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Joseph Conrad's Fiction

Imperialist, Bureaucratic and Colonialist Aspects

Joseph Conrad has been critically nominated as the most complex of England's novelists (Moser 1). Granting this claim, a critical appreciation of Conrad's complexity only intensifies when the imperialistic, bureaucratic, and colonial intentions encoded in his fiction are factored into the equation. Born in Poland, learning French as his second language, English was actually his third language acquired. Scholars have suggested that these triplicate translations contributed to the development of his particularly dense style. Conrad's sense of detachment, his exacting observation skills, refined cynicism, and an acute sense of alienation serve as substantial underpinnings within all of his writing. As a novelist Conrad could represent the irony and contradictions inherent in the modern world's deteriorating imperialistic system of government, the contra-speak dispensed by its bureaucratic demands even as he sketched its oddly dispassionate turn toward self-destruction, an annihilation issued apparently from a compulsive and collective Nietzschean will to power, an inexorable need to dominate. Yet ironically Conrad's stylistic insistence upon detachment steers him away from the shortcomings of a more austerely directed didactic intent. Like his great inspirational model, the French stylist, Gustave Flaubert, Conrad recognized and avoided the danger in advancing the political above art (Seymour-Smith, Nostromo, 21). Acknowledging that he had been described as "a writer of the sea, of the tropics, a descriptive writer -- and also a realist", Conrad contended that in his own self-portrait "all my concern has been with the "ideal" value of things, events, and people. That and nothing else" (Seymour-Smith, Nostromo, i). Conrad's commitment to the veracity and transformative powers embedded in imaginative space allowed him to serve as a compassionate eye describing what might have ...

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Joseph Conrad's Fiction. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:04, July 01, 2022, from