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Abstract

In the 1920s, Paul Claudel advised André Gide to read “the whole of Conrad.” Soon afterwards, Gide decided to arrange the translation of Conrad’s major works, a process which has not ceased: Conrad has become a classic in French culture. This chapter will consider some modalities of his presence among contemporary writers, among which the poet Christian Bobin, the novelists Marie Darrieuscq, Patrick Deville, and the philosopher Jacques Rancière. Rancière’s concept of “le partage du sensible”–the sharing and distributing of sensible experience–is particularly helpful to understand why Conrad remains a vivid presence, both as an uncompromising artist and as a man between languages and cultures. His work pays homage to the real as “sensible stuff” rendered through the power of the written word and through the oblique lighting of fiction: an experience which Christian Bobin’s interpretation of Typhoon renders particularly well. The partition between the sensible and the insensible also concerns the ways in which one might impart a piece of knowledge, an experience, or a story to someone else: a theme particularly compatible with Conrad’s poetics and politics. For Patrick Deville, “our French Joseph Conrad,” the whole of Conrad–the traveller, his characters, his texts–is an inspiration: like Virgil with Dante, the Polish novelist accompanies the French writer into unknown lands, including the dark territories of human desire and fantasy. Last but not least, both Bobin and Marie Darrieusecq testify to the fact that Conrad is also able to speak “with an absolute sweetness and intelligence” of a woman’s own sensible experience, and of the “hell and ecstasy of falling in love” (Bobin).

In: Conrad’s Presence in Contemporary Culture
In: Conrad and Theory
In: Under Western Eyes
In: Under Western Eyes
The anthology consists of essays authored by scholars of different nationalities from diverse cultures, nations and primary languages. They cover Conrad’s presence across multiple media (fiction, films, comics, and graphic novels).

The collection is unique because the contributors focused on Conrad’s presence in contemporary culture – a constantly changing field – rather than well-trodden paths. The exploration of Polish, French, Italian, Spanish, English and American works of art strengthens its originality. The artists discussed in connection with Conrad include Olga Tokarczuk, Stanisław Lem, Robert Silveberg, Loic Godart, Christian Bobin, Christian Perrissin, Tom Tirabosco, Eduardo Berti, J.M. Coetzee, Michelangelo Antonioni.

Last but not least, the volume contains 20 stunning reproductions in full colour from films, graphic novels and comics.
In: Conrad’s Presence in Contemporary Culture