Abstract: Over the last few decades, the field of law and literature studies has increasingly focused on the importance of literary texts in the interpretation of legal doctrines developing wider perspectives on society and on the law’s effect on the community itself. By considering the dynamic relationship between narrative works and legal documents, the present analysis proposes a reading of Joseph Conrad’s short story “Amy Foster” (1901) which focusses on the investigation of the social and political aspects of migration in late nineteenth- century Britain. Echoes of the migrant figure as represented in Conrad’s story can be found in the Aliens Act, the law passed by the British government in 1905 to regulate the flux of migrants from Eastern Europe. Taking into account the legal value of the Aliens Act and the social consequences of its application, the article will first examine general views on migration at the beginning of the twentieth century, and will later explore the language used in the statute and its relevance in the short story. To this end, the notion of “undesirable immigrant,” first introduced to describe migrants with well-defined characteristics, is anticipated by Joseph Conrad in “Amy Foster” whose protagonist, Yanko Goorall, is an emigrant from Eastern Europe. Conrad’s fictional representation of Goorall as an “undesirable immigrant” allows us to reflect on how his writing deals with (and anticipates) events and socio-cultural trends.

“Undesirable Immigrants”: The Language of Law and Literature in Joseph Conrad’s “Amy Foster”

Tania Zulli
2019

Abstract

Abstract: Over the last few decades, the field of law and literature studies has increasingly focused on the importance of literary texts in the interpretation of legal doctrines developing wider perspectives on society and on the law’s effect on the community itself. By considering the dynamic relationship between narrative works and legal documents, the present analysis proposes a reading of Joseph Conrad’s short story “Amy Foster” (1901) which focusses on the investigation of the social and political aspects of migration in late nineteenth- century Britain. Echoes of the migrant figure as represented in Conrad’s story can be found in the Aliens Act, the law passed by the British government in 1905 to regulate the flux of migrants from Eastern Europe. Taking into account the legal value of the Aliens Act and the social consequences of its application, the article will first examine general views on migration at the beginning of the twentieth century, and will later explore the language used in the statute and its relevance in the short story. To this end, the notion of “undesirable immigrant,” first introduced to describe migrants with well-defined characteristics, is anticipated by Joseph Conrad in “Amy Foster” whose protagonist, Yanko Goorall, is an emigrant from Eastern Europe. Conrad’s fictional representation of Goorall as an “undesirable immigrant” allows us to reflect on how his writing deals with (and anticipates) events and socio-cultural trends.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/716210
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