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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: Conrad and Dostoevsky: an unsuspected brotherhood
Authors: Berry, Robert James
Supervisor(s): Smith, Grahame
Issue Date: 1993
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis attempts a comparative study of Conrad and Dostoevsky. In doing so, it proposes a significant relationship between the ideological, political and literary worlds of both authors. The work is undertaken in eight chapters. Chapter One explores Conrad and Dostoevsky's respective national and cultural identities. It reflects on Conrad's recorded reactions to Dostoevsky and his work, and speculates on the latter's likely response to Conrad. Chapter Two challenges established critical formulae that suggest Dostoevsky is a purely 'Dionysian' writer. The view that Conrad is a consummate 'Apollonian' artist is similarly brought into question. Chapter Three considers Conrad and Dostoevsky as major literary innovators. To support my argument, Bakhtin's critical concepts of 'polyphony' and 'monology' are introduced, and applied in a Dostoevskyan and Conradian context. Especially highlighted is my debate on Conrad's 'polyphonic' narrative technique in Lord Jim (1900). The notable fusion of disparate literary genres in Conrad and Dostoevsky's novels is explored in Chapter Four. Elements of 'adventure', 'thriller', 'romance', and 'detective' fiction are identified in each novelist's world. My argument, however, restricts itself to an extensive analysis of the surprising importance of the 'Gothic' elements in both writers' worlds. Chapters Five and Six, concentrate on Conrad and Dostoevsky's profound insights into the fundamental character of the human personality. Chapter Five considers their parallel interpretations of mankind's quintessentially materialist nature. Chapter Six looks at their strikingly similar visions of man's violent and carnal identity, and his primary urge to dominate other weaker individuals. Chapters Seven and Eight consider two central themes in Conrad and Dostoevsky's fiction, that of anarchist politics and nihilism respectively. Their political and ideological responses to these issues are investigated in some detail, and significant interpretive parallels established. Finally, the conclusion undertakes to once again assure the reader of the surprising and unsuspected bonds that exist between these two seemingly alien writers.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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