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A critical reaction to Edward Said's essay: [The presentation of Narrative in Lord Jim]

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Introduction

A critical reaction to Edward Said's essay: [The presentation of Narrative in Lord Jim] By Philip Markwick. April 2003 Said has propelled the post-colonial/Orientalism approach to literary criticism into interesting places for the modern reader. Complicating the political approach and critical meanings that we the (non-other) reader takes from the novel about colonial history. Language is the active issue of reading and representation (that all readers must engage with) when forming opinion on the text. The postcolonial political approach is, of course, easy to summarise. As understanding and approaches to the countries that do not happen to be members of the privileged 'west' and their peoples have changed. So too has our approach to 'our' history, the view to 'their' history. Colonial and cultural Imperialism being a well-recognised mistake of the western world's history, through revaluation of the human cost it has made on its victims. As well as the now 'dubious' approach to the justifications the enlightened world made of itself. For example... John Lock's belief that the right to own land belonged to those who would 'work' it rather than those who are 'on' it was used as justification for the seizure of the 'new worlds' and out posts. ...read more.

Middle

As the book is not only the story that Conrad tells us (a trusted author) who recounts the tale that the character tells... a somewhat less reputable narrator. Perhaps, we form judgements on his story on account of weather he is or 'is not' one of "us". 'He is one of us' the text keeps telling us, but we are forced to question the meaning of this phrase, the difficulties that the characters have in communicating their knowledge and experiences to each other. "Each sentence drives a sharper wedge between intention (wanting-to-speak) and communication. Finally wanting-to-speak, a specifically verbal intention, is forced to confront the insufficiency, and indeed the absence of words for that intention." (LJ. 456) Just as the difficulties that cultures have in communicating, (the chasms between words and word meanings) it as if we must not only take the unsettling truth of Wittgenstein (when he will not categorically deny the existence of a rhinoceros in this room at this time) and then multiply it to the power of different language and cultures. "He is one of us." The assurance factor in the language game, the participation in a(my) ...read more.

Conclusion

Leaving the only course of action most beyond moral indignation is the avoidance of judgement and action all together. To simply judge is to take a moral position, but post-colonial criticism takes a different path. With its intentions close to that of the postmodernist theories it seeks to deconstruct and problematize our assurances (moral and cultural). The doubt and trepidation with which we might now approach the 'Victors narrative' affects Marlow's understanding of the imperial world when he further reflects on Jims account. By shifting perspectives, or moral views, we might move to a position not of assurance but of doubt, and therefore inaction (a pleasant place for some of the professional political thinkers of the world, but not for the 'doers'). Post colonialism shows many of its connections to the strategies post-structuralism and postmodernism, in this respect, as 'meaning', 'symbolic-structure', and other such assurances tumble in on themselves we are find that we are in the 'multi-centred' world that post-colonialism aspires to, and binds us to; morally neutral inaction that is vindicated by a redeeming measure of sympathy for all. Reading Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim. Norton Critical Edition. 1996 2nd Edition. Rice, Philip, and Waugh, Patricia. (editors) Modern Literary Theory, A Reader. Arnold Books. 1996 3rd Edition. 1 [Knowing moral views is not holding them.] ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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