Academic journal article Joseph Conrad Today

Dangerous Masculinites: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence

Academic journal article Joseph Conrad Today

Dangerous Masculinites: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence

Article excerpt

Dangerous Masculinites: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence Thomas Strychacz Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2008. vii+261pp.

Although Thomas Strychacz considers masculinity in Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence, I will be limiting my comments to his discussion of Conrad. Strychacz's Dangerous Masculinites: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence is influenced by Judith Butler's theory of gender as performance and Be r t o l t B r e c h t ' s i d e a o f gest (dramatic performance meant to uncover covert power structures) as well as theories of reception (such as those of Hans-Robert Jauss) that posit the audience's role in the formulation of meaning. Strychacz argues that male characters in Conrad self-stage their masculinity, particularly in the context of other male characters who do the same. Using Lord Jim as a touchstone, Strychacz looks at several scenes in the novel (Jones's conversation with Marlow about Brierly, Mr. Symons and the rescue at sea on the training ship, Marlow's conversation with the French lieutenant, Jim and Marlow's meeting with Tunku Allang, and Jim's conversation with Gentleman Brown, for example) to inv esti gate mascu line gend er performance. For instance, in the sea rescue in chapter one, manhood reveals itself to be a process of signification rather than an essential q u a l i ty. Si mi l a r ly, t h e Fre n c h lieutenant's battle scars and gestures signify his masculinity for Marlow and his audience. In encounters such as that between Jim, Marlow, and Tunku Allang or between Jim and Gentleman Brown, Strychacz sees the male characters attempted to establi sh th eir masculinity through their performance of masculine signals and signs. In Jim's f in a l m e e t i n g w i th D o r a m i n , Strychacz suggests that although theatricality permeates the scene Jim also moves beyond theatricality and into full manhood, which results in a spirit of tragic heroism. …

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