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Beyond Formalism

  • Nicolas Vandeviver
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines the ways in which Said’s book on Conrad draws on existential phenomenology to reinvigorate and go beyond what I have shown to be an exhausted formalism. Through analyses of the writings of Georges Poulet, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, R.P. Blackmur, and Jean-Paul Sartre, I illustrate how Said builds on these thinkers to conceptualize literature as the embodiment of an authorial consciousness firmly embedded in the world. This method, which rehumanizes literature and locates agency with the individual, informs Said’s interpretation of human behavior in Conrad’s novellas as responses to reduce inner conflicts. The chapter reveals the critical ethics of responsibility informing Said’s practice and how, already in his first book, Said turned literary criticism into an interventionist activity programmatically committed to worldliness and change.

Keywords

Joseph Conrad Existentialism Phenomenology Responsibility Georges Poulet Jean-Paul Sartre 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas Vandeviver
    • 1
  1. 1.Ghent UniversityGentBelgium

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