Monday, March 10, 2008

Kirsch, Adam. "Searching For Joseph Conrad." NEW YORK SUN March 5, 2008.

Shortly after his 36th birthday, Conrad gave it all up for good, exchanging the most romantic of callings for the most solitary and sedentary. In just a few years, he made himself into a great writer in English — not even his second language but his third, after French — and invented a new kind of novel, in which adventure and intrigue are raised to the level of moral parable. His fascination with human evil, with the cruelty and existential void lurking beneath the surface of advanced European civilization, qualifies Conrad as perhaps the first modernist writer. "I am modern," he defiantly wrote after one publisher rejected him — so much so that it took decades for his reputation to spread beyond a small circle of admirers. It makes sense that Conrad did not become genuinely popular until World War I, when the public was finally ready to hear the prophecy in Kurtz's dying words in Heart of Darkness: "The horror! The horror!" . . . Read the rest here:

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