Cross-Cultural and Ideological Representations of The “Other” in Selected Works By Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad

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Université Mouloud Mammeri


This thesis discusses the representation of the “Other” in selected works of Herman Melville and Joseph Conrad. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate by an accurate scrutiny of the text based on Mikhael Bakhtin’s view of the novel as a ‘polyphonical genre’ and postcolonial concept of “Otherness” that the representation of the Other is not strictly ‘monological’, but it is the result of a mix of different discourses which clash with each other and are unable to create a unitary, coherent picture. The working hypothesis at the basis of the research is that the quest for social recognition of the two authors and the ‘authorial ideology’ in terms of the dialectic of Self during their times have provoked a dialogue over the notion of the “Other” in their literary texts. For Bakhtin, “Even meanings born in dialogues of the remotest past will never be finally grasped once and for all, for they will always be renewed in later dialogue” (Bakhtin, 2002:39). We argue that Melville’s and Conrad’s literary texts are not only social practices and political productions but inspire endless dialogues that can be renewed because of the profound and ambivalent meanings of their texts. Different as they are stylistically, both texts offer a valuable lens that allows us to examine the dynamics of race, and gender; and to critique authorial responses to race, gender, social and political issues. To reach this aim, the work is divided into two parts. Each part is composed of three chapters. The first part underscores the ideology of Otherness as it was worked out in the nineteenth century and contrasts it with modern theories, with stress on the differences in the theorizing about the “Other” in the two periods. It also attempts to highlight the context and the facets of life that might have shaped Melville’s and Conrad’s perception of the “Other”. One of the arguments is that both writers are restless subjects who are always on the move both in terms of concrete experience as voyagers across the seas and in terms of imagination in quest of the truth about self-other dialectic. Their works are dramatized perceptions of the self as an “Other” under various shapes.


355 f. ; 30 cm +( CD-ROM)


Dialectic, Otherness, Selected Works