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Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014.

Unit 5 Study Guide




2013-2014 Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI)

Isabel Castelao (Coordinadora), Jess Cora y Ddac Llorens.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide


TEXTS AND AUTHORS Literary authors: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (serialized in 1899, published in book form in 1902); Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (1970). Introduction to critical and literary theory: Peter Barry, Ch. 10, Postcolonial criticism (pp. 185195); Michael Ryan, Ch. 10, Post-Colonial and Global English Studies (pp. 194-197) and Ch. 9, Ethnic Studies. (NOTE: it is important that you read the Ryan chapters in the order indicated). Critical authors: Chinua Achebe, excerpts from An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrads Heart of Darkness (1975, 1977); Edward Said, excerpts from Orientalism (1978). Preliminary considerations before reading Heart of Darkness In the previous units you have studied complex poems whose remarkable formal characteristics can also help you to read, understand, and discuss Heart of Darkness. In the case of Dylan Thomas's A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London you read a poem that: 1. has a speaker or "poetic I" that expresses atheist ideas using religious images and metaphors; 2. requires a careful, close reading (attention to syntax, the meaning of key words and relevant figures of speech, the structure of the text, etc.) to understand its formal complexity (form) and ideas (content); 3. does not state ideas in a straightforward way (of course, otherwise it would not be poetry, but a pamphlet). In Elizabeth Bishop's "12 O'clock News", you have found: 1. a sophisticated use of metaphor to convey ideas political ideas concerning a contemporary situation in an indirect way; 2. the use by the author of a ventriloquized voice that reflects a discourse and ideology that she criticises and intends us to reject by creating the readers' distancing from or lack of identification with that type of discourse and ideology by making us realize how such discourse distorts reality in the media; 3. that Bishop relies on the readers' understanding of these formal complexities to grasp the real message of the poem (again, it is a text that does not convey the message in a straightforward way). Bishop's "Roosters": 1. is a narrative poem that tells the story of the roosters and then has an inset story about St. Peter that is similar to a parable (the text has the structure of a framed story or a story-within-a-story), and then the whole poem, the interaction of the two stories, the two narrative levels, has a message that, again, Bishop does not tell right


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

away, but actually wants her readers to ascertain for themselves by considering the formal aspects of her poem; 2. shows a significant use of religious references to express a non-religious (feminist) idea; 3. has an important use of light imagery, and eventually the intended identification between the Sun and the reader aims at the latter's "illumination". Finally, in "In the Waiting Room", the text: 1. shows a very interesting process in which the "poetic I" tells how she both identifies and distances from other people, some of them belonging to other races and cultures, and in this process she finds something about herself (in this case the experience is centred on her becoming conscious of being a woman, rather than on her being white); 2. refers to the pictures of other races in the National Geographic and how the little girl in the poem reacts on seeing these people; how she both identifies with the black women and rejects some of their characteristics; 3. the speaker of the poem is older, but she remembers, considers and refers to her experience when she was a seven-year-old girl; there is a gap between the "then" and "now" of the speaker in the poem; this is particularly important when considering Marlow's narrative and his roles as the protagonist "then" and as the main narrator "now" in the text. Despite the fact that Dylan Thomas's and Elizabeth Bishop's texts are poems, they actually have some common formal features with Conrad's novella, a text that belongs to the fiction or narrative genres (novella is a term taken from the Italian language meaning "short novel"). All the above-mentioned aspects and their importance in understanding and commenting the texts should be taken into account when reading or re-reading Heart of Darkness. Note that novels and other narratives, although they are written in prose, also use poetic devices such as metaphors, symbols, comparisons, etc., sometimes in a recurrent way throughout the text. You will also have to take them into account together with the type of narrator(s), the characters (their characteristics and evolution, if any), narrative structure, etc. Considering all this then, you must be alert to: 1. The structure of Conrad's novella: like Bishop's "Roosters", there is an initial narration by one anonymous narrator (speakers telling a narrative are called "narrators") and then a central longer narration by Marlow, who is both a narrator and also the protagonist of the novella. 2. The narrators themselves: pay attention to what they say, what ideas they have, how they interact and react to each other's words in the novella; especially how the first anonymous narrator considers Marlow's stories in general and the whole story that he tells about his experiences in Africa at the end of the novella, after Marlow finishes his story; also what Marlow has to say to his friends on board the ship. 3. The question of whether the narrators can be at all identified with Conrad (just as if a "poetic I" or persona can be identified with the author of a poem), and if any of


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

them conveys the "message" of the narrative, any type of ideology (that can be related with the later critical texts), whether these ideas can be Conrad's own opinions and ideas or not, and what the message or central ideas of the novella can be if there is one. 4. How Marlow is described by the first narrator, the comparisons he uses to describe what he looks like, his gestures and general demeanour, and whether these details have a relationship with Marlow's ideas, his experiences, his travels, and the story he tells, what he thought and thinks about Kurtz and the meaning, if any, of the story he tells. The illustrations at the end of the section on Heart of Darkness in this Unit 5 Guide may help you. 5. How Marlow tells his story, how he addresses his friends on the yawl; how he refers to a time when he was younger than he is now; the tone he employs as he tells his story and refers to what he lived then. 6. How he refers to Africa and the Africans as well as how he refers to Europeans in Africa, what tone and attitude he uses and what can these details show about Marlow himself then, when he was young, and now that he is older, more mature, and tells his story. 7. Whether Marlow identifies with the Africans or not, how he feels, behaves and thinks when he sees them or interacts with them, and what Marlow, the narrator comments on his feelings, behaviour and thoughts then (pay extra-close attention to his words, the tone of some of his reflections and whether his descriptions are clear or confusing at first and when an how he reacts to what he witnesses). 8. The use of images and symbols that involve light and darkness and their possible and respective association with goodness, civilization, knowledge, and illumination, wisdom, etc., i.e. the usual metaphorical meanings that are associated with light, and darkness with evil, barbarism, savagery, confusion, etc., and also their possible indistinct relationship with the white and the black race (i.e. if the white race is related to light or darkness or the black race is related to light or darkness). Pay attention too to the connection of these images and metaphors with any of the above aspects. 9. Any other aspect that draws your attention, especially as regards to the depiction, representation, and comments on whites and blacks or any other racial types in the novella. 10. The interrelationship of all these factors to develop your own opinion about the novella and decide whether it is a completely racist text as Chinua Achebe explains in the critical extract or it is not or it is somewhere in between the two. We think it will be also interesting and useful for you to know a few facts about Conrad's life and the context in which he wrote Heart of Darkness as well as some details about the publication of the novel. You have read that Roland Barthes considers that the biography and psychology of the author of a text as well as her/his intention are not really relevant for the discussion of texts, but some critics still think that documental evidence about an author's opinions and ideas limit interpretive possibilities. Besides, Chinua Achebe's criticism of Conrad's novella also turns into a criticism ad hominem as he identifies Conrad as a "bloody" or


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

"thoroughgoing racist" depending on the version of his essay you read, thus showing that his approach to literature is quite traditional, considering the text as the expression of the author, relating it to the author's personality, interpreting the latter in the light of the former. 1. Joseph Conrad was brought up as a devout Catholic and a fervent Polish nationalist against the Russian Tsarist domination of a large part of 19th-century Poland. However, his travels and experiences in the Far East and Africa made him change his mind and adopt a relativist point of view about culture, religion, and race. 2. In 1890, Conrad worked for the Societ Anonyme du Haut-Congo (Upper Congo Company, Limited) and he witnessed colonialist corruption and the cruel colonialist exploitation of natives. He reflected this in his Congo Diary and Heart of Darkness. This trip along the Congo river was a turning point in his life, a moment when he became a disabused man very much like Marlow in Heart of Darkness. 3. Queen Victoria's diamond Jubilee had been celebrated in 1897 and this had prompted a general exaltation of the British Empire and the imperial idea and Great Britain's role as a world power. 4. Conrad's novella was first published as The Heart of Darkness when it was serialised in the Blackwood Magazine in 1899. Conrad changed the title to Heart of Darkness when it was published with two other short stories, "Youth" and "The End of the Tether" in book form in 1902. The omission of the article is in fact very important for it alters the meaning of the title and its relationship with the possible interpretations of the text. Think about this difference and try to elucidate how it alters the meaning of both the title and the whole text. 5. Sir Roger D. Casement (1864-1916), one of the first European activists and campaigners against the exploitation of African and American native peoples and also an Irish nationalist later executed for treason by the British, was Conrad's friend. He read Heart of Darkness and what he found in it made him try to enlist Conrad in his campaigns of denunciation of the events in the Congo. However, Conrad refused to join because he thought that he was just a writer who could do very little to change things, what he later referred to as "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration" (Last Essays, in Dent's Collected Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad, 22 vols., London: M. Dent & Sons, 146-1955, 17, quoted in Owen Knowles, "Introduction to Heart of Darkness", Heart of Darkness / The Congo Diary. London: Penguin, 2007, xiv). 6. Heart of Darkness is a modernist text; it challenges many of the conventions of the 19th-century realist novel and short story. Its main literary feature is experimentation with form in various ways: 1) The use of different narrators, with different mentalities and perspectives or points of view. 2) The use of defamiliarization (in the previous sense of the word before its use by New Historicism) in description and narration and the deferral of meaning of many of Marlow's observations (Marlow describes something or somebody imperfectly or not knowing what he is looking at or seeing and then the true


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

import of what he sees becomes apparent or clearer later in the narration and it is then that he expresses his opinion about it). 3) Its symbolic and allegorical style and content. 4) Its insistence on inexplicable and inexpressible mystery that contributes to the vagueness, even opaqueness (darkness?) of the "meaning" of Marlow's experience in Africa (something to which the text itself draws the reader's attention, but on the other hand seems to solve by means of allegory). 5) The uncertainty about what Kurtz did, his symbolism as a character (his name means "Short" in German), the paradoxical nature of the attraction he exerts on Marlow, and his being "hollow"; the difficulty in knowing what he represents in the, according to some critics, elusive "core" of the novel.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON A COUPLE OF PROBLEMATIC EVEN SHOCKING WORDS IN THE TEXT In the text of Heart of Darkness, you will find two words that are terribly offensive nowadays: "negro" and "nigger". At the time Joseph Conrad wrote his text, these words were descriptive as a reference to race, and Conrad uses them as such; in principle, they do not reflect a racist consideration of Africans. However, these words could also be used to include all the connotations added by a negative consideration of the race, especially in the South of the United States. Little by little, the word "nigger" became derogative, whereas "negro" remained more neutral and was so used until the late 1960s and early 1970s along with "coloured", a euphemism for "negro" that was seen in "Coloured" notices during the segregation. After the gradual success of the strife for Civil Rights in the United States, "negro", "nigger", "coloured", and "of colour", which were rejected by Civil Rights campaigners because they were part of the discourse of slavery, racism and discrimination, acquired an even more negative, derogative meaning in English and are no longer acceptable: they are taboo words that must be avoided both in writing and speech. Instead, "black" has become generally accepted as a neutral, descriptive adjective, but it is also sometimes avoided as a problem word. Afro-American is a politically correct alternative to go round all references to the skin colour and race and it has gained currency in USA universities and mainstream American culture as a vindication of the geographical origin of this population group and a subtle reminder of the victimisation they were subjected to. This term is used in African-American Literature, Afro-American Studies, etc. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is an example of Afro-American Literature denouncing racism and its internalisation by blacks and expressing the need to develop Afro-American self-assertiveness and empowerment and break with the dominance of white models.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide


Self-assessment exercises: literary text (Heart of Darkness) JOSEPH CONRAD (Jzef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, 1857-1924) Read Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness (1899, 1902). Remember that you need to have the e-text of Heart of Darkness: all page references are to the PDF file, which you will find in the UNIT 5 material on the "curso virtual". the PDF is easier to read either as a print-out or as file on your e-book reader or tablet. 1. Write a short summary of what you think this work is about. (Suggestion: your summary can be in English or Spanish. Also, concentrate on the plot [= argumento]). 2. Now read Ryans extended analysis (pp. 197-203). NOTE: Ryan opens his discussion with the observation: The reputation of this novel is a lesson in point of view. If you are white and an inhabitant of a formerly imperial country or a member of a colonizing group, you may be inclined to support those who for years thought this work a critique of imperialism. But some time ago, with the African writer Wole Soyinka leading the way, people from former colonies in Africa began to point out that the novel is in fact quite racist (197-198). A couple of things here: firstly, Ryan is synthesising the relatively recent debate over Heart of Darkness. Simpl(isticall)y put, if youre white, you will probably think Conrads work is a critique of Western expansionism and colonialism; if youre black or non-white, youre likely to think the work is racist. Secondly, Ryan cites the Nigerian-born recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize for literature, Wole Soyinka, as being a leading promoter of the latter point of view. In actual fact, it is the (also Nigerian-born) writer, Chinua Achebe, who has been most prominent in his condemnation of Heart of Darkness as a racist work. 3. Make a brief list of what you think the main themes of Heart of Darkness are. 4. Now read the following extract and answer the questions below (part of the text is written in green in order to select a different part of the text for commentary in question 5): We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming uswho could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a signand no memories. The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but therethere you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men wereNo, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of itthis suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled, and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanitylike yoursthe thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which youyou so remote from the night of first agescould comprehend (Chapter 2, p. 23). 4. 1. Look at the terms that Marlow uses to describe the place and the people who inhabit it: prehistoric earth unknown accursed subdued anguish toil a burst of yells a whirl of black limbs eyes rolling black and incomprehensible frenzy prehistoric man cursing phantoms secretly appalled madhouse night of first ages unearthly monster, etc., etc. This is just a sample (= muestra). What do you make of this language? Is this a place you would like to visit? Would you like to make contact with its inhabitants? Why/why not? Focus now on the words written in bold green characters in the text: "We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a signand no memories []" "what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanitylike yours"; "your remote kinship"; "you so remote from the night of first ages". What is the common element to all these quotations? Consequently, what does the text emphasize? Who is / are the addressee(s) in this fragment? Does the reader find herself/himself involved in that "you"?

4. 2.

4. 3.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide


Read the next extract and answer the questions:

I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up the hill. It turned aside for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal. I came upon more pieces of decaying machinery, a stack of rusty rails. To the left a clump of trees made a shady spot, where dark things seemed to stir feebly. I blinked, the path was steep. A horn tooted to the right, and I saw the black people run. A heavy and dull detonation shook the ground, a puff of smoke came out of the cliff, and that was all. No change appeared on the face of the rock. They were building a railway. The cliff was not in the way or anything; but this objectless blasting was all the work going on. A slight clinking behind me made me turn my head. Six black men advanced in a file, toiling up the path. They walked erect and slow, balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads, and the clink kept time with their footsteps. Black rags were wound round their loins, and the short ends behind waggled to and fro like tails. I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking. Another report from the cliff made me think suddenly of that ship of war I had seen firing into a continent. It was the same kind of ominous voice; but these men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies. They were called criminals, and the outraged law, like the bursting shells, had come to them, an insoluble mystery from the sea. All their meager breasts panted together, the violently dilated nostrils quivered, the eyes stared stonily uphill. They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages. Behind this raw matter one of the reclaimed, the product of the new forces at work, strolled despondently, carrying a rifle by its middle. He had a uniform jacket with one button off, and seeing a white man on the path, hoisted his weapon to his shoulder with alacrity. This was simple prudence, white men being so much alike at a distance that he could not tell who I might be. He was speedily reassured, and with a large, white, rascally grin, and a glance at his charge, seemed to take me into partnership in his exalted trust. After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and just proceedings. Instead of going up, I turned and descended to the left. My idea was to let that chain-gang get out of sight before I climbed the hill. You know I am not particularly tender; Ive had to strike and to fend off. Ive had to resist and to attack sometimes that's only one way of resistingwithout counting the exact cost, according to the demands of such sort of life as I had blundered into. Ive seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove menmen, I tell you. But as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly. How insidious he could be, too, I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther. For a moment I stood appalled, as though by a warning. Finally I descended the hill, obliquely, towards the trees I had seen (Chapter 1, p. 11).


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

5. 1.

Focus on the highlighted words in paragraph 1. Do they paint a positive or negative picture of the Companys station? How would you qualify the narrators reaction in paragraphs one and three to the white mans presence and activities in Africa?

5. 2.

A chain-gang of slaves escorted by Zanzibari (meaning from Zanzibar, Tanzania) guards in a Congo rubber plantation. This is a photograph documenting the real situation in Congo at the end of the 19th century.

5. 3.

How does Marlow describe the Africans in paragraph 2? Try to explain in abstract terms the effect that this paragraph produces in the reader by paying extra-close attention to the text. Does this effect reflect what Marlow thinks about blacks or does it reflect Marlow's opinion about the consequences of how the Congolese natives are treated? What happens when Marlow adopts the point of view of the African guard looking at and assessing a white man from a distance? What's the effect of "with a large, white, rascally grin, and a glance at his charge, seemed to take me into partnership in his exalted trust?" Consider the effect of his focussing on the whiteness of the guard's grin. What does Marlow think about "these high and just proceedings"? What's his tone here? What point of view is he assuming at the end of the paragraph? Marlow speaks of two kinds of devils in the third paragraph. What does he mean by those devils? What do you think Marlow, the narrator, is referring to when he speaks of flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly (lines written in bold type at the end of par. 3)?

5. 4.

5. 5.

5. 6.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Relevant illustrations in connection with Heart of Darkness (the description of Marlow's looks):

Emaciated Buddha, Phra Pathom Chedi, Thailand Emaciation indicates Buddha's asceticism in his quest for illumination, his undergoing penance to get rid of negative karma and liberate himself from the attachment to this world. Buddha holding a lotus flower The posture or mudra of the hand resting on his lap with the palm upwards stands for meditation and the lotus flower is a symbol of purity.

Further resources on Conrad and Heart of Darkness: Online version of Achebes famous lecture on Heart of Darkness, delivered at the University of Massachusetts, February 1975. PLEASE, NOTE: this version is harsher, far more critical and outspoken than the final 1977 version; Achebe toned down its language when he revised his text for publication. Thus, for instance, he calls Conrad a "bloody racist" that he changed to a "thoroughgoing racist" in the version published in 1977 (see link below). (Online version of Achebe's version of his lecture published in the Massachusetts Review 18:4 (1977) 782-794. _Darkness%22 (Wikipedia entry on Achebes famous essay). The film Apocalypse Now (1979), directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is loosely based on Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Seeing this film is not relevant for the purposes of this course since you are to concentrate on the literary text and its many complexities as to language, imagery, narrative form, characters, narrators, vignettes, episodes, etc. as well as Achebe's critical response to it. Watching a film does not substitute for the careful reading of all these literary aspects, much less Coppola's free adaptation. The relationship between literature and cinema is studied by a branch of scholarship and


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

criticism that is generally known as Cinema Studies, Media Studies, or more specifically, Adaptation Theory. This is out of the scope of this subject that focuses on literary texts, criticism and theory. These are the reasons why we have not included any references or information links to the film.

Further reading:
Conrad's Heart of Darkness can be a controversial text, especially if it is read only in the light of Chinua Achebe's essay. Here is a short list of books that you can read to obtain more information or know more about colonialism in Congo at the time that the novella was written, Conrad, and Heart of Darkness. These titles are recommended as extra sources of information for those who want to learn more if or when they have time (some of them are excellent summer reading) or if you decide to write your "Trabajo de Fin de Grado" (TFG) in fourth year. This is just a selection of titles. There are lots of other books, articles and materials you can consult. In case you hesitate, they are not compulsory readings.

Biographies of Joseph Conrad: Stape, John. The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad. London: Arrow Books, 2008 [first published in London: William Heinemann, 2007]. A very interesting biography that focuses on Conrad's his depressive nature, and his difficulties in writing his novels.

Recommended paper editions of Heart of Darkness: Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness / The Congo Diary. Heart of Darkness edited with introduction and notes by Owen Knowles; The Congo Diary edited with notes by Robert Hampson and an introduction by Owen Knowles. London: Penguin, 2007. This is a good edition with a balanced introduction. It is helpful as it identifies themes and formal aspects of the novella and offers information about its context and its place in Conrad's literary production. ---. Heart of Darkness. Edited by Paul B. Armstrong. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 4th edition, 2006. This is a very complete edition. It includes the whole text of Heart of Darkness with plenty of notes, textual history and editing principles as well as textual variants and a selection of texts on the background and contexts (imperialism and the Congo, nineteenth-century attitudes to race, Conrad in the Congo and the author's opinions on art and literature), and an anthology of excerpts and complete texts that range from contemporary responses to analysis, discussion and interpretations from the perspectives of formalism, stylistics, and postcolonial, feminist, gender and gay studies and cinema adaptation (for the relationship between Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now). Chinua Achebe's essay is included here, too. This edition is also illustrated with real photographs of the period and maps. This is certainly an edition worth reading and using if you want to read more and in depth about Heart of Darkness and you plan to write your fourth-year "Trabajo Fin de Grado" (TFG) on this text.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Study Guides, Secondary Sources and Criticism: Simmons, Allan. Conrad's Heart of Darkness. A Reader's Guide. London: Continuum, 2007. A compact guide that traces the context of the novella and explains its language, style and form, and alerts readers to aspects that are worth thinking about when reading the text. It also includes chapters on the evolution of criticism on Conrad's text as well as its influence on other texts, film adaptations, etc. Finally, there is also a guide to further reading. Tredell, Nicolas, ed. Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. Icon Critical Guides. The student guide to secondary sources. Cambridge: Icon Books, 1998. This books is a very interesting, informative and useful panorama and anthology of criticism on Heart of Darkness that traces the evolution of opinions and approaches to the novella from its publication to the 1990s in a chapter dedicated to the 1899-1959 period and then one for each of the decades: 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. It includes a selection of excerpts from key essays analysing and criticising the text. It includes a long excerpt of Chinua Achebe's essay, too. This volume does not cover the latest developments in the 2000-2010 decade, so it has to be complemented with the 2006 Norton Critical Edition and Simmons' 2007 guide.

Historical Context: Ascherson, Neal. The King Incorporated. Leopold the Second and the Congo. London: Granta Books, 1999 (first edition: London: George Allen and Unwin, 1963). A complete explanation of Belgian politics at the end of the 19th century and Leopold II's interests in rubber, ivory, cocoa and minerals in Congo and his using slavery, hostage-taking, mutilations, and a terror regime to force Congo natives to produce monthly quotas of all these commodities, while in Belgium and Europe his propaganda covered the whole state of affairs with charity and missionary campaigns to "civilise" Congo. Ascherson explains in detail the scandal caused in Europe by the Casement report (1904) that revealed the terrible reality in Congo. Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost. A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Updated edition. London: Pan Books, 2006 (first edition: London: Macmillan, 1999). A thoroughly researched history of how Leopold II got Congo as a colony and he exploited the territory by resorting to inconceivable violence. This book includes lots of accounts written by witnesses or giving testimony of victims that show the actual situation of Congo at the end of the 19th century. It also tells in full detail how the scandal was discovered and the reforms that were introduced after Leopold II was dispossessed of the colony and the mistakes that were made and led to further tragedies that still have their repercussions today. Williams, G. W.; Casement, Roger; Doyle, Arthur Conan y Twain, Mark. La tragedia del Congo. Viento Simn, 56. Traducciones de Susana Carral Martnez y Lorenzo F. Daz. La Corua: Ediciones del Viento, 2010. Obviously, the drawback of this anthology is that the texts are translations into Spanish. However, this is a really good anthology of texts written by famous writers denouncing the activities of colonial exploitation by the Congo Company owned by King Leopold II of Belgium. It includes the following texts: Carta al rey Leopoldo de G. W. Williams; Informe general del Sr. Casement al marqus de


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Lansdowne de Roger Casement; El crimen del Congo de Arthur Conan Doyle; y El soliloquio del rey Leopoldo de Mark Twain (traducciones de An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Leopold II, King of the Belgians and Sovereign of the Independent State of Congo (1890); The Congo Report (1903); The Crime of the Congo (1909); and King Leopold's Soliloquy (1905). Some of these texts are also included in the Norton Critical

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Preliminary considerations before reading The Bluest Eye In Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room", you read how a little girl reacted to pictures of women, how she identified with them, but she also saw important differences with them that provoked her negative reaction, her distancing from them and an important psychological and bodily reaction. Bearing this in mind, when reading The Bluest Eye, you should be alert to: 1. How black characters, girls and women, are affected by pictures and films of white girls and women who represent the standard of beauty in a white-dominated society. Consider whether they identify with them, even internalise what they represent, or on the contrary, they reject them; how their psychological reactions to these images affect what they think and feel about themselves and their own race, whether these affect their self-esteem or not (the illustrations at the end of the section on the novel by Morrison may help you to understand some of the cultural references in the novel). 2. The relationship between these images and eating and drinking (in the case of Pecola) and cleanliness (in the case of Pauline) and the psychological reactions of the characters. In the case of eating and drinking, as they are ingesting and nourishing processes, they are very much related with the notions of incorporation, assimilation, and internalisation in connection with race. Just as one eats to survive and what one eats shapes and benefits or affects one's body in different ways, the ideas, models and images that surround you and you "swallow" shape what you think about the world, yourself, other people, etc. By means of this analogy, eating and drinking work like metaphors or even symbols of identities and their formation. In psychological disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, patients have a distorted perception of their body and themselves, and this affects their eating that is seeing as a tool to shape the body and the self in order to achieve being accepted or liked by others. On the other hand, in other psychological disorders, patients eat and drink certain specific foods or even objects, not necessarily food, because of a special symbolic relationship, that is completely individual and particular to the patient and sometimes completely subconscious the patient being ignorant of its meaning, to a specific desire or lack. Look for any examples of eating or drinking that can work as metaphors or symbols or even fantasies of incorporation and internalisation of the Other into the self in order to be different, "better", etc., and what they reveal about the character that has them, his/her psychology, his/her desires, and above all the question of race in the USA in the 1930s and 1940s.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Self-assessment exercises: literary text (The Bluest Eye) TONI MORRISON (born in 1931), 1993 Nobel prize of Literature. Read Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye (1970).

1. Write a short summary of what you think this novel is about. Try to reconstruct the events of the novel. 2. Now read Ryans brief comments (pp. 207-8) and his rather more extended interpretation (184-6).

3. As before, make a short list of what you think the main themes of the novel are.

As with Heart of Darkness, the self-assessment exercises here will focus on a number of extracts from the novel. 4. Re-read the opening paragraph from the Dick and Jane reading book for young American children that you can find on the "curso virtual". Now, read all the three versions on pages 1-2 of the novel. Note what happens to the text, how its appearance changes on the page. How does the text change? How does this affect you as a reader? How do the changes prepare us for what happens in the novel? 5. Turn now to the two paragraphs on pages 13-14 in the novel (It had begun with Christmas [] to [] a mere metal roundness). What event or experiences is the narrator describing? Can you relate these two paragraphs to the rest of the novel? Suggestion: look at the illustrations in the PDF file Dick and Jane in the 1950s and try to picture (= imaginar) a little black girl Claudia in that scene. Raggedy Ann was a character created in 1915 by childrens book author Johnny Gruelle. She was a rag doll (= mueca de trapo) with white skin, hair made of bright red wool, round black eyes made of glass and a small triangular black and red nose.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

See: and The Gutenberg link allows you to download the full text and images. 6. Re-read the following extract and answer the questions below: A group of boys was circling and holding at bay a victim, Pecola Breedlove. [] [T]hey gaily harassed her. Black e mo. Black e mo. Yadaddsleepsnekked. Black e mo black e mo ya dadd sleeps nekked. Black e mo They had extemporized a verse made up of two insults about matters over which the victim had no control; the color of her skin and speculations on the sleeping habits of an adult, wildly fitting in its incoherence. That they themselves were black, or that their own father had similarly relaxed habits was irrelevant. It was their contempt for their own blackness that gave the first insult its teeth. They seemed to have taken all of their smoothly cultivated ignorance, their exquisitely learned self-hatred, their elaborately designed hopelessness and sucked it all up into a fiery cone of scorn that had burned for ages in the hollows of their minds cooled and spilled over lips of outrage, consuming whatever was in its path. They danced a macabre ballet around the victim, whom, for their own sake, they were prepared to sacrifice to the flaming pit. Black e mo Black e mo ya daddy sleeps nekked. Stch tat a stch ta ta Stach tat a tat a ta (p. 50)

Note: "Black e mo" is probably a corruption of "blackamoor" (literally= "moro negro") just as "Yadaddsleepsnekked" is a deformation of "Your dad sleeps naked" when sung to the customary notes used to annoy a person. "Stch tat a stch ta ta" are the onomatopoeic sounds children make when they feign they are firing a machine-gun.

6. 1. 6. 2.

Summarize in a couple of sentences the scene being described. What do you notice about the language of the boys' chanting and that of the narrator's comment on it? How do you think it anticipates themes and events in the novel? Pay attention to the section in bold type in the third paragraph. What kind of metaphors does Morrison use in it? What other figures of speech can you find In this section?

6. 3.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

6. 4.

Now focus on the underlined parts in the same paragraph. How do these children behave? What does their behaviour suggest, especially in connection with the Images of the previous lines? How does all this relate to racist prejudice against blacks and their racist sterotypes? What does the narrator (and Morrison) express here? Can you abstract and explain the theme that these images illustrate? Now re-read the section of The Bluest Eye on the three whores (= putas) (pages 38-44). In what way(s) do the three whores differ from the rest of the women in the novel? Interpret the portrayal of these women in the light of Adrienne Rich's extract in UNIT 4.

6. 5.

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Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Relevant illustrations in connection with The Bluest Eye

Actress Shirley Temple (b. 1928) Shirley Temple Mug (1930s)

Mary Jane molasses and peanut butter candy (since 1914)

Actress Jean Harlow (1911-1937)


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Further resources related to Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye: (Interview with

Toni Morrison). (Lecture from the Yale course The American Novel since 1945. It contains a transcript, audio and video of the class). (Time magazine interview with Toni Morrison). s&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&um=1&ie=UTF8&ei=_c8nS6nQIozG4Qbp1ISdDQ&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ve d=0CCMQqwQwAw# (This link contains numerous clips related to a recent theatre adaptation of the The Bluest Eye a three-part interview with the director, an interview with the technical supervisor, and scenes from the play itself). (Sample pages from the Dick and Jane reading books for young children. Note how the 1960s editions are more ethnically realistic and diverse. This was a decade when the Civil Rights Movement made enormous gains for black Americans, and also when Martin Luther King was assassinated). (Raggedy Ann rag doll). (Full text of a Raggedy Ann story and images). (Actress Shirley Temple). (Documentary on Shirley Temple). (Actress Jean Harlow). (Imitation of Life, 1934), one of the first films to show the racial question in the USA; Peola, the protagonist, is a girl of African-American descent who refuses to be black and decides to pass for white.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide (Peola: "I won't be black", Imitation of Life, 1934). (Imitation of Life, 1959. A remake directed by Douglas Sirk).

Further reading:
Bloom, Harold, ed. Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, new edition, 2007. A collection of essays offering different analyses and interpretations of Morrison's novel from different critical points of view. Guest, Kristen, ed. Eating their Words. Cannibalism and the Boundaries of Cultural Identity. Foreword by Maggie Kilgour. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. A collection of essays by various authors on the trope of cannibalism in literature and its relationship with identity, psychology, etc. Kilgour, Maggie. From Communion to Cannibalism. An Anatomy of Metaphors of Incorporation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. A book exploring the metaphors of communion and cannibalism in literature and their relationship with culture, language, psychology, gender, identity, and the construction and dissolution of binary oppositions such as form and content, the literal and the metaphorical, the source and the text, eating and being eaten, individuation and regression. The author does not deal with Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, but many of her ideas on these metaphors can be applied to some images and symbols that Morrison uses in her novel.

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Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL AND LITERARY THEORY REMEMBER: read only the page numbers indicated. Read Barry, Chapter 10, Postcolonial criticism (185-195) and Ryan, Chapter 10, Post-Colonial and Global English Studies (194-197) and then Chapter 9, Ethnic Studies. (Note: both postcolonial and post-colonial are accepted versions, however in Spanish we write "poscolonial"). Pay special attention to the four characteristics of postcolonial criticism, which Barry explains on pp. 187-189 and the three phases of postcolonial criticism (pp. 190-1). Now re-read: What postcolonial critics do (p. 191/192). Summarize his arguments, substituting each point with a single sentence. Example: 1. They refute the claim that mainstream Western literature is somehow universal; instead they stress its limited perspective and lack of awareness of cultural and ethnic specificities.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide


CHINUA ACHEBE (1930-2013). Excerpts from An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrads Heart of Darkness (1975, 1977) Read the following extracts carefully and then answer the questions below. Page references are to the Heart of Darkness e-text that is available on the Virtual Course. [There exists] the desire one might say the need in Western psychology to set Africa up as a *foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europes own state of spiritual grace will be manifest. [] Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, [] better than any other work that I know displays that Western desire and need which I have just referred to. []

Heart of Darkness projects the image Africa as the other world, the *antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where mans *vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality. The book opens on the River Thames, tranquil, resting peacefully at the decline of day after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks (Chapter 1, p. 4). But the actual story will take place on the River Congo, the very antithesis of the Thames. The River Congo is quite decidedly not a River Emeritus. It has rendered no service and enjoys no old-age pension. We are told that going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginning of the world (Chapter 2, p. 22). []
The most interesting and revealing passages in Heart of Darkness are, however, about people. [] As everybody knows, Conrad is a romantic on the side. He might not exactly admire savages clapping their hands and stamping their feet but they have at least the merit of being in their place []. For Conrad, things being in their place is of the utmost importance. Fine fellows cannibals in their place (Chapter 2, p. 23), he tells us pointedly. Tragedy begins when things leave their accustomed place, like Europe leaving its safe stronghold between the policeman and the baker to take a peep into the heart of darkness. Before the story takes us into the Congo basin proper we are given this nice little vignette as an example of things in their place: Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masksthese chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at (Chapter 1, p. 10).


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Toward the end of the story Conrad lavishes a whole page quite unexpectedly on an African woman who has obviously been some kind of mistress to Mr. Kurtz and now presides [] like a formidable mystery over the inexorable imminence of his departure: She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; []. She stood looking at us without a stir, and like the wilderness itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose (Chapter 3, p. 38). This Amazon is drawn in considerable detail, albeit of a predictable nature, for two reasons. First, she is in her place and so can win Conrads special brand of approval; and second, she fulfils a structural requirement of the story; a savage counterpart to the refined, European woman who will step forth to end the story: She came forward, all in black, with a pale head, floating towards me in the dusk. She was in mourning. [] She took both my hands in hers and murmured, I had heard you were coming. [] She had a mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering (Chapter 3, p. 46). The difference in the attitude of the novelist to these two women is conveyed in too many direct and subtle ways to need elaboration. But perhaps the most significant difference is the one implied in the authors bestowal of human expression to the one and withholding it from the other. It is clearly not part of Conrads purpose to confer language on the rudimentary souls (Chapter 2, p. 32) of Africa. In place of speech they made a violent babble of uncouth sounds (Chapter 1, p. 13). They exchanged short grunting phrases (Chapter 2, p. 26) even among themselves. There are two occasions in the book, however, when Conrad departs somewhat from his practice and confers speech, even English speech, on the savages. The first occurs when cannibalism gets the better of them: Catch im, he snapped, with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth catch im. Give im to us. To you, eh? I asked; what would you do with them? Eat im! he said curtly (Chapter 2, p. 26). The other occasion was the famous announcement: Mistah Kurtz he dead (Chapter 3, p. 44). At first sight these instances might be mistaken for unexpected acts of generosity from Conrad. In reality they constitute some of his best assaults. It might be contended, of course, that the attitude to the African in Heart of Darkness is not Conrads but that of his fictional narrator, Marlow, and that far from *endorsing it Conrad might indeed be holding it up to irony and criticism. Certainly, Conrad appears to go to considerable pains to set up layers of insulation between himself and the moral universe of his story. He has, for example, a narrator behind a narrator. [] But if Conrads intention is to draw a cordon sanitaire between himself and the moral and psychological malaise of his narrator, his care seems to me totally wasted because he neglects to hint, clearly and adequately, at an alternative frame of reference by which we may judge the actions and opinions of his characters. []


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. [] Students of Heart of Darkness will often tell you that Conrad is concerned not so much with Africa as with the deterioration of one European mind caused by solitude and sickness [], that Conrad is, if anything, less charitable to the Europeans in the story than he is to the natives, that the point of the story is to ridicule Europes civilizing mission in Africa. A Conrad student informed me in Scotland that Africa is merely a setting for the disintegration of the mind of Mr. Kurtz. Which is partly the point. Africa as setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril. SOURCE: The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2001) 1783-1794. Self-assessment exercises 1. Look up and give definitions of the works marked with an *asterisk: foil (noun, not verb) (paragraph 1) antithesis (par. 3) vaunted (par. 3) gets the better of them (par. 11) endorsing (par. 14) 2. In paragraph 2, Achebe refers to that Western desire and need. What desire and need is he referring to? Explain this briefly. Suggestion: base your answer on paragraph 1. 3. In paragraph 14 (It might be contended, []), Achebe discusses the role of the narrators in Heart of Darkness. What, according to Achebe, is the relation of the author (Joseph Conrad) to his fictional narrators? Explain this briefly. 4. What is Achebes counterargument to the opinion of the Scottish student? Suggestion: base your answer on both the paragraph that contains the reference to the Scottish student and the following one, the last paragraph of the excerpt. 5. Summarize the text, taking into account your answers to the above questions.


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

EDWARD SAID 1 (1935-2003). Excerpts from Orientalism (1978). Read the following extracts carefully and then answer the questions below. Unlike the Americans, the French and the British less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism, a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orients special place in European Western experience. The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europes greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its *cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. Yet none of this Orient is merely imaginative. The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture. Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of *discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles. [] The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one []. Orientalism lives on academically through its doctrines and theses about the Orient and the Oriental. Related to this academic tradition, [] is a more general meaning [] based upon a [] distinction made between the Orient and (most of the time) the Occident. Thus a very large mass of writers [] have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, mind, destiny, and so on. [] [Another] meaning of Orientalism, [] can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient. [] [T]his book [] tries to show that European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of *surrogate and even underground self. [] Perhaps the most important task of all would be to undertake studies in contemporary alternatives to Orientalism, to ask how one can study other cultures and peoples from a libertarian, or a nonrepressive and nonmanipulative, perspective. But then one would have to rethink the whole complex problem of knowledge and power. These are all tasks left embarrassingly incomplete in this study. [] The nexus of knowledge and power creating the Oriental and in a sense obliterating him as a human being is [] not for me an exclusively academic matter. Yet it is an intellectual matter of some very obvious importance. [] Too often literature and culture are presumed

The surname Said is pronounced: /s'i:d/ or "sa-eed".


Comentario de Textos Literarios en Lengua Inglesa (CTLLI), 2013-2014. Unit 5 Study Guide

to be politically, even historically innocent; it has regularly seemed otherwise to me, and certainly my study of Orientalism has convinced me (and I hope will convince my literary colleagues) that society and literary culture can only be understood and studied together. [] I should like also to have contributed here [] a better understanding of the way cultural domination has operated. Self-assessment exercises 1. Look up and give definitions of the works marked with an *asterisk. cultural contestant (paragraph 1) discourse (par. 1) Suggestion: you can find a definition of discourse in the GLOSARIO icon on the curso

surrogate (par. 4) 2. In paragraph 1, Said contrasts the imaginary Orient with the material Orient. What attributes does he confer on these two manifestations of the Orient? Suggestion: base your answer on this opening paragraph. 3. Said offers three designations or meanings for the term Orientalism. Summarize them. Suggestion: base your answer on the information in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4. 4. What, according to Said, is the most important task of all (par. 5)? 5. In paragraph 6, Said proposes that literature be studied in a certain way. What way or approach does Said suggest? Does his suggestion remind you of another critical approach you have already come across in Comentario de textos literarios en lengua inglesa? 6. Summarise the extract, taking into account your answers to the above questions.