekty souhry mezi sexuální a materiální touhou a tím, do jaké míry a jakými způsoby tuto souhru ovlivňují právě kolonialismus a imperialismus. Ačkoliv je práce koncipována jako primárně literární – hlavním předmětem analýzy jsou vybrané práce výše uvedených autorů – v potaz jsou brány i některé reálně- historické události či jevy.
S ohledem na některé ideje Marxismu práce dále nastiňuje možnosti vnímání kolonialismu a imperialismu v převážně 19. a začátkem 20. století coby do značné míry předchůdců moderního kapitalismu, který známe z konce 20. století. Kolonialismus a imperialismus jsou tak vyobrazeny jak z pohledu reálného historického kontextu tak z pohledu beletristického jako socio-politické fenomény, které do zásadní míry ovlivnili současné moderní vnímání světa.
Dalším cílem práce je poukázat na nepřebernou komplexnost konceptů kolonialismu a imperialismu, a to jak z pohledu literárního tak z pohledu historického. Tyto koncepty jsou totiž vyobrazené nikoliv jako pouhé socio- či geopolitické jevy nýbrž jako zásadní hybné síly určující charakter každodenního myšlení a chování běžných lidí po celém světě. Práce se např. pokouší identifikovat explicitní i implicitní podobnosti mezi tak rozmanitými a odlišnými sociokulturními a geopolitickými problematikami, jako jsou např. vztahy mezi velkopodnikatelem Charlesem Gouldem a jeho zaměstnanci, horníky, v Conrádově románu
Nostromo, hermeneutické aspekty globální expanze vybraných amerických společností po světě (např. Coca Cola anebo McDonald‘s) či třeba přímý a nepřímý vliv americké invaze na plošné zavedení rutinní obřízky Američany v Jižní Koreji v 50. letech minulého století.
102 Práce se dále zaobírá vybranými lingvistickými aspekty analyzovaných textů. Jde především o tzv. ―abrogaci‖ a ―apropriaci,‖ klíčové koncepty v rámci postkoloniální teorie. V potaz jsou přitom brány jak ideologické tak funkčně-beletristické pohledy na tuto problematiku. Jazykové aspekty jsou pak předmětem zkoumání především v souvislosti s
Kiplingovým románem Kim, prostor je však věnován i Conradovým dílům, především pak novele ―Heart of Darkness‖ (―Srdce temnoty‖).