Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 11, 2019

Challenging the Modern Subject in Joseph Conrad’s “The Planter of Malata”

Katarzyna Sokołowska

Abstract

Conrad’s story “The Planter of Malata,” by focusing on the portrayal of Geoffrey Renouard, addresses the dilemmas of the modern self implicated in the subjectivist mode of experiencing the world. Heidegger’s reinterpretation of the Cartesian ego and his conceptualization of modern subjectivity provide a theoretical framework for clarifying the paradox of Renouard’s position which involves both demonstrations of mastery and gestures of submission in his interactions with Felicia Moorsom. The paper examines how the subject construes the world as representation and reduces the world to the object to be manipulated and controlled. Renouard’s experience of irrational desire and his loss of mastery, which lead to the collapse of the subject/object duality and the dissolution of representation, dismantle the project of the omnipotent ego. Eventually, the breakdown of the ego engenders a growing paralysis of will, enhances the lure of death-like stasis and culminates in Renouard’s suicide.


Corresponding author: Dr hab. Katarzyna Sokołowska, Department of British and American Studies, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Pl. M. Curie-Skłodowskiej 4A, 20-031 Lublin, Poland

Works Cited

Billy, Ted (1997). A Wilderness of Words: Closure and Disclosure in Conrad’s Short Stories. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Bonney, William W. (1980). Thorns and Arabesques: Contexts for Conrad’s Fiction. Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Cascardi, Anthony J. (1992). The Subject of Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511597428Search in Google Scholar

Conrad, Joseph (1923). “The Planter of Malata.” Within the Tides. The Uniform Edition. London: Dent, 3–86.Search in Google Scholar

Conrad, Joseph (1986). The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Eds. Frederick R. Karl and Laurence Davies. 2 vol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Erdinast-Vulcan, Daphna (1991). Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper. Oxford: Clarendon Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117858.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Erdinast-Vulcan, Daphna (1999). The Strange Short Fiction of Joseph Conrad. Writing, Culture, and Subjectivity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184997.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Graver, Lawrence (1969). Conrad’s Short Fiction. Berkeley, CA and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.10.1525/9780520338081Search in Google Scholar

Gurko, Leo (1962). Joseph Conrad: Giant in Exile. New York, NY: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Hawthorn, Jeremy (2007). Sexuality and the Erotic in the Fiction of Joseph Conrad. London and New York, NY: Continuum.Search in Google Scholar

Heidegger, Martin (1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Trans. William Lovitt. New York, NY and London: Garland.Search in Google Scholar

Inwood, Michael (1999). A Heidegger Dictionary. Oxford and Malden, MA: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Johnson, Bruce (1971). Conrad’s Models of Mind. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Search in Google Scholar

Levin, David Michael (1988). The Opening of Vision: Nihilism and the Postmodern Situation. New York, NY and London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

McLauchlan, Juliet (1986). “Conrad’s Heart of Emptiness: ‘The Planter of Malata.’” Conradiana 18.3, 180–192.Search in Google Scholar

Meyer, Bernard C. (1967). Joseph Conrad. A Psychoanalytic Biography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Moser, Thomas (1957). Joseph Conrad: Achievement and Decline. London: Oxford University Press.10.4159/harvard.9780674429444Search in Google Scholar

Najder, Zdzisław (1984). Joseph Conrad: A Chronicle. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Schwarz, Daniel R. (1982). Conrad. The Later Fiction. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan.10.1007/978-1-349-05274-5Search in Google Scholar

Sokołowska, Katarzyna (2011). Conrad and Turgenev: Towards the Real. Boulder, CO et al.: East European Monographs, Columbia University Press, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Tarnas, Richard (2010). The Passion of the Western Mind. London: Pimlico.Search in Google Scholar

Taylor, Charles (1989). Sources of the Self. The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Watts, Cedric (1993). A Preface to Conrad. London: Longman.Search in Google Scholar

Wollaeger, Mark A. (1990). Joseph Conrad and the Fictions of Skepticism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2019-12-11
Published in Print: 2019-12-18

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston