The Art of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Symposium

By R. W. Stallman | Go to book overview

was not obligated to alter his position to address the Arjuna, or fighting caste: "To a knight there is no thing more blessed than lawful strife" or "Make thyself ready for the fight; thus shalt thou get no sin." There are certainly no external reasons to assume that Conrad ever read deeply in the documents of eastern religion, but if he did he must certainly have known that there is more than one way to salvation. The one that best fits Marlow, not in "lotus posture" but throughout the action of the story, is the way of Karma, which leads to the end, as perhaps Marlow has been led, to contemplation--but comtemplation of the ethical consequences of actions in terms of future existence. The way of the warrior, like the way of the Roman commander, resembles the way of the sailor who journeyed into Hell. Stated differently, it seems to me that Conrad would perforce subscribe to Milton's doctrine: "I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue."

Mr. Stein's suggestion that Marlow serves as Conrad's "altar" ego is also most interesting, aside from the play on words. It was once thought Conrad's Congo journey was the turning point of his career, after which he seriously took up writing, but it now seems that he took with him on that trip the MS of Almayer's Folly. Nevertheless, as M. Jean-Aubry, Conrad's biographer, points out, the journey may have shaken his confidence in the sea, as it robbed him of health. Marlow, however, has stuck with the sea, the real word of action; whereas the others on the deck of the Nellie, including Mr. Gross' candidate, have all deserted it. Thus while both explications are interesting and present valuable supplementary information about a story which now seems far more profound than readers have hitherto recognized, both, I think, deserve some qualification. Both depend too heavily on relatively minor matters of incident or image, at the expense of the primary image, the pervasive darkness. With Conrad there is no easy, Jamesian clue, as it were, to the pattern in the carpet.

( 1957-58)

WILLIAM MOYNIHAN


Conrad's "The End of the Tether": A New Reading

*

IN A PREFATORY NOTE to Youth, Conrad says, "The three stories in this volume lay no claim to unity of artistic purpose."1 Seven years later, in a letter to F. N. Doubleday, Conrad wrote, "In my view every volume of my short stories has a unity of artistic purpose. . . . the volume of Youth . . . in its component parts presents the three ages of man (for that is what it really is, and I knew very well what I was doing when I wrote "The End of the Tether" to be the last of that trio)."2 Although

____________________
*
From Modern Fiction Studies, IV (Summer 1958), 173-177.

-186-

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The Art of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Symposium
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part One 1
  • The Art of Conrad 5
  • Notes 13
  • Notes 13
  • Notes 19
  • Notes 35
  • Notes 45
  • Part Two 59
  • Notes 87
  • Notes 96
  • The Nigger of the "Narcissus" 121
  • On Lord Jim(an Excerpt) 140
  • On Lord Jim 142
  • Notes 154
  • Marlow's Descent into Hell 162
  • Conrad's Underworld 171
  • Three Notes On "Heart of Darkness" 179
  • Notes 186
  • On "Typhoon" and the Shadow Line 190
  • On Nostromo 191
  • Notes 198
  • Conrad's the Secret Agent 209
  • Notes 227
  • Notes 234
  • Adam, Axel, and "Il Conde" 253
  • Notes 254
  • Notes 275
  • Notes 275
  • The Secret Sharer 289
  • Joseph Conrad: Chance 296
  • Notes 304
  • The Hollow Men: Victory 313
  • The Knight: Man in Eden: the Arrow of Gold 317
  • On the Rescue 323
  • On the Rover and Suspense 330
  • Notes 331
  • Appendix I 337
  • Appendix II 345
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