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"Irreconcilable antagonisms" in Faulkner and Conrad: The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' and As I Lay Dying

Valente, Pete (1995) "Irreconcilable antagonisms" in Faulkner and Conrad: The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' and As I Lay Dying. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86075) (KAR id:86075)


Faulkner and Conrad possessed marked affinities in personal history, moral vision and narrative technique. They wrote in response to "irreconcilable antagonism"; their common preoccupations and attitudes are grounded in temperamental affinities which were rooted in their own personal, familial and cultural histories. There are clear similarities between Conrad's Ukraine and Faulkner's South. The work of Mikhail Bakhtin supplies the 'key' or 'enabling methodology' for a comparative study of The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' and As I Lay Dying. The thesis is divided into two parts, which are, themselves, divided into titled sections. There are three introductory sections which aim to provide a critical 'map' for the reader. We then look at the ways in which Conrad and Faulkner represent and give voice to simple. This is followed by an examination of the relationship between figural and narratorial voices in The Nigger and the ways in which Faulkner uses the limited voices of individual characters to perform functions traditionally associated with the omniscient narrator. The issue of narratorial 'unreliability' and 'inconsistency' in both books is also explored. In the second part, we consider the pervasive relationship or 'congruence' between narrative and value-structures, a feature which the novels share. Our sense of this relationship grows directly out of the notion that they are composed of competing figural and narratorial voices. We look also at some of the major differences and similarities between the novels' value-schemes. We go on to examine how language is seen to relate to values. We then consider some of the implications or consequences of this relationship for notions of community and human solidarity. We conclude with an examination of the attitude of the authors, themselves, to their own work, especially in terms of their 'public' and 'private' voices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86075
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Joseph Conrad; William Faulkner; comparative literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:27 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 17:50 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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