Conrad: The Later Fiction by Daniel R. Schwarz (auth.)

By Daniel R. Schwarz (auth.)

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L:nl t ' valueless to him. By meeting Alfred Jacobus's terms, the captain could partially assuage his conscience. After all, he has paid sometl1111s for his voyeuristic pleasures and his inability to fultil his promised role as Prince Charming. 'Twixt Land and Sea 17 Let us take a closer look at the captain's climactic parting from Alice. Once he had experienced the excitement of his abortive sexual encounter, he demurred from further involvement with Alice. Because he did not take Jacobus's offer of the slipper, an action symbolic of his refusal to take possession of the girl, he felt that he had a moral obligation to take the potatoes.

Not only does Renouard's mind function in obscurity, but so also does Conrad's. We learn little about Renouard's motives and feelings from his prolix analysis. If Renouard is supposed to be a complex, psychological study, his subtleties are never disclosed. We really do not know whether he commits suicide because his illusions about Felicia are destroyed or because he despairs of the quality of contemporary life. His feeling of'immense deception' is really self-deception. Conrad's sympathy with Renouard's isolation, desire and consequent despair may have interfered with his examination ofhis protagonist's egoism.

P. I 14). , p. I 3 I): 'There are weeks, whole weeks, when I am utterly unable to write a single sentence. I struggle with my thoughts like a man stricken dumb suddenly ... , p. Ip). As ifhe were the Ancient Mariner in the grip of a restraining curse, he writes, 'I think that the evil spell is broken at last. I've just written 500 words of Chance in a couple of hours. It's about time. , p. 136). After concluding Chance in March I I)I2, he ceased writing for several weeks. His criticism of Dostoevsky may relate more to his own state of mind as he awaited the publication of Chance than to his reading ofDostoevsky: 'I don't know that he is too Russian for me.

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