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The Life and the Art

A Study of Conrad’s Under Western Eyes

Keith Carabine

The Life and the Art: A Study of Conrad's Under Western Eyes has a twofold origin. Over the past ten years, as an associate editor of the prospective Cambridge Edition of Under Western Eyes, the author, Keith Carabine, has worked on the genesis and composition of the novel in its several versions and on its literary, ideological, social, and historical contexts. At the same time during these years he has taught seminar courses on Conrad for undergraduates and on Conrad and Dostoevsky for postgraduates. This interpenetration of teaching and research constantly reminded the author that his many hours devoted to textual minutiae and manuscript variations or to a study of Conrad's Polish background should result not only in a scholarly edition of the novel in a book that will demonstrate the ways in which Conrad's life and his protracted, uncertain composition of the Under Western Eyes enrich his art; and the title of this book deliberately invokes Conrad's belief in the inseparability of the art and the life. This study's six chapters concentrate in different ways and with differing emphases on the complex inter-relations between the art and the life, on the intersections between Conrad's personal preoccupations, fictional aesthetic, and working practices with regard to what he described as without doubt ... the most deeply meditated novel that came from under my pen.

In Search of 'Kynde Knowynge'

Piers Plowman and the Origin of Allegory


Madeleine J.A. Kasten

Readers today no longer relish sustained allegorical narratives the way they did in the Middle Ages, when the art of ‘other-speaking’ was as dominant in poetic discourse as it was elsewhere. Yet we live in an age which, following the postmodernist dictum that any sign can only refer to other signs, has declared all language liable to the ‘allegorical condition’.
This paradox has led the author to question the epistemological assumptions underlying allegories composed in an era which, conversely, favoured the oblique form of expression while professing its belief in the divine Logos as the ultimate ground of all meaning. If art and doctrine appear so divided on the subject of allegory in our own day, then might not the relationship between allegorical writing and interpretation in the Middle Ages have been more complex than is often assumed? How solid are the grounds on which Michel Foucault has based his distinction between early modernity and its past - a time when, he claims, the languages of the world were still perceived to make up “the image of the truth”?
The present study addresses these and related questions through a heuristic comparison between historically and culturally different approaches to narrative allegory. In her analysis of the late-fourteenth century dream poem Piers Plowman by William Langland, Kasten sets up a critical dialogue between this extraordinary work and Walter Benjamin's study of German baroque allegory, The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Far from serving the narrow purposes of didacticism, she contends, Piers Plowman invites a reconsideration of the very grounds on which (post-) modernity has tried to distance itself from its cultural past.


Elizabeth MacFarlane

Just as J. M. Coetzee’s post-2003 books present essays and narrative alongside one another, this book engages with its ideas through both critical and creative writing. Reading Coetzee interleaves critical essays on Coetzee’s works with an autobiographical narrative detailing MacFarlane’s more personal response to her reading and writing. The presentation of elements of the creative with the critical, and the critical within the creative, aims to challenge the traditional boundary between the two. This kind of methodology derives from the idea (and practice) of embodiment: that an idea or philosophy does not ‘float free’, but is tied to the idiosyncrasies, divergences, and subjective ‘travel’ of its speaker or writer.
Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, Slow Man and Diary of a Bad Year explicitly address themes which abide more surreptitiously throughout his oeuvre: the divisions and paradoxes which occur the moment pen gains page, the value of literature, and the ethics of embodiment. In revealing the dialogue between writer-self and reader-self, and between author and character, these recent novels invite a rereading of Coetzee’s previous literature. Reading Coetzee explores Coetzee’s preoccupation with the act of writing using his recent books as a lens through which to view his eight previous novels as well as his memoirs and essays.

Melinda Alliker Rabb

stamp of royal authority as legitimate while charging treason against the King “as a man.” 35 We know how central the “whole Tryall, and … Death” of the “Royal Martyr” was to Swift’s historical imagination, to his preoccupation with the Civil Wars, and to his belief that the execution of the king

Rudolf Freiburg

’s occult style, which is almost indistinguishable from the writings of Thomas Vaughan, Artephius, and Paracelsus also proves that Swift was well familiar with alchemy and esoteric thinking: 4 During the seventeenth century belief in more esoteric doctrines appeared to wane, or was at least driven


Garrett P.J. Epp


While the Wycliffite Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge famously condemns religious theatre as sinful idleness and ‘signs without deed,’ biblical drama has the potential to be highly productive, as a form of performative theology. Much like the meditative mode of affective piety, likewise common in the later Middle Ages, when undertaken seriously by or for those who believe in what it represents, the performance of biblical drama can create rather than merely represent theological meaning. This paper examines a variety of texts and performances, medieval and modern, in order to demonstrate how religious belief and theatrical make-believe can intertwine.




This essay questions the customary deference given to Joyce’s quest for and belief in “the perfect order of words,” by arguing that Joyce’s work frequently expresses and evinces confusion and anxiety about the function of sequentiality in meaning. Part of his “aesthetic of error” (that is, Joyce’s evolving interest in textual disorder) lies in how his works test by varying degrees the resilience and value of order and sequence in language, narrative, history and logic. The essay contends that Joyce’s narrative, syntactic and lexical reversals and derangements simultaneously disorient and liberate the reader.

Marcus Walsh

authority of a guide and instructor, who teaches what the words of Scripture mean, and who is worthy of his congregation’s credit: Whatsoever we believe concerning salvation by Christ, although the Scripture be therein the ground of our belief; yet the authority of many is, if we mark it, the key which

Peter Wagner

Renaissance offers some answers to the question why Swift’s giants in Brobdingnag are largely benevolent and wise, while the pygmies in Lilliput are the opposite. And the same applies to Swift’s satirical attempts in Gulliver’s Travels if understood as a reaction to the belief in the reliability of vision

Norbert Col

-17]), death is cryptically confirmed by the epistemological impossibility of imagining, and thus positing, immortality. 10 Ultimately, this episode, with its stress on amnesia, challenges that belief in the ancient constitution that Swift wielded against the New Whiggism of Walpole and his satellites. 11 In