Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad

Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad

Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad

Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad

Excerpt

The chapters which follow are not intended to emphasize what distinguishes Conrad from other writers of prose fiction, though from time to time contrasts may appear. On the contrary, they should suggest, through the study of one author, what is true of many creative writers. Conrad permits such a study because of the abundance of critical expressions in his letters, the autobiographical materials, and the revisions of his works -- revisions which indicate what transpired in the actual development of a story. The book is intended as both an analysis and a synthesis. It may discuss convictions which Conrad as a man appears to have held, but it will attempt chiefly to show how these became significant when Conrad as a novelist made them pertinent to his theme in a novel or short story.

In one respect the study of Conrad is simpler than that of numerous other writers. He did not begin to publish until he was intellectually mature. Consequently there was never thereafter any revolution in his views either on life or on art. He had to learn the technique of his craft, and the first novels show the strides which he soon made. But one may safely put side by side a statement about art written at the time Conrad was composing Almayer's Folly and comments written in the last decade of his life. What a chronological examination of his works does reveal is, besides the early improvements in technique, the interesting way in which Conrad was always discovering new manifestations of what he had already illustrated. His works, in short, express that infinite variety which permits art to continue to be creative even after it has achieved a near-perfect form.

To Professors Ernest Bernbaum and Royal Gettmann of the University of Illinois and to Professors Benjamin Boyce . . .

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