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Joseph Conrad

Oct 08, 1999 1834 Words
Joseph Conrad: An Innovator in British Literature Joseph Conrad's innovative literature is influenced by his experiences in traveling to foreign countries around the world. Conrad's literature consists of the various styles of techniques he uses to display his well-recognized work as British literature. "His prose style, varying from eloquently sensuous to bare and astringent, keeps the reader in constant touch with a mature, truth-seeking, creative mind" (Hutchinson 1). Conrad's novels are basically based on having both a psychological and sociological plot within them. This is why Conrad's work carries its own uniqueness from other novels when being compared to his. Examples of Conrad's literature include novels such as Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, and The Secret Agent. Heart of Darkness is basically based on his own experiences, but Conrad also adds fiction into this particular novel (Dintenfass 1). It has been said that Conrad's style of writing is described as "...life as we actually live it...[is] to be blurred and messy and confusing-- and the abstract ideas...[of] actual experiences can sometimes produce in us, or in that part of us, anyway, which tries to understand the world in some rational way." Acquiring this from the novel gives the reader a psychological perspective in that they are receiving feedback in a conscious way such as a hallucination or a phantasm (Dintenfass 2). Readers have curiously questioned the purpose of his novels such as Heart of Darkness, but the answer is quite simple. "[The] purpose is to get the reader to re-live [any] experience in some [significant] and concrete way, with all its complexity and messiness, all its darkness and ambiguity, intact" (Dintenfass 3). An additional novel with similar characteristics of the novel Heart of Darkness is Lord Jim. Not much is said about Lord Jim, but it has been known that Conrad most likely will place metaphors in his novel when describing a location extrinsic from any common place. The reason for adding metaphors is because Conrad attempts to locate the contrasted parts of human nature by lavishing it with an intensely fierce characteristic. Successfully, Conrad accomplishes this attempt, but the primary similarity between the Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim is that both novels "place men in extreme situations far from their European homes" (Hutchinson 1), which will give this type of literature a nostalgic atmosphere as the reader may realize. As stated before, not much information is taken upon the novel Lord Jim, but this novel is mainly used to compare similarities with the novel Heart of Darkness, since they are much alike in a number of ways. As for the novel The Secret Agent, it is basically based on an actual event in a bombing attempt against the Greenwich Observatory located at Greenwich, London. The novel seems to be a satire for a good portion, but the plot of the story turns dark when it involves the conspiracy against the anarchists (Hamblin 3). In short, we realize that Conrad's ideas and concepts are derived from intending to renew the readers with a figure reflection of the unorganized world that is viewed by Conrad himself (Dintenfass 5). Conrad's concept is taken up with some religion in all his novels, since it is a way of observing the way Conrad revives the dark sides of his characters (Dintenfass 7). Overall, we realize that all three novels have a primary similarity; we find that they all include a portion of both fiction and reality. Conrad's style of techniques includes his organization of his thoughts, his use of literary forms, and significant themes. His organization of thoughts illustrate that you can discover an opinionated interest in the world others have not found to say without ever capturing or understanding it (Dintenfass 7). Most of Conrad's opinionated interest towards the world came through his mind politically and viewed on the issue of revolution (MBL 95). Conrad's thoughts also included to move further from his experiences of travel and more into creating a fictional novel, while lacking personal adventures or feelings (MBL 97). In doing this, Conrad's characters became to be more like himself (MBL 93). Conrad does this since he believes that the individual "enables [himself or herself] to make [their] way through the world" (MBL 94). The reason Conrad has stated this was because this is his own and only personal strong opinion towards the world that he includes in his novels. His literary form consists of three parts which includes the three-fold structure, Russian doll effect, and opposing images. The three-fold structure is explained as how the book is divided into three chapters that contain three different characters, in which the narrator comes back to state a summary and the significance of each chapter. The Russian doll effect is to be understood as form within a form--a repetition of a story around a story--being similar to when unraveling one part of a story, there is still another part to be unraveled until you are down to the end of the story line. The opposing images are the components of using all senses of the human body to have a strong understanding when reading along any of Conrad's novels (Dintenfass 8). Furthermore, Conrad's themes deals with alienation, breakdown of communication, and death. The theme of alienation pertains to having the character feeling as if they don't belong in a certain resident, which usually causes dissolution throughout Conrad's novels. Briefly, the breakdown of communication simply leads to the devastation of relationships in Conrad's characters, which has been considered as a characteristic of a Shakespearean tragedy. Death is not a significant theme, but is needed to receive feedback from the expansion of the story line (Hamblin 4). Altogether, Conrad's style of techniques all play a significant role no matter how minor or major the elements of his style may be. Psychological and sociological perspectives have also played a dominant part, which includes experiences in both dreams and truth, including his forms of expression in multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony. Psychologically, Conrad causes his characters to become lost in their own imagination during their dreams, usually to reveal heroism and lacking reality towards the feeling of heroism (CESNP 1276). In understanding the novel from this point of view, the reader has to solve the novel from its puzzling complexity to comprehend both the character and plot (CESNP 1277). "He is interested in life, but he does not love it; and in detaching himself as an artist entirely from life, his interest in it has actually become greater, has become interest and nothing else (TCLC 199). This simply means that if he grows away from reality, his thoughts become fulfilled with interest in creating a great novel from imagination. Sociologically, Conrad creates an atmosphere around the characters in creating two groups "of those who conquer and those who are conquered." Uniquely, Conrad is variant from a sociologist, since he is not neutral and is scientifically disjointed from the statement made. Conrad, in other words, experiments more on the psychological side of his novels rather than on the sociological side (Dintenfass 6). As for truth in Conrad's literature, he is known to include the truth from both the mind and the essence of encounterings "and it is these kinds of truths..that art, and art alone, can convey to us" (Dintenfass 5). In addition to this, moral ethics takes a part to make this statement clear to readers in saying that both purpose and wrong is evil, and the moral is opposite from this. In respect to Conrad's forms of expression, he uses multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony (Dintenfass 10). Multiplicity derives from his various use of expression that deals with his experiences in both dreams and truth. In relation to this, Conrad uses symbolism to display the value of expression in his works (WLC 784). Ambiguity is pieced together when his novels take on a puzzling and complex style when uncertainty gains on Conrad's ideas. To Conrad, this is considered a lapse of qualification, which is explained as having his ideas being held back temporarily in causing the story line to detach itself from making sense, but fortunately this doesn't undermine his style of expression (WLC 783). Finally, irony is featured when he combines both truth and fiction. There is no telling Conrad's experiences from the fiction in his novels to have his readers comprehend the reality from the imagination. This is the reason why readers occasionally mistaken his novels as being described as a satire at times (WLC 784). All in all, Conrad has viewed his literature as a psychologist and moralist (TCLC 199). The psychological and sociological perspective has a major purpose in Conrad's novels, since they both make up the experiences in dreams, truth, and the forms of expression that includes multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony. In conclusion, when reflecting back at Joseph Conrad's work, the reader will most likely realize his talent in literature writing. Conrad structured his novels primarily from his style of techniques in which his organization of his thoughts, literary form, and themes have all played a dominant part. The most significant aspect featured in his novel that has overpowered his primary structure is his use in viewing both the psychological and sociological perspective of his work. Without this included, Conrad knew his work could not be known as unique when compared to other authors' novels. Finally, there is a comment that summarizes Joseph Conrad's style of writing, in which it stated: "It is obvious that, while Conrad never formulated any rules, he was forever trying out new methods, hitting upon this or that new procedure, it may be, by instinct rather than by deliberation; but it was the instinct of a man profoundly concerned with method, forever on the lookout for some new way of cheating oblivion and saving his chosen art from the dry-rot of monotony and academicism." (TCLC 199) Works Cited Brytonski, Dedria, and Phyllis C. Mendelson, eds. Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Vol. 1 Detroit: Hale Research Co., 1978. Dintenfass, Mark. "Heart of Darkness: A Lawrence University Freshman Studies Lecture." 14 Mar. 1996. *http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~csicseri/dintenfass.htm* (2 Feb. 2000). Draper, James P., ed. World Literature Criticism: 1500 to the Present. Vol. 2 Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992. Hamblin, Stephen. "Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent." *http://www.ductape.net/~steveh/secretagent/* (2 Feb. 2000). The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. 1999. 2 Feb. 1999. *http://ukdb.web.aol.com/hutchinson/encyclopedia/72/M0013572.htm Magill, Frank N., ed. 1,300 Critical Evaluations of Selected Novels and Plays. Vol. 2 Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press Inc., 1976. Stein, Rita, and Martin Tucker, eds. Modern British Literature. Vol. 4 New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1975.

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