Nautical Language: Conrad's Flying Moors and Crimson Barometers
16th Feb 2016 6:00pm-8:00pm
LINKS (London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies)-Programme 2015-16
LINKS is a collaboration between London institutions involved in teaching and research in comparative literary studies, to promote dialogue and cooperation. Participating institutions include Birkbeck, King’s, Goldsmiths, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, SOAS and UCL.
16 February 2016,18.00-20.00 in Room 243, Senate House (second floor)
‘Nautical Language: Conrad’s Flying Moors and Crimson Barometers’
Robert Hampson, Professor of Modern Literature, Royal Holloway
Nautical language entered English prose writing with the early accounts of voyages of exploration. This paper explores Conrad’s handling of nautical language in such works as The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, Lord Jim, ‘Typhoon’ and ‘The End of the Tether’. It will explore Conrad’s negotiation of precision and clarity in the use of technical language – and the kind of contract he establishes with his readers. It will consider also the response of contemporary reviewers to this aspect of his fiction. The paper also considers another aspect of nautical language: the swearing that was part of shipboard life. This raises problems of verisimilitude, censorship and reader reaction. Conrad had to tone down the language in The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ for book publication – and still met with negative reviews. The paper also looks at the inventive solutions he found in other fictions.