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Conrad’s Literary Response to the First World War

From: College Literature
Volume 39, Number 4, Fall 2012
pp. 34-45 | 10.1353/lit.2012.0038



It is well known that the First World War had a profound effect on many writers. The tragedy of the war itself, and the fact that it ran so counter to the idea of the evolutionary progress that permeated Western civilization before its outbreak, brought about profound disillusionment. Conrad, however, appears to be among the few writers of the time whose work does not exhibit the same disillusionment as that of his fellow writers. This essay argues that Conrad, unlike his fellow writers, felt none of the optimistic spirit about the progress of Western civilization beforehand. Long before the war, Conrad felt the same skeptical disillusionment that began to appear in the works of Conrad’s fellow writers after the war. The First World War merely reinforced Conrad’s already profound skepticism regarding Western civilization.

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