Victory: An Island Tale (1915}, by Joseph Conrad, begins with a heavily ironic passage which implicates the male body with the economy of empire. The climax of the novel is a tableau of the male gaze, in which two men 'mournfully' contemplate the white breast of a dying young woman. And the novel ends with absence or nothingness: the very last word of the text is 'Nothing!'. The reading of the novel which I am going to offer centres on these three passages and the outline of my argument is as follows. The psychological drama within the novel is structured around the form of homosocial exchange analysed by Eve Sedgwick, in which male power is confirmed and relations between men negotiated by the use of a woman (or women) as object of desire, competition and exchange.2 This process:, has also been studied by Gayle Rubin and Luce lrigaray, who stress the relevance of an economic model, of what lrigaray terms a 'traffic' in women.3



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