Gorgeous Eloquence: Conrad and Shadowgraphy
DOI link for Gorgeous Eloquence: Conrad and Shadowgraphy
Gorgeous Eloquence: Conrad and Shadowgraphy book
Shadowgraphy was entering a period of rapid transition as Joseph Conrad embarked upon his writing career. A manual craft that was becoming obsolete as an indirect consequence of advances in technology, shadowgraphy would also have appealed to Conrad by virtue of its role in the evolution of the Victorian magic show. Conrad's marked sensitivity to the visual delights afforded by shadows is evident from his private writings. Conrad's late novel Chance, several of whose key scenes take place at night, is particularly creative in its presentation of shadows and the uncanny, as when the hobnailed boots worn by a 'deathly white' porter are presented casting a shadow that is 'enormous and coffinlike' Conrad's stated preference for 'shadowgraphs in pantomime' over cinema is revealing in other ways, too. In addition to confirming his acquaintance with a wide range of visual entertainments, it attests to his willingness to rank them according to his own aesthetic criteria.