Myth and the Limits of History in 'Nostromo'

Alex Jones


This article seeks to offer some clarification on what have often appeared to be two distinct debates in scholarship on Joseph Conrad's 1904 novel, ‘Nostromo’. On the one hand, critics like Dekoven and Deresiewicz have attempted to frame Conrad under a modernist banner, intent on evacuating history from art. Roberts and O'Malley, on the other hand, cite Conrad as a historicist who either distinguishes history from myth, or denigrates myth to a minor position. I contend that fusing these scholarly conversations can unravel some of the ongoing binarisms in Conradian criticism on ‘Nostromo’. ‘Nostromo’ undertakes a mythologisation of history as it simultaneously thwarts any strict separation between mythical and historical time. Deploying narratology as a theoretical framework, I read Conrad's novel as an interrelation of competing discursive modes.

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