Recent literary and cultural criticism has taken a spatial turn. Nowadays, to speak is to speak from, to, or in; to know something is to have 'mapped' its discursive operation. This book locates this development within the opposition between a space of things and a space of words, tracing various aspects of its emergence from the geopolitical idea of 'closed space' which developed in the early twentieth century to the influence of Saussurean linguistics in
contemporary criticism and theory.The focus of the study is the work of Joseph Conrad, in whom the opposition between a space of words and a space of things is strikingly figured. Part I deals with several versions of closed space, using an ancient spatial paradox of God (as the sphere of which the
centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere) to raise questions about the relations between geography, language, and interpretation. Part II deals with the agitation around finitude and the limit, and the desperate attempt to discover in the resources of language a means of liberation.Through these ideas the book explores some of the more disreputable, marginal, or unglimpsed elements in modernism - including the rise of spy fiction, anarchist geography, the spiritualist
movement, the invention of artificial languages, the history of laughter, and solar energy. Among the figures drawn into dialogue with Conrad are John Buchan, Woolf, Joyce, Peter Kropotkin, René de Saussure (brother of the famous Ferdinand), Henri Bergson, the filmmakers George Méliès and Carol Reed
and, in particular, Michel Foucault -- this 'nouvelle cartographe' as Gilles Deleuze described him -- whose anxious negotiation with spatial ideas touches the book's deepest understanding.
What distinguishes Con Coroneos's Space, Conrad, and Modernity is panache, that incomparable blend of wit and chutzpah.... A series of brilliant intellectual riffs that soar like jazz solos, proceeding by association rather than logic, from John Buchan to Orson Welles, from seances to semiotics.... The book appeals to the reader who looks to criticism for a serious yet playful engagement with ideas. For this idea-laden, theory-laced work of literary criticism is
above all a good read. That this description is not an oxymoron suggests that Coroneos's book is a rare and notable achievement. * English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 *
I: Closed space:1: Such a cruel knowledge
2: Hearless modernism
3: The idiom of Idiom Neutral
II: Language to infinity:4: Mystical criticism
5: Why Bergson laughs
6: Do the police have dreams?