Joseph Conrad fascinated Hannah Arendt. Her library contained five of his novels including The Secret Agent, Under Western Eyes, and The Rover. "The Heart of Darkness" influenced her Origins of Totalitarianism. More importantly, Under Western Eyes may have been the catalyst for her infamous phrase used as the subtitle of Eichmann in Jerusalem, and the final sentence of the book: the "banality of evil." Conrad, commenting on the normality of Nikita's brutality in Under Western Eyes, refers to "his banality." Other Conrad figures embody similar banality whether they act or not and the term reappears in The Secret Agent, The Arrow of Gold, and Suspense, as well as in his essay "Some Reflections on the Loss of the Titanic." The operation of the banal in Under Western Eyes is the focus of the paper with consideration of the parallels between Nikita and Eichmann who both rely on the "instrumental rationality" of the state to commit their crimes.


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pp. 43-52
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