Joseph Conrad, Theory and World Fiction

Joseph Conrad, Theory and World Fiction

Joseph Conrad, Theory and World Fiction

Joseph Conrad, Theory and World Fiction

Excerpt

The growth of scholarship that centers upon the work of Joseph Conrad reflects the interest that he has aroused in present-day readers, who, in increasing numbers, recognize the importance of his achievement. Because he does speak to the modern reader, one can safely say that he has accomplished the aim that he referred to in the Preface to The Nigger of the “Narcissus”: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm—all you demand—and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.”

The Seventh Annual Comparative Literature Symposium, together with the Ninth Annual Symposium of the Department of English, which were presented on January 23–25, 1974, undertook the theme “Joseph Conrad: Theory and World Fiction,” in order to examine selected aspects of Conrad’s fiction and to compare his work with that of other authors. This was the first of the major symposia in 1974 devoted to the commemoration of the life and works of Joseph Conrad on the fiftieth anniversary of his death (1924). The speakers at the symposium have contributed their essays to make up this volume.

The commemorative address for this symposium was presented by David Leon Higdon, General Editor of Conradiana, Texas Tech University. The address included a call to demonstrate “the respect and natural love created by long acquaintance with the works and the personality of Joseph Conrad” in order to give Conrad his “real life,” that which continues to grow through his fiction. In the first lecture of the symposium, “The Essential Conrad,” Norman Sherry, University of Lancaster, England, pointed out the moral assumptions in terms of social ideals in Conrad’s typical figures who appear in various environments that demand special virtues.

Zdzisław Najder, Warsaw, Poland, in his presentation, “Conrad and the Idea of Honor,” said that, “true to his heritage,” Conrad “explored not only the triumphs of honor, but its dangers and pitfalls. Frequently misunderstood by writers and critics, Conrad as a moralist left a powerful legacy for other writers and for his readers.”

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