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Book Reviews radian commenting first-person narrator in antithesis to his creator. As Cedric Watts once said, "We had better remain friends with Conrad's narrators." Finally, some comment on Dobrinski's onomastic tendencies may seem in order. We believe that onomastic speculation is a dangerous pursuit. It may provide flashes of insight into the artist's leading concepts but can only be profitable if rigorously kept in line with a novel's express overall meanings. Dobrinski's speculations about the manuscript names and the actual name of the protagonist of Victory constitute a case in kind. "Augustus Berg" no doubt ironically reflects his aloofness and there is no need to worry about the association of "Heyst" with "Christ." But Dobrinski's argument becomes counterproductive when, in trying to prove that Conrad saw Heyst as an artist manqué, he tentatively proposes that it might be seen as significant that Axel Heyst's name begins and ends like "Art"—"yet does not encompass the whole word." Such jugglings intensify his reader's hesitation to accept his thesis that Conrad's texts present dominant patterns of aesthetic speculation. Yet Dobrinski's book is thoroughly readable. It presents its tenuous arguments amiably and modestly and by and large does not put Conrad on his head, a danger all too real for those who follow his line of approach. Jan Verleun and Jetty de Vries Groningen University Bloom's Conrad Harold Bloom, ed. Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Joseph Conrad's 'Lord Jim'. Joseph Conrad's 'Nostromo'. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. 148/ 143/ 135 pp. $19.95 each WHEN AS AN UNDERGRADUATE I took a course in the twentiethcentury British novel, the professor put on his syllabus these words from Heart of Darkness: "Mistah Kurtz—he dead." He asserted that the comment, a sort of epitaph, revealed the disjunction between Victorian and modern, between idealism and realism. How could a four-word comment carry so much weight? After reading and thinking about Conrad over the years, I've decided that this comment is indeed an epigraph for modernism. In his works, Conrad broods on Darwinianism and seems to assert, like Joyce, that "once you are dead you are dead." Or does he? Almost all of Conrad's critics grapple with the issue of unbelief and belief in his works. Should the critic promote the 369 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 Conrad who asserts in a letter to Graham that "the mysteries of the universe made of drops and fire and clots of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about"? Or should the critic hold up to readers the Conrad who asserts in the preface to The Nigger of Narcissus that the artist's task is "to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see"? These two points of view are what we might generally refer to as modern and romantic. The former goes to the heart of Conrad's obsession about the future, about the entropie fate of mankind. The latter applies to his nostalgic, backward-looking tendency, and to his hope that man is heroic. But Harold Bloom and the critics whose work he includes in these books of criticism add to this two-dimensional portrait of Conrad. They convince me that Conrad is a three-dimensional figure who synthesizes past, present, and future time. This Conrad is interested in dreams and instinctive responses to sensation. In his brief introduction to each of the volumes, Bloom explains how Conrad fits in a distinguished line of nineteenth- and twentiethcentury writers, arguing that Conrad is not simply a late romantic muscling his way into modernism. It was Conrad, not Henry James, who "became the dominant influence upon the generation of American novelists that included Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner." Yes, Conrad retains his romanticism by portraying heroic figures and asserts his modernity by using irony to distance his narrators—most notably Marlow—from the narrative action. While analyzing Conrad's modernist mode in Heart of Darkness, Bloom affirms his bias for romantic ideals. Bloom underlines this bias in a statement...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 369-374
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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