Academic journal article The Comparatist

Grazyna Branny, A Conflict of Values: Alienation and Commitment in the Novels of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner

Academic journal article The Comparatist

Grazyna Branny, A Conflict of Values: Alienation and Commitment in the Novels of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner

Article excerpt

Grazyna Branny, A Conflict of Values: Alienation and Commitment in the Novels of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner Krakow: Wydawnictwo SPONSOR, 1997, 198 pp.

Grazyna Branny's study has been praised in Poland but has received less recognition in the United States. Its new arguments deserve to be taken into consideration in the West by scholars of Faulkner and Conrad and by comparatists. The critical framework of alienation and commitment and an "oxymoronic" balance of both open up a new methodology in the field of comparative literature.

The survey of previous scholarship in the opening chapter, "Comparative Conrad and Faulkner Criticism," along with a bibliography of works in English and Polish, is extensive and thorough. In the main body of the book a selective focus on Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and The Fury and on Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim allows for deep exploration. Characters such as Caddy and Shreve, Marlow and Lord Jim take on new dimensions of complexity.

Branny's reading of alienation and unconscious commitment in Conrad is complicated but cogent. Kurtz becomes a more profound character under Granny's analytical eye. Notable is the reciprocity between Kurtz and Marlow explored in the penetrating chapter entitled "Verbal and Moral Commitment in Heart of Darkness: Marlow and Kurtz. …

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