Cruising Yawls and Harbor Towns: Navigating the Topographies of Joseph Conrad and Anna Seghers
Dr. Kristy R. Boney
Critics who have analyzed topography in modernism have often focused on the metropolis as the singular arena that has influenced literature and culture in the twentieth century. In the modernist works of Joseph Conrad and Anna Seghers, the topographies move away from the metropolis and slow down the hyperactive sensory perception that inevitably arises when writing the city. Born in Poland, Conrad was just a boy when his family was exiled to Russia. At sixteen he joined the merchant navy, and thereafter spent his entire literary life writing in English. Seghers, whose works were influenced by Conrad, fled Nazi persecution in 1933, and spent fourteen years of her life exiled in France and Mexico before returning to Berlin. Committed to addressing the present, past, and future, these writers use topography to call attention to the concentric circles of human relationships – to the self, the family, the community, and the world.
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