"Preface to "The Nigger of the Narcissus

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Joseph Conrad: "Preface to "The Nigger of the Narcissus"" (1898)

Art needs to provide justification. Its goal is to find what is fundamental in every of its aspects (forms, colours, light, shadows, aspects of matter and facts of life). The artist, like the thinker or the scientist, seeks the truth and makes his appeal. Impressed by the aspect of the world the thinker plunges into ideas and the scientist into facts. They speak authoritatively to our common sense and intelligence, sometimes to our fears, often to our egoism, but always to our credulity. Their words are deep and meaningful and are heard with reverence. However, it is different with the artist. He makes his appeal to our less obvious capacities - to that part of our nature which hides like a vulnerable body in a steel armor. His appeal is less loud, more profound, less distinct, more stirring and sooner forgotten, yet its effect endures forever. It cannot be discarded by the changing wisdom of successive generations. The artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that part of us which is a gift and not acquisition. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to our sense of mystery, pity, beauty and pain, to the feeling of fellowship and solidarity that exists in all of us. If it aspires to be considered art, fiction must appeal to temperament. If the appeal of fiction is to be effective it must be an impression conveyed through the senses. Every art appeals to the senses and the artistic aim is to appeal to the senses as well if emotions are to be reached. Only a sincere desire to accomplish a task will bring success. The writer's task is to make you hear, feel and see by the power of the written word. That way, one will know everything they asked for, even truth. Catching a passing life moment is only the beginning of a task. Next, it should be approached with tenderness and faith. Every feature of that moment should be presented and the possible...
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