Humanity in J. Conrad's and W. Somerset's creativity
Research of the main representatives of prose XX of century. Consideration of similarity and distinction genres of leading writers Conrad and Somerset. The analysis of products "Human bondage" and "Human heart" as symbols of a wave of human development.
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PART I. ENGLISH NARRATIVE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EDWARDIAN LITERATURE
1.1 The main representatives of the prose writing in the first half of the twentieth century
1.2 The similarity and difference of themes and genres of the leading literature representatives
Conclusion to part I
PART II. HUMANITY AS THE MAIN PHILOSOPHICAL AND LITERARY PROBLEM IN THE WORK OF THE WRITERS BFORE THE FIRST HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
2.1 The Moral Sense in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim
2.2 "Human Bondage" and it's moral duality
Conclusion to part II
William Somerset Maugham (pronounced 'mawm'), CH (25 January 1874 - 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was one of the most popular authors of his era, and reputedly the highest paid of his profession during the 1930s.
Joseph Conrad (December 3, 1857 - August 3, 1924) was a Polish-born British novelist, one of the most important and respected writers of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth centuries. Conrad's works emerge out of the confluence of three literary currents prominent in the Europe of Conrad's time: Romanticism, particularly in the works of Polish novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz; realism, which flowered in Russia in the works of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky; and modernism, which emerged as the dominant literary aesthetic of the twentieth century.
Conrad's works draw on the symbolism of the Romantics and the psychological acuity of the realist and modernist schools. Despite these affinities, Conrad defies easy categorization. Conrad saw in Western colonialism the failure of the "civilized world" to fulfill its moral responsibilities. He witnessed and then documented through his fiction how the "white man's burden," or the West's responsibility to the rest of the world, became clouded by selfish ambition through its quest for colonial domination.
Born and raised in Poland, Conrad spent part of his youth in France and the majority of his early life at sea; only in his mid-thirties would he settle down, in England, to start a career as a writer, writing not in Polish or French, but in English, his adopted third language. Like the Russian emigre Vladamir Nabokov, Conrad is regarded as a master prose stylist among authors in the English literary canon. His knowledge of languages and cultures, gleaned not only from his European experiences but also from his decades spent as a sailor at sea, can be seen in the haunting style of his prose and the enormity of the themes which he constantly brings to the surface. His works inspired writers throughout the twentieth century.
Our work is devoted to the analysis of the novels by William Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad. The plots of there novel generally revolve around the subject of marriage and lay emphasis especially on its tremendous importance in the lives of the nineteen century women.
While making our research we used the works of such linguists as Vinokur G.O., Suvorov S.P., Arnold I.V. and many others. During our work we used the works on the translation theory of such linguists as Levitskaya T.R., Fiterman A.M., Komissarov V.N., Alimov V.V., Shveytser A.D., Garbovskiy N.K., Dmitrieva L.F., Galperin I.R., Arnold I.V., Yakusheva I.V., van Deik, Kolshanskiy and others. We used also the articles from the the periodical editions.
The aim of our work is to reveal W. Somerset Saugham's "Of Human Bondage" and Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim": plot structure and character analysis.
The hypothesis: in our investigation we suppose to prove that the literature can reflect humanity problems such as problem of morality and human relationships on example of W. Somerset's and J. Conrad's creativity.
The aim and hypothesis have defined the next tasks:
- to research the main representatives of the prose writing in the first half of the twentieth century;
- to investigate the similarity and difference of themes and genres of the leading literature representatives;
- to research The problem of humanity in the work as a leading Inclination of W. Somerset and J. Conrad;
- The Moral Sense in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim;
- Human Bondage" and it's moral duelety and "Human heart" in the symbol of new wave of human evolution.
Object of research in the given work is W. Somerset Saugham's and Joseph Conrad's creativity.
Subject is W. Somerset Saugham's "Of Human Bondage" and Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim": plot structure and character analysis.
Concerning the aim and the tasks we have used such method as a descriptive one, the method of the experience, the contextual method and the comparative method. These methods weren't used as the isolated methods, they were used in their complex to satisfy the aim and the task in the best way.
PART I. ENGLISH NARRATIVE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EDVARDIAN LITERATURE
1.1 The main representatives of the prose writing in the first half of the twentieth century
Literature in 20th century begins with a serie of movements, some of them contradictory between them, as Symbolism, Decadentism, Impressionism and, in Hispanic literature, Modernism, The Generation of '98 [21, 121]. During the two first decades , two literary conceptions are imposed to writers: Those writers for whom literary work is the expression of a cultural experience and fall in intellectualism; and writers who, in view of the chaos of the time and the dissatisfaction of bourgeois world, see literary work as an adventure, as an irrational experience. In the thirties, some historic and socioeconomic facts, affected literature. It will express the search, through the action, of ethical values. After the World War, writers will insist in the same attitudes: moral crisis and tecnical experimentation.
Coinciding the beginning of the new century with Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Britain seemed to start a new period that wasn't seen immediately, because the short reign of Edward VII (1901-1910) was the continuity of the previous period. English society was divided in social classes: wealth was held by a few people thanks for the Industrial Revolution. The poor were still poor, although by the Educative Act of 1870 some instruction was guaranteed. The first threats for Britain appeared with anglo-boer war to become evident in 1914 with the beginning of the First World War.
In ideas, changes were more spectacular. In the beginning of the century Einstein's relativity theory becomes true, and in 1905 Freud's new theories started to be renewal in human interpretation. Nothing could be like before, because art and ideas wished to advance quickly. Even in picture, for example, Cubism and Dadaism broke all imaginable visual molds: Modernism crystallized as a global result of all possible desires of change and renovation. In fact, every intellectual, political or artistic movement tries to broke with the past and fix new directions to follow. Modernism, not only wished to broke with the past, but also abolish them. However, it wasn't possible; in ideas world always exists something "already invented" where we resort to and in this way, Modernism had to create its own tradition, looking for affinities in the past history [21, 127].
In literature, it was the Ullyses (1922) by James Joyce the work that produced the true impact because of its new character and its perfect style and the scandol of its publication. The woman would have an important paper in the society and this would have an excellent representant in Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). She belongs to an artistic and intellectual circle in Bloomsbury. Woolf was a writer with a lot of sensibility and wrote a beautiful poetic prose in the shape of novels like Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.
Prose poetry is usually considered a form of poetry written in prose that breaks some of the normal rules associated with prose discourse, for heightened imagery or emotional effect. Arguments continue about whether prose poetry is actually a form of poetry or a form of prose, or a separate genre altogether. Most critics argue that prose poetry belongs in the genre of poetry because of its use of metaphorical language and attention to language.
Other critics argue that prose poetry falls into the genre of prose because prose poetry relies on prose's association with narrative and its reliance on readers' expectation of an objective presentation of truth in prose. Yet others argue that the prose poem gains its subversiveness through its fusion of poetic and prosaic elements.
As a specific form, prose poetry is generally assumed to have originated in 19th-century France.
At the time of the prose poem's emergence, French poetry was dominated by the Alexandrine, an extremely strict and demanding form that poets such as Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire rebelled against. Further proponents of the prose poem included other French poets such as Arthur Rimbaud and Stephane Mallarme.
The prose poem continued to be written in France and found profound expression, in the mid-20th century, in the prose poems of Francis Ponge. At the end of the 19th century, British Decadent movement poets such as Oscar Wilde picked up the form because of its already subversive association. This actually hindered the dissemination of the form into English because many associated the Decadents with homosexuality, hence any form used by the Decadents was suspect.
Notable Modernist poet T. S. Eliot wrote vehemently against prose poems, though he did try his hand at one or two. He also added to the debate about what defines the genre, saying in his introduction to Djuna Barnes' highly poeticized 1936 novel Nightwood that this work may not be classed as "poetic prose" as it did not have the rhythm or "musical pattern" of verse. In contrast, a couple of other Modernist authors wrote prose poetry consistently, including Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson. In actuality, Anderson considered his work to be short fictions--in the current term, "flash fiction." The distinction between flash fiction and prose poetry is at times very thin, almost indiscernible.
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Canadian author Elizabeth Smart, written in 1945, is a relatively isolated example of English-language poetic prose in the mid-20th century. Then, for a while, prose poems died out, at least in English--until the early 1950s and '60s, when American poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Russell Edson, Charles Simic, Robert Bly and James Wright experimented with the form. Edson, indeed, worked principally in this form, and helped give the prose poem its current reputation for surrealist wit. Similarly, Simic won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his 1989 collection, The World Doesn't End.
At the same time, poets elsewhere were exploring the form in Spanish, Japanese and Russian. Octavio Paz worked in this form in Spanish in his Aguila o Sol? (Eagle or Sun?). Spanish poet Angel Crespo (1926-95) did his most notable work in the genre. Giannina Braschi, postmodern Spanish-language poet, wrote a trilogy of prose poems, El imperio de los suenos (Empire of Dreams, 1988). Translator Dennis Keene presents the work of six Japanese prose poets in The Modern Japanese Prose Poem: an Anthology of Six Poets. Similarly, Adrian Wanner and Caryl Emerson describe the form's growth in Russia in their critical work, Russian Minimalism: from the Prose Poem to the Anti-story. The two best-known examples of this literary form in Russian are Gogol's Dead Souls and Venedikt Erofeev's Moscow-Petushki.
In Poland, Boleslaw Prus (1847-1912), influenced by the French prose poets, had written a number of poetic micro-stories, including "Mold of the Earth" (1884), "The Living Telegraph" (1884) and "Shades" (1885).
The form has gained popularity since the late 1980s, and literary journals that previously disputed prose poetry's contributions to both poetry and prose currently display prose poems next to sonnets and short stories. Journals have even begun to specialize, publishing solely prose poems/flash fiction in their pages (see external links below). Some contemporary writers who write prose poems or flash fiction include Michael Benedikt, Robert Bly, Anne Carson, Kim Chinquee, Richard Garcia, Ray Gonzalez, Lyn Hejinian, Louis Jenkins, Campbell McGrath, Sheila Murphy, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, David Shumate, James Tate, and J. Marcus Weekley, Ron Silliman, and John Olson.
It used to be said that prose poetry was impossible in English because the English language was not so strictly governed by rules as was the French language. This seems not to be so strictly held in the twenty-first century.
Rapturous, rhythmic, image-laden prose from previous centuries, such as that found in Jeremy Taylor and Thomas de Quincey, strikes 21st-century readers as having something of a poetic quality. Using figurative language to provoke thought, it invites a reader into unusual perspectives to question what is traditionally thought of, as in Richard Garcia's "Chickenhead."
Flash fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. The standard, generally-accepted length of a flash fiction piece is 1000 words or less. By contrast, a short-short measures 1001 words to 2500 words, and a traditional short story measures 2501 to 7500 words. A novelette runs from 7501 words to 17,500, a novella 17,501 words to 40,000 words, and a novel 40,001 words and up. In theater script and poetry writing, vignettes are short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting. This type of scene is more common in recent postmodern theater, where adherence to the conventions of theatrical structure and story development are jettisoned. It is particularly influenced by contemporary notions of a scene as shown in film, video and television scripting. Unlike the traditional scene in a play, the vignette is not strictly linked in with a sequential plot development but establishes meaning through loose symbolic or linguistic connection to other vignettes or scenes. Vignettes are the literary equivalent of a snapshot, often incomplete or fragmentary. In poetry, in the quintain form, they can relate to a short descriptive literary sketch or a short scene or incident from a movie or play. The use of vignettes is suited to those plays in which theme, image, emotion and character are more important than narrative, though this doesn't mean that a vignette is out of place as an element in a more narrative play.
1.2 The similarity and difference of themes and genres of the leading literature representatives
The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was Polish, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, Vladimir Nabokov was Russian. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world. In academia, the term often labels departments and programmes practising English studies in secondary and tertiary educational systems. Despite the variety of authors of English literature, the works of William Shakespeare remain paramount throughout the English-speaking world.
This article primarily deals with literature from Britain written in English. For literature from specific English-speaking regions, consult the see also section at the bottom of the page.
Early Modern period
The Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field of drama. The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, and this was instrumental in the development of the new drama, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and miracle plays of the Middle Ages. The Italians were particularly inspired by Seneca (a major tragic playwright and philosopher, the tutor of Nero) and Plautus (its comic cliches, especially that of the boasting soldier had a powerful influence on the Renaissance and after). However, the Italian tragedies embraced a principle contrary to Seneca's ethics: showing blood and violence on the stage. In Seneca's plays such scenes were only acted by the characters [18, 123]. But the English playwrights were intrigued by Italian model: a conspicuous community of Italian actors had settled in London and Giovanni Florio had brought much of the Italian language and culture to England. It is also true that the Elizabethan Era was a very violent age and that the high incidence of political assassinations in Renaissance Italy (embodied by Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince) did little to calm fears of popish plots. As a result, representing that kind of violence on the stage was probably more cathartic for the Elizabethan spectator. Following earlier Elizabethan plays such as Gorboduc by Sackville & Norton and The Spanish Tragedy by Kyd that was to provide much material for Hamlet, William Shakespeare stands out in this period as a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed. Shakespeare was not a man of letters by profession, and probably had only some grammar school education. He was neither a lawyer, nor an aristocrat as the "university wits" that had monopolised the English stage when he started writing. But he was very gifted and incredibly versatile, and he surpassed "professionals" as Robert Greene who mocked this "shake-scene" of low origins [23, 145]. Though most dramas met with great success, it is in his later years (marked by the early reign of James I) that he wrote what have been considered his greatest plays: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, a tragicomedy that inscribes within the main drama a brilliant pageant to the new king. Shakespeare also popularized the English sonnet which made significant changes to Petrarch's model.
The movement known as English literary modernism grew out of a general sense of disillusionment with Victorian era attitudes of certainty, conservatism, and objective truth. The movement was greatly influenced by the ideas of Romanticism, Karl Marx's political writings, and the psychoanalytic theories of subconscious - Sigmund Freud. The continental art movements of Impressionism, and later Cubism, were also important inspirations for modernist writers.
Although literary modernism reached its peak between the First and Second World Wars, the earliest examples of the movement's attitudes appeared in the mid to late nineteenth century. Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. E. Housman, and the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy represented a few of the major early modernists writing in England during the Victorian period.
The first decades of the twentieth century saw several major works of modernism published, including the seminal short story collection Dubliners by James Joyce, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and the poetry and drama of William Butler Yeats.
Important novelists between the World Wars included Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, P.G. Wodehouse and D. H. Lawrence. T. S. Eliot was the preeminent English poet of the period. Across the Atlantic writers like William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and the poets Wallace Stevens and Robert Frost developed a more American take on the modernist aesthetic in their work.
Perhaps the most contentiously important figure in the development of the modernist movement was the American poet Ezra Pound. Credited with "discovering" both T. S. Eliot and James Joyce, whose stream of consciousness novel Ulysses is considered to be one of the century's greatest literary achievements, Pound also advanced the cause of imagism and free verse, forms which would dominate English poetry into the twenty-first century.
Gertrude Stein, an American expat, was also an enormous literary force during this time period, famous for her line "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."
Other notable writers of this period included H.D., Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, W. H. Auden, Vladimir Nabokov, William Carlos Williams, Ralph Ellison, Dylan Thomas, R.S. Thomas and Graham Greene. However, some of these writers are more closely associated with what has become known as post-modernism, a term often used to encompass the diverse range of writers who succeeded the modernists.
The term Postmodern literature is used to describe certain tendencies in post-World War II literature. It is both a continuation of the experimentation championed by writers of the modernist period (relying heavily, for example, on fragmentation, paradox, questionable narrators, etc.) and a reaction against Enlightenment ideas implicit in Modernist literature. Postmodern literature, like postmodernism as a whole, is difficult to define and there is little agreement on the exact characteristics, scope, and importance of postmodern literature. Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote, Thomas Pynchon
Modernist literature is the literary expression of the tendencies of Modernism, especially High modernism.
Modernism as a literary movement reached its height in Europe between 1900 and the middle 1920s. Modernist literature addressed aesthetic problems similar to those examined in non-literary forms of contemporaneous Modernist art, such as Modernist painting. Gertrude Stein's abstract writings, for example, have often been compared to the fragmentary and multi-perspectival Cubism of her friend Pablo Picasso.
The Modernist emphasis on a radical individualism can be seen in the many literary manifestos issued by various groups within the movement. The concerns expressed by Simmel above are echoed in Richard Huelsenbeck's "First German Dada Manifesto" of 1918:
"Art in its execution and direction is dependent on the time in which it lives, and artists are creatures of their epoch. The highest art will be that which in its conscious content presents the thousandfold problems of the day, the art which has been visibly shattered by the explosions of last week ... The best and most extraordinary artists will be those who every hour snatch the tatters of their bodies out of the frenzied cataract of life, who, with bleeding hands and hearts, hold fast to the intelligence of their time." [3, 136]
The cultural history of humanity creates a unique common history that connects previous generations with the current generation of humans. The Modernist re-contextualization of the individual within the fabric of this received social heritage can be seen in the "mythic method" which T.S.
Modernist literature involved such authors as Knut Hamsun (whose novel Hunger is considered to be the first modernist novel), Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, H.D., Dylan Thomas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy, James Joyce, Hugh MacDiarmid, William Faulkner, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Joseph Conrad, Andrei Bely, W. B. Yeats, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Luigi Pirandello, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Jaroslav Hasek, Samuel Beckett, Menno ter Braak, Marcel Proust, Mikhail Bulgakov, Robert Frost, Boris Pasternak, Djuna Barnes, Patricia Highsmith and others.
Modernist literature attempted to move from the bonds of Realist literature and to introduce concepts such as disjointed timelines. Modernism was distinguished by an emancipatory metanarrative. In the wake of Modernism, and post-enlightenment, metanarratives tended to be emancipatory, whereas beforehand this was not a consistent characteristic. Contemporary metanarratives were becoming less relevant in light of the implications of World War I, the rise of trade unionism, a general social discontent, and the emergence of psychoanalysis. The consequent need for a unifying function brought about a growth in the political importance of culture.
Modernist literature can be viewed largely in terms of its formal, stylistic and semantic movement away from Romanticism, examining subject matter that is traditionally mundane a prime example being The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot. Modernist literature often features a marked pessimism, a clear rejection of the optimism apparent in Victorian literature. In fact, "a common motif in Modernist fiction is that of an alienated individual--a dysfunctional individual trying in vain to make sense of a predominantly urban and fragmented society." But the questioning spirit of modernism could also be seen, less elegaically, as part of a necessary search for ways to make a new sense of a broken world. An example is A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle by Hugh MacDiarmid, in which the individual artist applies Eliot's techniques to respond (in this case) to a historically fractured nationalism, using a more comic, parodic and "optimistic" (though no less "hopeless") modernist expression in which the artist as "hero" seeks to embrace complexity and locate new meanings.
However, many Modernist works like T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land are marked by the absence even of a central, heroic figure. In rejecting the solipsism of Romantics like Shelley and Byron, such works reject the notion of subject associated with Cartesian dualism, collapsing narrative and narrator into a collection of disjointed fragments and overlapping voices [7, 121].
Modernist literature often moves beyond the limitations of the Realist novel with a concern for larger factors such as social or historical change. This is prominent in "stream of consciousness" writing. Examples can be seen in Virginia Woolf's Kew Gardens and Mrs Dalloway, James Joyce's Ulysses, Katherine Porter's Flowering Judas, Jean Toomer's Cane, William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and others.
Modernism as a literary movement is seen, in large part, as a reaction to the emergence of city life as a central force in society. Furthermore, an early attention to the object as freestanding became in later Modernism a preoccupation with form. The dyadic collapse of the distance between subject and object represented a movement from means to is. Where Romanticism stressed the subjectivity of experience, Modernist writers were more acutely conscious of the objectivity of their surroundings. In Modernism the object is; the language doesn't mean it is. This is a shift from an epistemological aesthetic to an ontological aesthetic or, in simpler terms, a shift from a knowledge-based aesthetic to a being-based aesthetic. This shift is central to Modernism. Archibald MacLeish, for instance, said, "A poem should not mean / But be."
Characteristics of Modernity/Modernism
· Free indirect speech
· Stream of consciousness
· Juxtaposition of characters
· Wide use of classical allusions
· Figure of speech
· Unconventional use of metaphor
· Symbolic representation
· Discontinuous narrative
· Multiple narrative points of view
· Breakdown of social norms
· Realistic embodiment of social meanings
· Separation of meanings and senses from the context
· Despairing individual behaviors in the face of an unmanageable future
· Sense of spiritual loneliness
· Sense of alienation
· Sense of frustration
· Sense of disillusionment
· Rejection of the history
· Rejection of the outdated social system
· Objection of the traditional thoughts and the traditional moralities
· Objection of the religious thoughts
· Substitution of a mythical past
· Two World Wars' Effects on Humanity
Conclusion to part I
We came to a conclusion that Literature in 20th century begins with a serie of movements, some of them contradictory between them, as Symbolism, Decadentism, Impressionism and, in Hispanic literature, Modernism, The Generation of '98. During the two first decades , two literary conceptions are imposed to writers: Those writers for whom literary work is the expression of a cultural experience and fall in intellectualism; and writers who, in view of the chaos of the time and the dissatisfaction of bourgeois world, see literary work as an adventure, as an irrational experience.
Modernism crystallized as a global result of all possible desires of change and renovation. The prose poem continued to be written in France and found profound expression, in the mid-20th century, in the prose poems of Francis Ponge. At the end of the 19th century, British Decadent movement poets such as Oscar Wilde picked up the form because of its already subversive association. This actually hindered the dissemination of the form into English because many associated the Decadents with homosexuality, hence any form used by the Decadents was suspect.
The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was Polish, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, Vladimir Nabokov was Russian.
PART II. WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM'S "OF HUMAN BONDAGE" AND JOSEPH CONRAD'S "LORD JIM"
2.1 The Moral Sense in Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim
Lord Jim (1900), Joseph Conrad's fourth novel, is the story of a ship which collides with "a floating derelict" and will doubtlessly "go down at any moment" during a "silent black squall." The ship, old and rust-eaten, known as the Patna, is voyaging across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. Aboard are eight-hundred Muslim pilgrims who are being transported to a "holy place, the promise of salvation, the reward of eternal life." Terror possesses the captain and several of his officers, who jump from the pilgrim-ship and thus wantonly abandon the sleeping passengers who are unaware of their peril. For the crew members in the safety of their life-boat, dishonor is better than death [8, 183].
Beyond the immediate details and the effects of a shipwreck, A breach of this novel portrays, in the words of the story's narrator, Captain Marlow, "those struggles of an individual trying to save from the fire his idea of what his moral identity should be. . . ." That individual is a young seaman, Jim, who serves as the chief mate of the Patna and who also "jumps." Recurringly Jim envisions himself as "always an example of devotion to duty and as unflinching as a hero in a book." But his heroic dream of "saving people from sinking ships, cutting away masts in a hurricane, swimming through a surf with a line," does not square with what he really represents: one who falls from grace, and whose "crime" is "a breach of faith with the community of mankind." Jim's aspirations and actions underline the disparity between idea and reality, or what is generally termed "indissoluble contradictions of being." His is also the story of a man in search of some form of atonement once he recognizes that his "avidity for adventure, and in a sense of many-sided courage," and his dream of "the success of his imaginary achievements," constitute a romantic illusion.
Jim's leap from the Patna generates in him a severe moral crisis that forces him to "come round to the view that only a meticulous precision of statement would bring out the true horror behind the appalling face of things." It is especially hard for Jim to confront this "horror" since his confidence in "his own superiority" seems so absolute. The "Patna affair" compels him in the end to peer into his deepest self and then to relinquish "the charm and innocence of illusions." The Jim of the Patna undergoes "the ordeal of the fiery furnace," as he is severely tested "by those events of the sea that show in the light of the day the inner worth of a man, the edge of his temper, and the fibre of his stuff; that reveal the quality of his resistance and the secret truth of his pretences, not only to others but also to himself." Clearly the Patna is, for Jim, the experience both of a moment and of a lifetime.
This novel, from beginning to end, is the story of Jim; throughout the focus is on his life and character, on what he has done, or A story not done, on his crime and punishment, his failure of nerve as a seaman. It is, as well, the story of his predicament and his fate, the destiny of his soul--of high expectations and the great "chance missed," of "wasted opportunity" and "what he had failed to obtain pretences.," all the result of leaving his post, and abdicating his responsibility. Thus we see him in an unending moment of crisis, "overburdened by the knowledge of an imminent death" as he imagines the grim scene before him: "He stood still looking at those recumbent bodies, a doomed man aware of his fate, surveying the silent company of the dead. They were dead! Nothing could save them!"
For Jim the overwhelming question, "What could I do -- what?", brings the answer of "Nothing!" The Patna, as it ploughs the Arabian Sea ("smooth and cool to the eye like a sheet of ice") on its way to the Red Sea, is close to sinking, with its engines stopped, the steam blowing off, its deep rumble making "the whole night vibrate like a bass ring." Jim's imagination conjures up a dismal picture of a catastrophe that is inescapable and merciless. It is not that Jim thinks so much of saving himself as it is the tyranny of his belief that there are eight-hundred people on ship -- and only seven life-boats. Conrad's storyteller, Marlow, much sympathetic to Jim's plight, discerns in him an affliction of helplessness that compounds his sense of hopelessness, making Jim incapable of confronting total shipwreck, as he envisions "a ship floating head down, checked in sinking by a sheet of old iron too rotten to stand being shored up [16, 121]." But Jim is a victim not only of his imagination, but also of what Conrad calls a "moral situation of enslavement." So torn and defeated is Jim, that his soul itself also seems possessed by some "invisible personality, an antagonistic and inseparable partner of his existence."
Jim's acceptance of the inevitability of disaster and his belief that he could do absolutely nothing to forestall the loss of eight-hundred passengers render him helpless, robbing him of any ability to take any kind of life-saving action--". . . I thought I might just as well stand where I was and wait." In short, in Jim we discern a disarmed man who surrenders his will to action. The gravity of Jim's situation is so overwhelming that it leaves him, his heroic aspirations notwithstanding, in a state of paralysis. His predicament, then, becomes his moral isolation and desolation, one in which Jim's "desire of peace waxes stronger as hope declines . . . and conquers the very desire of life." He gives in at precisely the point when strenuous effort and decisive actions are mandated, so as to resist "unreasonable forces." His frame of mind recalls here Jean-Paul Sartre's pertinent comment, in The Age of Reason (l945), "That's what existence means: draining one's own self dry without a sense of thrust." [12, 128]
Everything in Jim's background points to his success as a career seaman. We learn that, one of five sons, he originally came from a parsonage, from one of those "abodes of piety and peace," in England; his vocation for the sea emerged early on and, for a period of two years, he served on a "`training-ship for affairs of the mercantile marine.'" His station was in the fore-top of a training-ship chained to her moorings. We learn that, on one occasion, in the dusk of a winter's day, a gale suddenly blew forth with a savage fury of wind and rain and tide, endangering the small craft on the shore and the ferry-boats anchored in the harbor, as well as the training-ship itself. The force of the gale "made him hold his breath in awe. He stood still. It seemed to him he was whirled around. He was jostled." We learn, too, that a coaster, in search of shelter, crashed through a schooner at anchor. We see the cutter now tossing abreast the ship, hovering dangerously. Jim is on the the midst of certitude.
Point of leaping overboard to save a man overboard, but fails to do so. There is "pain of conscious defeat in his eyes," as the captain shouts to Jim. "`Too late, youngster. . . . Better luck next time. This will teach you to be smart.'"
This incident, related in the first chapter of the novel, serves to prepare us for Jim's actions later on the Patna, and also suggests a Danger in kind of flaw in Jim's behavior in a moment of danger. Early on in his career, then, Jim had displayed a willingness to "flinch" from his obligations, thus revealing a defect in the heroism about which he romanticized and which led him to creating self-serving fantasies and illusions. "He felt angry with the brutal tumult of earth and sky for taking him unawares and checking unfairly a generous readiness for narrow escapes." Jim, as a seaman, refuses to admit his fear of fear, and in this he shows an inclination to escape the truth of reality by "putting out of sight all the reminders of our folly, of our weakness, of our mortality." Clearly the episode on the training-ship serves both as a symptom and as a portent, underscores an inherent element of failure and disgrace in Jim's character that, in the course of the novel, he must confront if he is to transcend the dreams and illusions that beguile him, and that he must finally vanquish if he is to find his "moral identity." His early experience on the training-ship makes him a marked man [16, 132]. It remains for his experience later on the Patna to make him a "condemned man."
That nothing rests secure, that, in the midst of certitude, danger lurks, that peace and contentment are at the mercy of the whirl of the world, are inescapable conditions of human existence. These daunting dichotomies, as we find them depicted in Lord Jim, are forever teasing and testing humans in their life-journey Conrad sees these dichotomies in the unfolding spectacle of man and nature. To evince the enormous power of this process Conrad chooses to render time in a continuum which fills all space. Time has no end, no telos; it absorbs beginnings and endings--the past, present, and future not only in their connections but also in their disconnections.
Conrad's spatial technique is no less complex, and no less revealing, than his use of time. Hence, he employs spatial dimension so as to highlight Jim's sense of guilt in jumping from the Patna
Conrad expresses it in his Author's Note, is Jim's burden of fate. And wherever he retreats he is open to attack from some "deadly snake in every bush." Time as memory and place as torment become his twin oppressors.
The specificities of the Patna episode were to come out during a well-attended Official Court of Inquiry that takes place for several days in early August 1883. Most of the details, in the form of remarks and commentaries, are supplied by Marlow in his long oral narrative, especially as these emerge from Jim's own confession to Marlow when they happen to meet after the proceedings, on the yellow portico of the Malabar House [13, 178]. Humiliated and broken, his certificate revoked, his career destroyed, Jim can never return to his home and face his father--"`I could never explain. He wouldn't understand.'" Again and again, in his confession, Jim shows feelings of desperation and even hysteria: "Everything had betrayed him!" For him it is imperative to be identified neither with the "odious and fleshly" German skipper, Gustav, "the incarnation of everything vile and base that lurks in the world we love," nor with the chief and the second engineers, "skunks" who are extensions of the captain's coarseness and cowardice.
But that, in fact, Jim does jump overboard--"a jump into the unknown"--and in effect joins them in deserting the Patna ultimately agonizes his moral sense and impels him to scrutinize that part of his being in which the element of betrayal has entered. By such an action he feels contaminated, unclean, disgraced. How to separate himself morally from the captain and his engineers is still another cruel question to which he must find an answer. In this respect, Jim reminds us of the tragic heroes in ancient Greek drama whose encounters with destiny entail both risks and moral instruction. "We begin to live," Conrad reminds us, "when we have conceived life as a tragedy."
How does one "face the darkness"? How does one behave to the unknowable? These are other basic questions that vex Jim. He wants, of course, to answer these questions affirmatively, or at least to wrestle with them in redeeming ways, even as he appears to see himself within a contradiction--as one who can have no place in the universe once he has failed to meet the standards of his moral code. Refusing to accept any "helping hand" extended to him to "clear out," he decides to "fight this thing down," to expiate his sin, in short, to suffer penitently the agony of his failure: "He had loved too well to imagine himself a glorious racehorse, and now he was condemned to toil without honour like a costermonger's donkey." Jim's innermost sufferings revolve precisely around his perception of his loss of honor, of his surrender to cowardice. The crushing shame of this perception tortures Jim, without respite. "'I had jumped--hadn't I?' he asked [Marlow], dismayed. `That's what I had to live down.'"
Jim's moral sense is clearly outraged by his actions. This outrage wracks his high conception of himself, compelling him in The "idyllic time to see himself outside of his reveries that Conrad also associates with "the determination to lounge safely through existence." What clouds Jim's fate is that such a net of safety and certitude has no sustained reality. Within the serenity that seemed to bolster his thoughts of "valorous deeds" there are hidden menaces that assault his self-contentment and self-deception and abruptly awaken Jim to his actual condition and circumstances [13, 186]. In one way, it can be said, Jim is a slave of the "idyllic imagination" (as Irving Babbitt calls it), with its expansive appetites, chimeras, reveries, pursuit of illusion. Jim's is the story of a man who comes to discern not only the pitfalls of this imagination but also the need to free himself from its bondage. But to free himself from bondage requires of Jim painstaking effort, endurance. He must work diligently to transform chimeric, if incipient, fortitude into an active virtue as it interacts with a world that, like the Patna, can be "full of reptiles"--a world in which "not one of us is safe."
Conrad uses Jim to indicate the moral process of recovery. Conrad delineates the paradigms of this process as these evolve in the midst of much anguish and laceration, leading to the severest scrutiny and judgment of the total human personality. Jim pays attention, in short, to the immobility of his soul; it will take much effort for him to determine where he is and what is happening to him if he is to emerge from the "heart of darkness" and the affliction within and around him to face what is called "the limiting moment." It is, in an inherently spiritual context, a moment of repulsion when one examines the sin in oneself, and hates it. His sense of repulsion is tantamount to moral renunciation, as he embarks on the path to recovery from the romantic habit of daydreaming.
In the end Jim comes to despise his condition, acceding as he Moral does to the moral imperative. He accepts the need to see his
imperative to "trouble" as his own, and he instinctively volunteers to answer questions regarding the Patna by appearing before the Official Court of Inquiry "held in the police court of an Eastern port." (This actually marks his first encounter with Marlow, who is in attendance and who seems to be sympathetically aware of "his hopeless difficulty.") He gives his testimony fully, objectively, honestly, as he faces the presiding magistrate. The physical details of Jim's appearance underscore his urge "to go on talking for truth's sake, perhaps for his own sake"--"fair of face, big of frame, with young, gloomy eyes, he held his shoulders upright above the box while his soul writhed within him." Marlow's reaction to Jim is instinctively positive: "I liked his appearance; he came from the right place; he was one of us." In striking ways, Jim is a direct contrast to the other members of "the Patna gang": "They were nobodies," in Marlow's words [13, 192].
It should be recalled here that Jim adamantly refused to help the others put the lifeboat clear of the ship and get it into the water for their escape. Indeed, as Jim insists to Marlow, he wanted to keep his distance from the deserters, for there was "nothing in common between him and these men." Their frenzied, self-serving actions to abandon the ship and its human cargo infuriated Jim--"`I loathed them. I hated them.'" The scene depicting the abandonment of the Patna is one filled with "the turmoil of terror," dramatizing the contrast between Jim and the other officers-- between honor and dishonor, loyalty and disloyalty, in short, between aspiration and descent on the larger metaphysical map of human behavior. Jim personifies resistance to the negative as he tries to convey to Marlow "the brooding rancour of his mind into the bare recital of events." Jim's excruciating moral effort not to join the others and to ignore their desperate motions is also pictured at a critical moment when he felt the Patna dangerously dipping her bows, and then lifting them gently, slowly--"and ever so little."
The reality of a dangerous situation now seems to be devouring Jim, as he was once again to capitulate to the inner voice of weakness and doubt telling him to "leap" from the Patna. Futility hovers ominously around Jim at this last moment when death arrives in the form of a third engineer "clutch[ing] at the air with raised arms, totter[ing] and collapsing]." A terrified, transfixed Jim finds himself stumbling over the legs of the dead man lying on the bridge. And from the lifeboat below three voices yelled out eerily--"one bleated, another screamed, one howled"--imploring the man to jump, not realizing of course that he was dead of a heart attack: "Jump, George! Jump! Oh, jump. . . . We'll catch you! Jump! . . . Geo-o-o-orge! Oh, jump!" This desperate, screeching verbal command clearly pierces Jim's internal condition of fear and terror, just as the ship again seemed to begin a slow plunge, with rain sweeping over her "like a broken sea." And once again Jim is unable to sustain his refusal to betray his idea of honor. Here his body and soul are caught in the throes of still another "chance missed."
The assaults of nature on Jim's outer situation are as vicious at this pivotal point of his life as are the assaults of conscience on his moral sense. These clashing outer and inner elements are clearly pushing Jim to the edge, as heroic aspiration and human frailty wrestle furiously for the possession of his soul. What happens will have permanent consequences for him, as Conrad reveals here, with astonishing power of perception [12, 93]. Here, then, we discern a process of cohesion and dissolution, when Jim's fate seems to be vibrating unspeakably as he experiences the radical pressures and tensions of his struggle to be more than what he is, or what he aspires to be. Jim, as if replacing the dead officer lying on the deck of the Patna, jumps: "It had happened somehow. . . ," Conrad writes. "He had landed partly on somebody and fallen across a thwart." He was now in the boat with those he loathed; "[h]e had tumbled from a height he could never scale again." "`I wished I could die,'" he admits to Marlow. "`There was no going back. It was as if I had jumped into a well--into an everlasting deep hole.'"
A cold, thick rain and "a pitchy blackness" weigh down the lurching boat; "it was like being swept by a flood through a cavern." Crouched down in the bows, Jim fearfully discerns the Patna, "just one yellow gleam of the masthead light high up and blurred like a last star ready to dissolve." And then all is black, as one of the deserters cries out shakily, "`She's gone!'" Those in the boat remain quiet, and a strange silence prevails all around them, blurring the sea and the sky, with "nothing to see and nothing to hear." To Jim it seemed as if everything was gone, all was over. The other three shipmates in the boat mistake him for George, and when they do recognize him they are startled and curse him. The boat itself seems filled with hatred, suspicion, villainy, betrayal. "We were like men walled up quick in a roomy grave," Jim confides to Marlow.
The boat itself epitomizes abject failure and alienation from mankind. Everything in it and around it mirrors Jim's schism of soul, "imprisoned in the solitude of the sea." Through the varying repetition of language and images Conrad accentuates Jim's distraught inner condition, especially the shame that rages in him for being "in the same boat" with men who exemplify a fellowship of liars. By the time they are picked up just before sunset by the Avondale, the captain and his two officers had already "made up a story" that would sanction their desertion of the Patna, which in fact had not sunk and which, with its pilgrims, had been safely towed to Aden by a French gunboat, eventually to end her days in a breaking-up yard. Unlike the others, Jim would choose to face the full consequences of his actions, "to face it out--alone for myself--wait for another chance--find out. . . ."
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