By Stephen Donovan (auth.)
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34 When Inspector Heat breaks the news of Stevie’s death, Conrad dwells upon the effectiveness of Winnie’s frozen position as a visual 38 Joseph Conrad and Popular Culture signifier, almost as if it were her intention to communicate physically the distress she cannot articulate verbally: ‘The perfect immobility of her pose expressed the agitation of rage and despair, all the potential violence of tragic passions, better than any shallow display of shrieks, with the beating of a distracted head against the walls, could have done’ (SA 160).
Explodes . . fiercely’ (279), ‘violently’ (286), ‘raving to and fro’ (291), ‘terrified’ (291) and ‘distracted’ (293) – Paul Kirshner speculates that ‘a semi-expressionistic production might work’ (T 269–70). More recently, however, Richard J. 18 Hand’s contention that the novelist successfully adapted ‘Because of the Dollars’ as a Guignol play, a violently sensational genre of popular melodrama closer to the modern low-budget horror film than to the respectable theatre, invites us, in turn, to reconsider other moments of stylized tableaux and emotional extremes in works that are conventionally analysed in terms of characterization and narrative: Kurtz’s African mistress standing with arms upraised on the bank of the Congo; the Visual Entertainment 27 suppressed sexual violence of Victory and ‘The Inn of the Two Witches’; or the references to galvanized corpses in Under Western Eyes and ‘Because of the Dollars’.
Despite having been suppressed, the Monterist rebellion begun ‘in the name of Democracy’ (N 242) has let the revolutionary genie out of the bottle, making it likely that the persistence of extreme social inequality will, as Archbishop Corbelán warns, catalyse Sulaco’s dispossessed masses into another violent uprising. Conrad once declared that ‘the artistic! photographer’s aim [is] always to obliterate every trace of individuality in his subject’ (CL 2: 105, Conrad’s exclamation mark), and there is an obvious parallel between Nostromo’s spectral embodiment of this communist future, his soul ‘dyed crimson by a bloodthirsty hatred of all capitalists’ (N 528), and photography’s own baleful arrival as part of what Conrad calls ‘the material apparatus of perfected civilization which obliterates the individuality of old 28 Joseph Conrad and Popular Culture towns’ (N 96).
Joseph Conrad and Popular Culture by Stephen Donovan (auth.)