The Art of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Symposium

By R. W. Stallman | Go to book overview
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Yet Anthony has none of the intensity and vigor of Jim. Moreover, one does not feel that Conrad really senses any plague spots in him.

Again, Conrad's handling of d'Alcacer in the second half of The Rescue is of a piece with his treatment of the ironic, skeptical, vulnerable hero in the later period. Only Heyst seems even superficially to partake of this type. He is somewhat skeptical, somewhat ironic; he is detached from society, although he has in the past been twice tempted into action, first exploring in New Guinea, next managing a coal company in the tropics. The second venture comes about, like Decoud's intervention in Costaguana politics, through a personal involvement rather than through commitment to an ideal. Yet Heyst is really much less like Decoud than critics have suggested.4 In fact, Heyst partly resembles a character completely different from Decoud, Charles Gould. Heyst recalls Gould not only because of his mustache and the ironic equation with "portraits of Charles XII of adventurous memory," but also because he is called a "utopist." It would be an interesting departure, an exciting development, if the later Conrad were trying to combine the character of the skeptic with that of the man of action, if Conrad were revealing that the utopian and the unbeliever share an "infernal mistrust of all life," that romanticism and skepticism are sometimes two sides of the same coin. Yet the feeling persists that Conrad simply does not know what he wants to make of Heyst. This is amply borne out by the conclusion in which, as we have seen, Heyst emerges as neither a romantic nor a skeptic, but as a good man brought down by chance and "other people." Conrad's revisions of Carter in The Rescue are of interest because they signify not only the end of the type of the simple, faithful seaman, but the emergence of a new type. (For the faithful seaman does disappear; Conrad may have intended Peyrol to be a descendant of Singleton but he is not, as we shall see in the next chapter when we turn to The Rover.) Carter's altered role as immature hero has several counter parts in the later period. ( 1957)


NOTES
1.
We must be cautious in handling "The Rescuer." Its pt. IV seems to belong almost wholly to 1916, when Conrad made an abortive attempt to finish the novel. Therefore only pts. I to III can be considered as authentic early work ( 1896-1898). We should be a little skeptical about minor differences between "The Rescuer" and The Rescue since these revisions could conceivably belong to the early period. When in 1918 Conrad sold "The Rescuer" to collector T. J. Wise, he told him that "several typed copies" had been made from it, "each introducing changes and alterations" ( Life and Letters, II, 209). We do not know when these copies were made or how much they differ from "The Rescuer." Jean-Aubry indicates that one revision dates from early 1916 ( Life and Letters, II, 165). In any case, the serial version, which appeared in Land and Water from January to July, 1919, retains essentially the language of the original although cuts have been made; only the new, second half represents the language of the later Conrad. The final revision was made between

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