Solitude Versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad: Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative Innovation 9780773566897

Solitude Versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad is a structural and thematic analysis of early modern British

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Solitude Versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad: Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative Innovation

Table of contents :
1 Hardy and Darwin
2 "Heart of Darkness"
3 Lord Jim
4 Nostromo: Conrad and Human Alienation
Works Cited

Citation preview

Solitude versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative Innovation

Solitude versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad is a structural and thematic analysis of early modern British fiction with an intellectual foundation consisting of political theory, sociology, and philosophy. Key theoreticians include Charles Darwin, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, Karl Mannheim, Karl Marx, and Georg Lukacs. Charles Taylor's exploration of the roots of modern notions of identity and its unfathomable inner depths in Sources of the Self elucidates issues implicit in Joseph Conrad's metaphor of Heart of Darkness. Ursula Lord explores the manifestations in narrative structure of epistemological relativism, textual reflexivity, and political inquiry, specifically Conrad's critique of colonialism and imperialism and his concern for the relationship between self and society. The tension between solitude and solidarity manifests itself as a soul divided against itself; an individual torn between engagement and detachment, idealism and cynicism; a dramatized narrator who himself embodies the contradictions between radical individualism and social cohesion; a society that professes the ideal of shared responsibility while isolating the individual guilty of betraying the illusion of cultural or professional solidarity. Conrad's complexity and ambiguity, his conflicting allegiances to the ideal of solidarity versus the terrible insight of unremitting solitude, his grappling with the dilemma of private versus shared meaning, are instrinsic to his political and philosophical thought. The metanarrative focus of Conrad's texts intensifies rather than diminishes their philosophical and political concerns. Formal experimentation and epistemological exploration inevitably entail ethical and social implications. Lord relates these issues with intellectual rigour to the dialectic of individual liberty and collective responsibility that lies at the core of the modern moral and political debate. URSULA LORD is an independent scholar living in Montreal.

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Solitude versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative Innovation URSULA LORD

McGill-Queen's University Press Montreal & Kingston • London • Buffalo

McGill-Queen's University Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1670-0 Legal deposit first quarter 1998 Bibliotheque rationale du Quebec Printed in Canada on acid-free paper This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. McGill-Queen's University Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for its publishing program. Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data Lord, Ursula, 1958Solitude versus solidarity in the novels of Joseph Conrad: political and epistemological implications of narrative innovation Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7735-1670-0 i. Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924 - Criticism and interpretation. 2. Narration (Rhetoric) 3. Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924 - Political and social views. I. Title. PR60O5.O4Z764 1998



This book was typeset by True to Type in 10/12 Palatine




Introduction 3 1 Hardy and Darwin 10 2 "Heart of Darkness" 60 3 Lord Jim 144 4 Nostromo: Conrad and Human Alienation 206 Conclusion


Notes 309 Works Cited 339 Index 345

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I take this opportunity to thank my editor, Peter Blaney of McGillQueen's University Press, whose philosophical mind, patience, and generosity with his time were very helpful and most appreciated. I am grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which funded the doctoral research that formed the foundation of this book. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Aid to Scholarly Publications Programme.

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Solitude versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad

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The tension between solitude and solidarity infuses the novels of Joseph Conrad. This conflict manifests itself as a soul divided against itself; an individual torn between engagement and detachment, idealism and cynicism; a dramatized narrator who himself embodies the contradictions between radical individualism and social cohesion; a society that professes the ideal of shared responsibility while isolating the individual guilty of betraying the illusion of cultural or professional solidarity. This book is a structural, thematic, and theoretical analysis of early modern British fiction, Hardy and Conrad, with an intellectual foundation consisting of political theory, sociology, and philosophy. It explores fiction of the transitional years 1885-1905 in terms of critical and theoretical paradigms established by great thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries whose treatises revolutionized our perception of the universe and our role in society. Key theoreticians include Charles Darwin, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, Karl Mannheim, Karl Marx, and Georg Lukacs. In Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, Charles Taylor traces the philosophical origins of modern notions of selfhood, inwardness, and identity. He discusses the relation of self to society and the roots of moral imperatives which we today accept as axiomatic. He argues that the human moral framework, on both the personal and political front, is not set adrift by the move toward subjectivity. The implications for the novel of this shift in values are both formal and political. Textual reflexivity and political inquiry are interconnected. The story-teller and the process of artistic transformation and transfiguration are crucial issues. The metanarrative focus of Conrad's texts intensifies rather than diminishes their philosophic and political concerns. Discussion of Hardy is restrained, and serves as a counterpoint or prism for the exploration of formal inno-

4 Solitude versus Solidarity

vation in Conrad, such as the framework structure with a first-person narrator and/or a multiplicity of narrative frames and perspectives which is neither exhaustive nor definitive, and the disruption of the chronological progression of time. The critical and theoretical paradigms illustrate how the increasing instrumentalism of modern industrial society - the "disenchantment of the world/' to borrow Weber's poignant phrase - promotes alienation from our labour, other individuals, nature, society, and finally from our essential self. This in Marx's view consequently impoverishes the creative and expressive potential of individual and community. My treatment of the intellectual foundation for the two Marlow tales relies on Weber's theory of alternating modes of political domination, specifically the routinization of charisma by bureaucratic authority; on Arendt's comparison of colonialism and imperialism; on Mannheim's sociology of knowledge, theorizing that, in an era lacking a coherent world view, emphasis shifts to the cognitive processes of the knowing subject; and Taylor's exploration of the seeds of the enriched sense of unfathomable inner depths that imbues the modern era. This book interrogates the manifestations in narrative technique and form of the moral ambiguity and epistemological relativism of modernity. Conrad's creation of Marlow, and equally important his embedding of Marlow's narrative within another, acknowledges that we always perceive the world through frames, many times removed, filtered through our own consciousness and that of others, as through a glass darkly. Marlow is the Weberian modern man. Conradian heroes such as Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo can be understood as dramatizations of the final stand of spectacular, isolated but obsolete individualism in face of the routinization of rational systems that privilege conformity and subjugation to the group. Their actions are paradoxically subversive and inconsequential. Marlow ponders the nature of language and grapples with his conflicting allegiances to the ideal of solidarity versus the terrible insight of unremitting solitude. This intersects with Conrad's metafictional exploration of the central dilemma of private versus shared meaning. The tension between solitude and solidarity is intrinsic to Conrad's political, social, and philosophic thought. That between individual liberty and collective responsibility lies at the core of modern moral and political debate. The Nostromo chapter is framed by Marx's 184.4 Manuscripts and Communist Manifesto. Marx unmasks capitalism, once unleashed, as a permanently revolutionary and disintegrative force. He locates the source of alienation suffered by modern humankind in capitalist social structure, and questions the privileging of material interests in

5 Introduction

the quest for social justice and political stability. In his devastating critique of colonialism and imperialism, enterprises analysed by Arendt as underpinned by racism and bureaucracy respectively, Conrad throws into dramatic relief the vast discrepancy between civilization's stated goals of enlightenment and progress, and its rapacious and barbaric practices. Conrad's novels demonstrate the compatibility of the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. This book is an examination of the political and epistemological implications of new forms of narrative. Formal experimentation and epistemological exploration inevitably entail ethical and social implications. This book explores the relations among these realms. I will explore the roots of Weber's thought in Nietzsche's writing on "herd mentality," and Schopenhauer's startling concept of the "will to power." Emile Durkheim's study of the sociology of suicide sheds light on the willingness of characters in these novels to relinquish life. Charles Taylor's Sources of the Self1 completes the intellectual foundation of this work, and places the contributions of the thinkers listed above within historical and philosophic perspective. Taylor traces the philosophical origins of modern notions of selfhood and inwardness, and, interestingly enough, employs Conrad's central metaphor of the heart of darkness as barometer of the notion of the inner depths whose existence and development he elucidates. My study is concerned in part with the aesthetic implications of the acknowledgment of unfathomable inner depths, an issue Marlow wrestles with in his encounters with Kurtz and Jim, and which he endeavours to communicate to his audience. The philosophical origin of the notion that the individual is an enigma can be traced to Schopenhauer's transformation of the Romantic conviction of personal uniqueness, imaginatively expressed. Schopenhauer brings to the Romantic notion of spiritualized nature a vision of human and natural will as insatiable and tormented. His second legacy, according to Taylor, is "the enhanced sense of our own expressive powers, [for] it is through the articulations of the creative imagination that the will is tapped and transmuted into beauty."2 His third legacy is an enriched sense of our inwardness, the inner depths of the human being. This is crucial to a study of Conrad, and is the aspect of his work that the exploration of the development of the appreciation of the inner self in Western philosophy aims to elucidate. "Changes in underlying moral vision," according to Taylor, are inextricably related to "changes in the theory and practice of the arts, and above all to an enhanced sense of the powers of the creative imagination."? I will explore the aesthetic implications in Conrad's work of this development in the history of thought. In the Preface to The Nigger of the

6 Solitude versus Solidarity

"Narcissus", Conrad holds that the artist speaks "to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation - and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts."4 Terry Eagleton makes an interesting comment concerning the aesthetic manifestation of Conrad's divided allegiance: "This conflict between organic solidarity and sceptical individualism is mediated in Conrad's aesthetic ... The ideological function of art is to affirm human solidarity against disintegrative individualism; yet to characterise its materials as vibrant and ephemeral ironically underscores the individualist impressionism which is to be ideologically overcome."5 To Schopenhauer's bleak vision is added the double legacy of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century thought. The first is the Darwinian vision of nature as essentially benign but highly impersonal and unspeakably vast. Faith in teleological design, in the notion of a profound spiritual connection between humanity and nature, and in God's interest and intervention in human affairs, collapses with the insight of the vastness of the cosmos, and our common ancestry with all other species. The second legacy is the increasing instrumentalism of modern society, analysed by Marx, Lukacs, and Weber, among others. The "disenchantment of the world" cancels the value previously found in the richness of the individual life in favour of an ethic that privileges conformity and subjugation to the group. This is turn promotes a sense of alienation from oneself and others, and diminishes the expressive potential of individual and community. The notion of the unified, consistent self is undermined in Conrad. Taylor explores the connection between the diminishing of confidence in a stable, centred self in the modern era, and the universality of reflexivity in modern art: "The recognition that we live on many levels has to be won against the presumptions of the unified self, controlling or expressive. And this means a reflexive turn, something which intensifies our sense of inwardness and depth, which we have seen building up through the whole modern period ... The radically reflexive nature of the modernist enterprise ... comes first in the fact that we unveil the power of language by turning back onto it from our ordinary unthinking focus on things."6 If we are condemned to live our lives on a plurality of levels, we are also condemned to see the world through frames. Underlying Conrad's fictional discourse is his critical discourse. This book will be concerned with the nature of discourse as it manifests itself within a fictional framework. This is an inescapable issue in dealing with a modern writer, for just beneath the veneer of his or her subject matter and philosophical concerns lies

7 Introduction

an exploration of the nature of creative discourse. My concern is not only to relate the social and intellectual context to the thematics of the fiction, and to use this understanding of thematics to interrogate narrative technique, but also to provide a balanced account of the text's referentiality and auto-referentiality. This book is an examination of the political and epistemological implications of new forms of narration. In an essay on Nostromo, Paul Armstrong writes: "The literary impressionists' experiments with representation raise important political questions about the novel's shift away from realism: As the novel becomes increasingly epistemological and hermeneutic in focus, what happens to its powers as a political instrument?"7 Formal experimentation and epistemological exploration inevitably entail political and social implications. This book will explore the relations among these realms. It will interrogate the nature of linguistic representation and its relation to personal and social values. In modern art, the timeless, the mythic, and the archetypal are filtered or refracted through an individual consciousness or sensitivity. In the Marlow tales, Conrad filters the experiences of his tragic heroes through the narrator's highly attenuated consciousness. In Nostromo, the reader is initially bewildered by a multiplicity of perspectives, which on closer examination are neither exhaustive nor definitive. The artist and the very process of artistic transformation and transfiguration are among the texts' true foci. Modern art is opaque rather than transparent. Taylor explains that because the modern public lexicon or vocabulary includes nothing in the domains of mythology metaphysics, or theology that may be taken for granted, an artist's choice of intellectual foundation and narrative voice becomes highly idiosyncratic. "The aspiration, however conceived, is usually made more urgent by the sense that our modern, fragmented, instrumentalist society has narrowed and impoverished our lives."8 The discussion of Hardy is included as a prism or model for the exploration of formal innovation in Conrad. The epistemological implications of Darwin's evolutionary theory and the difficulty Darwin encountered couching his insights in homocentric language form the intellectual background of the Hardy chapter. The vastly expanded concept of cosmic time and space introduced by Darwin's theories reverberates in Hardy's work, for Hardy was sensitive to the conflict between, on the one hand, the infinitesimal span of human life and the fragility of humanity's impact implied by Darwinian theory, and, on the other, humanity's sense of its own centrality, stature, and dignity. I examine the impasse of traditional methods of fiction in which Hardy found himself trapped, and the discrepancy between the

8 Solitude versus Solidarity

modernity of his themes and his use of traditional narrative structure, in order to provide specific examples as a foil for Conrad's innovations in narrative form. These innovations resolve the impasse at which Victorian fiction had arrived. The authors' shared concern with the fate of the renegade individual in an increasingly conformist society manifests itself in vastly different solutions to the eternal aesthetic problem of synchronizing the subject matter with an appropriate narrative technique and structure. Any study concerned with structural innovation must examine the inadequacy of previous methods of portrayal. The foundation of my discussion of Conrad's work is built upon Marx's and Weber's theories concerning our alienation from our labour, our essential being, and other people with the advent of industrialization. Exegesis of this material with respect to the examination of Conrad's Marlow tales forms a prelude to the chapter on "Heart of Darkness." Readers interested in Lord Jim only should read this prelude, as the discussion of Lord Jim is couched in a theoretical lexicon established prior to my reading of "Heart of Darkness" that will not be reiterated in the Lord Jim chapter. I emphasize this background material to demonstrate that these novels entail not merely the fate of one individual, but the very notions of individuality and community. As radical individualism falls into disrepute with the emergence of the group ethic, and the subservience of the individual to the masses analysed so cogently by Weber becomes the norm, the values previously associated with uniqueness and the pursuit of a noble, altruistic vocation are repudiated. Such integrity and distinction as Nostromo's and Henchard's, for instance, cannot be maintained in wake of the demand for conformity exerted by capitalist social structure. Only the fittest survive. Unfortunately for what Marx calls the creative potential of society, the new breed of the fittest is represented by the likes of Farfrae and Holroyd, whose principal value is expediency. Unselfish idealism, represented by the strength of old Giorgio Viola's commitment to an ideal form of republicanism inspired by his hero Garibaldi, is obsolete, as the Garibaldino is himself "a drifting relic." In his 1991 TLS review of seven new books about Conrad, Peter Kemp frowns upon the tendency of modern critics to bring their own critical-theoretical agenda to Conrad's work, filtering it through the lenses of their own special interests. In a preamble more rewarding than the critical studies he reviews, Kemp makes the case that Conrad's intellectual and emotional conflicts, his divided spirit, never split his work apart, although the partisanship of the books under

9 Introduction review leave the opposite impression. In the eloquent passage that opens the review, Kemp writes: The actual and the abstract coexist with outstanding prominence in Conrad's books. Aptly for an ex-sailor, perhaps, his world is one of rocks and mist though, true to his penchant for reversals, the rocks are likely to tilt treacherously underfoot and the mist can shelter as well as disorientate. Conrad's fiction characteristically oscillates between contraries. He is brilliant as a novelist both of politics and of solipsism. Advocating fellowship, he excels at portraying isolation. Urging solidarity, he obsessively chronicles betrayal. While their plots demonstrate the virtues of involvement, his novels favour the devices of detachment: story-tellers interposed between the writer and the reader, multiple perspectives, slippery layers of irony. Contrasting alternatives are freighted with equal gloom: inertia is castigated, for instance, but energetic action regularly proves fatal... Fuzziness and its antithesis, clarity, are ceaselessly focused on. The nebulousness of life - that "jumble of shadows" where others are perceived as in "glimpses through the shifting rents in a thick fog" - is tirelessly scrutinized. Murky motives and moral issues clouded by ambiguity keep looming up for inspection. Discerning what lies at the core of them is presented as a ethical imperative ... But, simultaneously, Conrad's work exhibits the bonuses of not seeing things clearly or "the saving power of illusions", as one of his letters has it ... Typically, Conrad speaks of "the infernal and divine privilege of thought."9 I hope that this book will reflect the complexity of Conrad's thought, its ambiguities and contradictions, and simultaneously explore the manifestations in narrative structure of the political, philosophical, and epistemological issues that concern him.


Hardy and Darwin


The vast time frame of cosmic history humiliates the notion that human destiny is governed by teleological design. The diminishing of the human by the expanded conception of the span of cosmic history posited in Darwinian theory leads both Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad to contemplate the insignificance of the deeds and tragedies of the individual, and the transience of human effort to establish civilization in a permanent, indestructible form. From the evolutionary perspective, time is meaningful, for it permits the potential for change. In Hardy's novels, however, to paraphrase J. Hillis Miller, the oppressive determinism of the past on the present and future inexorably manifests itself as the tragic hero or heroine comes to recognize an apparently fated pattern of repetition within his or her own life; among past, present, and future times in human history; and between his or her life and archetypal patterns of tragic experience recorded in the literature of Western civilization. The mythic fabric with which these novels are woven simultaneously elevates the stature of characters by offering traditional interpretations of their experience, while suppressing their individuality. If it be possible to compress into a sentence all that a man learns between 20 and 40, it is that all things merge into one another - good into evil, generosity into justice, religion into politics, the year into the ages, the world into the universe. With this in view the evolution of species seems but a minute and obvious process in the same movement. (Thomas Hardy, 26 June 1876)1

ii Hardy and Darwin It is the ongoing - i.e. the "becoming" - of the world that produces its sadness. If the world stood still at a felicitous moment there would be no sadness in it. (Thomas Hardy, 14 July iSSy)2 The three Hardy novels chosen - The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895) - manifest this conflict between individualism and conformity. Simultaneously, they betray a form inadequate to the modernity of their thematic concerns. The role of time in their narrative structure will be examined from the framework of Darwin's controversial theory of evolution, of which Hardy was an early and enthusiastic supporter. From the evolutionary perspective, human civilization is characterized by frailty, not endurance. In traditional narrative form, as in Darwinian theory itself, time functions as the vehicle of change and progress. If Hardy fails to convey a positive potential for change in his novels, instead depicting human beings' declining vitality or will to live, the reason can be found in the implications of Darwin's theory as Hardy understood them. The conflict that stems from humankind's rational wish to discern order in the universe, moral as well as natural, versus its understanding of the evolutionary process as one entailing neither intention nor direction is at the core of Hardy's philosophic and aesthetic concerns. Humanity's faculty of reason and our disposition to seek justice and order are the causes of suffering in a universe unconcerned with our sensibilities, and unresponsive to our efforts to ameliorate the human condition. Darwin divests nature of the soothing properties attributed to it by Wordsworth and the Romantic movement, making it less comforting and consequently more terrible. Darwin's evolutionary theory negates, or at least diminishes, our perception of our significance in the universe. Evolutionary science sweeps backward through enormous stretches of time and space, and promises equal if not greater prospects of time for the future. Humanity is dwarfed by these infinitely broadened horizons; our faith that our effort and endeavour may result in meaningful change is challenged by the intransigence of human, societal, and natural orders. The biological blow dealt by Darwin and contemporary scientists in the mid-nineteenth century robs humankind of the unique, divinely created status we have for so long attributed to ourselves. Because it deals with the origin of the human species itself and undermines our notion of our stature in the universe, this second blow is even more devastating than the first, that dealt by the Copernican revolution during the Renaissance.

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Before examining how the implications of Darwinian theory manifest themselves in Hardy's writings, I will address the novelty of Darwin's views, and particularly the difficulty he encountered formulating them in language. The challenge Darwin experienced crystallizing his theory in language, and the epistemological crisis ignited by the implications of evolutionary science, form the bedrock of my study of early modern innovations in narrative form and content. The social and cognitive theory that provides the intellectual basis for my discussion of Conrad's novels is deeply rooted in the implications of the very issues raised by Darwinian theory and contemporary response to it. Humanity's zeal in creating explanations, be they cosmological or biological, that place us at the centre of reference as the supreme end toward which all progress has been ordained was, by the nineteenth century, more than mere error. It had become a hindrance to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Gillian Beer, in her study Darwin's Plots, expertly explores the epistemological crisis crystallized by Darwinian theory as well as the inadequacies of the language available to Darwin for formulating his theory: "New organizations of knowledge are particularly vexatious when they shift man from the centre of meaning or set him in a universe not designed to suit his needs. In the mid-nineteenth century Darwinian theory issued just such a double challenge. It suggested that man was not fully equipped to understand the history of life on earth and that he might not be central to that history. He was neither paradigm nor sovereign ... [It is] possible to have plot without man - both plot previous to man and plot even now regardless of him ... He has not taken possession of its meaning. He can no longer, like Adam, confidently name his subjects."-1 Darwin perceives as dangerous the conceit that arises as a result of humankind's power to name, expressed mythologically in the book of Genesis, because it distinguishes us in our own eyes from other species. This has justified a master-servant relation between us and other species. Our linguistic ability and the perceived superiority of our faculty of reason over instinct render other forms of life subservient to us. Indeed, the validity of the reasoninstinct dichotomy traditionally posited to exist between humanity and other species is increasingly under fire by the work of contemporary primatologists and animal behaviourists, as is confidence that linguistic skills and the ability to pass along information by teaching rather than genetic encoding are uniquely human. The full title of Darwin's earlier work is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, first published in 1859. In it, humanity is conspicu-

13 Hardy and Darwin ous by its absence. We enter the discussion only as peripheral players.4 Darwin is emphatic that we do not occupy a position of central importance in his scheme, but are simply one of the plethora of "favoured races" that have survived. This displacement is not founded on a supposition of our exclusion from the principles being described. Rather, the opposite is true. Darwin works from the implicit assumption that his theory applies equally to humanity and to all other species. Our appearance on this planet, like that of other species, is incidental. This undermining of the human tendency to place ourselves at the centre of reference constitutes a radical statement concerning the interrelations of all life forms: "The absence of any reference to man as the crowning achievement of the natural and supernatural order," Beer writes, "made the text subversive ... deeply disquieting."5 Indeed, the theory of evolution, by its very nature, belies the assumption that the modern human being has reached the pinnacle of development: "It is a theory which does not privilege the present, which sees it as a moving instant in an endless process of change. Yet it has persistently been recast to make it seem that all the past has been yearning towards the present moment and is satisfied now."6 The theory of evolution in fact implicitly recognizes that the present era is, like all others, in a constant state of flux, attaining no special authority, no pinnacle of achievement or permanence. It is often pointed out that Darwin's Origin of Species unfolds as a narrative. It is a narrative of developmental progress that differs from virtually all previous narratives in that it is not homocentric. Human language, however, is essentially homocentric. Because it is a human construct, language proves awkward and inadequate when it must be adapted to communicate a scientific breakthrough that removes humanity from our position of pre-eminence among species, and denies us a unique origin apart from other forms of life. Darwin's final formulation of this process of continual change and amelioration is necessarily structured as a narrative. The narrative form is inescapable, yet not wholly appropriate. For it is the product of, and in structure therefore reflects, human thought patterns, some of which are antithetical to the substance of Darwin's theory. Beer discusses the implications of evolutionary theory, and the form in which it is cast, for the nature and composition of narrative fiction: "[Darwin] sought to appropriate and to recast inherited mythologies, discourses, and narrative orders. He was telling a new story, against the grain of language available to tell it in ... Because of its preoccupation with time and with change evolutionary theory has inherent affinities with the problems and processes of narrative ... Evolutionary theory

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is first a form of imaginative history. It cannot be experimentally demonstrated sufficiently in any present moment ... Evolutionary ideas proved crucial to the novel during that century not only at the level of theme but at the level of organisation."7 The use of chance in Hardy's novels, so often interpreted as a pessimistic statement of humanity's victimization and lack of control in an uncaring universe, is influenced by Hardy's reading of both Darwin and Schopenhauer. Hardy's emphasis on chance can be read as an attempt to assert a form of causality in a universe from which the concept of teleologically preordained design has been eradicated. Similarly, Darwin finds it convenient to use the word "chance" as a method of describing the unpredictable consequences of infinitesimal, apparently random mutations. Darwin does not use chance as a causal explanation, however, nor does he allow the concept of the teleological plan of creation, or unity of design, to stand in place of scientific inquiry. He repeatedly insists on the limitations of the role of chance in scientific inquiry; his use of the term is merely semantic expediency. While not strictly accurate, it avoids the implication that the evolution of the natural world unfolds in accordance with the dictates of a teleological plan. One major difficulty that Darwin encountered was that of using language developed in a world in which divine intention was an unconscious assumption. Darwin was at pains to describe a process that involves a sense of the universe unfolding as it happens to, rather than as it should, retaining those unwilled adaptations that are most successful at surviving in a given environment simply because of their success, without suggesting that their success is part of a preordained plan. Darwin, in short, conceives aptness without intent. He struggles with the inherent tendency of language to imply agency, volition, and intention. The difficulty is to precipitate in language a theory that describes a process of selection and preservation without positing the existence of an intelligence that selects and preserves; that is, without positing the existence of an active power exercising conscious volition. Darwin emphasizes that the notion of law exists in humanity's perception of order in the natural world, and is not inherent in that world. His focus on the random play of forces offends our quest for intelligent design. Natural selection is a mechanism that produces modification in accordance with the increasing fitness of an organism to survive in the complex environmental conditions in which it finds itself. The unpredictability of changes that benefit a species and are genetically reproduced is a function of the complexity of the natural world. Far from static, the environment is in a constant state of flux.

15 Hardy and Darwin

The linguistic tradition that Darwin inherited proved inappropriate for the radical concepts to which his investigations led. This was problematic in his composition of Origin of Species. Pregnant as it is with homocentric assumptions concerning our place in the universe, the language available to Darwin begs the very questions that he wishes to explore. These are the issues of humankind's origin and its relation to other species. Indeed the very assumption that we are a species sharing the same ontological status and a common origin with other species presented an unacceptable challenge. The confidence inherent in language exasperates expression of the epistemological revolution underlying Darwinian theory. Beer writes: Language is anthropomorphic by its nature and anthropocentric in its assumptions ... If the material world is not anthropocentric but language is so, the mind cannot be held truly to encompass and analyse the properties of the world that lie about it. Only by giving up the will to dominate the material world and to relate it to our own needs, conditions, and sensibilities will it be possible for us to find a language that gives proper attention to the nature of things... The reflexive nature of such an explanation of the universe makes it impossible to outgo man's experience and to propose laws which have nothing to do with him. Moreover it diminishes the extent of possibilities and demeans those powers of life which lie beyond man's cognisance ... The sense of incongruity - of the insufficiency of man's reason as an instrument for understanding the material universe - was always with Darwin ... Darwin displays, categorises, and argues, but does not expect to contain the workings of the world in his mind, or ever fully to understand them ... He did not invent laws. He described them.8

The tendency of language to place humanity at the centre of signification is antithetical to the theory that Darwin proposes. However, it is intrinsic to discourse. Furthermore, Darwin was obliged to couch his argument against creationist theory in a linguistic tradition that favours orthodox, theological interpretations. It was not Darwin's intention to raise the issue of the origin of life itself, but rather to posit and describe the descent of all the various species of plants and animals from one oceanic primordial form. Darwin sought to transcend his era's complacent trust in authority and its false assumption that complete knowledge is attainable. Evolution is an all-inclusive epistemological system for understanding the organization of nature that excludes the necessity of recourse to godhead. Intention does not engender adaptation, nor does will preserve successful adaptations. Rather, successful adaptations or mutations survive and are inherited simply,

16 Solitude versus Solidarity in what appears a circular argument, because they are the best fitted to do so in the environmental conditions wherein they arose. Darwin describes a process limitless in potential for expansion, change, complexity, and beauty. The source of creativity lies not in the species, but in the instinct for survival, the will to live. The profusion of life is at once the object of his study and its central, informing idea. Such an emphasis entails an implicit resolution of the problems of causative forces and teleology. For to couch the issue in terms of numerous but separate acts of creation, consistent with a divinely decreed plan, merely reformulates in theological language the problem of the apparent order of the world that Darwin's classifications imply, without moving toward a solution. This is not only erroneous, but counter-productive. Darwin demotes the concept of a teleological plan from the status of ontological reality to that of metaphor. Death assumes new meaning in Darwin's world. Rather than expressive of tragic finality as so often in literature, death is a necessary precondition for natural selection to ensure that the strongest survive and the weakest perish. The ultimate goal of this apparent cruelty and disregard for the individual is the preservation of the species as a whole and the improvement of its chances for survival in the struggle for life. Natural selection, then, can be seen as closely allied to the collectivist ethic that sacrifices the good of the individual to that of the community. In The Tangled Bank: Darwin, Marx, Frazer and Freud as Imaginative Writers, Stanley Edgar Hyman compares the consoling aspect of death in Darwinian thought to that in the Christian doctrinof elix culpa, the fortunate fall, although the concept of the moral fall is lacking: "Instead of the central Pauline mysteries of Incarnation and Atonement, Darwin's mystery is a kind of totemic brotherhood, a con-substantiality with all organic beings, resembling St. Paul's 'every one members one of another!' ... Like the New Testament, The Origin of Species eventuates its mysteries in a new morality of humility."9 Darwin's emphasis on the kinship of all creatures, including by implication humans, undermines the British social organization of a class system based on aristocratic or ancestral lineage. It also undermines the unique ancestry of humanity posited by the Judeo-Christian tradition, replacing it with an extensive democratic network of kinship, which will never permit us to ignore our lowly origins. For Darwin the history of the descent of man is the great equalizer that replaces hierarchical thinking with that based on a democratic vision of equality between human and human, and us and other species. It e

17 Hardy and Darwin

is only our arrogance that makes us feel that this is a punitive or degrading enterprise. There is a tendency in Darwin's writing, especially in the final chapter of Origin, "Recapitulation and Conclusion/' to restate and reveal the analogies and metaphors he has used throughout as true affinities; affinities that exist in nature, and not only in the classifying tendency of human perception and language. It is, in fact, Darwin's recognition of the inherently artificial classifying tendency of language and of human perceptual structures in general that leads him to the apparently paradoxical conclusion that, while some categories deceive, others are not merely a product of human cognition and language, but exist in reality. The concept of the plan of creation will no longer be a threat to the advancement of scientific knowledge by its tendency to beg the question, but will be revealed in the solution to the puzzle of the genealogies of species. In the course of his narrative, Darwin employs two informing metaphors to illustrate his concept of natural selection and the plenitude of nature. The first, the image of the "Great Tree of Life" to express evolutionary organization, is more appropriate to Darwinian theory than the traditional Platonic image of the "Great Chain of Being," which conveys a hierarchical organization of God's creation, conceived of as fixed and permanent species, in order of ascending importance, with humanity at the apex. Beer explains that Darwin's image of the tree was not a preconceived notion, but one that his argument suggested to him as it developed: Darwin needed a metaphor in which degree gives way to change and potential, and in which form changes through time. He did not simply adopt the image of a tree as a similitude or as a polemical counter to other organisations. He came upon it as he cast his argument in the form of a diagram. This "materialisation" of the image is important in understanding its force for him. It was substantial, a condensation of real events, rather than a metaphor ... Things must find their explanations, their analogies, and their metaphors, within the material order ... He persistently controverts all attempts to distinguish meaning from matter. For him meaning inheres in activity and in interrelations. It cannot be referred out or back to "some unknown scheme of creation" which would justify appearance in terms of its prior system.10

The tree, then, is not a metaphor in the Aristotelian sense of an "intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars,"11 for the outline of the shape of the tree revealed itself to Darwin as he transcribed his theory into the form of a schematic diagram. In the passage immediately preceding the one developing the image of the tree, Darwin

i8 Solitude versus Solidarity

insists that it is our familiarity with species, our tendency to see them as atomized and separate, that blinds us to their similarities, their relations with others of similar varieties, and most importantly the interrelations of each species with all others. It is Darwin's diagram of this elaborate system of classification based on the interrelation of all forms of life that suggests to him the image of the "Tree of Life."12 While the image of the tree does hold sway for a time as the organizing metaphor in Darwin's work, it is eventually superseded by that of the tangled bank, which illustrates more effectively the intricate web of interconnections and interdependencies that constitute the order of the natural world. This image evolves from the natural world. It is form and content. Both images transcend the reliance of metaphor and analogy on the perception of similarity in the dissimilar, and emerge from the world of nature itself: "It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us ... Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows."13 Darwin's democracy is evident in his selection of the image of the tangled bank with its emphasis on a great inextricable web of affinities underlying the appearance of distinction and individuality. Darwin prefers the metaphor of the tangled bank over the tree of life because of its greater accuracy. The tree of life reflects a tiered, diachronic succession of events, whereas the tangled bank conveys the multivalent synchronic coexistence of life. Hyman places these two images in a historic context that emphasizes the special aptness of Darwin's final choice: "With the image of the tangled bank, so reminiscent of Shakespearean lyric, Darwin embraces all the rich complexity of life. The image of the great Chain of Life is ordered, hierarchic, and static, essentially medieval; the great Tree of Life is ordered, hierarchic but dynamic and competitive, a Renaissance vision; but the great Tangled Bank of Life is disordered, democratic, and subtly interdependent as well as competitive, essentially a modern vision. The minor metaphors in the work fall into place within this great organizing metaphor. "Struggle for existence" and "survival of the fittest" ... are other ways of looking at the tangled bank."14 Darwin's narrative is open-ended, emphasizing the flux of physical progress and the never-ending process of becoming. In the final

19 Hardy and Darwin

sentence of Origin, Darwin attempts to valorize his theory by implicit reference to Newton's universally esteemed law of gravity. He reintroduces the concept of the creator into an area that regresses further back in time than his theory does, to the question of the origin of the very first life form from which all species evolved: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."15 The sweep of this sentence is onward and upward, essentially optimistic, as humankind can look forward, by a logical extension of Darwin's theory of evolution, to the continued development of infinitely more complex and wondrous forms of life. Darwin evades the arrogant assertion, characteristic of the Victorian era, that the world and its people have accomplished a fixed, permanent, and highest condition. The movement of evolution is instead a perpetual drive toward proliferation and enhancement. Natural selection can only be described in narrative form, as occurring through time. It is not a process which, having attained fulfilment, is being examined in retrospect. The study of the evolution of species is necessarily a study of mutability and transience, a study of the powers of transformation and generation. These powers transcend the life span of the individual, who is denied the benefit of the mutations he bequeaths to his successors. Profusion, diversity, and deviation are celebrated as creative principles through which the multitude of life forms that we know have emerged from a single, oceanic progenitor. The originating force is not discussed, for it cannot be known, but the process from one single life form toward multivalence and profusion is emphasized in this theory, which necessarily rejects the vision of the universe as essentially static and stable. Darwin also cancels the notion of ideologically designed harmony between mind and material world. This results in the collapse of the confident world view held by Victorians in which they themselves figure at the apex of a created order, and in which their civilization represents the pinnacle of cultural development. Darwin analyses, Beer writes, "an increasingly desolate awareness of the maladaptation and of the fragility of the human in an incongruous world ... an increasingly demonic insistence by the self on its sole powers to authenticate a world."16 The story of the world that Darwin tells humbles humanity's power of reason by asserting that it is no more wonderful than the instinct of the animal, and unequal to the task of understanding a profound mystery in which we ourselves play no

2o Solitude versus Solidarity

central role. He insists throughout on the brevity of the existence of homo sapiens as a biological species and the brevity of the individual life span. Human powers of observation are infinitesimal compared with the vastness of nature, the infinite expanse of time of cosmic history, and the profusion of species we must attempt to classify when we undertake to examine the origin of species. Our faith in the validity of civilization, moreover, is undermined by the acknowledgment of the fragility of a set of achievements and values that are not propagated genetically, but whose continuation is guaranteed solely through human cultural and educational institutions. Darwin's narrative in Origin concerns itself with humanity only implicitly, and hardly at all with the evolution of consciousness. He ends his study with an optimistic forecast for a long and secure future based on the continuity of the perfecting impulse that has characterized the development of living forms in the past. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex was published twelve years later, in 1871. In contrast to Origin, humanity is very much present in this work. The aim of Darwin's discussion in Descent concerning the development of our faculties of intellect, self-consciousness, and the moral sense is to humble human arrogance that we stand apart from other species; to undermine the conviction that we are descended from demigods. Yet the fact that we share a common ancestry with all other species should not debase us. Darwin concludes this work on a congratulatory note, and predicts for humanity a "still higher destiny in the distant future," not allowing us to forget, however, our lowly origin.17 Darwin held in high esteem human accomplishments, the civilization that results from the evolution of our higher faculties. He insists that the impossibility of determining the genesis of human beings' conception of ourselves as immortal beings leaves room for the continuation of our belief in God. Religion is not undermined by science, although the teleological explanation it favours cannot replace the empirical explanation derived from scientific investigation. However, Darwin's reassurance that his thesis need not affect humanity's faith in God as creator and in the immortality of the soul did not prevent a religious and epistemological crisis in the late nineteenth century. Darwin's attribution of our religious faith to our cultural development18 helped precipitate, despite Darwin's own pleading, the religious crisis that resulted in part from the publication of his work. The broad implications of this epistemological crisis are that the institutions of culture and civilization are frail and precarious. This is so because the belief that they are founded directly as the result of mental attributes granted as a gift by God to humanity and

21 Hardy and Darwin

to no other species is undermined by Darwin's proof that the mental faculties of humans and higher animals do not differ essentially in nature, and in fact differ less than do the mental faculties of higher and lower animals. Furthermore, Darwin shows that the difference between savagery and civilization is not organic but cultural, implying that there exists only a thin line, easily eradicated, between these two states. Our delusions of grandeur are threatened. The development of the most valued human faculties, which Darwin traces to the social instincts of animals, suggests to him unlimited potential for the amelioration of the species in the future. Sadly, the evolution of consciousness and the intellect serves us, in Hardy's view, in an excessively cruel manner. Denying humanity the rapacity to survive, it nonetheless makes us aware of the meanness and futility of life, and saps us of the will to live. The principles of natural selection and chance variation eradicated our faith in our ability to control destiny. I will examine Darwin's influence on Hardy's writings with emphasis on the burden of human consciousness overdeveloped in the evolutionary process, and on the artificiality and killing constriction of the institutions of civilization. I will elucidate the impasse at which Hardy's fiction arrives in terms of two opposing views of time, and consider the various manifestations of the oppressive, governing power of the past on the present. Despite his support of Darwinian evolutionary theory, time in Hardy functions as cyclical and repetitive rather than linear and progressive. The corollary of Hardy's fatalistic theme of the entrapment of his characters in the past is his own anachronistic clinging to traditional narrative structure. This impedes his characters' progression from an existence paralysed by authority toward one characterized by contingency and existential freedom. In the structure of his plots, Hardy affirms the importance and dignity of the individual human life by making its span coeval with the narrative sequence, thereby repudiating the implications of Darwin's emphasis on the brevity and fragility of the life of the individual human and of the human race. However, the human scale in Hardy does not consist of larger-thanlife heroism. His plots are destructive and malign, resulting in spiritual and physical death for the protagonist. The oppressive role of the ancestral, historical, and mythical past underlines Hardy's emphasis upon systems that transcend and crush the life of the individual. This is a crucial aspect of his understanding of human fate in a universe that demands we assert ourselves in the struggle for life, and dooms our efforts. The sense of a historical span of time preceding human consciousness and of a universe that does not find its raison d'etre in our exis-

22 Solitude versus Solidarity

tence is a source of marvel for Darwin, whereas for Hardy these are yet further evidence of the decentralization of the human, for which our consciousness ill equips us. Furthermore, the succession of generations, which Darwin emphasizes as the key to the continuation and development of the race, is undermined by the fact that none of the natural offspring of Henchard, Tess, or Jude survive. Yet all have participated in the regenerative process. The law of procreation overrides human individuality and desire, yet remains unfulfilled. That the novels end with the death of the title characters is simultaneously a tribute to the stature and dignity of the individual; a statement of the malign nature of this universe, unsuited as it is to the aspirations and self-reflection of its human inhabitants; and a testament to our frailty and vulnerability in the face of the flawed but inexorable laws of nature. The death of the individual and his or her progeny does not entail a consoling aspect in Hardy as it does in Darwin. Hardy's plots, unlike Darwin's, do not mirror the pattern of nature's benign and perfecting tendency. The laws of nature, which Darwin praises as tending toward profusion and perfection, and the values upon which human society and civilization are based, which Darwin optimistically believes contribute to the amelioration of the human species, become, in Hardy, instruments of oppression and destruction. The concepts of the "struggle for life" and the "survival of the fittest" suggest to Darwin the means of betterment through evolution. While Hardy accepts the inevitability of evolution, the downfall of one who does not survive the struggle for existence remains for him an instance of tragedy. His intellectual grasp of the implications of Darwinian theory does not outweigh his emotional commitment to the stature and dignity of the individual. Hardy's novels are infused with a strongly felt tension between the scope of human life and the magnitude of suffering endured, on the one hand, and an acute awareness, on the part of narrator and protagonist, of an infinite evolutionary time frame that renders insignificant the events and thoughts engendered by the individual life, and the tragedy incurred therein. 2 THE D I S R U P T I O N OF P R O G R E S S I V E TIME AND THE END OF N A R R A T I V E : JUDE THE OBSCURE

"We [human beings]," Hardy wrote in his diary on 17 November 1883, "have reached a degree of intelligence which Nature never contemplated when framing her laws, and for which she consequently has provided no adequate satisfactions."19 This expresses his pes-

23 Hardy and Darwin

simistic evaluation of the role of human consciousness in an evolutionary framework. Similarly, Conrad's scepticism about the existence of purpose in life is reflected in Axel Heyst's pronouncement in Victory (1915): "Man on this earth is an unforeseen accident which does not stand close investigation."20 To Hardy and Conrad, the accumulation of inherited knowledge that we pass on to succeeding generations through cultural and educational institutions, and the development of human consciousness itself, combine to give us a percipience that is more a curse than a blessing. In Hardy's late novels, people's strivings to improve themselves and their situations in life are condemned to defeat by the indifference of the universe and of other people. Jude the Obscure examines human consciousness of pain experienced by others, and by oneself. The institutions that come under Hardy's scrutiny are those of higher learning, the Christian church, and the marriage laws. The nomadic life, ostracized from social community, to which Jude and Sue's common-law relationship condemns them, provides Hardy with the forum for social commentary that not only embraces the fate of the dispossessed renegade but expands to include the disintegration of the strong social bonds that characterized the Wessex of his youth. In this novel, the acute power of selfreflection destroys lives. The fundamental discrepancy is that between a young man's aspiration to the future, his desire and painstaking efforts to evolve into an improved being, and the limitations that his socio-economic position, his own character deficiencies, and the indifference of others impose upon him. Jude admits that his defeat lies in overreaching, his unwillingness to recognize not only the limitations of the social structure into which he is born but also the inherent limitations of the human life span: "It takes two or three generations to do what I tried to do in one; and my impulses - affections - vices perhaps they should be called - were too strong not to hamper a man without advantages."21 If narrative form is especially appropriate to convey a process of meaningful change, and if Hardy finds it impossible to convey a positive potential for development in his novels, it is easy to understand his abandonment of fiction. This is the novel in which Hardy's despair for the future of humanity, and his struggle with the fictional form are most acute. After this novel, he ceased writing narrative. Jude's story is not different in structure from that of Tess and Henchard. All are locked in a devastating cycle of repetition of events from their own past, and in the case of Tess and Jude, the deeds of their ancestors. All are also locked in an oppressive set of circumstances that they cannot transcend. Life is worse than futile. It is

24 Solitude versus Solidarity

unnecessary. The cruelty of the evolution of acute perspicacity is that men and women are painfully aware that they are neither needed nor necessary. Self-consciousness is a burden. Further, the person whose intellectual evolution has advanced so that he or she rejects the idea of godhead, of the existence of a hidden meaning in life and its sufferings that will be revealed in the hereafter, is denied the comfort of belief. The modern agnostic is in this sense an overreacher whose intellect denies him faith, and replaces it with nothing. The first sympathy that Jude very strongly registers is toward the wild birds that Mr Troutham has hired him to chase off his farm: "They seemed, like himself, to be living in a world which did not want them. Why should he frighten them away? ... A magic thread of fellow-feeling united his own life with theirs" (53-4). Jude has an instinctive awareness of the consanguinity of all living beings that Darwin had been at such pains to prove to a sceptical audience. Jude acts as a moral agent in this instance, as he does throughout the novel, battling a universe that is ruled by no moral code that humankind can perceive, in which our goals often entail the extermination of other beings deemed less important, and our quest for selfimprovement is as futile and unnecessary as our existence. Where others see nuisance, Jude perceives "the flaw in the terrestrial scheme, by which what was good for God's birds was bad for God's gardener" (55). Following his lashing and dismissal by Farmer Troutham, Jude does not focus on his own pain but on the senselessness of events and attitudes, attributing to the natural world a consciousness of pain akin to the human: "He could scarcely bear to see trees cut down or lopped, from a fancy that it hurt them; and late pruning, when the sap was up and the trees bled profusely, had been a positive grief to him in his infancy. This weakness of character, as it may be called, suggested that he was the sort of man who was born to ache a good deal before the fall of the curtain upon his unnecessary life should signify that all was well with him again" (55-6). Jude's sympathy with all aspects of nature, animal and plant, is justified and desirable from the Darwinian point of view. From this early age Jude is conscious not only of the pain and derision to which he is subjected, but also of the sad fate of other living creatures. The intellect, self-consciousness, and moral sense of the human race is developed to a greater degree than those of other species. Darwin predicts that, since these attributes have been in large part responsible for humanity's unique development and our domination over other forms of life, our ascent will continue indefinitely. Hardy, on the other hand, is keenly aware of the anguish that cerebral overdevel-

25 Hardy and Darwin

opment and acute self-consciousness can cause us in a world geared to the amelioration of species through an unconscious process of evolution and adaptation. The following is an entry in Hardy's autobiography dated 7 April 1889: "A woeful fact - that the human race is too extremely developed for its corporeal conditions, the nerves being evolved to an activity abnormal in such an environment. Even the higher animals are in excess in this respect. It may be questioned if Nature, or what we call Nature, so far back as when she crossed the line from invertebrates to vertebrates, did not exceed her mission. This planet does not supply the materials for happiness to higher existences."22 This quotation is prior to his composition of Tess. That novel too is permeated with a sense of the futility of human effort in a world better suited to the unreflective, complacent person and animal. Tess's recurring wish to be out of life altogether conflicts with her physicality, sensuality, and fecundity. But in the end, after a few brief weeks of happiness with Angel, she willingly surrenders life. Sue's reversion from life is expressed in her prediction that the human race will soon become so conscious of the agony of existence that it will abrogate its regenerative process: "Everybody is getting to feel as we do. We are a little beforehand, that's all. In fifty, a hundred, years the descendants of these two will act and feel worse than we. They will see weltering humanity still more vividly than we do now, as 'Shapes like our own selves hideously multiplied,' and will be afraid to reproduce them" (354). It is well known that Hardy read Darwin. His response to the implications of Darwinian theory, however, is very different from Darwin's own. Whereas Darwin forecasts the development of greater and more wondrous living forms by extrapolation of the fact that so many diverse species have thus far developed from a single primordial progenitor, Hardy fears that humanity's self-consciousness is at odds with a universe that unfolds as the result of random mutations. The human moral sense, reason, and consciousness, the development of which Darwin traces to the social instincts of animals, are in perpetual conflict with a universe subject to no preordained law. The cruelty of sacrificing the weaker individual to the improvement of the species offends human compassion, yet is in keeping with the progress of evolution that has no use for altruism and favours the propagation of the fittest only: "Nature's logic was too horrid for [Jude] to care for" (57). From this point of view, nature has indeed overreached in providing us with the ability to reflect rather than merely to survive. The young Jude, painfully aware of his own

26 Solitude versus Solidarity

redundancy, perceiving his existence to be "an undemanded one" (57), accurately grasps the nature of the world in which he must, against his will, struggle. The novel turns around two related dichotomies. The first is between the oversensitivity of human consciousness and the accident of evolution; the second, between the indifference of the universe, ruled as it is by a blind amoral process, and human aspiration. Hardy exposes the constriction of the laws of society, which conveniently blind individuals to nature's scorn for our hopes and dreams, until we are paralysed by inertia and depression. Sue herself makes explicit the dichotomy between the moulds that civilization imposes upon people and their true shapes unfettered by the artificiality of its laws: "I have been thinking ... that the social moulds civilization fits us into have no more relation to our actual shapes than the conventional shapes of the constellations have to the real star patterns" (266). The adult Jude finally dismisses his grandiose academic ambition as "a social unrest which had no foundation in the nobler instincts; which was purely an artificial product of civilization" (181). The desire for self-improvement cannot, however, be labelled an artificial product of civilization. Instead the reverse is true, for civilization is the result of humanity's unrest, our urge toward self-understanding and progress. Trauma arises from the recognition that the universe is an uncaring place in which the evolution of human consciousness causes distress. The artificiality of the products of civilization is precisely that they deceive men and women into forgetting our mortality, the frailty of our life and accomplishments, and into believing that our efforts do have a purpose; that immortality is attainable through cultural institutions and monuments. The epigraph to the novel, "The letter killeth," is from 2 Corinthians, 3:6: "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."23 This principle informs the entire novel. Like Tess, Jude has sinned against the letter of the law, but against neither its spirit nor nature itself. Hardy is critical of the hypocrisy of society that sets itself in judgment, when the inner essence of a person remains always unavailable to its purview. The conventions, laws, and moral codes of society are capable of ostracizing the renegade individual from society, and killing his or her spirit. It is ironic that the laws of the Church that St Paul was instrumental in founding have been made rigid and killing, despite his plea for adherence to the spirit rather than the letter. Tn a conversation with Phillotson, Sue becomes spokesperson for precisely this view: "What is the use of making laws and ordinances ... if they make you miserable when you know

27 Hardy and Darwin

you are committing no sin?" (285). She continues by arguing, with Darwinian theory very close in the background, that humankind differs from other species of animal precisely in our consciousness, our ability to decide our fate rather than merely to follow blindly the dictates of instinct, as animals were then believed to do: " She or he 'who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose the path of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation'" (286). The evolution of human consciousness, the ability to transform human progress into the object of human reflection, is lost if we subject ourselves with complacency to social mores that do not respect the essential individuality of each person. Sue is not arguing for moral and social anarchy, but asserting that the dictates of individual human conscience and those of social convention do not necessarily coincide; nor should they. She quotes Humboldt, valuing above respectability "human development in its richest diversity" (287). Once again echoes of Darwin are heard in the greater value placed upon profusion and diversity than upon constriction and conformity. In a thought very much like Hardy's, concerning the cerebral and emotional overdevelopment of the human race, Sue reflects: "The First Cause worked automatically like a somnambulist, and not reflectively like a sage; that at the framing of the terrestrial conditions there seemed never to have been contemplated such a development of emotional perceptiveness among the creatures subject to those conditions as that reached by thinking and educated humanity" (417). Jude and Sue are alienated from society and adopt a nomadic, rootless existence. Battered by the frequent rejections incurred because of their unorthodox life, Sue finally capitulates: "We must conform! ... There is no choice. We must. It is no use fighting against God!" (417). Sadly, it is not irresistible forces such as God or nature that Sue and Jude fight here, but mere social convention, which should be an adaptable and flexible tool for humanity and not an imprisoning force. This distinguishes Hardy's novels from the classic tragedies of Sophocles, Shakespeare, and the Bible, for the forces that beat down upon and defeat Henchard, Tess, Sue, and Jude are not the traditional, timeless, and overwhelming elements of high tragedy, but instead are mere fabrications of human society. The "coming universal wish not to live" (411) that Hardy fears will grip humanity is epitomized in the horrendous suicide of Little Father Time, and his murder of the other children, "Done because we are too menny." His willingness to surrender life is diagnosed thus: "The doctor says there are such boys springing up amongst us boys of a sort unknown in the last generation - the outcome of new

28 Solitude versus Solidarity

views of life. They seem to see all its terrors before they are old enough to resist them. He says it is the beginning of the coming universal wish not to live" (410-411). The human species is the only one whose reflection allows it wilfully to destroy itself. It is a logical consequence of humanity's disinheriting ourselves from our environment and from our essential self that we should view life as a burden to escape. The human faculty of self-consciousness, overdeveloped to the extreme in the grotesque figure of Little Father Time, is responsible for sapping our vitality, our will to live. The willingness of the protagonists to relinquish life culminates in Father Time's suicide/murder. The procreative force itself is brought to a standstill in Hardy's late novels. The protagonists perish, as do their progeny. The progressive movement of time collapses with Father Time's murder/suicide. Jude's hope that his son will have the opportunity to acquire education and develop intellectually in a way that Jude did not is undermined by Father Time's insight concerning the futility of this sort of advancement. For with greater awareness comes greater anguish. Father Time, in a grotesque subversion of the progress from childhood to experience and maturity, embodies the excruciating awareness of the futility of effort without having undergone the experiences that Jude has to support this insight: "A ground swell from ancient years of night seemed now and then to lift the child in this his morning-life, when his face took back view over some great Atlantic of time and appeared not to care about what it saw ... He then seemed to be doubly awake, like an enslaved and dwarfed Divinity, sitting passive and regarding his companions as if he saw their whole rounded lives rather than their immediate figures" (342). To argue that his perspicacity is premature misses the point, for Father Time is not meant as character who develops and grows in the traditional sense: "He was Age masquerading as Juvenility" (342). He represents Jude's boyhood reflexivity taken to its logical and terrible extreme. He embodies the horrors of omniscient insight. The omniscient knowledge of narrator and character coalesce. Father Time's death of his own volition looks forward to that of Kurtz, for both are destroyed by the exclusively human faculty of self-consciousness. The final requests of Henchard and Tess for oblivion from the annals of history are denied by the pattern of repetition that informs their lives, therefore guaranteeing a perverse form of immortality, and by the existence of the narratives in which their stories are told. We witness the extreme consequence of this wish for obliteration in Jude's son, whose crime against himself and the other children extinguishes all remnant of their existence. The intrusion of Little Father Time, a being who defies all laws of growth and development expressed by sequential narrative time, sig-

29 Hardy and Darwin

nifies that for Hardy at least, the traditional form of linear narrative had reached an impasse. If narrative time is structurally conterminous with the span of life itself, the rupture that Hardy inflicts on this novel is both symptomatic and indicative of the formal impasse in which he found Victorian fiction to be locked. Father Time is a composite of Jude's empathy and Sue's neurotic, indulgent self-absorption. By extension he embodies the pain heaped upon human beings by time. In order to convey this, Hardy must curtail the progress of narrative time, and Father Time cannot partake of it. "Weddings be funerals, 'a b'lieve nowadays" (479), the Widow Edlin declares, and informs Jude of Sue's submission to Phillotson: "And now the ultimate horror has come - her giving herself like this to what she loathes, in her enslavement to forms!" (481-2). Jude precisely encapsulates what occurs, for Sue reverts to submission to social convention and masochistic comforts of self-renunciation as a substitute for truly coming to grips with her loss. Jude's spirit is enlarged as a result of the rejection they endure because of their unorthodox relationship and the gruesome suicide/murder of the children, whereas Sue's spirit is constricted, disintegrates, and finally collapses. The novel ends with two remarriages and Jude's funeral. Death and marriage do not resolve the conflicts of the novel, or provide a comforting moral synthesis. Sadly, they are interchangeable. Jude's remarriage to Arabella under coercion is another instance of adhesion to obsolete social mores, and results in death-in-life for both Jude and Sue. He refuses to recognize Sue's insistence that Phillotson is her true husband as Arabella is Jude's true wife: " Sue! we are acting by the letter; and 'the letter killeth'!" (468). Sue continues to love Jude, but subjects herself to a living death in marriage to Phillotson, and seeks self-punishment that has no beneficial or purifying effect. Jude dies unloved by Arabella. In a state of moral and spiritual degeneration that renders meaningless the struggle against adversity that he has waged with such tenacity and dignity, Jude curses his birth: "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, 'There is a man child conceived'" (485). This curse, from the Book of Job, is brought down upon a life whose aspirations were crushed not by arbitrary challenges of the gods but by the callous dismissal of his talents by those who would keep Jude confined to the social stratum to which he was born. It is reminiscent of the curse from the story of Cain that Henchard brings down upon his own life as he dies. Jude's final abnegation of life confirms Father Time's vision of humanity as an anomaly in a universe governed by the unconscious process of evolution that cares not for human happiness and that renders absurd the attempt to find or create meaning in life. Jude surrenders in the face of the many betrayals

3O Solitude versus Solidarity

he has experienced, from society's betrayal of his ambition to learn to Sue's fatal flaw of inability to love. Father Time's suicide arrests the evolutionary or progressive principle that Jude had embodied. His suicide pre-empts the notion of developmental progress that informs traditional narrative structure. The constrictions of narrative form echo banal social conformity. Preconceived and endorsed codes of behaviour, be they societal or artistic, are symptomatic of a stale vision of the world and human nature. They must be shattered and recreated. Like Charles Smithson in John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), a postmodern rewriting of Hardy's oeuvre2* that explores its social and narrative constrictions, Jude strives for an authentic life of passion, choice, contingency, and existential freedom. The subversive element in Hardy's texts is restricted to the thematic level. Even there it is countered by fiercely conventional forces that insist upon adherence to the tyranny of authority. Hardy fails to incorporate structurally his vision of authenticity, contingency, freedom, and the anguish they entail. Trapped in the conventions of traditional Victorian fiction, wherein the concept of omniscience implies that there exists a single allembracing epistemological vantage point, and by analogy, one authoritative perspective from which reliable and binding moral judgment can be rendered, Hardy is unequal to the task of portraying the disenfranchised, contingent, absurd - but subsequently more authentic - aspect of modern life that he so accurately perceives. His failure to translate these insights into structural principles ensures that his fiction comes to an impasse. Hardy's mimesis is merely one aspect of Fowles's reflexive metafiction. However, there exists a precedent, never before noted, in Hardy's own work for Fowles's solution of multiple endings to the problem of conveying contingency and inconclusiveness in narrative form. There are three endings in The French Lieutenant's Woman, one clearly meant as Fowles's choice for the authentic ending. In The Return of the Native (1878), editorial intransigence on the part of Leslie Stephen forced Hardy to create a contrived ending, not to his liking, which sees Diggory Venn marry his beloved Thomasin and live happily ever after. Stephen's adherence to abstract intellectual systems, such as those favoured by Angel Clare and Clym Yeobright, is devastatingly parodied by his daughter, Virginia Woolf, in To the Lighthouse (1927). The course of events described by Hardy's ending is out of keeping with Venn's solitary character, and Hardy inserts the following footnote, disclaiming the ending incorporated into the novel and allowing the reader the freedom to choose the more authentic one. I follow Hardy's format here:

31 Hardy and Darwin The writer may state here that the original conception of the story did not design a marriage between Thomasin and Venn. He was to have retained his isolated and weird character to the last, and to have disappeared mysteriously from the heath, nobody knowing whither Thomasin remaining a widow. But certain circumstances of serial publication led to a change in intent. Readers can therefore choose between the endings, and those with an austere artistic code can assume the more consistent conclusion to be the true one.25

The author here addresses the reader in his own voice using footnote apparatus. Although quite a departure in its own right, this disruption of dramatic illusion remains just that, a footnote. Nowhere is the notion of multiple endings or any other form of narrative and personal contingency incorporated into the theme and structure of the novel, which conforms to Victorian ethical and fictional codes of conduct. Hardy remains unable to synchronize his thematic concerns and aesthetic technique. Innovations in narrative structure and transformations of social mores remain to be introduced to the novel innovations that will allow the extensive investigation of the very nature of codes of morality and discourse carried on by Marlow in "Heart of Darkness" and Lord fim. The convergence of the consciousness of the narrator and the tragic hero results in the collapse of the traditional narrative form. Hardy is unable to make manifest in narrative structure his increasing relativism and scepticism. The embedded narrator is Conrad's solution to the epistemological crisis that brought Hardy to a creative impasse. Hardy remains trapped in an obsolete form of fiction that implicitly promises that there exists stability against which to judge deviation. While Conrad and Hardy flesh out the same essential insight concerning a universe bereft of absolutes, in Conrad's novels doubt and uncertainty inform structure as well as theme. In his novels Hardy registers a transitional moment in human and narrative history. His heroes and heroines are the first of the dispossessed who populate twentieth-century literature. The past is within their living memory, yet it cannot be recaptured. Its passing is a source of anguish. The traditional order is associated with the essential, vital, and integrated human being, and simultaneously with debility, obsolescence, and passive acceptance. The final humiliation of a life reduced to sacrificing dreams and exchanging labour for wages occurs when Jude is reduced to selling gingerbread models of the colleges at Christminster, where he had once aspired to study. Hardy's vision of this sapping of a man's will to live, his alienation

32 Solitude versus Solidarity

from his essential self, and the passing of the old order, could not be expressed while he resisted developing a new form of fiction in which the modern component is intrinsic, rather than an external disruptive force that only succeeds in upsetting the traditional order. He still implicitly viewed that order as privileged, representing the norm against which the destructive impact of modernism is measured. Hardy never was able to resolve these conflicting elements. The shock of the intrusion of the modern into pastoral Wessex is nowhere superseded by a sense of potential coexistence and even melding of the antique and the modern. 3 THE O P P R E S S I O N OF THE PAST: TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES AND THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE

Humanity's self-image as a privileged, uniquely created and endowed species was shattered by the intellectual climate of the nineteenth century, precipitated by Darwin. From being engaged participants in their own life and creations, men and women were reduced to irrelevant spectators in a process of production that alienated them from their occupation, forcing them to earn their livelihood by hiring themselves out for wages, as Jude does in the rootless manner that is "his form of the modern vice of unrest" (131). The historical event that precipitated these phenomena was the Industrial Revolution and the rise of market capitalism. Hardy registers the impact of these events on his native Wessex. Michael Henchard is superseded by the bureaucratic, market-conscious Donald Farfrae. Yet Henchard embodies, for all his violence and impulsiveness, an intensity and energy, even a magnanimity and humility, that his opponents lack. The flesh, bones, and spirit of lovely Tess subserve and are exhausted by the thrashing machinery that increases the productivity of the farm. It is crucial to understand the complexity of Hardy's reaction to the transitions he witnesses in his beloved Wessex. For his is no simple mourning for the passing of the ancient and charismatic order of rural England, or a nostalgia for its impossible return. Hardy recognizes as inevitable the vanishing of the old rhythmic way of life. He acknowledges an inherent weakness, defect, or want of inner resources that meant it would necessarily crumble and be replaced by a new order, based on skill, rationality, and efficiency, which is stronger and more able to compete. The perspective of Hardy's narrator increasingly reflects the intellectual and social current of the nineteenth-century crisis of values.26 Hardy develops a sceptical relativistic epistemology that recognizes

33 Hardy and Darwin

no absolute standards against which to judge the deeds, thoughts, and wills of characters. It is the complex task of the narrator, then, to navigate the course between the fatalism so often noted in Hardy's work and the impingement of the modern element into a world yet incapable of responding to and integrating it. Hardy fails to develop a narrative structure equal to the disintegrative thrust of his thematic concerns, one that reflects the epistemological uncertainty and increasing scepticism that the narrative voice recognizes and implicitly endorses. In Hardy's novels, the rugged individualist, a social renegade who cannot conform, is superseded by the mediocre or ruthlessly efficient multitude who adapt and survive. The evolution of consciousness and intellect serves the man of sensitivity in a cruel manner. Denying him the rapacity to survive, it nonetheless makes him aware of the meanness and futility of life in a malevolent universe. The superseding of one system of values, which prizes the charisma and passionate conviction of the individualist, by another, which encourages conformity to group solidarity, is apparent in both Hardy and Conrad. Betrayal is inevitable for one whose sensitivity and acute perceptiveness penetrate the veil of civilized values and the illusion of human significance. Thomas Hardy was entranced by the idea of betrayal. In his case it is initially dramatized as being of a personal and sexual nature, although the social implications are never far behind. The title characters of the novels under scrutiny are strong-willed individuals whose behaviour and aspirations fly in the face of social convention. Defying the implications of social organization that favours the company man, the programmed if mediocre person who fits in unobtrusively with society, the individualist in Hardy is most compelling and vivacious. But he or she is, as D.H. Lawrence complained, the social renegade who is doomed to suffer: The rest (Jude excepted] explode out of the convention. They are the people each with a real, vital, potential self... and this self suddenly bursts the shell of manner and convention and commonplace opinion, and acts independently, absurdly, without mental knowledge or acquiescence. And from such an outburst the tragedy usually develops ... But there is the greater idea of self-preservation, which is formulated in the State, in the whole modelling of the community. And from this idea, the heroes and heroines of Wessex, like the heroes and heroines of almost anywhere else, could not free themselves ... This is the tragedy of Hardy, always the same: the tragedy of those who, more or less pioneers, have died in the wilderness, whither they had escaped for free action, after having left the walled security, and the comparative

34 Solitude versus Solidarity imprisonment, of the established convention ... Be passionate, individual, wilful, you will find the security of the convention a walled prison, you will escape, and you will die, either of your own lack of strength to bear the isolation and the exposure, or by direct revenge from the community, or from both. This is the tragedy, and only this: it is nothing more metaphysical than the division of a man against himself.27 This is the fate of the tragic heroes in Hardy and Conrad. It is also the fate of Martin Decoud, the jaded boulevardier of Nostromo, who commits suicide when faced with an isolation against which his cynicism cannot arm him. D.H. Lawrence is one of the great celebrators of nature as a reservoir of amoral force in the twentieth-century British novel. He did not, however, share Schopenhauer's qualms about surrendering to it, or the fears of Hardy and Conrad that the human identity is doomed to be submerged in and ultimately annihilated by it, if one dares to live a little dangerously. Both D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, in their writings about Hardy, mourn the lost potential for tragedy in the modern world. The backdrop against which modern tragedy unfolds is increasingly constrictive. According to Lawrence, the conflict that precipitates the tragedy is against society and human moral law rather than against the gods: This is the quality Hardy shares with the great writers, Shakespeare or Sophocles or Tolstoi, this setting behind the small action of his protagonists the terrific action of unfathomed nature; setting a smaller system of morality, the one grasped and formulated by the human consciousness within the vast, uncomprehended and incomprehensible morality of nature or of life itself, surpassing human consciousness. The difference is, that whereas in Shakespeare or Sophocles the greater, uncomprehended morality, or fate, is actively transgressed and gives active punishment, in Hardy and Tolstoi the lesser, human morality, the mechanical system is actively transgressed, and holds, and punishes the protagonist, whilst the greater morality is only passively, negatively transgressed ... Anna [Karenina], Eustacia, Tess or Sue what was there in their position that was necessarily tragic? Necessarily painful it was, but they were not at war with God, only with Society. Yet they were all cowed by the mere judgment of man upon them, and all the while by their own souls they were right. And the judgment of men killed them, not the judgment of their own souls or the judgment of Eternal God. Which is the weakness of modern tragedy, where transgression against the social code is made to bring destruction, as though the social code worked our irrevocable fate.28

35 Hardy and Darwin

Hence Hardy's protagonists essentially have nature - and God - on their side, but are defeated by humanity's timidity in the face of social convention. Although not noted for frequently being in agreement with D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf in her essay on Hardy also stresses that Hardy was writing at a time when the very notion of tragedy was becoming obsolete, impossible, given the circumscribed nature of society: If we do not know his men and women in their relations to each other, we know them in their relations to time, death, and fate. If we do not see them in quick agitation against the lights and crowds of cities, we see them against the earth, the storm, and the seasons. We know their attitude towards some of the most tremendous problems that can confront mankind. They take on a more than mortal size in memory. We see them, not in detail but enlarged and dignified ... Their speech has a Biblical dignity and poetry. They have a force in them which cannot be defined, a force of love or of hate, a force which in the men is the cause of rebellion against life, and in the women implies an illimitable capacity for suffering, and it is this which dominates the character and makes it unnecessary that we should see the finer features that lie hid. This is the tragic power; and, if we are to place Hardy among his fellows, we must call him the greatest tragic writer among English novelists.29

Woolf considers Hardy to be at his finest when dealing with impressions rather than arguments, and maintains that to try to extract a consistent philosophical position from his writings is a mistake. She cites Hardy's own words on the importance of unmediated impressions as opposed to abstract, systemic thought: "Unadjusted impressions have their value, and the road to a true philosophy of life seems to lie in humbly recording diverse readings of its phenomena as they are forced upon us by chance and change."3" She considers Jude an artistic failure because the characters are embodiments of ideas and arguments rather than passionate, fleshy, and sympathetic; she also considers it the only truly painful and pessimistic work in Hardy's oeuvre, but not tragic: "Here we have revealed to us the petty cruelty of men, not the large injustice of the gods"}1 as in The Mayor ofCasterbridge, in which Henchard is pitted against an overwhelming external force that crushes all but the most modest human aspiration: "He is standing up to fate, and in backing the old Mayor whose ruin has been largely his own fault, Hardy makes us feel that we are backing human nature in an unequal contest."32 According to Woolf, Hen-

36 Solitude versus Solidarity

chard and Tess face rather more abstract, transcendent, and crushing powers than Jude and Sue, who battle social codes rather than cosmic forces. D.H. Lawrence, on the other hand, believes that none of Hardy's heroes and heroines face necessarily tragic situations and their destruction is therefore more rather than less poignant. Hardy becomes one of the first writers in the English tradition to concern himself primarily with the fate of the dispossessed, whom society labels criminal and rebel. Henchard and Jude seek to improve their status and position - the former in a society that has rendered him obsolete, the latter in one not yet ready for him. Tess rejects social standards that care more for prescribed, conventional moral behaviour than for the highly developed, if instinctive, morality and vitality that she possesses. In each case, the Romantic hero is destroyed by society's demand for uniformity and subservience. The historical corollary to the forces demanding conformity of the individual is that the agrarian world from which these characters spring is displaced and rendered obsolete by the increasing mechanization and commercialism of industrial society. Both subsume the individual to their own processes and goals. The decline of the d'Urberville family, for instance, is a mirror of the negative social and economic effects of the modern world on the folk culture of Wessex, to which Hardy maintains his emotional fidelity if not his intellectual allegiance. The tragic dimension of Hardy's novels is vitiated by a conflict at the core of his thought. At his most tragic, Hardy feels the loss of charisma in the world outweighs the gain in efficiency. Yet he simultaneously believes in the inevitability of evolution. His faith that the progress it entails may outweigh the disadvantage of the decline of individualism means that Hardy does not share the depths of Conrad's bleak pessimism concerning the instrumentalism of modern society. Yet Hardy must deal with the inevitable loss of human stature and the sense of the futility and meaninglessness of human deeds that Darwin's theory of evolution implies. Man and woman, in Hardy's later novels, are restless, isolated, frustrated; their consciousness so fragmented as to exist independently of the body. The common thread in these works is the failure of the imagination to transform a chaotic, indifferent cosmos into a place where life has meaning, values reality. The negative implications of Darwinism lie in its refusal of special status to humanity in a universe that appears increasingly malevolent rather than merely indifferent to our intentions. For human life to be part of the natural world and simultaneously to claim for itself special significance is a contradiction. The relationship of narrative voice to theme illuminates Hardy's view of our place in a universe which pays us no special heed.

37 Hardy and Darwin

Humanity's delusions of grandeur and importance are precisely that, and Hardy's novels trace the protagonists' growing awareness of their insignificance. As they become increasingly disillusioned, the narrative voice and their own consciousness coalesce. The narrative voice becomes increasingly subjective, and develops into the perfect instrument for Hardy to convey his despair concerning the fate of human beings in the post-Darwinian world. The function of the narrator is to navigate the conflict between entrapment in the past and the characters' courageous striving for the potential for change. The narrator can thus, as Schwarz suggests, be understood as a developing character, albeit not a dramatized one, but a presence who becomes increasingly convinced of the truth of his bleak view of the universe as he witnesses and presents the struggle of the protagonists to escape the determining force of the past upon their lives. Their fate is not merely an enactment of events and ideas of which author and narrator possess foreknowledge, but a dramatic spectacle that results in changes not only in the protagonists' outlook but also in the narrator's. Furthermore, this progression toward pessimism not only occurs within each novel, but becomes more pronounced from novel to novel as Hardy closes the fissure between character and narrator, bringing their perspectives closer together. This results in the collapse of narrative as narrator and character become virtually identified in his last novel, Jude the Obscure. Worth remembering here is Woolf's observation that in this novel the forces against which the protagonists fight decline in magnitude from unfathomable divine will to human pettiness, denying Jude and Sue's struggle the stature and dignity of Henchard's doomed battle or Tess's unending suffering. Jude's story is demoted from the status of tragedy to that of social commentary. This is inevitable, given Woolf's pessimistic view that tragedy itself is obsolete in modern society, which privileges mediocrity and conformity over monumental if doomed individuality. In his book-length study of Hardy, J. Hillis Miller proposes a thesis in which meaning inheres in pattern, and pattern is predetermined by the oppressive force exerted by the past upon the present. According to Miller, Hardy's view of time is "non-progressive," "static," "spatialized," and illusory.33 Events derive meaning inasmuch as they manifest patterns of experience that repeat those that have occurred in the history of the individual or of the human race, and foreshadow their inexorable recurrence, locking men and women into a devastating cycle of oppression as the past repeatedly reasserts its power to determine the present and the future. This temporal

38 Solitude versus Solidarity

structure and the progressive, expansive function of time implicit in Darwin's theories may at first appear mutually exclusive. The pattern of repetition that Miller sees everywhere functioning in Hardy's works undermines any potential for developmental progress. The key conflict is between the determinism of the past as it continually manifests itself in the present and the unceasing struggle of the hero or heroine for a future that escapes that governing power. The inexorable drive to realize meaningful change in one's life, which Darwinian theory takes for granted as inherent in life's progress, is crushed by the determinism in Hardy's novels. Hardy's endorsement of an increasingly subjective epistemology is nowhere buttressed by the parallel development of narrative technique capable of the structural incorporation of this perspective. Conrad's dramatization of the narrative voice in the Marlow tales places it in the same ontological realm as that inhabited by the characters, and ensures that the source of the prevailing scepticism in these works is clearly delineated. Hardy's failure to translate scepticism into structural terms means that the moral and epistemological relativism he registers thematically is undermined by the authority implicit in omniscient narration. Furthermore, his attribution to his characters of omniscient insight has two major consequences: the decline of their vitality, as they acknowledge the futility of their efforts in a world with the odds stacked against them; and the collapse of Hardy's fiction with the disintegration, in his later works, of fiction's requisite psychological detachment between narrative voice and character. At its most cogent, the mind recognizes that the natural world is indifferent and even hostile to human needs; that it is without the inherent system of values which humankind habitually attributed to it. Our energy and desires nonetheless encourage and make inevitable our participation in the processes of the world. The hero or heroine is tragically aware that life consists of motifs repeated from his or her personal and ancestral past as well as from human history as recorded in the tragic literature of Western civilization. The allusions to Cain, Saul, Job, Oedipus, Faust, the Ancient Mariner, and Lear in The Mayor of Casterbridge (1885) underline the tragedy of Henchard's fate and suggest that he repeats the archetypal pattern of tragedy revealed in their stories, despite superficial differences in time and place. Henchard is not aware of the existence, let alone the significance, of the allusions to the archetypal patterns of tragic experience that he inadvertently repeats. His first biblical allusion occurs at the end of the novel when he leaves Casterbridge to die alone on Egdon Heath: "I - Cain - go alone as I deserve - an outcast and a vagabond. But my punishment is not greater than I can bear!"'4

39 Hardy and Darwin

Henchard also becomes aware of the degree to which his initial impatience with and betrayal of Susan is repeated in his behaviour toward Elizabeth-Jane, and how one lie about her true identity begets others. The irony of quoting Genesis as one faces death reinforces the cyclical pattern of life's processes that absorb death as part of the effort of renewal. Darwin accepts the inevitability of death as part of the process of renewal and amelioration. This diminishes the tragic significance of the death of the individual. In Hardy, death retains its tragic overtones and continues to signify irredeemable loss. The narrator's view of the role of the past is not, however, unilateral. Enriching his account of the replacement of the spontaneous rural culture by the self-interested materialism of the mid-nineteenth century is a broader view of the past that embraces Casterbridge's Roman history: "Casterbridge announced old Rome in every street, alley, and precinct. It looked Roman, bespoke the art of Rome, concealed dead men of Rome. It was impossible to dig more than a foot or two deep about the town fields and gardens without coming upon some tall soldier or other of the Empire, who had lain there in his silent unobtrusive rest for a space of fifteen hundred years ... They had lived so long ago, their time was so unlike the present, their hopes and motives were so widely removed from ours, that between them and the living there seemed to stretch a gulf too wide for even a spirit to pass" (72). The irony is that the era of the ancient Romans was not ultimately, in the larger scheme of things, so unlike the present, nor were their hopes and motives so widely removed from our own. In the evolutionary time frame the Roman Empire existed and spread to Britain only yesterday, and the excesses and decadence of its people, like their hopes and dreams, are repeated in ourselves. The present consists of the continual reactivation or repetition of the past. Social evolutionists believed that nineteenth-century society was, on the whole, moving toward the sociological state and "increasingly complex social organizations [that] would foster a greater sense of interdependence."35 Virginia Hyman studies the influence of Auguste Comte on Hardy, as well as that of other ethical and social evolutionists such as Leslie Stephen, Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and John Stuart Mill. Comte's philosophic project involved the evaluation of the intellectual and moral development of the individual and the human race using as barometer three historical stages through which it passes: the theological, the metaphysical, and the sociological. Despite their rejection of divine providence, these thinkers maintain that we will evolve from the theological through the intellectual or metaphysical stage, culminating in social altruism.

40 Solitude versus Solidarity

They showed no sign of regretting the loss of religious faith, as Hardy did. However, they differ from men like Matthew Arnold in that the absence of faith did not send them into a moral tail-spin requiring that they cling to the ethical teachings of Christianity: "When dogma has to be balanced on its feet by such hair-splitting as the late Mr. M. Arnold's it must be in a very bad way," Hardy writes on 7 October i888.36 For them, the loss of religious belief is part of the intellectual evolution of humanity that tends to confirm ethical values. It culminates in the sociological or altruistic state, which involves a transference of faith in the supernatural world to faith in human intellectual and moral evolution. Religious faith and moral values are separate, no longer mutually dependent. The destruction of the former reaffirms the latter. Pioneers of Victorian disbelief such as Leslie Stephen held scientific rationality and religious faith to be incompatible, and were convinced that scientific progress would inevitably result in the diminishment of faith.37 The social evolutionists were concerned with attacking the assumption that religion, even devoid of objective validity, was still required as the source and foundation of ethical values. We are required to control our destiny. This challenge requires an assumption of responsibility for ourselves and others, and necessarily replaces the passivity and complacency of relying on providential plan with secular activism. Characteristic of the modern era is the superseding of the charismatic, introspective individual by one whose priority is the smooth running of society. The resultant conformity and banality impoverish individual and collective expressive potential. The intellectual pride and indulgence of the egotist such as Henchard loses its charm and is seen as a dangerous anomaly in the modern world. Most, including Hardy, recognize the claims of egotism to be so persistent that relinquishing the absolute values provided by religious dogma is an inevitably painful transition in our moral development toward the sociological or altruistic state. Writing in May 1886, at the time of the serialization of The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardy is critical of Hegel's dictum "that real pain is compatible with a formal pleasure - that the idea is all": "These venerable philosophers seem to start wrong; they cannot get away from a prepossession that the world must somehow have been made to be a comfortable place for man."38 Hence the final position of Elizabeth-Jane, that "happiness was but the occasional episode in the general drama of pain" (326), is, for the social evolutionists, part of the desirable moral growth of humankind. But Hardy's enthusiasm for this idea is tempered by his deep regret for the extinction of the individualist and the grandeur of his passions. Hardy's emotional allegiance and conscious commitment are at

41 Hardy and Darwin

odds, for his private sympathy is with the individualist who finds himself overwhelmed by the democratic notion of the common weal. Yet in the interest of the social and moral evolution of humankind, he must show the individualist superseded by the person who adheres to the ethic of group solidarity. The difficulty of Hardy's position reveals that the evolution of humanity from an individualistic code to a democratic system, or from a feudal social order to a bureaucratic one, entails a tragic paradox. There is much in the old system, such as a cluster of religious and social beliefs held to be absolute, which, when lost, lead us directly to experience the "ache of modernism"39 that Angel perceives in Tess. For Hardy, the replacement of one set of social rules with another based upon different premises is simultaneously a loss and an amelioration. The superseding of one system of values, which prizes rugged individualism and vibrant passion, by another, which encourages conformity to the demands of the majority and the bureaucratic system through which these demands are met, is evident in The Mayor of Casterbridge. The focus of the narrator expands from the personal tragedy of a man of character, whose own immoral behaviour is responsible for his downfall, to an interest in chronicling the disruption and disappearance of the old agrarian life and folkculture of Wessex: "Meanwhile the great corn and hay traffic conducted by Henchard throve under the management of Donald Farfrae as it had never thriven before. It had formerly moved in jolts; now it went on oiled castors. The old crude viva voce system of Henchard, in which everything depended on his memory, and bargains were made by the tongue alone, was swept away. Letters and ledgers took the place of Til do it', and 'you shall hae't'; and, as in all such cases of advance, the rugged picturesqueness of the old method disappeared with its inconveniences" (91). Neither man merits the narrator's full approbation or heartfelt disapproval. Farfrae's methods are hailed as more efficient while simultaneously the passing of Henchard's casual, cavalier manner is mourned. But this passage reveals more than the characteristic ambivalence of the narrator; it reveals that his perspective is shifting from an examination of the consciousness of the individual man to a more general and historical interest in the ways of life that each of these men may be understood to represent. Through the act of narration and involvement in the social, political, and moral issues of the time as they affect the tragic hero, the narrator not only probes and questions the values that he initially espouses but also seeks to deal with the obsolescence of the notion of the validity of absolutes. The assurances offered by the Christian

42 Solitude versus Solidarity

myth, with its moral imperatives and promise of eternal salvation or damnation based on one's performance during life, is rejected. Darwin's introduction of the evolutionary scale of time humiliates the notion of human history fulfilling teleological design. The social evolutionists divorce religion from ethics. Writers develop increasingly relativistic epistemologies that recognize no absolute values against which to judge the deeds and assumptions of the characters. Hardy's narrator adopts a sceptical, often fatalistic, persona or presence who becomes an empathetic spokesperson for the character he feels to be the most maligned. Hardy's novels do not chart the development of the protagonist's moral sense and integration with the web of society, as the traditional nineteenth-century novel does, but rather the diminishing of his or her willingness to fight to live in an indifferent, or even hostile, universe. Elizabeth-Jane's credo at the end of this novel is both realistic, given the experiences that inspire it, and somehow too small-minded and complacent to contain or do justice to the Sophoclean dimension of Henchard's drama: "From this time forward Elizabeth-Jane found herself in a latitude of calm weather ... The finer movements of her nature found scope in discovering to the narrow-lived ones around her the secret ... of making limited opportunities endurable; which she deemed to consist in the cunning enlargement, by a species of microscopic treatment, of those minute forms of satisfaction that offer themselves to everybody not in positive pain" (325-26). Many hail Elizabeth-Jane as a reliable barometer against which to measure the volcanic disruptive force embodied by Henchard. However, the discrepancy between the intensity of emotion that Henchard's tragedy inspires and the calculating pettiness of both Farfrae's commercialism and Elizabeth-Jane's credo undermines any attempt to establish these latter as a standard of normality against which Henchard may be judged. It also suggests the narrator's sadness at the diminishing of his perspective from the broad canvas of human tragedy, to convey a circumscribed and even compromised credo that promotes conformity and promises comfort and serenity in a world in which heroic action and spectacular individual triumph and failure are no longer conceivable. This complacency is reminiscent of that of the community challenged by the hero of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zamthustm: "The community Zarathustra describes has "settled" for what in other contexts would be described as the paradigmatic bourgeois values - peace, security and the rational, efficient satisfaction of one's (rather narrowly defined) "interests" - and has "forgotten" that this is a way of life chosen among many other possibilities, and whose conformist,

43 Hardy and Darwin

timid spirit represents great losses as well as some gains."40 The full implications of this theme will become apparent in the discussion of 'Heart of Darkness' and Lord Jim. Suffice it here to say that in the modern industrial society that Hardy foresees, an individual existence that embodies the scope and dimension of Henchard's turbulent life would not survive, as Henchard does not. Society itself would be smoother but that much poorer for its inability to sustain such an individual, and for its inability to incorporate into its mythology an expression of the moral significance of Henchard's (or Jim's) betrayal, his self-redemption, and his ultimate downfall. The relation between Henchard's passionate impulsiveness and his tragic downfall is crucial. He cuts a wider swath through life than does the enterprising, calculating Farfrae, for whom indeed tragedy is impossible because his emotional investment in life is so cautious and guarded. Henchard loses all, it is true, but he had a great deal to lose, and he took risks - foolish though they were. The tragedy of dispossession is possible only for one whose ambitions and aspirations transcend the community's conception of belonging; the slot that society allots to each individual. Like many before and since, the seeds of his alienation and downfall, but also of his value and fascination, lie in his heroism and overreaching. Like King Lear, Henchard is treated with kindness at the end of his life, when he has left town an outcast, by a simple man, Abel Whittle. Yet the intensity and even incongruity of Whittle's acts - for Henchard had once humiliated this man - are also so striking as to be excluded from the scope of the ordinary that closes the book. Michael Henchard's departure from Casterbridge and his death do not purge the town of the blight of uncorrected evil within. The transcendental view set forth by John Patterson41 of a moral order which Henchard offends, which his suffering and punishment will restore, is untenable. Rather, Henchard's departure leaves Casterbridge vulnerable to the banality of the bureaucratic, commercial world; it will henceforth be populated by the mediocre and complacent. Henchard's death and the marriage of Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane appear to resolve the moral chaos and social anarchy of the event that opens the novel. Henchard's selling of his wife occurs in an atavistic scene in which the conventions of civilization that create the illusion of a world governed by order and reason have been suspended. But the unrestrained passions that Henchard unleashes upon the world are not finally contained by this traditional closure consisting of marriage and death. Henchard's fierce energy and irrational pride are creative if dangerous and incendiary forces that cannot be fully extinguished and replaced by the social equanimity and traditional values

44 Solitude versus Solidarity

represented by Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane. If Henchard evokes strong moral censure he also inspires deep compassion, which the content but timid Elizabeth-Jane simply cannot. She is moderate and Henchard is not, but in this novel, magnitude matters. The narrator does not finally extol the virtues of emotional balance and stability as a resolution to the eruptive, volcanic forces in this world. Yeats's plaintive cry, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity/'42 is echoed in the narrator's sorrow at the replacement of passion with passivity. Henchard's criminality must not be overlooked. However, destruction and creativity are two sides of the same coin. The violence of Henchard's temper and his breaches of social mores, and his admirable quest to conquer these passions as a means of redemption, share his remarkable intensity. The intensity that motivates Henchard is precisely the creative principle whose passing the narrator and Hardy mourn. Daniel Schwarz elaborates upon the changing perspective of the narrator in this novel, emphasizing that he does not finally embrace the passivity, stoicism, and want of imaginative energy demonstrated by Elizabeth-Jane as an alternative to the trauma created by Henchard's volatile nature and his violation of social mores.43 The raising of expectations is not responsible for humanity's unhappiness, for restlessness is the key to progress. The pain lies in the incompatibility of our hopes and endeavours with the indifference of the cosmos in which we have evolved through a blind, instinctive process, a cosmos which crushes human aspirations. Further, the sarcasm and derision levelled at Farfrae reveal his personal inadequacies but also suggest the compromised nature of the society over which he assumes power. In the schism between what Farfrae does for a living and what he is we recognize the attributes of specialization as Weber will describe them, including the absolute separation of office and incumbent, and the advent of a secular world that lacks passionate conviction. The tragic hero comes to perceive that there exist no external sources of meaning in life. His detached insight approaches that of the narrator, but is postponed until the will to act is exhausted: "The ingenious machinery contrived by the Gods for reducing human possibilities of amelioration to a minimum - which arranges that wisdom to do shall come pari passu with the departure of zest for doing - stood in the way of all that" (312). Henchard's easy acceptance of death vindicates the narrator's despair. However, the existence of the text itself implies that even in death there is no exit. But the fact that the narrative ends with the death of the tragic hero is a reaffirmation, however humble, on Hardy's part that the individual human life must command respect and dignity The image of the caged

45 Hardy and Darwin

goldfinch at the end of the novel represents Henchard's imprisonment by his past as well as Farfrae and Elizabeth-Jane's imprisonment by their limitations. This image first appears in a Hardy diary entry dated 28 May 1885, and applies to all of humankind: "This hum of the wheel - the roar of London! What is it composed of? Hurry, speech, laughters, moans, cries of little children. The people in this tragedy laugh, sing, smoke, toss off wines, etc., make love to girls in drawing rooms and areas; and yet are playing their parts in the tragedy just the same. Some wear jewels and feathers, some wear rags. All are caged birds; the only difference lies in the size of the cage. This too is part of the tragedy."^ The shifting of the narrator's perspective toward deeper empathy with the suffering protagonist occurs not only within each novel, but is increasingly marked as one progresses chronologically through Hardy's oeuvre. As Hardy advances in years he becomes acutely socially aware, and more than ever torn between nostalgia for the past and consciousness that the passage of time will necessarily bring about evolution and change, loss as well as gain. In each novel Hardy navigates the complex and apparently paradoxical course between two notions of temporal structure that seem mutually exclusive. The first is the inexorability of change, influenced by the Darwinian perspective. The second is the conviction of the intense determining power exercised by the past, which mitigates the possibility for meaningful change within a single life span, or even within the history of the human species. The suggestion, at the end of The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess, that future generations may benefit from social evolution that the protagonists do not survive, is undermined by Hardy's ambivalence about whether a world that favours the complacency of Elizabeth-Jane and Farfrae to the explosive intensity of Henchard is in fact a brave new world. The motif of the destruction of the individual by the inexorable repetition of history in the present is pervasive in Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891). Tess becomes increasingly aware of and hostile toward the governing role of the past in her life. Her seduction is described in terms that emphasize the power of the past to determine the present. The narrator deflects attention to crimes committed by Tess's ancestors against peasant girls in the past - a crime repeated in the present by Alec's violation of Tess: "One may, indeed, admit the possibility of a retribution lurking in the present catastrophe. Doubtless some of Tess d'Urberville's mailed ancestors rollicking home from a fray had dealt the same measure even more ruthlessly towards peasant girls of their time" (119). This view does not originate in Tess's consciousness, but rather reflects the narrator's insight.

46 Solitude versus Solidarity

He places her seduction in a historical context that implies that history is cyclical and that she must suffer for her ancestors' sins. Although Tess's seduction appears to be a cataclysmic event that determines and destroys her future, in fact her initial depression lifts. Her morbid consciousness for a time perceives the world as a "cold accretion" with the capacity to "intensify natural processes around her till they seemed a part of her own story." In a move toward a highly subjective epistemology, Hardy continues: "Rather they became a part of it; for the world is only a psychological phenomenon, and what they seemed they were" (134). These mental processes base their conclusions upon an illusion, an error that mistakes the arbitrary morality of the society into which Tess is born as somehow essentially real and true: "She looked upon herself as a figure of Guilt intruding into the haunts of Innocence. But all the while she was making a distinction where there was no difference. Feeling herself in antagonism she was quite in accord. She had been made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly" (135). Re-entering the routines of her youth in Marlott village, Tess is soon able to overcome her mentality of victimization, and look forward with optimism to the future. She recognizes that this unfortunate episode has not altered her essential being. A healthy psyche is able to overcome trauma with time, and is not forever vulnerable to the governing power of the past. However, the moral conventions of the society from which Tess springs and their conflict with natural conduct ultimately lock her into a pattern of repetition and tragedy: "That which, socially, is a great tragedy," Hardy writes on 5 May 1889, "may be in nature no alarming circumstance."45 Tess discovers the dichotomy between natural morality and social convention, and rejects the killing constriction of the latter. Unquestioned social mores, however, have the strength to prevail over the will of the individual renegade. The vicar, representative of the institutionalized Christian Church, refuses to bury Tess's dead child in consecrated ground, while the compassionate man beneath the ecclesiastical trappings confirms that Tess's baptism and burial of the child in the churchyard "will be just the same" (147) as that sanctioned by the Church. In its portrait of the town Parson, the man who "graft[s] technical belief on actual scepticism" (147), the novel identifies Church law with the false and arbitrary moral conventions of society. The ecclesiastic is compelled to say one thing but the man believes another, and Tess rejects the verdict just as she rejects the "vermilion words" (128) painted throughout the landscape through which she passes on her journey home from Tantridge: "I think they are horrible ... Crushing! killing!

47 Hardy and Darwin

... I don't believe God said such things!" (128-29). Affirming the validity of her baptism of her child, less reasons: "If Providence would not ratify such an act of approximation she, for one, did not value the kind of heaven lost by the irregularity - either for herself or for her child" (146). The narrator empathizes with Tess's plight, and his tone becomes more embittered and cynical as her story progresses. His irony and rage reveal that Tess's consciousness and his converge. The truth of his bleak view of the universe is vindicated as Tess's story unfolds. That her individualistic vitality represents a higher morality than the lame obedience to the laws sanctioned by society and the Church is confirmed in the description of Tess as she baptizes her dying baby: "Her high enthusiasm [had] a transfiguring effect upon the face which had been her undoing, showing it as a thing of immaculate beauty, with a touch of dignity which was almost regal" (145). The beauty that so attracted Alec and caused Tess's troubles is here transformed into an image of Christian purity in its most unsullied form, an image that undermines the body-spirit schism at the heart of Christianity, for here corporeal beauty figures forth its moral and spiritual counterpart. The falseness of the various sets of opposites that lie at the core of the Christian tradition, such as that between flesh and spirit, man and nature, man and God, is a principle that infuses the remainder of the novel. These dichotomies re-emerge under many guises, and in every case the letter of the law reigns victorious over its spirit. Instances include the harshness of Angel's judgment of Tess and society's final branding her a criminal. Tess is more closely associated with the expansiveness of paganism than with the constrictions of Christianity. Her paganism does not begin with her angry refusal to go to church ever again. It is evident throughout the novel, from the first scene in which John Durbeyfield learns he descends from Sir Pagan d'Urberville and embarrasses Tess by his drunkenness while she partakes in the local Cerelia. This is a pagan celebration of the coming of spring, the return of Ceres' daughter Persephone from the underworld and hence the return of life to the earth. In the final scene Tess lies asleep on the monolithic stones of Stonehenge: " 'Did they sacrifice to God here?' asked she" (485), but nonetheless is at home in its heathen setting. The stature of her family in medieval times is dwarfed by the antiquity of Stonehenge, although she does not grasp its age, its pre-Christian past. Tess's paganism is not a conscious rejection of Christianity resulting from the reading of current, slightly subversive thought, but a natural outgrowth of her unreflective life on the land, governed by the cyclic rhythms of nature. This is appropriate, for pagan

48 Solitude versus Solidarity

mythology is the result of primitive attempts to understand and explain the workings of nature before the explanatory powers of science were developed. This is the narrator's rendering of Tess's inarticulate frame of mind as she enters the Valley of the Great Dairies where she will meet Angel: "And probably the half-unconscious rhapsody was a Fetishistic utterance in a Monotheistic setting; women whose chief companions are the forms and forces of outdoor Nature retain in their souls far more of the Pagan fantasy of their remote forefathers than of the systemized religion taught their race at a later date" (158). Tess lives her life in tune with the rhythms of a natural harmony upon which the shackles of institutionalized religion fasten themselves. Her optimism is apparent as she enters the phase of her life entitled "the rally," which promises a fresh start in "some nook which had no memories" (150). She wishes to escape the past and annihilate its deterministic influence. But Tess finds that she cannot escape her past. She is finally crushed by oppressive morality in its most lethal manifestation, wherein it flourishes under the guise of emancipated thinking. The genuinely felt distinction that Tess makes between true morality and ethics expounded by the Church is contrasted with Angel's alleged liberalism, which claims a distinction that he cannot truly abide between the "untenable redemptive theolatry" (170) of the Church and his pseudo-Hellenistic affirmation of the "honour and the glory of man" (171). Angel proves unable to practise the rational secularism he has learned from his reading of Matthew Arnold and John Stuart Mill. The "ache of modernism" (180) that he detects in Tess but promptly dismisses as inconsistent with his myth of the virginal milkmaid is defined by David De Laura as the "sense of psychic dislocation and alienation, of wandering in an unmapped no man's land 'between two worlds.'"46 The two worlds referred to are those posited by Matthew Arnold in his 1852 poem "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse." The resulting rootlessness of a lost generation is powerfully conveyed in these lines, capturing a pilgrim "Wandering between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born,"47 experiencing the anguish of his faith purged yet not replaced by any viable conception of truth. Angel retains the judgmental morality of traditional Christianity, but not its compassion. Hardy criticizes systematic, doctrinal Christianity for the harshness and unbending adherence to the letter of the law best exemplified by the painter of signs, but he does not forget its flip-side, the forgiveness and charity embodied by the old-fashioned religion of Angel's parents. Compassion is lost somewhere in the "missing generation" that separates Angel and his father, so that Angel's flight from the past entails loss

49 Hardy and Darwin

as well as gain. Angel tries to have it both ways by denying the Church's doctrines and its insistence on faith in mysteries and miracles, such as the Incarnation and Virgin Birth, while retaining its ethical teachings. However, the conflict between intellectual conviction and religious dogma cannot be resolved so simply. Angel's position with respect to religion can be clarified by pointing out that the challenge to the dogma and mysteries of Christianity issued by the implications of the theory of evolution and other scientific advances of the nineteenth century resulted in positivism. This evolutionary morality is a moral philosophy too unilaterally empirical, too fully based on the new science, for men like Angel Clare. For Angel can neither accept the mystery of faith nor reconcile himself to a world in which morality is divorced from its traditional grounding in religion. Because positivism cannot satisfy such an individual, he fabricates a compromise position in which the moral life of Christianity is extracted from its dogma and mystery. His final moral system is very much like that of Clym Yeobright in The Return of the Native, of whom D.H. Lawrence asks: "What did it matter if he had calculated a moral chart from the surface of life? Could that affect life ... ?"48 The most damning manifestation of Angel's belief "in good morals" (291) without the accompanying Christian doctrine of forgiveness is his application of hypocritical and merciless standards of purity to Tess, rejecting her because of her previous sexual experience while he himself is no innocent. His moral inconsistency and inflexible obsession with a narrow concept of purity causes Tess's tragedy, and he later realizes that he must bear responsibility. Tess repudiates the study of history, for it reveals the futility of life and the determinism operant within: "The best is not to remember that your nature and your past doings have been just like thousands' and thousands', and that your coming life and doings '11 be like thousands' and thousands'" (182). The cultural and educational institutions held in such high esteem by Darwin as the sole guarantors of humanity's ascendancy over other species are in Tess yet another tool for the suppression of the individual. Her rejection of the past and its implications is followed closely by her refusal to endorse Angel's renaming of her in honour of the Greek goddess of purity and chastity, and the Earth goddess: "She was no longer the milkmaid, but a visionary essence of woman - a whole sex condensed into one typical form. He called her Artemis, Demeter, and other fanciful names half teasingly, which she did not like because she did not understand them. This is yet another manifestation of the influence of the past on the present. The goddesses may be unfamiliar to Tess, but she is sufficiently aware and fearful of the destructive and governing power of

5O Solitude versus Solidarity

the past to guard the sovereignty of her individuality by refusing education. Angel denies Tess's uniqueness to make her conform to a mythic ideal of womanhood. The presumption upon which Platonic archetypal thinking is based, even if not consciously, is that there exists an ideal form of which the particular individual is but a blighted copy. Hence it makes sense that Angel is "ever in the habit of neglecting the particulars of an outward scene for the general impression" (175). His moral idealism proves unanchored and disastrous, for preconceived notions serve not to guide but to blind. Hardy, by nature and sensitivity a religious man who yearned for a God in which to believe, had for the sake of intellectual honesty nonetheless become an agnostic: "I have been looking for God 50 years," Hardy writes on 29 January 1890, "and I think that if he had existed I should have discovered him. As an external personality, of course - the only true meaning of the word."49 "Fifty meanings attach to the word 'God' nowadays, the only reasonable meaning being the Cause of Things, whatever that cause may be," writes Hardy in 1917. "Thus no modern thinker can be an atheist in the modern sense, while all modern thinkers are atheists in the ancient and exploded sense."50 Hardy could not abide the duplicity of the line of thought expounded by Angel. He strongly sensed the disastrous consequences of retaining the moral teachings of Christianity while rejecting its dogma and insistence on pure faith. Angel's logically and theologically inconsistent neo-Christianity is an insufficient foundation upon which to build a new secular morality based on humane and compassionate principles. Thus free-thinking Angel repeats the violation or betrayal of the integrity of Tess's being of which the timid vicar in Marlott had been guilty. Both reject her because she does not measure up to the arbitrary standard of purity decreed by society and institutionalized religion. The turn-about in Angel's moral thinking occurs during his stay in Brazil, where he meets the wise, well-travelled stranger who provides him with a new and broader perspective from which to view Tess's lapse: "The stranger had sojourned in many more lands and among many more peoples than Angel; to his cosmopolitan mind such deviations from the social norm, so immense to domesticity, were no more than the irregularities of vale and mountain to the whole terrestrial curve. He viewed the matter in quite a different light from Angel; thought that what Tess had been was of no importance beside what she could be, and plainly told Clare that he was wrong in coming away from her" (422). Not until his sojourn in the New World does Angel truly throw off the shackles of the old morality, and even then it is with the help of a more tolerant countryman.

5i Hardy and Darwin

The stranger's comparison of Tess's deviance to minor topographical variations is doubly indicative of the evolutionary viewpoint. The reduction of vales and mountain chains to mere irregularities presumes a distant and detached vantage point. Earth is but one of many planets or "cold accretions," and the problems of its inhabitants loom not very large in the overall scheme. This perspective is not possible without knowledge and acceptance of the two blows dealt by Copernican astonomy and Darwinian biology. Combined, these scientific and epistemological revolutions displace the planet Earth from the centre of our solar system and expand the universe to such infinite spatial and temporal proportions that humanity has to readjust its thinking to accommodate its diminished stature and importance. Second and related, the elderly wanderer invalidates Angel's tenacious clinging to social and religious moral codes by providing him with a standard for the evaluation of morality that, while not wholly nihilistic, is nonetheless compassionate and relativist. If Tess's sin can be seen from a more detached perspective as a slight irregularity that in no way defines or contains the entire human being, then it can be easily forgiven, if indeed the concept of forgiveness is applicable at all. Her past need not have led to her destruction. The wise stranger provides Angel with a moral code capable of expansion in order to make room for, rather than to condemn, those whose experiences of life fall outside the narrow area sanctioned by traditional Christianity, or its mid-nineteenth-century offshoot, and Victorian social mores. Angel's mode of perceiving Tess chains her to the past. His archetypal thinking is reductive, for it insists upon literal and narrow reading of concepts that are meant to be elastic and open to broad interpretation. Sadly, his reactionary or oppressive cognitive functions dominate. The elderly wanderer's mode of perception, on the other hand, is fresh and true to the individual. His insight is not filtered through and modified by pre-existing notions. Most readers overlook the profound importance of this mysterious figure. He imparts his wisdom to Angel, and then departs - from the novel, and seemingly from the universe. His immediate and silent death bespeaks Hardy's pessimism that such tolerance will ever come to pass. Pervasive in Tess is the theme of ancestral determinism. An inexperienced seventeen-year-old, Tess already recognizes the nature of the world as a "blighted" star (70). It is not only patronizing but beside the point to argue that a young girl cannot produce such an insight, for the consciousness of humanity has evolved to this point, and pessimism, like her d'Urberville ancestry, is part of her heritage. This insight reflects the discrepancy between the indifference of the universe, to which humanity is irrelevant, and human consciousness,

J2 Solitude versus Solidarity

through which we imagine ourselves the centre and focal point of that universe. Tess's "rally" sets in motion a sequence of events culminating in the fulfilment, when she stabs Alec, of the prophecy in the family legend of the coach and murder. In fact, Tess's murder of Alec is oddly redolent of his seduction of her. Daniel Schwarz argues that the endings of Hardy's novels are contained in their beginnings; that growth and development are impossible in Hardy's world; that although the struggle to survive is unavoidable, ultimate defeat is inevitable.51 Tess's refusal to acknowledge the governing power of the past upon the present does not render her immune to its determining force. Her defiance of its influence is ultimately impotent and even damning. Ignoring the prophecy of the legend of the coach, she inadvertently fulfils it. Hardy teasingly credits Tess's fate to Zeus, decribed as "President of the Immortals" in Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, which he cites. This suggests to J. Hillis Miller that "Tess reincarnates a pattern of tragic experience already present in the earliest masterpieces of Western literature."52 This and similar allusions, such as that to "the Gods" at the end of The Mayor of Casterbridge, deny the characters' individuality and originality, and simultaneously mitigate their responsibility for their fate. Furthermore, the possibility suggested that Angel will marry Liza-Lu is far from the happy resolution of traditional fiction. The ending is particularly dark and bleak, for it implies that the future will be a repetition of the past, and hence that even Tess's death has not expiated its damning influence. The moral and ethical expansion of the novel is not contained or restricted by the ending, although it embodies three classic methods of closure, enumerated by Alan Warren Friedman as marriage, death, and doubling. Tess's death and replacement by Liza-Lu fail to "reverse and control the expanding momentum of destruction and dissolution."» The novel explodes through its ending, just as its subtitle explodes the traditional interpretation of the seduction scene. The forcefulness of Tess's personality and her vitality cannot be contained by society's condemnation of her as fallen woman, and certainly not by Angel's reduction of her to "the belated seedling of an effete aristocracy!" (302). Tess's experiences fly in the face of social convention. It is therefore fitting that the novel that recounts them undercuts fictional conventions. The efforts of the narrative voice to contain them prove false and ineffectual. The "fulfilment" of Angel and Tess's love during the final phase of the novel, following his belated acceptance of her, is as ironic in its disintegrative effect as is the result of Tess's "rally" and Angel's marriage proposal. Her faint expression of hope that she and Angel can be together again after both are dead is met

53 Hardy and Darwin

with Angel's silence. Tess's life has been a repetition of what has happened before in pagan and medieval Christian times, and those who follow are doomed to repeat her tragedy. This is neither restricted nor prevented by the traditional motifs that close the novel. The final prayer of Angel and Liza-Lu bears the full might of the narrator's insight into the futility of this empty gesture. In "Language and the Shape of Reality in Tess of the d'Urbervilles," Charlotte Thompson describes the narrative process as one that transforms "ideas expressed in a figurative sense to their fulfilments in a literal sense."54 This is clear in the web of foreshadowings that figure themselves forth in their corporeal form. For example, the symbolism of the thorns of Alec's roses that prick Tess and the prophecy of the legend of the White Hart come to fruition in Alec's seduction of Tess, and ultimately in her stabbing of him. The guardian angel whose absence the narrator regrets materializes, however inadequately, in the person of Angel Clare: "Foreshadowings and their realizations necessarily organize themselves into symmetries, ... they lend the appearance of circularity and reinforce the impression of a history repeating itself in cycles."" The power of the word in this novel moves toward that in Conrad, where language, a human construct, has the power to create an alternate reality which we persuade ourselves is real. The relation between the nominal and the actual will be a major concern in my discussion of "Heart of Darkness." The potency of language is so profound in Tess, however, that it takes its place with ancestral determinism as a shaping force on the nature of reality: Among the many forces that Hardy invites us to hold responsible for Tess's tragedy, her society's language constitutes one of its most potent, yet most elusive instruments. An old language, by fixing minds in old, preformed mental structures, can vie with old genes in the ability to perpetuate the past by impelling the mind toward predetermined ends ... As the figurative evolves into the literal and the nominal approaches the actual, the verbal coagulates into the substantial. Two messages, Parson Tringham's message to Durbeyfield and the message of Tess's death, herald the story's beginning and its end: the former with an abstract verbal message, the latter with the stuff of the black flag; the first already presaging death in words ('"how are the mighty fallen'"), the last signalling the accomplished fact with a tangible thing ... Within a shape of cyclical repetition the novel produces not replications but realizations.'6

Hardy creates a tightly woven tapestry of verbal image and its subsequent realization to suggest causality. The fulfilment of numerous

54 Solitude versus Solidarity

foreshadowed and symbolic events suggests predetermined destiny. The narrator is not omnipotent - he does not produce the missing guardian angel or cause Joan Durbeyfield's "trumpcard" to materialize in Alec's blood, which forms "a gigantic ace of hearts" (471) on the ceiling of the lodging house in Sandbourne. He has some potency, however, in that his words and the interpretations he offers do exert shaping influence upon events. There exists a curious discrepancy in this novel between symbolic expression and concrete realization.57 The manifestation or fulfilment of the symbol ironically undercuts the promise that the symbol initially held. The Cerelian pageant that opens the novel, for instance, is a pagan celebration of life. Its ironic and devastating fulfilment is the sacrifice of Tess's life on the heathen altar of Stonehenge. The narrative framed by these events is itself replete with similar examples in which the manifestation of a symbolic image undermines the intent of the symbol. The discrepancy between the expectation aroused by the symbol and its ironic fulfilment allows Hardy to call into doubt, at a very profound level, his characters' and consequently his readers' confidence in their cognitive powers and their sense that they are in control of their life and destiny. In Hardy's tapestry of symbol and concrete manifestation, the essential truths remain elusive, hidden behind the shifting forms of the figurative and the inadequate or even violent realization. The implicit questions of who is a true d'Urberville, a murderer or murderess, a criminal, a pagan, a real husband, a moral person, or a pure woman are not easily answered. The ambivalence concerning the sense in which Tess is a true d'Urberville and Alec an impostor is never satisfactorily resolved. The answer is suggested, however, by the fact that Tess's family name, Durbeyfield, corresponds more closely to her life than d'Urberville, of which it is a corrupted version. Although Alec's family purchased the d'Urberville name, it is ironically more appropriate to their sophisticated life than it would be to the descendants of its original bearers. Society labels Tess an impure woman, and condemns her but not Alec as a criminal. Angel is convinced that while Alec lives he is Tess's "husband in Nature" (313), unwittingly suggesting to Tess the only remedy that will satisfy him. The nature of the relationship between sign and signified, word and meaning, label and reality, name and identity, guilt and innocence, is not readily established. "Who was the moral man?" Angel ponders while in Brazil. "Still more pertinently, who was the moral woman? The beauty or ugliness of the character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed" (421). Jack Durbeyfield's mis-

55 Hardy and Darwin

understanding of the significance, or lack of it, of his d'Urberville ancestry sets in motion the events that destroy his daughter. To compare Tess and Angel's courtship at Talbothays to that of the prelapsarian Adam and Eve in the Garden, and later to liken Tess to the Magdalene as the narrator does, or to Artemis and Demeter as Angel does, may add to the mythic fabric with which the novel is woven, but it simultaneously enhances the stature of its characters while robbing them of the individuality they so desperately crave. Tess expresses this wish in a simple yet profound and plaintive manner: "Call me Tess" (187). The concept of innocence associated with the Greek goddess and with Eve before the Fall, and the concept of guilt applicable to the Magdalene before her pardon, are too narrow to embrace the concept of purity that infuses Tess. These mythic characters demand to be interpreted in terms of virginity or promiscuity, and are not elastic enough to include a version of purity that exists on the frontier beyond those strongly demarcated boundaries. The myth Angel constructs to understand his present good fortune and to predict that of the future has proven false. Like the inflexible commandments painted in vermilion, these labels and archetypes from the past are constricting and crushing. Citations from past authorities, be they written sources or oral legends, prove inadequate, irrelevant, or just plain wrong in dealing with the reality into which they intrude. The problem with language weighted down by convention is that the word cannot exist apart from its associative meaning. Hence language, as one of the arts of civilization with which humanity endeavours to upgrade itself, can be oppressive and tyrannical. It can destroy our ability to deal with the present on its own terms, for we choose inappropriate models to emulate. Reality can be replaced or obliterated by the constructs of the past, as Angel replaces or even re-creates Tess to match the Greek and biblical prototypes that he finds appealing. The old myths are not just a metaphor of inevitability, but an instrument of it. The persistence of mythological structures confirms traditional interpretations of experience and suppresses idiosyncrasy. Hence the reproduction of the cultural consciousness in the living present makes impossible the triumph of individuality. When Angel returns to find Tess living with Alec in Sandbourne, her body is so detached from her consciousness and sensibility that she embodies the concept of motion without volition. This death in life is followed by the actuality of Tess's death, which in turn is concealed behind the black flag, displaced by its symbol. Tess is repeatedly created and then destroyed by the myths of others. She is first expected to live her parents' fantasy of d'Urberville lineage and

56 Solitude versus Solidarity

trapped in a devastating cycle of repetition of traditional and ancestral folklore, her individuality denied. She is then rejected by Angel, who worships a narrow conception of purity. Finally, she is condemned to death as a criminal by the same society that silently sanctions Alec's violation of Tess and that ensures that to be true to oneself is to overreach and invite damnation. Because of the knowledge of the human species' origins in nature, furnished by Darwin, and humanity's social mediocrity, expressed most cogently by Weber, we lose faith in traditional value-creating institutions. New developments in the science of evolution and in theories of social organization result in an epistemological crisis. Darwin's thought changes how humanity views its stature with respect to the universe and challenges faith in an interested God intervening in human affairs. The cosmic scale of evolutionary design means that human history is but a brief interval in the story of one tiny planet. Gone are humanity's delusions of grandeur in personal destiny. Furthermore, Weber's sociology abrogates human individuality and establishes an ethic of communal solidarity. Gone is the notion of sacrosanct individuality established by the Western Christian tradition, which reached its most recent apotheosis in the literature and philosophy of the Romantic period. It is true that Darwin discusses humanity's gradual reascent to something resembling its former status in The Descent. However, the accomplishments of what Darwin termed "second nature," civilization, in upgrading the natural state of humanity are feeble and ephemeral compared to the action of natural selection. The individualist perishes first in Hardy and Conrad precisely because he or she poses the greatest threat to the survival of the values upon which the notion of community is founded. In Hardy's version of Darwin's survival of the fittest, the one least fit to propagate the ideal of group solidarity does not survive. The three Hardy novels examined are structured in terms of a sometimes violent yoking together of two apparently incongruous elements. The creative strength of the characters derives from the traditional rural order of the country from which they spring. It is precisely this, however, that is challenged by the onslaught of the modern order, a system of routinization that eradicates the charming illusion that the rural moeurs present to the outsider, but also reduces the killing harshness and back-breaking labour that were the daily reality of the peasant. Hardy portrays the growing alienation of the peasant from the land that until recently had supported and defined his life. The urgency that Hardy feels is born of his insight into the inevitable decline of traditional customs, unable to survive the innovations unleashed by modern technology and the Industrial Revolu-

57 Hardy and Darwin

tion. This is compounded by his view of human nature as lacking the innate resilience and vitality required to transform or adapt itself to the new reality being thrust upon it by outside forces that it neither understands nor is able to control. Thus Hardy's fiction incorporates and juxtaposes two opposing world views. The modern world of science and technology destroys the organic relation between humans and their environment. Tess and above all Jude are crushed between these two conflicting systems; the old one comfortable but constricting, the new disturbingly expansive. The characters in his late novels react with profound despair to their sense of the absence of concrete values to which their lives may be anchored, and meaning found therein. The conflict between past and future manifests itself not only in theme but also in Hardy's anachronistic clinging to traditional narrative form, a form unequal to the troubling modernity of his subject matter. I have examined the oppressive and ultimately killing impact of antique modes of thought in Tess, be they mythological models, ancestral wisdom, or rural custom. It should also be noted that Hardy clings to very time-worn folk-tale material as the basis of his novel, in this case the well-known ballad of a virginal milkmaid who murders her seducer. Onto this base he grafts those elements dealing with the encroachment of technology, which increases productivity but severs the delicate balance of human being and nature, the inherent relationship of rural people to their environment. Hardy then attributes to Tess an acutely developed consciousness of the littleness and insignificance of humanity in the wider scheme of the cosmos, the absurdity of its efforts, and the desirability of oblivion, of never having been. Furthermore, the troubling question of Tess's purity raises the issue of the simple but judgmental traditional notions of morality versus the modern lack of moral absolutes. The form of Hardy's late novels is at odds with the social and moral upheaval they register. Hardy rejects the notion of personal development that results in reconciliation with the norms of society and the incorporation of the individual into its web. This is because society itself is undergoing a transformation that renders it incapable of absorbing the vast range of implications inherent in the traumatic life experiences of people such as Henchard, Tess, or Jude. The individual freedom they require as they cut a wider swathe through life than most is denied them as society becomes increasingly consrrictive, demanding conformity and the subservience to the group. These issues are more sharply delineated in Conrad's novels, and will be elucidated using the Weberian vocabulary of the routinization and rationalization of charisma. The point to be made here is that as long

58 Solitude versus Solidarity

as Hardy insists upon setting his novels in the formerly pastoral but now bleak countryside of Wessex, the introduction of the modern element will always be an infringement. Hardy is nostalgic for what is lost yet recognizes that the loss is inevitable. However, he fails to indicate the potential coexistence or integration of the traditional and the modern elements either thematically or structurally. The question whether modernism ever arrives at a successful synthesis, an incorporation of the traditional element, remains open.58 Hardy's protagonists are anachronisms, strong-willed individuals rather than societal beings. Unable to submerge their identities in the coming wave of routinization and systems, they opt to be out of life altogether. The backdrop of Wessex forever recalls its bucolic past, and is unable to adapt itself to the modern order that is in the process of being born. Hardy's novels are ultimately constrictive; the changes introduced do not expand potential but instead appear as a black curtain drawn across the expansive landscape. Caught between a past that has come to an end and a future to which they cannot adapt, Hardy's characters, and Conrad's also, suffer a sort of claustrophobia. They are trapped within and asphyxiated by a cycle of events which, unable to welcome the new, is doomed to repeat itself until burned out. Hardy's motif of repetition is an interpretive system that seeks insight by looking back to established models, be they mythological, traditional, or ancestral. When projected into the future, this system is able to predict only further repetition of the past. It cannot foresee the successful assimilation of the antique and modern that is attained both thematically and structurally in James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), which integrates ancient heroic Greek mythology and modern mundane urban life. Taylor agrees: "James Joyce has shown in our time how the great archetypical myths of the tradition can be reintegrated into [the novel]."59 In fact, Taylor's philosophic project, upon which this study will draw, supports my view that the antique and the modern are not incompatible. His purpose is to trace in the history of Western thought the sources of modern moral imperatives that we now consider axiomatic, hence refuting those who claim that the modern era represents a break with all past values and traditions, and is characterized by relativism in all realms, moral, epistemological, aesthetic, and political. Traditional fiction emphasizes the bonds of community. By the transitional phase of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, however, the novel focuses on the dispossessed hero, the outcast or the self-imposed exile who sets himself apart from the norms and expectations of society. The form of fiction could not remain the

59 Hardy and Darwin

same. The apparent realism or mimesis of the Victorian novel gives way to a new form capable of depicting the alienation of the individual who rejects society's overriding demand for conformity; the fragmentation and discontinuity experienced by one whose search for a substantial reality is introverted and independent of social mores. The protagonist sacrifices the social aspect of his or her being and participation in the regenerative procreation of life in order to undertake a solitary quest that consumes his or her entire being and energy. The exotic realm of colonial and imperial expansion into faraway lands in which Conrad's novels unfold enlarges upon the same formal problem faced by Hardy in that the sheer glamour and romance of the setting encourage confrontations with one's fate which, however spectacular, are ultimately solitary and self-destructive. Conrad's heroes in exile betray well-defined social roles. Yet they are undone by the artificiality of the environment in which they function, its apparent lack of restraining forces. Acts committed in isolation by men answerable only to themselves, men who have no stake in the world from which they spring, assume an aura of phantom-like unreality, and have no meaning. Ultimately, Conrad's fiction, like Hardy's, reaches a formal and thematic impasse. Conrad does not successfully synthesize his antithetical elements into a truly modern vision, nor do his heroes realize the balance between individual freedom and commitment to social cohesion that is the basis of true liberty.


"Heart of Darkness"


Like Hardy, Joseph Conrad was entranced by the notion of betrayal. In his novels the damning repercussions are intensified by the fact that the man guilty of betraying the code of solidarity begins as the most ideal representative of the values he ultimately eschews. I examine the betrayal committed by the tragic hero and his subsequent shattering of the code of cultural solidarity, be it colonialism in "Heart of Darkness," the mariner's code in Lord Jim, or imperialism in Nostromo, In Conrad's novels, the inherent untenability of the idea underlying colonialism and imperialism serves as both metaphor and paradigm of the failings of Western civilization to deal with the other - other races, other cultures, other environments. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt distinguishes between the primitive adventurism of colonialism and the more systematic exploitation of imperialism, and underlines the necessity of political domination for the success of both. Her insights help trace Conrad's interest in the transformation of buccaneer capitalism practised by colonial adventurers, individuals like Kurtz, to the more complex but none the less rapacious exploitation of imperialist domination made possible by the apparently stable political structures upon which it rests. This very stability, however, as Nostromo reveals, is illusory. The methods of imperialist exploitation are just as explosive as those of colonialist, "booty" capitalism. Colonialism usually involves nothing more than an outpost-style settlement, whereas imperialist domination involves the establishment of a government sympathetic to the interests of the expansionist forces. In both cases the goal is the enrichment of the conquering power at the expense of

61 "Heart of Darkness"

the subjugated nation or race. There is nothing new in the assertion of a kinship at base between these two endeavours. The destructive rather than constructive use of dynamite is a thread that runs through both "Heart of Darkness" and Nostromo, attesting to the essential similarity, the rapacity, underlying the apparent distinctions between the two modes of conquest depicted in these works. The quest for material interests that fuels expansionism, be it an early crude form of colonialism or a more mature, refined form of imperialism, is always a destabilizing force. Underlying the justification of the plunder of conquered lands is, as Arendt says, racism. Racism is a colonial device of foreign domination that Arendt holds to be analogous to the role of bureaucracy in imperialism. Its untenability serves as one of the cornerstones of the argument that many of the assumptions held by Western civilization concerning other cultures are mere justifications that allow rapacity and deception. The language in which ostensibly enlightened, civilized ideals are couched is malleable, subject to manipulation and subversion. The language of the various narratives that form "Heart of Darkness" both allows for and reflects, at the most profound level, the illusory nature of values permitting the self-deception with which men justify their activities in the African jungle. Content and form, theme and structure, coalesce. In a highly relativist epistemological and moral world view, such as that described by Karl Mannheim, values are reduced to the status of linguistic constructs. While my study does not endorse the view that modernism is an abyss of relativity, it must be acknowledged that in the remote, atavistic world of colonial adventure, the betrayal of civilized values raises the question of whether these values are nominal or substantial. Neither men nor the ideals they espouse stand the test of exposure to that which they hold to be barbaric. "Heart of Darkness" documents the transformation of civilized ideals into words that stand alone, divorced from a meaningful relation with their referent. Kurtz himself, in the final perversion of the ideals of enlightenment and progress that ostensibly fuel colonialism, is bowed to and worshipped as an idol by the native people of the Congo. Conrad's vision of the failure of Western civilization with respect to others is most starkly conveyed by the act of betrayal of which the solitary outlaw is guilty. Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo were each initially "one of us" - Marlow's epitaph for Jim - a hero, a most ideal representative of the code of community solidarity that their betrayal calls into doubt. Their act of betrayal paradoxically reveals the criminality of civilization in its treatment of other cultures, in the Marlow tales, or in its exploitation of workers, in Nostromo. Ironically but pre-

62 Solitude versus Solidarity

dictably, the solitary outlaw is not exonerated but condemned, and the falseness of the ideals upon which expansionism rests remains hidden, masked behind the ultimate lie. Marlow comes to associate Western principles with the surface reality that conceals the lie. He has glimpsed the darkness of the human heart and of human civilization. Yet the existence of the narrative that portrays Marlow's lie as such is an act of faith that whatever meaning is possible inheres in the quest for meaning itself, and in the will to maintain the decent and the honest with full knowledge of the alternative, the disintegration of group solidarity into violence and crime. Paradoxically, Conrad wrote at a time when the notion of Romantic individualism had been superseded by a social ideal founded on the principles of conformity, efficiency, and subjugation to the group. This social theory is expressed in the writings of German sociologist Max Weber on charismatic domination and its routinization. His analysis of the spirit of capitalism, and of the routinization of charismatic leadership by the rational calculation of the bureaucratic system, serves as intellectual foundation for my examination of the crude colonial exploitation Marlow witnesses in "Heart of Darkness," through the more sophisticated, expansionist policies that underpin the capitalist imperialism from which Charles Gould profits, and which he schemes to keep intact, in Nostromo. The euphoria of individual freedom ironically gives way, in the era of the collectivist ethic, to the devastating comprehension of isolation and solitude. Acts committed in isolation that are without consequence paradoxically are not truly free, for meaningful freedom entails commitment. These words, by Hannah Arendt, might have been written with Kurtz in mind: "Many of these adventurers had gone mad in the silent wilderness of an overpopulated continent where the presence of human beings only underlined utter solitude, and where an untouched, overwhelmingly hostile nature that nobody had ever taken the trouble to change into human landscape seemed to wait in sublime patience for the passing away of the fantastic invasion of man. But their madness had remained a matter of individual experience and without consequence."1 Conrad shares Hardy's convictions that we live in a universe in which our presence is the accidental product of blind evolutionary process, and that the human faculty of self-consciousness is a burden. Given the vast expanse of the time frame and the unconscious evolutionary process Darwin describes, the fate of the individual, and of the fragile concepts to which we tie our notions of morality and solidarity, are, in Conrad's words in a letter to Cunninghame Graham, "not worth troubling about."2 Simultaneously, the consciousness of "the

63 "Heart of Darkness"

immense indifference of things" to which Decoud surrenders his life in Nostromo is the source of the tragedy of the human condition. The shattering of the code of cultural solidarity is, in Conrad's world, inevitable for one who is cursed with a greater degree of sensitivity and self-reflexivity than is tolerable to a social order demanding the incorporation of the individual into the web of society. The consequence of this betrayal is the hero's loss of faith in any ultimate communal values. The true crux of the tragedy lies in the fact that even the hero's criminality, his acceptance of the role of solitary outlaw, does not allow him to achieve the integrity and freedom he desires. Romantic notions of heroism are no longer valid. The social forces entailing conformity to the group ethic are too strong, and the overreaching of the renegade individual leads inexorably to his destruction. The concepts of heroism and betrayal are intertwined. The price of heroism is the loss of one's status within the community, as collective values are sacrificed in the quest for spectacular individual glory. Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo can be understood as dramatizations of the final stand of isolated individualism in the face of the routinization and conformity of rational systems that alienate the individual from his social role. Weber mourned the loss of charisma and magic in the world, but understood the inevitability of their decline in face of the rise of permanent, institutionalized bureaucracy at the end of the nineteenth century. Mar low's values are an echo of Weber's analysis of modern humanity. Marlow represents fidelity to the social code and allegiance to the work ethic upon which society is based. His role in "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim, however, is of more profound importance than the juxtaposition of community values to the spectacular if solitary heroism of Kurtz and Jim. Conrad's creation of Marlow enables him to coalesce the theme of the calling into doubt of civilized values of community or social cohesion, and the formal structures of the narratives, which underline the impossibility of true knowledge of another - or even of oneself - and hence emphasize the inevitability of human isolation. "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim disclose in narrative structure the relativism of modern epistemology, with its emphasis on the analysis of the knowing subject. Karl Mannheim's writings on the sociology of knowledge provide the intellectual foundation for the examination of the transformation of narrative structure that Conrad achieves in these works. The betrayal of which his tragic hero is guilty is glimpsed from without by the narrator, who is initially faithful to the notion of social cohesion. Conrad's creation of Marlow and his embedding of Marlow's narrative within another acknowledge

64 Solitude versus Solidarity

that we always perceive the world many times removed, filtered through our own consciousness and that of others, as through a glass darkly. Marlow's beliefs and adherences are undercut by the implications of the tales he narrates. He learns to comprehend the devastation of isolation and solitude, the transformation of value into doubt. His work no longer provides him the refuge he seeks from the utter loneliness that he comes to perceive as the human condition. Marlow's empathy with the suffering of the tragic hero who has forsaken all pretence of meaning inherent in the surface reality ultimately destroys his "saving illusions." Hardy's failure to create a narrative voice capable of conveying profound doubt, the crumbling of values once held to be absolute, led to the impasse at which his fiction arrived, and to his abandonment of narrative form. Hardy's is not the detached, disinterested, omniscient narrator of traditional fiction whose very existence suggests the validity of absolute standards of morality and judgment. Nor does Hardy share in the development of the techniques of the twentieth-century novel, in which the narrator is an embedded figure who shares the ontological status and perceptual limitations of its characters. A technique that superficially resembles this occurs in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novel; for instance, Lockwood is an unreliable, dramatized narrator in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Only in the modern novel, however, are the narrator's cognitive processes and development the focus of the text. Hardy's coalescence of the narrator's consciousness with that of the tragic, selfdestructive hero or heroine results in the collapse of narrative. His tentative acknowledgment of epistemological subjectivity and moral relativism is hampered by his clinging to traditional narrative forms developed in an era which retained faith in absolute values. Hardy does not create, as Conrad does in his innovative narrative technique, a formal device that acknowledges and reflects the alienation and fragmentation of the modern experience. Mannheim's sociology of knowledge explores the cognitive act as the key to what little we can know of the nature of the world. In Conrad's Mar low stories, the emphasis on Marlow as the knowing subject allows Conrad to explore the nature and limitations of perception and cognition. Not only in the formal structure of the narrative but also in his distinctive use of language does Conrad dramatize the near futility of the quest for meaning. Mannheim theorizes that not only do values have no ultimate substance, but the very language in which they are couched came to be viewed as devoid of inherent significance, transformed into empty words and inscrutable symbols. Both are structures of the human intellect, created to shelter us from the uninter-

65 "Heart of Darkness"

rupted silence and chaos of darkness. The relation between language and meaning, symbol and signified, can be subverted. "Heart of Darkness" is a strong indictment of the process of naming as a means of achieving order and control. The notion of stability is illusory. Language itself is a human construct capable of creating, in the imagination, an alternate more comforting reality behind which the bankruptcy of the colonization of Africa by the Europeans can be masked. This system allows for such violent distortions between name and essence that a meaningful relation between them is irretrievable. Marlow makes clear the linguistic distortions of which civilized man is capable to further his ends: "They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, - nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom." He probes the meaning, if any, behind the symbols: "Was it a badge - an ornament - a charm - a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all connected with it?"3 The language used by the company officials to refer to the native people and to the work accomplished is nothing but misnomers and lies - lies they presumably have come to believe to be true, however, in order to justify to themselves their existence and their activities. The upkeep of the road, for instance, consists of "the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in his forehead" (48). Yet each company worker is considered "an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle" (39). However, in the very failure of language and narrative sequence to disclose meaning may be found a deeper, more essential if pernicious truth. Language functions as both symptom and indicator of the alienation of man from himself and others, and of the absence of a workable notion of community. In "Heart of Darkness," Marlow offers two mutually exclusive definitions of what is real and meaningful. The first is the inscrutable silence of the wilderness. The second is faith in the work ethic, and in language and mental inquiry as a means to attain truth. Both are exemplified in the seamanship manual he accidentally finds on his voyage up river to Kurtz. Only fifty miles below the Inner Station, Marlow finds in an abandoned hut the quaint book An Inquiry into Some Points of Seamanship, which represents something "unmistakably real" (71). Marlow attributes the authorship of this book, which is informed by the same simple dedication to the code of seamanship that motivates Singleton in The Nigger of the "Narcissus", to a "simple old sailor" writing of "chains and purchases" (71). Although obsolete in form and content, the idea behind it is a "singleness of intention, an honest concern for the right way of going to work" (71). The devotion and moral simplicity of its author - to whom Marlow's scepti-

66 Solitude versus Solidarity

cism is no doubt unimaginable - contrasts with the activity carried on at the Central Station, which is a corruption and even annihilation of the concept of work represented by the book, and the unambiguous relation between sign and signified witnessed in its words and "illustrative diagrams" (71). Both these definitions of reality, that contained in the uncomplicated relation between sign and signified displayed in the book, and that implicit in the inscrutable meaning that inheres in the silence of the African jungle, mutually exclusive though they are, are incompatible with the perverse use of language and distorted interpretations of work and reality offered by those representing the wanton colonial interests. The first images Marlow perceives at the company station are those of several pieces of idle machinery, seemingly unrelated to each other or to any real function; out of place, disjointed: "I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up a hill. It turned aside for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal. I came upon more pieces of decaying machinery, a stack of rusty rails. To the left a clump of trees made a shady spot, where dark things seemed to stir feebly ... A heavy and dull detonation shook the ground, a puff of smoke came out of the cliff, and that was all. No change appeared on the face of the rock. They were building a railway. The cliff was not in the way or anything: but this objectless blasting was all the work going on" (42). It is only at the end of the passage that we learn that the boiler, the overturned railway truck, and the rusty rails are in fact the materials for building a railway rather than the refuse of an abandoned project. The fact that Marlow observes each piece of equipment in its turn, isolated from the others, as one in a series of disjointed images, underlines the ineffectual nature of the project. Further, Marlow describes how the "dark things," which he almost incidentally describes as "black people," are exploited for free labour working on a chain gang, as prison convicts - hence "criminals" - were often forced to do: "I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking ... But these men could by no stretch of the imagination be called enemies. They were called criminals, and the outraged law, like the bursting shells, had come to them an insoluble mystery from the sea" (43). Colonization, far from being a "high and just proceeding" (43), or a "humanizing, improving, instructing" (65) enterprise, relies upon self-deception and the exploitation of others. Marlow is distin-

67 "Heart of Darkness"

guished by his ability to understand the implications of what he sees for the civilization he represents. Finally, Kurtz's cry "The horror! The horror!" annihilates all faith in the meaning of any surface reality. Conrad offers no easy answers, no resolution, and yet does not embrace ultimate nihilistic despair. His language and narrative sequence underline the virtual impossibility, in his view, of the disclosure of meaning, yet the frame narrative and Marlow's embedded yarn exist as testament to the artist's faith in the nobility of the quest to understand. In the very act of story-telling, as in the lie to Kurtz's Intended, Marlow bows to "that great and saving illusion" (119) of Western civilization, and the guarded faith in language, a construct of civilization, that this entails. Words are arbitrary human constructs, and language is a falsification and distortion of the ineffable silence of the wilderness. The sincerity of the work ethic is compromised by the expansionist idea underpinning colonialism, which results in betrayal of the conquered land and people. The function of language and the theme of colonialism coalesce, for language serves simultaneously as vehicle, metaphor, and paradigm of the pretences and deceptions of colonial expansion. Yet language offers the only slender hope that these pretences and deceptions can be penetrated, and a more honest relationship established between utterance and meaning, a truer understanding attained of both civilization and wilderness. At the end of the journey, Marlow buries the meaning of Kurtz's final insight and death in his lie to the Intended. That a lie is necessary to uphold and defend the ideals of Western civilization that justify the rapacity of colonialism, ideals that Kurtz himself had initially embodied, is the ultimate vindication of the horrifying insight that this aspect of civilization is indeed based on a lie. Marlow's final choice is to embrace the saving illusion in the full knowledge that ideals are false but necessary. He is able to share this private insight, however. Marlow's choice to spin his yarn is an affirmation of the values of communication and community. His shaping of the issue of imaginative failure into meaningful narrative form transcends the abyss of the solipsism and irredeemable isolation into which Kurtz descends. In keeping with Weber's view that the search for value and meaning is in itself an embodiment of meaning, Marlow finds his purpose in the process or effort; in the quest for meaning rather than in its final articulation. Before elucidating these issues, however, we must explore the origins of the notions of inwardness, enigmatic inner depths, and selfhood upon which Conrad relies. Charles Taylor's recent magistral study Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity traces the

68 Solitude versus Solidarity

philosophical development of the notion of identity and the mysterious inner depths of each individual. This is a relatively recent and highly complex development in the history of Western thought, but is one that we moderns so take for granted that we have forgotten that it is itself a highly problematic issue. So the intellectual framework of my study acquires an additional realm or level, which will not only explore the development of the modern notion of selfhood but will place within the perspective of the history of Western philosophy those thinkers such as Marx and Weber chosen as germane to Conrad. In creating a two-tiered conceptual framework, I have emulated the layered structure of doubly embedded narrative for which the Conrad works under investigation are famous. My argument, couched in Weberian terms, concerning the issue of individualism and its conflict with modern notions of community will be enhanced by the incorporation of insights from Taylor's study. In fact, Taylor opens part 2 of his book, entitled "Inwardness," with an appeal to the apparent universality of our notion of an untapped interior life by referring to the inherent duality of Conrad's central metaphor in "Heart of Darkness," explaining that "it is a function of a historically limited mode of self-interpretation, one which has become dominant in the modern West."4 Some of Taylor's explorations of the development of the notion of interiority in the last two centuries are retraced here, for issues that concern Conrad intersect with Taylor's interest in the roles of individuality, community, and universally acknowledged moral values in the formation of the modern identity. Marlow's struggle to communicate with words, which each individual has come to interpret in his own fashion, and his ultimate failure, in both "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim, to capture the essence of experience and identity in the highly relativist world Conrad portrays, cast the reader into a realm of subjective reality with neither universality of value nor permanence of meaning. Taylor's philosophic project can be succinctly encapsulated as an endeavour to transcend the relativism that defines the modern perspective; to rescue modernism from the abyss of moral and epistemological relativism into which its detractors claim it has fallen. Tracing the dualistic thrust of Western thought to Plato and Augustine, Taylor credits Augustine's emphasis on humanity's attention to its inner self as the seed of the modern epistemological tradition, associated with Descartes, which results in "a turn to the self in the first-person dimension crucial to our access to a higher condition": "It was Augustine who introduced the inwardness of radical reflexivity and bequeathed it to the Western tradition of thought ... The modern epistemological tradition from Descartes, and all that has

69 "Heart of Darkness"

flowed from it in modern culture, has made this standpoint fundamental."5 Augustine focuses our attention onto our own quest for knowledge, our cognitive activity. He anticipates Descartes in his recognition that the order of the cosmos is not found in some objective, ontological reality, but created by the human thought process. However, Descartes's "new definition of the mastery of reason brings about an internalization of moral sources": Descartes gives Augustinian inwardness a radical twist and takes it in a quite new direction, which has also been epoch-making. The change might be described by saying that Descartes situates the moral sources within us ... The Cartesian option is to see rationality, or the power of thought, as a capacity we have to construct orders which meet the standards demanded by knowledge, or understanding, or certainty ... Insight is essential to the move we can call, following Weber, "disenchanting" the world. We could also call it neutralizing the cosmos, because the cosmos is no longer seen as the embodiment of meaningful order which can define the good for us. And this move is brought about by our coming to grasp the world as mechanism ... If rational control is a matter of mind dominating a disenchanted world of matter, then the sense of the superiority of the good life, and the inspiration to attain it, must come from the agent's sense of his own dignity as a rational being ... Descartes has placed the notions of dignity and esteem at the heart of the moral vision.6

The conviction of the dignity of each individual, which lies at the core of modern political and ethical thought, arises, Taylor believes, from Descartes's emphasis on the power of reason and his internalization of moral sources that Augustine had held to depend upon the alignment of human and divine will. Descartes's conception of the "inwardness of self-sufficiency/' Taylor writes, "prepared the ground for modern unbelief,"7 which he considers the most striking and widespread characteristic of modern Western civilization. Cartesian dualism, and the concomitant notion of radical disengagement, results in "the growing ideal of a human agent who is able to remake himself by methodical and disciplined action."8 This is what Lord Jim tries and fails to accomplish. The ultimate goal is that human beings be able to exert power and control over our life; to objectify our experience and errors in order to learn from them; to reconstruct ourselves in terms of rational procedure, and hence to attain knowledge. This involves submitting accepted beliefs, be their origin personal or cultural, to close scrutiny. This process of disengagement is inherently reflexive; ultimately, the individual can thus be re-formed, or re-created, in accordance with his or her will and

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power of reason. Taylor considers Locke's theory of radical disengagement as conducive to the discipline and rise of the bureaucratic method of organization in the modern world, analysed by Weber: "[Locke] offered a plausible account of the new science as valid knowledge, intertwined with a theory of radical control of the self; and ... brought the two together under the ideal of rational selfresponsibility ... Holding the package together is an ideal of freedom or independence, backed by a conception of disengagement and procedural reason."9 The introspection and reflexivity required to meet this burden of responsibility lie directly beneath our modern conception of identity and selfhood. But Taylor traces another strand of the modern notion of selfhood; that of self-exploration, which also has its seed in the writings of St Augustine, especially the Confessions, and which re-emerges in Montaigne and is expressed most powerfully in the philosophy and poetry of the Romantic era. In many ways antithetical to disengagement, self-exploration takes a subjective turn inward in order to establish identity. According to Montaigne, Taylor writes, "Each of us has to discover his or her own form ... We are not looking for the universal nature; we each look for our own being ... Montaigne is an originator of the search for each person's originality ... The Cartesian [enterprise] calls for a radical disengagement from ordinary experience; Montaigne requires a deeper engagement in our own particularity ... These are the ground, respectively, of two important facets of the nascent modern individualism, that of self-responsible independence, on one hand, and that of recognized particularity, on the other."10 Political contracts from the seventeenth century forward can no longer assume the existence of community but must address the question of how a political system assumes authority over the individuals living under its auspices. Emphasis on political commitment means that willed consent is a precondition to the formation of a community able to exercise authority over its constituent members. From the seventeenth century we inherit atomism and theories of rights of individuals. Taylor counters atomistic social theory with a discussion of "civic humanist"" understanding of society, which reached its full flowering with the American and French revolutions, products of the Enlightenment. Civic humanism to this day exists in conflict with atomistinstrumental politics. Of the former, he writes: "It assumes that the political way of life ... is in an important sense prior to the individuals. It establishes their identity, provides the matrix within which they can be the kind of human beings they are, within which the noble ends of a life devoted to the public good are first conceivable."12 He later writes this of the individualistic legacy of civic

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humanism: "In its political language, it formulates the immunities due people in terms of subjective rights. Because of its egalitarian bent, it conceives these rights as universal."13 In Nostromo, we witness the transformation by the ultimate instrumental force, capitalism, of a man wholly devoted to the public good, whose entire identity initially derives from service to his community. This brief tour of Western conceptions of inwardness, expertly guided by Taylor, remains inadequate to explain what he terms our sense of "inner depths." He once again invokes the master image of the heart of darkness as the fulcrum of his study, which seeks the philosophic origins of the notion of the self capable of figuring forth such an image. Taylor next explores the affirmation of ordinary life. By the eighteenth century, the rise of economics as an isolated discipline had resulted in the portrayal of commerce as "a constructive and civilizing force"14 in the quest for social order and political stability. (The limitations of this view will become evident in the discussion of Nostromo, in which the quest for material interests results in the disintegration of personal idealism and destroys the potential for social justice.) Humanity is called upon to work with judiciousness and industry in its calling, both for the benefit of the individual and for the common weal. Weber identifies Protestant asceticism as underlying the domination in Western Europe of capitalism and the bureaucracy that underpins it. The roles of mystery and grace vanish. The centrality of the inner motivation of the individual is distinctly modern. The secularization of modern society, which Taylor defines not as lack of belief, although this is prevalent in the modern West, but rather as the development of the sense that the spiritual dimension of life is conceivable from an atheistic perspective, means that moral sources can be understood to exist independently of faith in God. A defender of modernity, Taylor argues that "our present predicament represents an epistemic gain, because ... the alternative moral sources which have opened for us in the past two centuries represent real and important human potentialities."^ He categorizes two major "frontiers" of moral exploration: "The first lies within the agent's own powers, those of rational order and control initially, but later,... powers of expression and articulation. The second lies in the depths of nature, in the order of things, but also as it is reflected within."16 He acknowledges that secular humanism has its roots in Judeo-Christian faith and stresses that it is not the inevitable outcome of progress in science and reason. Radical Enlightenment and Romanticism, for this is what the frontiers are, exist in a dialectic relation that forms the core of modernity: "One joins a lively sense of our powers of disen-

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gaged reason to an instrumental reading of nature; the other focuses on our powers of creative imagination and links these to a sense of nature as an inner moral source. These forms stand as rival, and the tension between them is one of the dominant features of modern culture."17 Radical Enlightenment strips reason of its moral and spiritual foundations; nature is no longer seen as providentially ordered. The centrality of the social agenda to relieve suffering results in the transformation of legal systems and human priorities. The pursuit of the universal good is humanity's highest aim. The repudiation of the moral dimension in utilitarian thought, however, means that our idealistic pursuit of social justice and responsibility can degenerate into egotistic, amoral, or cynical goals, witness Charles Gould in Nostromo. Enlightenment humanism embraces a moral horizon, that of active universal benevolence, which radical materialism may annihilate. Romantic or counter-Enlightenment thought reintroduces the notion of mysterious, uncontrollable inner depths: "Rousseau was drawn to a moral view in which there was place for a real notion of depravity. Human evil was not the kind of thing which could be offset by any increase of knowledge or enlightenment. Indeed, the belief that it could be was itself part of the moral distortion."18 Gone is Descartes's confidence in the human will, in our innate power to achieve the good. The mystery of the inner depths of each human being, the ultimate impenetrability of the human will, even to ourselves, lies at the core of Conrad's central metaphor. The depths of Pascal's "monstre incomprehensible"19 can only be plummeted by grace, not reason. For Rousseau, grace is identified as the voice of nature. The doctrine of original sin is replaced by a view of nature as fundamentally good, but whose guiding impulse is blocked by the distortions of depraved culture and the tyranny of public opinion.20 The source of benevolence is not the power of reason but greater sensitivity to the voices of nature and human conscience. Rousseau's opposition to morality and progress is not primitivist; rather, he advocates "escape from calculating other-dependence, from the forces of opinion and the ambitions it engendered, through a kind of alignment or fusion of reason and nature ... True freedom is found only in austerity."21 To be "an integral and free human being on one's own," as he teaches in Emile, and to be true to the civil humanist tradition of "the political formula of self-obedience through commonly established law"22 laid out in the Social Contract, are not in conflict but rather express two aspects of the restored individual. The life of the citizen in the political community and his life on a more intimate level are mutually complementary. Although he stresses that the

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motives for one's actions must come from within, Rousseau does not take his views to their subjectivist extreme. The inner voice never declares full moral competence and mandate. But he did pave the way for Romantic expressivism by enlarging the scope of the "inner voice" so that his thought stands as "the starting point of a transformation in modern culture toward a deeper inwardness and a radical autonomy,"23 a notion explored by Kant. Kant's notion of freedom entails a moral dimension, and he follows Rousseau "in defining freedom and morality essentially in terms of each other ... Acting according to demands of what I truly am, of my reason, is freedom ... This is a more radical definition of freedom ... and demands that we find freedom in a life whose normative shape is somehow generated by rational activity."24 Kant defines human dignity in terms of freedom. In this revolutionary view, humans are seen as agents, as formulators of rational law: "This is the point of origin of the stream of modern thought, developing through Fichte, Hegel, and Marx, which ... insists on an autonomous generation of the forms we live by. The aspiration is ultimately to a total liberation ... Kant gives a firm but quite new base to the subjectivism or internalization of moral sources which Rousseau inaugurates ... Kant explicitly insists that morality can't be founded in nature or in anything outside the human rational will... Kant's theory is really one of the most direct and uncompromising formulations of a modern stance. And, like Descartes, at the centre of his moral view is a conception of human dignity. "^ Nineteenth- and twentieth-century notions that we are a "reforming civilization, capable of reaching higher moral goals,"26 which includes the social justice envisioned and sought through political means by the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, are inspired by this legacy. Historically, the French Revolution was the first major political quest to make manifest the goals of Enlightenment humanism, such as reason, benevolence, freedom, humanitarianism, equality, justice, and self-rule. It united these ideals with Romantic notions of nationalism, individual expression, and fulfilment. The Enlightenment bequeathed the moral imperative to achieve the ideal of universal benevolence and justice - an ideal unprecedented in the history of civilization, in Taylor's view. Another legacy of the Enlightenment is the notion of the free, self-determining subject. What is universal in the modern world is the belief in the inherent virtue of notions of freedom, universal justice and benevolence, equality, and the resultant legitimization of democracy as a form of political rule. Acknowledgment of the barbarity that occurred in the

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twentieth century, most shocking for the banality with which evil was committed, as Arendt aptly phrased it, nonetheless has not "shattered the idea that higher standards in the relevant regards are built into the moral culture of our civilization; rather it has impressed us with the ease with which this civilization can be shaken off."27 But what, then, remains, beyond the possibility of inexpressible chaos, nihilism, and annihilation, if moral relativism prevails? The thin line Conrad perceives to exist between civilization and savagery in the colonial and imperial contexts will be discussed in terms of the depths of evil that may lurk in the individual person and be made manifest in lapses of community moral standards. Another form of internalization that represents nature as an inner source comes to full flowering in the Romantic era. This thread becomes "one of the constituent streams of modern culture ... The Romantics affirmed the rights of the individual, of the imagination, and of feeling."28 To make manifest one's feelings in a work of art, indeed the very notion of formulating or creating, becomes an ideal in this era. Theories of art evolve from the mimetic to the expressive and self- realizing. Artistic creation is no longer seen as imitative, but as redemptive, an act of self-creation, partaking of the nature of the ultimate act of creation. This is the origin of the notion of the artist as godlike, as master builder, for he partakes in the act of creation and, in so doing, reveals. The Romantics oppose the distinction Kant posits between freedom and nature. Within this view, they fear, humanity is in danger of being divided from nature itself and ultimately from its own human nature. Kant responds to the Romantic critique that the rational agent is not the whole person with the recognition that the polar opposition Romanticism posits between nature and reason is artificial and unnecessary. The corollary is that, in Kant's view, the search for unity with nature negates human freedom. Radical autonomy and expressive unity can be reconciled; reason and nature must be synthesized at a higher level that transcends this schism: The expressivist philosophies of nature as a source tended to develop a theory of history which saw it as resembling a spiral, from a primitive undifferentiated unity, to a conflictual division between reason and sensibility, human and human, to a third and higher reconciliation, in which the gains of the second period, reason and freedom, were fully retained ... What emerges is the spiral view of history ... in which we break out of our original integration into the great current of life, to enter a phase of division and opposition, followed by a return to unity at a higher level... The expressive theories of nature as source thus develop their own conceptions of history

75 "Heart of Darkness" and of the narrative forms of human life, both in how an individual unfolds towards self-discovery and in how this life fits into the whole human story.29

In Marx's highly influential adaptation of the Hegelian synthesis, the highest level to which humanity emerges following the dark night of the soul draws on both Enlightenment humanism and Romantic expressivism as the key to overcoming alienation. A fall from initial unity with nature is necessary to attain the final synthesis of reason and freedom. The Hegelian dialectical cycle of thesisantithesis-synthesis manifests itself in the quest for unity, which reconciles the apparent antithesis of reason and nature. The French Revolution depended on the dialectic of initial integrity, divisive conflict, and final reintegration into a higher unity. Self-exploration comes to the fore as both means and end; the notion of the inner domain is fully realized in terms of the expressivist revolution, and simultaneously it is a prerequisite to attain the higher synthesis it demands: "Only with the expressivist idea of articulating our inner nature do we see the grounds for construing this inner domain as having depth, that is, a domain which reaches farther than we can ever articulate, which still stretches beyond our furthest point of clear expression ... A modern who recognizes both these powers is constitutionally in tension ... [These] cultural transformations, the Enlightenment and Romanticism with its accompanying expressive conception of man, have made us what we are ... Our cultural life, our self-conceptions, our moral outlooks still operate in the wake of these great events. "3° We have now reached the point where the conception of horrible inner depths that Conrad relies upon can be adequately addressed. Taylor traces the crisis of faith, the rise of unbelief in the Victorian era, linking it through science, scientific rationality, and bureaucratic institutionalism to the demand of universal benevolence, hence human and social progress. The issue of what moral sources underlie modern society's concern with notions of equality, benevolence, and justice in the absence of faith is highly complex. One family of responses is built on faith that scientific progress and detachment incline people to fairness and benevolence; that "the manly confronting of the universe in its vast indifference, itself frees us from our petty egoism to devote ourselves to the universal welfare."31 Both Hardy and Conrad deal with the indifference of the post-Darwinian cosmos; however, the assertion that humanity's perception of the indifference of the universe to its plight leads to an altruistic concern for the welfare of others is overly optimistic. Another family of responses that builds on Rousseau's notion of sympathy springs up in opposition to naturalist faith in scientific reason. In these cases, the

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inner impulse of nature assumes the role formerly played by grace, used here in its quasi-theological sense. Romantic theories of nature as source draw on this notion, as does Kant's idea, inspired by the Enlightenment, of inherent good will based on our status as rational agents, transformed by the demands of universality. The conflict between Romantic expressivism and Enlightenment ideals of disengaged reason and self-determining freedom is enhanced by capitalist emphasis on individualism and bureaucratic routinization, which increase the sense of instrumentalism, atomism, fragmentation, alienation, or what Lukacs terms reification in modern society. There is a further dangerous element in atomism that is explicitly political: "A condition in which everyone defines his or her purposes in individual terms and only cleaves to society on instrumental grounds, [atomism] undermines the very basis of cohesion which a free, participatory society needs to maintain itself."32 This line of thought is expounded by Marx, who is hostile to the disengaged, mechanistic, and instrumental moral and epistemological stance of capitalist society. For Marx and others, "Romanticism was part source of an important range of alternate political visions, critical of the instrumentalist, bureaucratic and industrial society which was growing in the West... Another fruit of Romanticism in modern politics is nationalism ... [which has its] roots first in Rousseau's notion that the locus of sovereignty must be a people ... The basis of cohesion was the political nation and a certain ideal of citizenship."33 In his explorations of the beginnings of American imperialism in Latin America in Nostromo, Conrad paints a poignant portrait of a nationalist who becomes convinced that the best hope for a prosperous and socially just future for his country lies in foreign investment and the sad inevitability of foreign domination. Marx's location of the source of instrumentalism and hence alienation in capitalist social structure rather than in the nature of human consciousness will be elucidated as prelude to the examination of Nostromo. Taylor describes a twofold transformation in Romanticism during the nineteenth century, when nature comes to be seen as less amenable to our expressive powers, and as inaccessible, even terrible. The Romantic debt to the traditional notion of providential order is cancelled by, among other works, Darwin's theory of evolution, which emphasizes the random nature of the process of change. Developments in the natural and biological sciences "presented a universe much vaster and more bewildering in space, time and evolution than the earlier orders had envisioned and rationalized."34 External nature, in all its vastness, indifference and mystery, seems quite different, entirely other, from the natural impulse to which

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Rousseau and others impel us to be attuned. The creation of a distinction between scientific explanation of the natural order and its moral meaning has resulted in an unprecedented modern cultural predicament. Taylor sees Conrad as following Schopenhauer in his recognition that "the great current of nature to which we belong is no longer seen as something comprehensible, familiar, closely related to the self, and benign and comes more and more to be seen as vast, unfathomable, alien, and amoral."35 Nietzsche activates the disjunction between beauty and morality in his attack on herd mentality, which he understands as the outcome of the ideal of universal benevolence. This is germane to the solitude versus solidarity debate that Conrad dramatizes. The exaltation of art in relation to morality means that the creative imagination becomes the crucial locus of modern moral sources and is the focus of much modern investigation, as Marlow's thought processes and creative imagination are Conrad's true focus in the Marlow tales. In the modern as opposed to the Romantic aesthetic, power is given to symbols "by taking language beyond discourse"; "the revelatory power of the symbol depends on a break with ordinary discourse,"36 so that, in the triumph of opacity over transparency in modern art and literature, creative discourse becomes its own subject. Taylor isolates two strains in modern art: "a slide into subjectivism and an anti-subjectivist thrust at the same time,"37 which decentres the subject, makes the claim of impersonality, and frequently focuses on the very nature of language, discourse, and poetic transformation. An important transformation of the Romantic vision in the nineteenth century is Schopenhauer's bleak view of the will as power, a view that asserts that the human will can be corrupt and does not necessarily seek the good. This is vital to a study of Conrad, who, like Schopenhauer, sees nature as an alienating rather than a comforting force. Neither Schopenhauer nor Conrad sees human nature as essentially benign, rational, and satiable. The philosophy of Schopenhauer is the source of "an art which relates to the wild energy of amoral nature": "The all-pervading power is the Schopenhauerian will... It is nothing but wild, blind, uncontrolled striving, never satisfied, incapable of satisfaction, driving us on, against all principles, law, morality, all standards of dignity, to an insatiable search for the unattainable ... The source from which all reality flows as expression is poisoned. It is not the source of good, but of insatiable desire, of an imprisonment in evil, which makes us miserable, exhausts us, degrades us."38 Redemption from the will consists in transcending the consciousness of its insatiability and fragmentation. The Romantic notion of "nature as a great reservoir of force" remains, but it is

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now seen as an amoral, even evil force rather than the domain of goodness. To be cut off from this force, however, "this fermenting source of power,"39 would be to lead a banal, dull, empty life. Civilization based on reason, from this perspective, is shrivelled, dry, and insignificant. But the "great reservoir of unbridled power" that is nature also has its dangers: "We dare not plunge too deeply, too precipitately, too unguardedly into it, because it is wild, formless, unreason itself."40 In Conrad, civilization is often a veneer of illusion that easily peels off to reveal the amorality of acts accomplished in its name. The upshot of the discrediting of "the Romantic vision of spiritualized nature" combined with "the continuing development of a natural scientific view of nature and the 'disenchantment' brought about by industrial civilization"41 is a crisis, what Taylor terms a "crisis of affirmation." Awareness of the transfiguring power of the creative imagination is central. This "arrogation to man of powers formerly confined to God," as Taylor so aptly phrases it, is a monumental responsibility that results in a "resolutely atheist doctrine,"42 as with Nietzsche. Alternatively, recognition of the power of the imagination may sustain a profoundly Christian belief in individual responsibility, as with Dostoyevsky, or result in the postulation of an association between aesthetic and ethical transfigurations of life, as with Kierkegaard. All that is truly new in the modern view is the role and power of the creative imagination. Whether or not an atheistic formulation arises from this idea depends upon whether or not God is understood to be necessary for this transformation of our stance toward the world. The transformation itself is, in either case, a thoroughly modern one in which the creative imagination assumes the role formerly enacted by grace, inasmuch as it completes and manifests that which it reveals.43 One of Dostoyevsky's central insights, according to Taylor, involves how we open or close ourselves to grace: "The ultimate sin is to close oneself, but one's reasons for doing so can be of the highest... The more noble and sensitive and morally insightful one is, the more one is liable to feel this loathing ... [However], rejecting the world seals one's sense of its loathsomeness and of one's own, insofar as one is part of it. And from this can only come acts of hate and destruction ... What [Dostoyevsky] was opposing was the belief that humans affirm their dignity in separation from the world."44 This draws on Nietzsche's and Dostoyevsky's insight that "the demands of benevolence can exact a high cost in self-love and self-fulfilment, which may in the end require payment in self-destruction or even in violence."4? Acts of hate and destruction in turn breed others, direct-

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ed against the world and ultimately against oneself. Decoud's suicide is one such act of self-loathing, as is Kurtz's repudiation of the world and his descent into the hollow depths of his self, and into despair. In separating oneself from the evil and injustice of the world, one also, inadvertently, cuts oneself off from the grace it may offer. As in orthodox Christian doctrine, the ultimate sin is pride. The profound responsibility that Dostoyevsky demands of us involves loving the world, agreeing to be part of it and remaining open to the love of others, despite the inherent evil and degradation of the world and of humanity. In his own version of Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis, or dark night of the soul, Dostoyevsky writes: "The absolute atheist stands on the last rung but one before most absolute faith."46 Despite his atheism and rejection of the ethic of benevolence as resulting in the herd mentality, Taylor writes, Nietzsche aspires to affirm reality as good. The strength of the superman lies in his affirmation of this goodness despite his absolute freedom from illusion concerning the universe "as a seat of rationality, or as undergoing some progress in ethics or civilization, or as destined for ultimate salvation." Nietzsche denies the moralities that spring from Christianity. Taylor summarizes Nietzsche's position thus: "Against all this, Nietzsche opposes his myth of the eternal return: there will be no resolution, no rising higher, no compensation or suffering, no ultimate reconciliation, no way out."47 The strength to achieve this kind of transformation of the self emanates entirely from within. We must endeavour to negate our essential being, to deny the will to power. The force of morality is seen as the enemy, for it can "sap our strength and fill us with the poison of self-hatred": "Part of the heroism of the Nietzschean superman is that he can rise beyond the moral, beyond the concern with good, and manage in spite of suffering and disorder and the absence of all justice to respond to something like the beauty of it all. Hence the affirmation cannot be fully separated from an aesthetic transfiguration. Zarathustra is inseparably visionary and poet ... the beauty is inwardly connected to the stance of unflinching acceptance."48 I will discuss the importance of the manly virtue of unflinching acceptance of mystery and disillusion in Conrad, and give further attention to Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. The modern sense of the disenchantment of the world has intensified, and to Schopenhauer's philosophy it owes a new and forbidding conception of nature unavailable to the Romantics. The Romantics perceived mechanism and instrumental reason as forces that debased and deformed the world. "By the twentieth century," however, as Taylor points out, "the encroachments of instrumental reason were incomparably greater, and we find the modernist writers and

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authors in protest against a world dominated by technology, standardization, the decay of community, mass society and vulgarization."49 The world of nature in which the Romantics found solace has vanished because of the exponential growth of industry and urbanization; society has become the domain of anonymous masses as the notion of community unravels. The end of nature, to borrow the title of Bill McKibben's recent study, brought by changes in social organization and scientific theory and practice, combined with the wholly new and previously inconceivable attitude to nature as a "great reservoir of amoral power" that is the legacy of Schopenhauer, make the Romantic sensibility, the links it posits between nature and spirituality, untenable in the present era. The creative imagination, extolled by the Romantics, now has an even more ambitious role to fulfil. Nature, demystified and degraded, no longer provides the solace it once did and is no longer humanity's spiritual ally against a hostile society. Nature's mystique has been extinguished by humanity's endeavours to control and exploit it, but its fearsome aspect will finally prevail and make a mockery of our efforts. Romantic notions of harmony with spiritualized nature are incompatible with the post-Schopenhauerian view of human nature, which has also absorbed the impact of scientific biology, notably Darwinism. By the early twentieth century, Western society was so highly routinized and mechanized, or so it seemed to Conrad, that spectacular attempts at personal fulfilment could only occur on the frontiers of civilization and wilderness. Even then, they are without consequence to the civilization from which these desires spring. Recognition of Nietzsche's staggering notion, here paraphrased in Taylor's words, "that the self might not enjoy a guaranteed, a priori unity"50 becomes the condition of a retrieval of lived experience celebrated in modern literature. The idea of the integrated or unitary self adhered to, each in its different way, by the ideals of disengaged reason and Romantic self-fulfilment, disintegrates. Traditional notions of stable identity are undermined as our perception of experience in the modern world is increasingly fragmented and subjective. In D.H. Lawrence's words: "Our ready-made individuality, our identity, is no more than an accidental cohesion in the flux of time."51 This perception manifests itself, in the arts, in a repudiation of narrative based on a progressive notion of time as linear, as we see in Conrad, Woolf, and Proust, and in Cubist art, which integrates the fourth dimension, time, in its simultaneous depiction of multiple perspectives in pictorial space. In philosophy, Lukacs's theory of reification, or objectification, which I will discuss in conjunction with Nostromo, is essen-

8i "Heart of Darkness" tially a critique of modern instrumentalism as it manifests itself in capitalist social structure. Lukacs's notion of reification draws heavily on Marx's early writings on alienation. Taylor succintly captures Lukas's insight that time is "a homogenous item of calculation,"'2 a marketable commodity, subsumed within and objectified by capitalism's privileging of productivity as the measure of all things. The modern conception of time calls into doubt the notion, which underpins philosophy and narrative to this point, that time is necessarily progressive and spatialized. The expanded notion of time in Darwinian theory denies to the individual the amelioration that it bequeaths to successive generations; nonetheless, its basic thrust is progressive, although progress occurs across generations rather than within life spans. Einsteinian quantum physics, on the other hand, undermines the very notion that time is linear. Loss of faith in the unitary self and in progressive or cyclical time are hallmarks of the modern experience. The question whether expressive fulfilment is compatible with the instrumental stance we assume in our relations with each other and with society is exacerbated by Nietzsche's repudiation of the ethic of universal benevolence. Does this ideal exact too high a price in terms of personal fulfilment, as he posits? Taylor believes that secular humanism does not circumvent this dilemma; that the loss of the religious or magical dimension in history "involves stifling the response in us to some of the deepest and most powerful spiritual aspirations that humans have conceived." Our cultural tendency to stifle this spirit is based on the false conviction that "the highest ideals are the most potentially destructive," that they are "poisoned chalices."53 My own atheism combined with a powerful intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic response to art and nature and a strong commitment to environmental and social causes means that I do not share Taylor's view that the loss of the religious dimension in modern life, the lack of faith in a transcendental power, entails a loss of mystery and awe, and a diminishing commitment to social justice. I will explore the issue of whether the highest ideals are indeed poisoned chalices with respect to Lord Jim, especially Stein's disquisition about noble ideals and the destructive element, and the debate over ideals and their degradation in Nostromo. These issues are addressed by Marx and Weber, who coined the term "disenchantment of the world." Capitalism, technology, and bureaucracy are the ultimate manifestations of the utilitarian, disengaged stance, and were analysed and attacked by Marx, Nietzsche, and Weber, respectively. Notions of passion, heroism, or noble purposes become obso-

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lete in this world. Both Hardy and Conrad are concerned with the diminishing of modern notions of heroism. Taylor elaborates the criticism arising from this conflict: The charge may be that the instrumental mode of life ... has destroyed the matrices in which meaning could formerly flourish. Or the action may be quasi-coercive, as we see, for instance, in Max Weber's notion of modern society as an "iron cage" or Marx's theory of capitalism (from which Weber borrowed). Here the exigencies of survival in capitalist (or technological) society are thought to dictate a purely instrumental pattern of action, which has the inevitable effect of destroying or marginalizing purposes of intrinsic value. The loss of meaning can be formulated in other ways. Weber, picking up a theme from Schiller, talks of the "disenchantment" (Entzauberung) of the world. The world, from being a locus of "magic", or the sacred, or the Ideas, comes simply to be seen as a neutral domain of potential means to our purposes. Or else it can be formulated in terms of division or fragmentation. To take an instrumental stance to nature is to cut us off from the sources of meaning in it. An instrumental stance to our 'own feelings divides us within, splits reason from sense. And the atomistic focus on our individual goals dissolves community and divides us from each other. This is a theme ... taken up by Marx (at least in his early work) and later by Lukacs, ... There is another variant which Marx puts forward, this time directed specifically at capitalist society, in his charge that it generates unequal relations of power which make a mockery of the political equality which genuine self-rule presupposes.54

I focus on the critique of instrumental society because it is the banality and routinization, the unequal power relations, and the reduction of the self, others, and nature to the status of instrument that Weber and Marx address. True individual liberty demands commitment to the common weal, to the political community, rather than a purely instrumental stance to government; mere subjectivity, as it manifests itself in the exclusive quest for self-fulfilment, must be transcended. Profound moral vision seeks a balance between individual rights and freedoms on the one hand, and collective responsibility on the other. In response to Taylor's work, Thomas Pavel, in a paper entitled "The Literary Self: Deliberation and Resonance" given at the symposium dedicated to Taylor at the 1990 MLA Conference, makes the point that as the notion of the inner self becomes richer and the dichotomy between individual and community becomes an accepted ontological and epistemological state, human subjects no longer feel that the language of the community is adequate to speak about them-

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selves: "The modern self gained a relative autonomy with respect not only to the values of the community, but also to the language of the community. It is this subtle divergence between language and consciousness that came to be noticed, first deplored, later exalted, and finally increasingly thematized in narrative fiction."55 Thus the development of the autonomous self has implications for the very nature of language as it manifests itself in how we understand ourselves, and how we express ourselves in the literature of the modern period. One of the major themes of this study is how narrative, or language in general, becomes its own subject in Conrad's work. Conrad's thematic concerns and structural innovations will also be interrogated. All three elements are inextricably interwoven. 2 N I E T Z S C H E , W E B E R , AND THE NEW MAN

Betrayal is a crucial and characteristic action in Conrad's novels. The scandal of betrayal and its repercussions are greater because the man guilty of shattering the code of group solidarity has been regarded as one of its ideal representatives. The concept of the gentleman-hero is thus a contradiction in terms. The gentleman is a member of whatever communal system the setting of the novel dictates: colonialism in "Heart of Darkness," the mariners' code in Lord Jim, and the more fully bureaucratized political, imperialist code in Nostromo. The price of heroism in these novels is the loss of one's status as a gentleman. Specifically, it is the loss of one's place within the community. More drastic is the loss of belief in the reality of the values upon which society is based. The source of tragedy in Conrad's novels is related to their historical setting and the time of their authorship. For by this time the Romantic freedom and individual integrity associated with the breaking of all social bonds had become obsolete. The ideal of personal and social emancipation celebrated in, for example, the American novel of the mid-nineteenth century as well as by the individualistic - even eccentric - public personae nurtured by poets and thinkers such as Emerson and Thoreau had given way, by the end of the century, to a different social ideal. This new vision of society promoted efficiency and subjugation to the group. The corollary of this displacement of the euphoric sense of individual freedom is the devastating comprehension of absolute solitude. The enthusiasm for the building of a new society - the colonization of exotic African and South Pacific lands by Europe - ironically comes to reveal that the civilized ideals that endorse such exploitation are questionable. If the characteristic action is betrayal, the characteristic consequence

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soon comes to be the want of belief in any ultimate values, personal or social. The betrayal of the social code is more likely for the man blessed or cursed with a greater degree of self-consciousness than a social order devoted to efficiency and group solidarity can bear. These themes are reflected in the language and formal structures of the early modern British novel. The betrayer is the studied, the object of the narrative. His character is glimpsed from without by a narrator who represents fidelity to the social code and to the work ethic upon which society is based. The narrator's beliefs and adherences are called into question during the course of, and in response to the implications of, the tale he narrates. The narrator is "one of us" who comes to feel the want of belief. In the case of Conrad's Marlow he is the witness for whom omniscience is impossible, the creator for whom omnipotence is impossible. Trapped in the same ontological realm as the characters he portrays, with no more access to their innermost thoughts and motivations than his sensitivity can glean or than they will voluntarily reveal, Marlow comes to accept the fact of individual solitude, and to perceive his own "fixed standards of conduct" as "saving illusions." A model for the cultural transformations intuited by Conrad may be found in the writings of the German sociologists Max Weber and Karl Mannheim. Weber's concept of charisma is developed in his lengthy and unfinished study Economy and Society, upon which he concentrated during the years 1910-14. Charisma is one of three modes of political domination. The alternative modes are the traditional domination of the patriarchal system and the rational-legal domination of the bureaucratic system. The legitimacy of power fluctuates among these three. Weber's essays shed light on the spectacular if isolated heroes of Conrad's novels - Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo - who can be understood as dramatizations of the final stand of Romantic individualism in the face of the bureaucracy and commercialism that come to dominate life in the late nineteenth century. The contrast between the self-conscious individual and the outwardlooking devoted social being was current in the intellectual history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My account of Weber's thought is a prelude to an examination of the theme of the betrayal of community solidarity in Conrad, and his use of an interpolated narrator whose ideals of devotion to duty anticipate Weber's analysis of modern humanity. The following is a brief outline of the ideas of Max Weber concerning the charismatic hero, the rationalization of charisma by a bureaucratic system, and the role in the increasing uniformity of humankind and the development of capitalism played by the "Protestant ethic."

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Donald MacRae locates the source of Weber's concept of charisma in theology: "To have charisma is to have divine grace, the grace of God, something, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, 'supernatural bestowed on man by God.' Charisma then is not part of the natural order, not part of the material world nor the world of society. It comes from without."56 Charismatic domination is born of extraordinary circumstances; it often arises during times of crisis and emergency, and, as Weber's editor W.G. Runciman comments in his introduction to section 4, Politics, "Precisely because the circumstances in which it occurs involve a break with routine, it carries the possibility of a revolutionary transformation of social structures and ideologies."57 Its authority is held by virtue of a mission felt to be incarnate in the person of the leader and the acknowledgment that he is blessed with special gifts not available to everyone. As such it is inherently unstable, and differs from the two alternative structures, the patriarchal and the rational-legal, which are rooted in everyday economy. The ambiguity of the following statement at the beginning of his seminal essay "The Nature of Charismatic Domination," first published posthumously in 1922, often results in a misunderstanding of Weber's thought: "The supply of all needs which go beyond the economic requirements of everyday life is seen, the further back we go in history, to be based on a totally different principle, that of Charisma. In other words, the 'natural' leaders in times of spiritual, physical, economic, ethical, religious or political emergency were neither appointed officials nor trained and salaried specialist professionals ... but those who possessed specific physical and spiritual gifts which were regarded as supernatural, in the sense of not being available to everyone."58 This has led to the interpretation that Weber was positing that charismatic domination is a stage in a linear evolution from primitive to traditional to modern rational-legal domination. This is not an accurate reading. However, Weber does identify the late nineteenth century as a period in which "bureaucratic organization... was beginning to prevail everywhere," and reiterates his general principle that "charisma is fated to decline as permanent institutional structures increasingly develop."59 Weber's analysis of modes of political domination is based neither on a linear, progressive view of history nor on the Hegelian model of its cyclical nature. Charismatic domination may precede or exist concurrently with patriarchal or rationallegal domination, and in certain conditions may even usurp them. As Reinhard Bendix points out, Weber did not assign priority to or state his preference between charismatic and bureaucratic authority. The routinization of charisma represents neither an evolution nor a deterioration in social structure, but simply describes a historical pat-

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tern of alternation between charismatic leadership and bureaucracy: "Indeed Weber regarded the development of legal rationality as a major factor in the emerging distinctiveness of Western civilization. Accordingly, he did not subscribe to a theory of history that sees history's dynamic element in the charismatic 'break-throughs' of great men, and its stable element in the 'decline of charisma' through routinization."60 The authority of bureaucratic power is held by appointed leaders and rests by virtue of an established order gradually and deliberately developed by humanity. Both bureaucratic rationalization and charismatic domination are potential revolutionary forces, Weber explains, but they differ in their methods and goals: "Bureaucratic rationalisation can also be, and often has been, a revolutionary force of the first order in its relation to tradition. But its revolution is carried out by technical means, basically 'from the outside' (as is especially true of all economic re-organisation) ... Such belief [as charismatic domination necessitates] revolutionises man 'from within' and seeks to shape things and organisations in accordance with its revolutionary will... It is in this purely empirical and value-free sense the characteristically 'creative' revolutionary force in history."61 Weber's insight that bureaucratic rationalism, ostensibly a stabilizing force, is in fact a revolutionary one owes a debt to Marx's similar insight into capitalism. Organization triumphs over charisma in the end. This is a distinguishing feature of the modern era. The extreme conclusion of the process of the transformation of charismatic authority is a situation in which the efficient running of the organization becomes reason enough to suppress the resurgence of the charismatic energy out of which it springs. The manager, for instance, admits to Marlow that Kurtz's shipments of ivory are large and highly profitable, yet deems Kurtz's methods "unsound," and surreptitiously plots his murder. The relevance of Weber's thought to Hardy's novels is clear, for instance, when one considers how Farfrae's sterile, commercial efficiency dispossesses Michael Henchard, ultimately dooming him to a lonely death. In a broader vein, the moral and social constrictions of society are incapable of accommodating the vibrancy of Tess and the ambition of Jude; they too are condemned and disposed of with no recognition of their value as an individual woman and man, each faithful to herself or himself rather than to convention. In "The Development of Bureaucracy and Its Relation to Law," also first published in 1922, Weber points out that the single absolute prerequisite for the development of a permanent bureaucratic administrative structure is the creation and maintenance of a money economy - whether the income is supplied by private profit (busi-

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ness) or a system of taxation (government). Bureaucratic organization has become, in the modern world, the indispensable tool of the mass political party and the nation state, and its spread and efficiency are necessary to large capitalist enterprise. The highly specialized division of labour is based upon a rigid form of hierarchy and subordination - a subordination that is compensated, in part, by the development of a strong sense of status. The depersonalization of the system is made complete in its separation of office and incumbent, as Weber explains: "The purely 'objective,' professional character of the office, with its separation on principle of the officer's private life from the sphere of his official activity, makes it easy for him to fit into the enduring, established and objective conditions of a disciplined machine."62 The separation of public office from private ownership or control of resources ensures that the bureaucrat is rewarded by salary and the potential for upward mobility only, and that no conflicts of interest arise. This dedication to accuracy and efficiency results in the transfer of power from the leader to the expert. It increases the rigidity of organizations and reduces their capacity for flexibility and change. The expert is objective, detached, and indifferent in human terms. Bendix summarizes Weber's conclusions about the evolution of bureaucratic authority: "[He] envisaged the future in terms of an ever recurring struggle between political leadership and bureaucratization, ... [holding that] bureaucracy is here to stay, and any future social order promises only to be more oppressive than the capitalist society of today."6} The seeds of Weber's most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, first appeared as a two-part article in 1904-5. The book-length version was published in 1920-21, immediately following Weber's death. This work is a correlative analysis of the social structure of capitalism in terms of the ideology of Protestantism. The radical Protestant rejection of Catholic notions of mediation and the sacred enhances the status of secular life, which promotes productive labour and family values. The Protestant emphasis on personal commitment and salvation or justification by faith alone succeeds in affirming and sanctifying the value of ordinary life, and in fostering self-reliance and confidence. Weber's thought is relevant to the Hardy and Conrad material in that capitalism encourages uniformity in behaviour and life-style, and discourages individuality. Weber traces this back to its roots in the ascetics of Protestantism, and especially of the Puritan sects. Particularly relevant is his association of capitalism and bureaucracy with conformity: "The powerful tendency towards uniformity in styles of life which is nowadays supported by the capitalist interest in the 'standardization' of production had its

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intellectual origin in the [Puritan] rejection of the 'idolatry of the creature/"64 It is interesting to note that Kurtz, who shatters the ideal of conformity more drastically than any other character in Conrad's oeuvre, carries the concept of idolatry to its extreme when he presents himself as a deity to be worshipped. The charismatic heroes of Hardy's and Conrad's novels, such as Henchard, Tess, Jude, Jim, and Nostromo, find they cannot live happily within society. They betray group solidarity, only to discover that even then they cannot achieve the integrity and freedom that they desire. Their acts of isolated heroism and their consequent insights into the nature of the society that they have betrayed make it impossible for them to share the mute acceptance of social norms in a world which demands conformity and devotion to efficiency. The work ethic of the Puritan advocates hard, unremitting physical or intellectual labour while forbidding indulgence in riches and the luxury of time. It is not the attainment but the enjoyment of riches that is morally objectionable: "The achievement of wealth as the fruit of work in a calling [is regarded] as an expression of God's blessings ... and at the same time the surest and most visible proof of regeneration and genuineness of faith."65 The doctrine of the calling is of special importance to the Protestant ethic: "Divine providence has prepared for everyone without distinction a particular calling, which he must recognise and in which he must work," Weber explains. The life of those with a vocation achieves the "systematic and methodical character required ... by inner-worldly asceticism."66 It becomes obligatory to regard oneself as chosen; uncertainty indicates insufficient faith, while, as Anthony Giddens points out in his introduction, "success in a calling eventually came to be regarded as a 'sign' - never a means - of being one of the elect."67 The Puritan conception of the ascetic significance of a calling "sheds an ethical aura around the modern specialized expert ... the sober bourgeois self-made man."68 Unequal distribution of wealth is in accordance with God's unknowable providential plan. The sanctification of labour as a guarantee of grace combined with the prohibition of luxury consumption results in an accumulation of capital available for investment. The full economic effect of this conception of life is felt only "after the peak of purely religious enthusiasm had already passed, when the convulsive quest for the Kingdom of God was beginning to gradually settle down into sober virtue in one's calling ... [and] a utilitarian concern with this world."6? Weber is preoccupied with the problem of individual freedom in a world increasingly subjected to the inexorable, depersonalizing machinery of bureaucratic administration. No description of the

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plight of Conrad's backbiting pilgrims and such trading company officials as the starchly costumed accountant, the nondescript manager, and the superfluous brickmaker is more apt than the following comment made by Weber in 1909 during the course of a debate: It is horrible to think that the world could one day be filled with nothing but those little cogs, little men clinging to little jobs and striving towards bigger ones ... This passion for bureaucracy ... is enough to drive one to despair. It is as if in politics we were deliberately to become men who need "order" and nothing but order, who become nervous and cowardly if for one moment this order wavers, and helpless if they are torn away from their total incorporation in it... The great question is ... what can we oppose to this machinery in order to keep a portion of mankind free from this parcelling-out of the soul, from this supreme master of the bureaucratic way of life??0

Such a man has given up so much to content himself, Nietzsche contends in Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-85), that he "is no longer able to despise himself."71 So profound is the crisis at the heart of modernism, Robert Pippin explains in Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, that "Nietzsche wants quite deliberately to claim that one of the chief characteristics of the nihilism crisis is that very few people experience the modern situation as any sort of crisis, that the last men have not only given up any attempt to pursue a goal, to create and affirm in any way that counts as genuine affirmation, but they have settled so comfortably into their contented lives that they no longer even realize what they have done, or what else might be possible."72 "Morality in Europe today is herd animal morality,"73 Nietzsche proclaims emphatically in Beyond Good and Evil. The link between the dissolution of values once held to be absolute and the spiritual barrenness of the modern era with its emphasis on conformity, egalitarianism, and ultimately banality is evident in Nietzsche's formulation of his view of "herd mentality" in The Will to Power, the posthumous compilation of his most systematic philosophic writings, which predates and influences Weber's theory of charisma and its routinization. Nihilism results from the radical devaluation of values once held to be absolute. Pippin summarizes the implications of Nietzsche's insight as follows: His claim is that we live in an age ... [that] has begun to collapse under the weight of the dilemmas and aporiai it created for itself, to terminate in an anomic, directionless "herd society," and most fundamentally in an experience of worthlessness and enervation Nietzsche calls "nihilism" or "the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability" ... Nietzsche asserts that

90 Solitude versus Solidarity it was the historical experience that resulted from attempting to pursue such highest ideals that itself produced a "dawning" realization that the ideals were worthless; that where there had once been value, there is now the nihil, nothing, that we live in the age of the "death of God," the death indeed of all the moral and philosophical gods, the age of the "last men," the "twilight of the idols" ... Nietzsche's central claim about the historical situation of modernity is that "nihilism stands at the door."74

It is crucial to note, Pippin emphasizes, "how much of Nietzsche's diagnosis of modern nihilism depends on a claim that we have become a herd society, full of slavish pity and so abject dependence on each other. We have 'lost' ourselves in an ever more absorbing, routinizing mass society."75 Nietzsche's diagnosis of the timidity of modern man anticipates Weber's articulation of despair at the spectacle of the degree to which we have willingly subordinated our individuality to the group ethos: "Nietzsche implies that in the anxiety created by doubts about divine authority, and in the chaos created by so many irreconcilable attempts at a secular basis of moral order, we have, in a kind of panic, taken refuge in each other, in safety, or the lowest common denominator. We have degenerated into creatures who can will to do only what all others are willing to do, and this primarily out of fear and a timid hesitation about the consequences of any full realization of the contingency and plurality of human ends."?6 In All That Is Solid Melts into Air, Marshall Berman points out that unlike Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, who posit metaphysical explanations of modern nihilism, such as science, rationalism, and the death of God, Marx locates its source in capitalist social structure: "Marx would say that its basis is far more concrete and mundane: it is built into the banal everyday workings of the bourgeois economic order - an order that equates our human value with our market price, no more, no less."77 The harshness of the Protestant doctrine of predestination distresses Weber. '"In its extreme inhumanity/ he writes, 'this doctrine [breeds]... a feeling of unprecedented inner loneliness.' From this torment 'the capitalist spirit was born.'"78 We seek in our work refuge from the utter loneliness that is the human condition. Literature of the modern era is that of isolation and loneliness. Marlow's work ethic is initially that of the modern man who believes that behind his work lies a "sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct" (Lord Jim, 44), and that in it he may find a way to keep his hold "on the redeeming facts of life" ("Heart of Darkness," 33). His unshakeable belief in the reality of the idea behind his work, and in the intrinsic value of work for its own sake, is shattered by his

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encounters with Kurtz and Jim. The contrast between Marlow's socially conscious outlook and the iconoclasm and ultimate solitude of Kurtz and Jim can be understood as a manifestation of the inevitable conflict between the Romantic or charismatic hero and the modern company man. The fellowship of the sea is an ancient one; however, its communal ideals combine in the person of Marlow with an acutely self-conscious probing quality to produce an articulate spokesman capable of expressing the profound scepticism and isolation experienced by modern humankind - the transformation of values into doubts, of shared experience and responsibility into exile from society. Although they are fellow sailors, Marlow's insight is of a different order from the mute, instinctive wisdom of old Singleton, who sails the Narcissus: "He radiated unspeakable wisdom, hard unconcern, the chilling air of resignation ... profound and unconscious."79 More common is the fate of Singleton's listeners, who feel the increasing self-consciousness of modern humanity, which allows them to "discern perfectly the irremediable aspect of their existence"(i3o), often with tragic results. The ultimate irony is that the mute and unreflective, those like Singleton, most successfully inherit the earth. The evolution of consciousness, the ability to discern the distinction between self and other, or between self and society, renders us vulnerable to debilitating awareness of alienation and solitude. Reinhard Bendix analyses the relationship, in Weber's thought, among the doctrine of predestination, the Protestant work ethic, and the terrible loneliness of modern man: "Weber believed that the ordinary man was bound to feel profoundly troubled by a doctrine that did not permit any outward signs of his state of grace and that imparted to the image of God such terrifying majesty that He transcended all human entreaty and comprehension. Before this God, man stood alone ... Calvin had taught that one must find solace solely on the basis of true faith ... To attain that self-confidence, unceasing work in a calling was recommended ... And it was this ascetic tendency that explained the affinity between Calvinism and the 'spirit of capitalism.'"80 Weber's sensitivity to the plight of modern humanity is not solely the result of his study of the doctrine of Protestantism. It arose also from his feeling, based on observation of German society in his time, that people were atomized, alienated from themselves and their fellows, from society and their past, and that only a fragmented mass of individuals rather than a cohesive collectivity would remain. The timid, clinging behaviour that Nietzsche termed "herd mentality" is not comparable or conducive to true social cohesion. In fact, Weber

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was, according to MacRae, influenced by Nietzsche's abhorrence of the world's deception by the false Christian assertion of a divinely decreed, ultimately positive order that may render us unresponsive to the reality we face:: "It may not seem very positive or striking in our time to say that values are not in harmony with each other, that the true may be ugly, the holy repulsive, the beautiful feigning and the good terrible ... To find that science could neither order nor guarantee values was also surprising to both positivists and idealists. Nietzsche and Weber represent a reaction against those assumptions."81 Nietzsche's diagnosis of the modern era as that of the "last men" without desire, or a goal, leads to the following conclusion, expressed in The Twilight of the Idols, paraphrased by Pippin: "Modernity has in some sense, ended, terminated in some sort of double bind or nihilism in which subjects must still evaluate, will and act, but in which they have rendered themselves incapable of such affirmation, so dubious about the possibility of any ideal or end implied by affirmation that they have become enervated, sick, 'modern sceptics.'"82 To paraphrase Dostoyevsky, the sceptic stands on the last rung but one before the idealist. Only values that have been tested are worth espousing. In a conviction not far removed from the saving illusion as veil behind which Marlow retreats with his unspeakable knowledge, Weber is convinced that "Human life seeks meaning: society is made possible, however precariously, by meaning and value or that search for them which is in itself an embodiment of meaning - since no quest can be undertaken without a conviction, however doubting, that the intention and the goal are worthwhile."83 At the same time, however, the increasing component of rationality in social life means that the world loses its saviour and its revolutionary potential. Weber borrowed from the poet Schiller a phrase rendered as "the disenchantment of the world." Hence, as Gerth and Mills write in From Max Weber: "The extent and direction of 'rationalization' is thus measured negatively in terms of the degree to which magical elements of thought are displaced, or positively by the extent to which ideas gain in systematic coherence and naturalistic consistency."84 But it is above all, Weber felt, "a world in which men lost their manifold natures in the specialized division of labour, devoting themselves to unambiguously defined tasks."85 In the novels of Hardy and Conrad, the destruction of the spectacular but isolated hero manifests the expulsion of magic from the world that Weber foresaw. I will examine the careers of Conrad's s dispossessed heroes from the perspective of Weber's essays on charisma and its inevitable destruction through routinization. Attention will be given to the embedded narrative structure of the works and the role of the

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dramatized narrator, Marlow, who corresponds in some degree to Weber's analysis of modern man. The conflict between such a man's inner identity and his role in the community will be explored. Later, I will discuss Conrad's political novel Nostromo using as intellectual foundation the work of Karl Marx on the relation between human alienation and capitalist production. It should be noted here, however, that the characters of Nostromo and his mentor, old Giorgio Viola, also represent the final stand of idealistic individualism in the face of capitalist social order that circumscribes all interpersonal relationships within the confines of its own dictates.

3 "HEART OF DARKNESS" i Language, Narrative Sequence, and the Quest for Meaning In the world that Conrad portrays, ideals have no substantive meaning and have been transformed into empty words or symbols and finally perverted into idols. The primitive world is silent, its meaning inaccessible to civilized humanity. The civilized world is characterized by a distorted or non-existent relation between language and reality, stated ideals and actual behaviour. The colonial situation affords Conrad an opportunity to convey this disparity in its most stark, drastic manifestation. The bankruptcy of language in the colonial context reveals a moral bankruptcy for which the civilization the colonizers transfer to Africa is merely a mask. Jerry Wasserman also sees language as both metaphor and function of civilization, debased by its misuse by European colonizers, gibberish compared to the profound silence of the African wilderness: "Language is an important psychological element of the imperialist conquest. Names, labels, categories should help bring order out of chaos; to name something is ostensibly to control and possess its very essence. But like the 'light' the white men bring, the language they attempt to impose is a falsification and ultimately as ineffectual."86 "Heart of Darkness" endeavours to communicate the incommunicable in face of the knowledge that words are yet another of what Karl Mannheim calls "mental fictions" - structures of the human intellect and will created to shelter us from the uninterrupted chaos of darkness. They are nominal rather than substantive. They validate the basis for scepticism concerning the values that form the foundation of knowledge and civilization. The degree to which language is false, ineffectual, and immoral is indicative of the nature of transplanted civilization in general. As moral values and ideas are under-

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stood as fictions, constructs of human imagination, increasingly words are seen as devoid of inherent significance. There is nothing stable about the process of naming in 'Heart of Darkness.' If civilization is, as J. Hillis Miller defines it in Poets of Reality, "a process of transforming everything unknown, irrational, or indistinct into clear forms, named and ordered, given a meaning and use by man,"87 "Heart of Darkness" is a strong indictment of this process. Marjorie Berger suggests that misnomer and lie are not the most accurate terms, for they imply the existence of a correct relationship between language and the signified that is here simply distorted. The relationship is rather, she writes, "like an unbacked currency, words standing for illusory values."88 There is no relation between the sign and the signified, in that the brass wire the cannibals are given as payment for their labour can never be exchanged for food. This literal example of unbacked currency illustrates the gulf between symbol and meaning that pervades the heart of darkness. This gulf calls into doubt the validity of the semiotic world view of Western civilization, as well as the meaningful existence of the values signified. In such a world, the individual can find no meaning outside of himself and must, like Marlow, live in accordance with values he knows to be unreal, illusory. Inexplicable in terms of European linguistic categories is the reason behind the cannibals' failure to attempt to eat Marlow and the pilgrims. The words with which Marlow tries to understand their behaviour do not lead him any closer to the truth: "I looked at them as you would look on any human being, with a curiosity of their impulses, motives, capacities, weaknesses, when brought to the test of an inexorable physical necessity. Restraint! What possible restraint? Was it superstition, disgust, patience, fear - or some kind of primitive honour?" (76). In the same breath Marlow discredits each of these possible explanations: "No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in a breeze ... But there was the fact facing me - the fact dazzling to be seen, like the foam on the depths of the sea" (76). Restraint is inexplicable under these conditions. The concept is transformed from an abstraction into a visible reality staring Marlow in the face, and yet utterly remote from his rational attempts to understand. The cannibals' abstinence remains as much "an extravagant mystery" (71) as does the book Marlow finds, which seems so "incongruous" in the midst of the wilderness. The cipher in which Marlow mistakenly believes the marginal notes to be written is symbolic of the status of language in this story: incomprehensible, out of

95 "Heart of Darkness" place, and impotent to unlock the enigma of "the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention" (66). The theories of Weber and Mannheim provide a foundation for the examination of the radical shift in narrative structure and point of view in Conrad's novels, and for his declining faith in the efficacy of language and other human constructs. Filtering the story through the limited and subjective perception of a narrator who is witness to and involved in the events affords Conrad the opportunity to translate into a formal principle the increasing scepticism of modern epistemology with its emphasis on the analysis of the knowing subject. Simultaneously it allows him to dramatize the contrast between the highly personalized Romantic hero and the company man represented by Marlow in this tale and Lord Jim, and by Charles Gould in Nostromo. The final stand of Romantic individualism depicted in the novels of Hardy and Conrad involves the betrayal of the ideals upon which civilization rests. This betrayal threatens the very stability of society. Initially, the system of values is expressed by concepts such as devotion to duty, fidelity, honour, love, truth. These words are believed to correspond to concepts that have an ontological reality. The faith that holds this to be true, as Mannheim explains in Ideology and Utopia (1936), had begun to crumble during the period of crisis at the end of the nineteenth century. In this era, the accretion of values and dogma that constitute the foundation of civilization is everywhere being called into doubt. Values came to be understood as fictions, constructs of human imagination and intellect. The betrayal of the accepted code of conduct by renegades such as Kurtz and Jim can be understood as an explosive shattering of ideals that reveals the illusory nature of moral values in the context in which they live. Humankind in the late nineteenth century was forced to acknowledge that human ideals are derivative of our own illusions, ultimately unsupported by any reality outside ourselves. In chapter 3 of Ideology and Utopia, entitled "The Origin of Modern Epistemological, Psychological, and Sociological Points of View," Mannheim traces the disintegration of the values that were formerly accepted without question: "Here we still find, pregnant with meaning, certain orientational concepts of an ontological sort such as despair, sin, salvation and loneliness ... Nonetheless these experiences, too, with the passage of time became more bare of content, thinner and more formal as in the outer world their original frame of reference, their religious ontology, became enfeebled."89 Mannheim's sociology of knowledge examines intellectual activity and the very possibility of communication in an era when herd mentality masks the reality that we have become increasingly alienated

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from ourselves, others, society, and true expressive fulfilment. Louis Wirth, in his preface to Mannheim's work, discusses the failure to communicate, and hence the atomization that afflicts humanity in modern society: "The absence of a common apperception mass vitiates the possibility of appealing to the same criteria of relevance and truth, and since the world is held together to a large extent by words, when these words have ceased to mean the same thing to those who use them, it follows that men will of necessity misunderstand and talk past one another."90 Language is no longer a common, cohesive force but rather an individualistic, even divisive one. This functions in narrative structure, which after all is formed and consists exclusively of words, as both symptom and indicator of our atomization and alienation from ourselves and others in the modern era. Mannheim's theories shed light on the disorientation experienced by Marlow as he encounters the illegible signs and inscrutable sounds and silences of the wilderness, and the linguistic distortions of civilization. The epistemology that Mannheim investigates is an attempt to explain meaning from its genesis in the subject; in the absence of objective criteria, the cognitive act is studied as a key to the nature of the world. The existence of meaning in the text, usually an assumed starting point, is doubted, and the quest for meaning is emphasized. Conrad, caught like Hardy between two worlds, is able to dramatize the process of discovering value, however tentative. This draws the reader's attention to the struggle of the individual consciousness that is attempting to formulate meaning out of chaos. The framework structure and the involved, first-person narrator are two of the most fundamental devices of literary modernism. Although both have histories as long as that of the novel itself, the implications of their use in the modern era are more profound as they interrogate human cognitive processes. Structural innovations in the novel during this period are not so much the result of the sudden disintegration of a previously coherent world view as the result of gradual developments and changes. Of the origin of modern epistemology, Mannheim writes: "Epistemology was the first significant philosophical product of the breakdown of the unitary world-view with which the modern era was ushered in ... Those thinkers who were penetrating to the very foundations of thought were discovering not only numerous worldviews but also numerous ontological orders. Epistemology sought to eliminate this uncertainty by taking its point of departure not from a dogmatically taught theory of existence, nor from a world-order which was validated by a higher type of knowledge, but from an analysis of the knowing subject."91 In disdaining the practices and

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institutions that underpin his own society, Marlow assists in the destruction of what Mannheim labels the unitary world view. Marlow exemplifies the relativism that characterizes the modern perspective in his derision of the legitimacy and universality of certain truths and values upon which his culture is based. The reader witnesses and shares the evolution of Marlow's thought from certainty to doubt. Epistemological concerns are of importance equal to the political themes in these novels, and I will explore their interrelation and impact upon narrative structure. Citing Weber, Mannheim acknowledges "that morality and ethics themselves are conditioned by certain definite situations, and that such fundamental concepts as duty, transgression, and sin have not always existed but have made their appearance as correlatives of distinct social situations."92 This acknowledgment of historical and cultural determinants of moral and ethical codes recognizes that, while no standard of conduct is ever absolute, society needs and creates codes of conduct in keeping with its moral premises. Certain fixed standards are required to ensure that the community functions. Acknowledging that even Einstein's theory of relativity hinges on an absolute, the speed of light, Mannheim establishes a distinction between philosophical relativism, "which denies the validity of any standards and of the existence of order in the world," and relationism, which "does not signify that there are no criteria of Tightness and wrongness in a discussion,... [but] does insist, however, that it lies in the nature of certain assertions that they cannot be formulated absolutely, but only in terms of the perspective of a given situation."93 The witnesses Marlow parades in his tales do not provide a series of mutually exclusive views or dovetail to create a thoroughly consistent, comprehensible portrait of an individual. Rather, they provide a multiplicity of views that cumulate in a more complex picture than any single perspective could attain. Nonetheless, even the cumulative, composite effect of these many perspectives cannot penetrate the mystery at the core of Kurtz's or Jim's being. The first-person limited narrator makes it possible to eliminate authority, and to devise fiction that raises to a structural principle the relativism of twentieth-century epistemology - the uncertainty about the nature of truth and reality, and the limitations of perception and judgment. Gone from Conrad's work are the assured authorial voice and the linear, chronological development of plot.94 These devices, associated with literary realism, in fact reflect the artificially logical structure that the human mind, in its never-ending quest for order, imposes upon the elements of life and art. Even in Conrad's later work, in which the device of the embedded narrator has been dropped in

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favour of a more apparently traditional narrative voice, close examination reveals a plurality of narrative points of view, as well as a structure based on chronological shifts and the yoking together of seemingly incongruous elements in the quest to reveal meaning. These issues will be explored in the discussion of Nostromo. This book does not pretend to be an in-depth analysis of the complex subject of literary realism. Some attention must be paid, however, to the conventions of literary realism with which Conrad broke, and well as those to which he remained faithful, in order to achieve a more profound understanding of the sources and impact of the conventions of literary modernism that he introduced in their stead. Conrad's techniques are responsive to the moral and epistemological relativism of his era. The best study of modern developments in and departures from conventions of literary realism is Patrick Whiteley's Knowledge and Experimental Realism in Conrad, Lawrence and Woo//. Whiteley's position is that the drastic transformations in the history of the novel brought by these writers and others such as Joyce do not presage what is glibly referred to as "the death of the novel"95 but rather result in a new set of conventions now referred to as the birth of literary modernism. In Fredric Jameson's view, "Conrad marks, indeed, a strategic fault line in the emergence of contemporary narrative."96 Whiteley relies on the analogy between "philosophical and literary realism" to trace the early modern transformation of the English novel. He locates the ultimate source of modern literary and epistemological realism in the writings of rationalist philosopher Rene, Descartes: "Descartes revolutionized philosophy when he made the introspections of a solitary mind the ground for all knowledge, starting with the knowledge of one's own existence. His method required the ability to hold oneself apart from externality, by way of doubting its existence, in order to say, in that notorious and potentially solipsistic formulation, 'I think; therefore I am.'"^7 Descartes therefore establishes a dualistic epistemology that posits an absolute distinction between subject and object. The thrust of more recent theories of cognitive processes, such as those articulated by Mannheim, has not been to contradict the existence of this central dichotomy but to shift the focus of epistemological inquiry from tacit assumptions about the existence and nature of external reality to an examination of the cognitive process of the knowing subject as the sole key to what little we may come to know of the world. This does not break with Cartesian dualism, but rather increasingly emphasizes as barometer of attainable knowledge the subjective nature of the perceptive process over the illusory ability correctly to evaluate objective reality. Cartesian dualism embraces three major categories:

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self-knowledge, knowledge of others (the implications of this category for omniscient narration are apparent), and the mind-matter dichotomy.98 These dualisms are prerequisite for the very existence of fiction. According to Whiteley, Conrad, Lawrence, and Woolf stand close to the vanishing point of conventional literary realism. In his claim that these novelists explore the representational limits of mimetic fiction, he does not posit that early twentieth-century fiction was the first to introduce a strongly reflexive element, for many examples abound in the novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather he posits that early modern fictional techniques were the first to convey a radical departure in methods of portraying objective reality; "our powers of apprehending that reality" and of thinking "about knowledge and imagination."99 Ultimately, these authors' exploration of innovative methods to represent reality results from their epistemological assumptions, for they first reconsider the very nature of reality to conclude that its most valid representations explore its locus in the cognitive process of the knowing subject. The gap between perception and imagination is narrowed, making the "problem of knowledge"100 central to the study of modern fiction. Modern fiction calls into doubt the sharply delineated boundary between subjective introspection, formerly associated with imagination, and objective reality, once held to be the achievable goal of knowledge. In Whiteley's view, the manifestation of this blurring of boundaries in Conrad's fiction is that he becomes pessimistic about the efficacy of cognition, knowledge, and imagination: "Conrad doubts that the mind can inspect the distance between what is perceived and what is imagined. His narratives put a frame on reality, but these frames subvert the efficacy of both narration and knowledge; they put the subject at a hopelessly far distance from the object of his knowledge."101 However, the inherent hopelessness of the attempt to comprehend reality is, in Conrad's fiction, qualified with guarded optimism. Acquisition of some degree of self-knowledge and knowledge of others is tentatively possible. It is always, however, a collective effort, a composite enterprise. Knowledge of the self and of others is mutually interrelated and interdependent. In Conrad, Whiteley agrees, "self-knowledge comes in a moment of introspection when the self discovers that it is a collection of provisional and incompatible identities. But this hardly qualifies as self-knowledge. The irreducible self at the centre is an unfathomable cavern of darkness."102 The continual mutual transformations of appearance and reality, and the frequent interplay between the perceiving subject and the

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ephemeral nature of reality perceived, mean that knowledge, and cognitive and interpretive processes themselves, become the central preoccupation in Conrad's fiction. The issues of linguistic and textual transparency and referentiality versus opacity and reflexivity, and the acquisition of knowledge of the self, others, and external reality, are inextricably intertwined. Hence the importance of the frame structure to Conrad. For like Woolf 's use of the stream-of-consciousness technique, this device allows the meaning of experience to be appropriated to the interpretive process, which is inherently imaginative. The imagined becomes not only the final but the only possible object of knowledge. The tendency that many have observed in Conrad's fiction toward opacity and reflexivity has its roots in this phenomenon, for if the imagined is understood to be the locus of meaning and the object of the intellectual quest but simultaneously somewhat less or other than ultimate truth, it follows that language and fiction themselves become the objects of intense scrutiny. Conrad's Marlow stories examine Marlow as knowing subject. The emphasis on the narrator and the act of narration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is a reconstruction or dramatization of the thought process and of the search for meaning. The "problem of knowledge" as it manifests itself in Marlow's cognitive evolution is the focal point of the Marlow tales. Certainties dissolve into doubt. The narrator is not the measure of the validity of human knowledge, for his fallibility is the norm, and the novel is about how, or if, one can know what is true. No longer taken for granted as the source of knowledge and the basis of judgment, perception itself is the object of investigation in these novels. Marlow's assimilation of knowledge and the values according to which he forms his judgments are made explicit. The reader may agree or disagree while remaining aware that his or her own conclusions may be juxtaposed to Marlow's, which can, however, never set a standard. The reader is drawn into the process of assessment that Marlow dramatizes. Mannheim describes epistemological speculation as oriented between the polarity of object and subject, depending upon the stability of the epoch: "After the breakdown which we described ... there remained no alternative but to turn about and to take the opposite road, and, with the subject as the point of departure, to determine the nature and the value of the human cognitive act, attempting thereby to find an anchorage for objective existence in the knowing subject."103 The epistemological crisis of the late nineteenth century was certainly one of the factors "underlying our social and intellectual chaos," Wirth writes in his preface to Mannheim's work. The "norms and truths which were once believed to be absolute, universal, and eternal, or which were accepted with blissful unawareness of their

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implications, are being questioned."10* The world can only be examined in terms of the perception, values, and meanings of the observer. "We must," Mannheim emphasizes, "empirically reconstruct the genesis of thought in the subject which is more accessible to our control."105 Conrad's creation of Marlow, and equally important his embedding Marlow's narrative inside another, acknowledge that we always see the world many times removed, filtered through the consciousness of ourselves and others, as through a glass darkly. This idea, of course, is not new; it emerges, in an epistemological context, in St Paul's discussion of the ephemeral nature of all gifts, including human cognitive faculties, in the absence of the bedrock virtue of charity: "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part... When I was a child, 1 spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known" (i Corinthians 13). The innovation lies in the development of a narrative strategy that incorporates this darkness; this epistemological uncertainty as a structural principle. By making Marlow the story-teller, Conrad is able to dramatize the relativity of truth, perception, and values, both in the content of the story and in the structure of the narrative. The existence of Marlow's tale "Heart of Darkness," and his famous lie to the Intended, reveal that his second "choice of nightmares" is in favour of the "great and saving illusion" of Western civilization, and his qualified faith in words which that implies. In most cases it will be found that the narrator discovers that neither his language, his narrative sequence, nor the dramatized event of the story-telling itself succeeds in ordering the events to reveal meaning. Disclosure is promised from the language, the incidents narrated, and the structure of the narrative, but it is not forthcoming. Marlow disappears into the darkness and the narrative itself seems to the listener a series of disembodied voices as enigmatic as Marlow's own experience of Kurtz as "A voice! a voice!" The identity of the listener who in turn relates Marlow's story, and the circumstances and occasion of his narration, are undisclosed. The event of Marlow's story-telling is itself a part of the story. Like the words and symbols in his narrative and the events of his journey, it neither reveals meaning nor allows understanding, but remains shrouded, opaque. In both "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim, Conrad conveys the experience of isolation through Marlow's inability to communicate to his audience the essence of his encounters with Kurtz and Jim. The

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only conclusion to be reached is a negative one regarding the impossibility of final judgments and conclusions, the disclosure or even the creation of ultimate meaning. What happens, as John Oliver Perry points out, is that Marlow's quest for meaning becomes the focus of the reader's attention: "We become more and more interested in what Marlow himself is doing, in his attempts to find and create an appropriate meaning for the episodes and characters he circles around ... The unravelling and interpreting of Marlow's narrative ... leads us to watch and question the very process of valuation, the use of language to give meaning to life ... [Marlow] knew the consolations of efficient activity and the saving illusion of fixed and widely agreed upon standards of conduct, but [is] a man who while at rest could set himself to face and pursue and feel through his moral bones the chill of absolute doubt."106 If, as Mannheim holds, the epistemological crisis results in an emphasis on the knowing subject, then these stories are at least partially about Marlow. James Guetti posits a causal relationship between the failure of language and the immediacy of the narrator: "With the collapse of the expectations of ultimate significance appears the collapse of the conception of a reality beyond language that renders the inadequacy of language meaningful... The essential result of this collapse ... takes the form of an insistence upon the reality and immediacy of the narrator himself, upon the problematic quality of the artistic structure or structurer."10? Conrad's Marlow stories filter an examination of the inadequacy of language and the problem of meaning through a single consciousness attempting to come to grips with a suddenly alien world in which symbols, visual or linguistic, have no knowable meaning, values no reality. The suitability of narrative as a tool in the search for meaning is questioned. If Marlow expects meaning to crystallize in the person of Kurtz, he is disappointed to discover that Kurtz does not exist as a substantial being: "He rose, unsteadily, long, pale indistinct, like a vapour exhaled by the earth, and swayed slightly, misty and silent before me" (106). The ultimate discrepancy is that between the reality - or lack of reality - of Kurtz as Marlow finds him at the Inner Station, and his ideas, "his promise and all of his greatness, of his generous mind, of his noble heart... [his] vast plans ... his words ... his example" (119-20). This description is that of Kurtz's Intended. He is in fact a "hollow sham" (no), "utterly lost" (107), a voice whose words have no meaning, a soul that has gone mad, an idealist who has become a primitive idol. Kurtz is from the start presented as a disembodied voice, associated with words, pure but empty eloquence: "He was just a word for me. I did not see the man in the name any more than you do. Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see

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anything? ... It is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence - that which makes its truth, its meaning its subtle and penetrating essence" (57). The relation between seeing and comprehending is established by placing Marlow before the listeners as their visual focus. Significantly, at this point the frame narrator breaks the illusion of Marlow's story to comment that Marlow, too, has become a disembodied voice, invisible to the other passengers of the Nellie during the course of his narration: "It had become so pitch dark that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time he, sitting apart, had been no more to us than a voice. There was not a word from anybody. The others might have been asleep, but I was awake. I listened, I listened on the watch for the sentence, for the word, that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river" (58). The narrator listens for, and Marlow searches for, the word that will disclose meaning. The metaphoric structure of the story suggests that knowledge and visibility, seeing and understanding, should be associated, but they are not. If visibility is metaphoric of comprehension, Marlow's disappearance into the night is a triumph for incomprehension and opacity. Further, Marlow's narrative occurs "at the decline of day" (28), and by its end, the attainment of clarity and meaning is impossible: "The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky - seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness" (121). The famous metaphor with which the frame narrator attempts to characterize Marlow's "yarns" seems to promise that meaning will emerge from Marlow's words and his narrative sequence. Yet its ambiguity foreshadows the strained relationship between language and meaning within the tale: "The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of those misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine" (30). Conrad situates meaning not within a kernel of truth that can be extracted from the yarn and made to stand alone, but as enveloping the tale, ultimately beyond its scope and at best only suggested by it, as a small flame gives a vague and flittering hint of that which surrounds it. This invokes a type of literature created in a more stable universe in which chaff and fruit coexisted in a com-

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fortable and easily discernible relationship: "Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaff be stille,"108 the Nun's Priest tells his listeners in a late medieval tale that undercuts the simplicity of the relationship between fiction and meaning. In Marlow's yarn, this relationship is inverted. In his discussions of Impressionism and Symbolism in Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, Ian Watt devotes much attention to the metaphor describing the meaning of Marlow's tale not as a kernel of truth that must be extracted from the larger story but as something residing in the infinite and undefinable area of its impact upon the reader. The implications of Marlow's tale extend far beyond its realm rather than remaining contained as the pearl of wisdom to seek within its confines. Considering the subjective and reflexive aspect of Impressionist artists' rendering of atmospheric conditions in their painting rather than aiming for the transparency of realist verisimilitude, Watt writes: In Heart of Darkness the fugitive nature and indefinite contours of haze are given a special significance by the primary narrator; he warns us that Marlow's tale will not be centered on, but surrounded by, its meaning; and this meaning will only be as fitfully and tenuously visible as a hitherto unnoticed presence of dust particles and water vapour in a space that normally looks dark and void ... [Similarly] for Monet, the fog in a painting, like the narrator's haze, is not an accidental interference which stands between the public and a clear view of the artists "real" subject: the conditions under which the viewing is done are an essential part of what the pictorial - or the literary artist sees and therefore tries to convey.109

Watt's more detailed examination of this metaphor occurs in his discussion of Symbolism. Borrowing metaphors from the world of Newtonian physics, he elaborates his position that the meaning, to the degree that it is ascertainable, transcends the story, and is not a kernel contained within it: In the narrator's description of Marlow's unseamanlike conduct as a storyteller, the symbolist aspect derives from the main geometrical feature of the illustration. It is based on the contrasted arrangements of two concentric spheres. In the first arrangement, that of the typical seaman's yarn, the direction given our minds is, to use a term from Newtonian physics, "centripetal": the story, the narrative vehicle, is the shell, the larger outside sphere; it encloses a smaller sphere, the inner kernel of truth; and as readers of the yarn we are invited to seek inside it for this central core of meaning. Marlow's tales, on the other hand, are typically "centrifugal": the relation of the

ic>5 "Heart of Darkness" spheres is reversed; now the narrative vehicle is the smaller inside sphere; and its function is merely to make the reader go outside it in search of a circumambient universe of meanings which are not normally visible, but which the story, the glow, dimly illuminates. This subordinate yet necessary role of the story was made even clearer in the manuscript, which included the two phrases here italicised: "the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside in the unseen, enveloping the tale which could only bring it out as a glow brings out a haze."110 In her essay "Modern Fiction/' published in The Common Reader in 1925, Virginia Woolf complains of the mundane materialism and verisimilitude of the British novel in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the exception of Hardy and Conrad, to whom she expresses gratitude for imaginative literature that transcends slavish imitation of reality and refuses to privilege coherence over conception. She employs a metaphor that resembles Marlow's assertion that meaning does not lie circumscribed within an easily grasped and defined grain of truth, but rather outside, enveloping the tale, suggested rather than revealed by the soft glow that illuminates the ephemeral haze surrounding it. Woolf's metaphor refers not to meaning but to life itself. She believes that the proper subject of fiction should not be the superficial trappings of life, but how the multifarious data of everyday activity and thought impinge on the human consciousness. The working of the imagination is in her view superior to the faculty of imitation. Here is Woolf's famous metaphor of life as a luminous halo: Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions - trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there; so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave,... if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style,... Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible? We are not pleading merely for courage and sincerity; we are suggesting that the proper stuff of fiction is a little other than custom would have us believe it... "The proper stuff of fie-

106 Solitude versus Solidarity tion" does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of the brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.111

Woolf relates life to fiction in a fashion similar to Conrad's situation of meaning around rather than within the tale. Life is a luminous halo that surrounds us, something we cannot quite define and which cannot be circumscribed by the materialism of daily necessity. For Woolf, the essence lies in "the light of the conception,"112 the powers of the imagination that allow us to investigate the nature of consciousness, of perception and cognition, that which transcends the pettiness of our daily concerns: "Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness."113 The pattern that emerges is not predictable or predetermined; it is chaotic, inconclusive, and not easy to decipher. But it is authentic, for it interrogates the workings of a human mind rather than slavishly following traditional literary convention. Epistemology is an important theme in much of modern literature, as the relationship between symbol and signified is explored from many angles. Human cognitive processes are foregrounded, and are a determining factor in narrative structure. The process and significance of naming in "Heart of Darkness" invariably underline more than mere discrepancy between name and essence, or even the inadequacy of language to reveal and express meaning. They ultimately stress the utter bankruptcy of a system that allows such violent distortions between name and meaning that an orthodox relation between them becomes irretrievable. If the greatest challenge facing modern humankind is to shape and formulate coherent meaning out of mere impressions that seem "extravagant mysteries," it is no surprise that the narrator, the singer of tales, assumes the status of hero in our era. Yet if the world that Marlow inherits is fallen into meaninglessness, an echo of the phrase "spectral illumination of moonshine" in Marlow's recounting of his experiences at the Central Station confirms his feeling that "something great and invincible, like evil or truth" (52) does inhere in the silent wilderness: "Beyond the fence the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight, and through the dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one's very heart - its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life" (56). The categories according to which Western civilization functions have no meaning in the African wilderness, nor will the latter yield

107 "Heart of Darkness"

its secrets to men brought up in accordance with the methods and values of the West. The wilderness remains inscrutable. Marlow intuits that in its voice there is "a meaning ... which you - you so remote from the night of the first ages - could comprehend" (69). But the meaning is incommunicable, as the idea connected with the badge that Marlow sees around the neck of the native man had been. Mannheim discusses how multivalent interpretations possible for a single phenomenon, when the idea of ultimate value is shattered by exposure to alternate systems of meaning, may lead to the "dissolution of every system of meaning": "The world of external objects and of psychic experience appears to be in a continuous flux. Verbs are more adequate symbols for this situation than nouns. The fact that we give names to things which are in flux implies inevitably a certain stabilization oriented along the lines of collective activity ... It excludes other configurational organizations of the data which tend in different directions. Every concept represents a sort of taboo against other possible sources of meaning."114 Meaning in flux; names and labels that bear a perverse or non-existent relationship to their referents; the inscrutable silence of nature: this is the slippery slope upon which Marlow must endeavour to discover a locus of meaning. A further implication of the epistemological crisis of the late nineteenth century is increasing self-consciousness. The Russian harlequin that Marlow meets at the Inner Station is like the native peoples of the Congo in that he lacks self-consciousness. Marlow describes him as "thoughtlessly alive, to all appearance indestructible solely by the virtue of his few years and of his unreflecting audacity" (93). His devotion to Kurtz is also unthinking - he does not ponder the civilized ideals that Kurtz's behaviour explodes, nor does he attempt to understand the meaning conveyed by the wilderness, as Marlow does. Marlow's illusions and complacency have been shattered and replaced by the growing recognition, best expressed by Conrad himself in a letter to Cunninghame Graham, that "we, living, are out of life, utterly out of it.""5 The harlequin merely perceives visual impressions; he cannot articulate Kurtz's ideas that so impress him, except vaguely, and his verb refers to visual perception: "He made me see things - things." He cannot conceptualize or think in abstract terms. It is his "absolutely pure, uncalculating, unpractical spirit of adventure" (93), devoid of thought, that has led to his devotion to Kurtz. Cursed with the self-consciousness of a modern man, however, Marlow cannot share the easy devotion of the harlequin, or the natives' power of belief, which enables them to worship Kurtz with-

io8 Solitude versus Solidarity

out question. Yet Marlow is loyal to Kurtz, and "laid the ghost of his gifts at last with a lie" (84). Partly because the reality of Kurtz is withheld from him for so long, and partly out of disgust with the perversion of the idea of colonialism of which the pilgrims and trading company are guilty, he consciously chooses the "unsound" methods and unspeakable self-indulgences of Kurtz over the "flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly" (43) represented by the company. Marlow does not truly admire Kurtz or choose to emulate him. Nor is his the choice of the lesser of two evils. For Marlow is ultimately to acknowledge that "Kurtz was a remarkable man" (112). The term "remarkable" does not convey a moral value. Kurtz is neither good nor evil - he has transcended these categories; they have no meaning in his case. He has, at the very least, reaffirmed for Marlow that language can still be used to communicate a reality other than itself. Marlow despairs of language because of the convoluted and arbitrary use of words by the company officials, and because of the incommunicative language of the jungle; its brooding silence, so "impenetrable to human thought" (94). Marlow knows that Kurtz has taken the crucial step into the abyss that he himself never will, and that Kurtz's verdict on it, although ultimately private, is the result of both unspeakable indulgences and remarkable courage, lacked by the other "hollow men": This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up - he had judged. "The horror!" He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth. (112-13)

The ideals that Mannheim describes as enfeebled are in fact shattered to the core. If one accepts Marlow's interpretation of Kurtz's dying cry as "his final burst of sincerity" (108), one is forced to conclude, as Marlow does, that the only way to live in this world is to bow down before "that great and saving illusion" (119) which most people, like the Intended, do not recognize as illusory at all. Truth is one of Marlow's redeeming ideals: "You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies - which is exactly what I hate and detest

log "Heart of Darkness"

in the world - what I want to forget" (57). Yet Marlow's loyalty to Kurtz necessitates his lie to the Intended. Those who feel that the irony turns on Marlow at the moment of the lie are mistaken: "Marlow's untruth," Stewart Garrett writes, "is lethal precisely because it kills the meaning of a death.""6 True, but Marlow does not take comfort in the lie. The lie is deliberate and necessary to preserve the foundations of Western civilization, especially as they manifest themselves within the colonial context. That a lie is necessary to defend the ideals that uphold civilization is the ultimate vindication of the view that civilization is indeed a fiction, its values meaningless as unbacked currency. The truth, Marlow asserts, "would have been too dark - too dark altogether" (121). More distressing than the lie itself is the fact that it is not important enough to matter. It has no consequences: "The heavens do not fall for such a trifle. Would they have fallen, I wonder, if I had rendered Kurt7 that justice which was his due? Hadn't he said that he wanted only justice?" (121). Mannheim argues that humanity needs final values, even if they are not true in any ultimate sense. It is the faith in them that saves us from nihilism. This is very close to Marlow's concept of the saving illusion: "Without evaluative conceptions, without the minimum of a meaningful goal, we can do nothing in either the sphere of the social or the sphere of the psyche ... [The ontology of values] guarded against the atomization of the experience into isolated observations ... Even if all meaning conveyed by the magical-religious view of the world had been 'false,' it still served ... to make coherent the fragments of the reality of inner psychic as well as objective external experience, and to place them with reference to a certain complex of conduct.""7 Marlow understands Kurtz's pronouncement as a moral victory and allows the Intended to retain her fictions. His loyalty to Kurtz can be attributed only in part to his ambivalence toward language and civilization. Marlow is a spirit divided between allegiance to Western values and empathetic kinship with strong-willed individuals who pay these societal values no heed. "There is," Wasserman agrees, "a dualism in his nature which leaves him torn between an intellectual allegiance to duty, hard work, fidelity, and society; and an emotional attraction to a kind of romantic individualism bordering on anarchy.""8 Marlow is torn between solidarity with community standards and his growing recognition of the artificiality of social constructs, which paves the way for his heartfelt comprehension of each individual's utter solitude. Marlow's kinship with the isolated hero deepens as his faith in social values dissolves into doubt. Conrad associates his narrator with ideals of efficiency and devotion to duty, while Marlow's own narrative partially undercuts these ideals.


Solitude versus Solidarity

Marlow is intrigued with Kurtz, "who had come out equipped with moral ideas of some sort" (62), only to find that these ideas do not hold. Kurtz's most famous attributes are his eloquence and his hollowness. '"He could get himself to believe anything - anything'" (115), the anonymous journalist tells Marlow after Kurtz's death. And Marlow himself describes Kurtz as a hollow voice: "Kurtz discoursed. A voice! a voice! it rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart" (no). As a master of language, Kurtz is a most ideal representative of the ultimate refinement of civilization. Simultaneously, he is the ultimate iconoclast who explodes the validity of the ideals upon which civilization rests. The crucial issue, then, is: To what degree is the recognition of the failure of language meaningful? Some critics present a very nihilistic interpretation of the novella, and of the possibility of meaning. Guetti denies the relevance of a moral framework for the degeneration of Kurtz, arguing that as the narrative develops it denies the basic assumption upon which it appears to be constructed: the possibility of meaning for the journey."9 It is true that Kurtz sets himself up as one who can use or discard morality, and separates his essential self from what he professes to believe. He sets himself apart from the morality and language of the earth. Guetti denies that even the recognition of the failure of language is inherently meaningful. Wasserman, unlike Guetti, hears Kurtz's cry as "an affirmation of language itself, the foremost expression of civilization ... To say something is to hold back the darkness, to affirm the possibilities of community, solidarity, and order which are the necessary components of civilized society."120 This affirmation exists despite Marlow's recognition of the limitations of language, of its equivalent status to work as a restraint, a component of the surface reality rather than a tool of penetration to some inner truth. Kurtz views the disparity between his moral fictions and amoral reality more starkly than Marlow does. He waives his opportunity to choose to sustain the illusion of civilization. Yet Marlow makes a second choice, to communicate his experience in narrative form, almost as if in a stubborn attempt to defy the tempting but facile conclusion, stated succinctly by Guetti, that "the morality and meaning with which man surrounds himself and his experience is unreal; ... the essentials of experience remain amoral and, even, alinguistic."121 The theme of the failure of communication, or, in Guetti's phrase, the failure of imagination, is countered by Marlow's ultimate choice of nightmares in his meeting with the Intended, and in the creation of his narrative. He shapes the issue of imaginative failure into meaningful narrative form.

in "Heart of Darkness" "Heart of Darkness" is more problematic than the archetypal journey narrative that discloses eternal truths in its resolution. The uncompromising nihilism of Guetti's approach, however, is too extreme. While it is no longer possible for the reader to accept without question the civilized values exploded in this tale, two crucial factors that Guetti ignores remain true. The first is that not all concepts of moral order are annihilated. The second is that one need not accompany Kurtz on his journey into moral chaos just because one recognizes, with Marlow, that some aspects of the alleged enlightened progress of civilization are indeed barbarous. The tragedy of Kurtz, in other words, need not be that of Western civilization as a whole, but of those cracks in its intellectual and moral foundation that permit the exploitation of elements outside itself that lack its polished surface. When this occurs, civilization itself is degraded, as Kurtz himself is, to a level that only its most ignorant members can hold to be true of the society subject to its reforming efforts. A contemporary analogy can help clarify this. The same principle is operating when, in the name of God and the capitalist free-market system, governments of so-called advanced Western democracies assassinate the leaders, instigate war, and overthrow the governments of poor nations, for instance those in Latin America or southeast Asia, who have opted for a socialist or Marxist regime to redress economic disparity in their society and to control foreign intervention in their economy. It is no accident that when Francis Ford Coppola filmed an updated version of "Heart of Darkness," Apocalypse Now, he set it in Vietnam. 2 The Frame Narrator and the Destruction of Illusion Conrad embeds Marlow's tale within another, so that Marlow's narrative is in fact only a portion of the story known as "Heart of Darkness." Although the occasion of the retelling of Marlow's tale is undisclosed, the frame narrator has the opportunity to reveal what Marlow is not likely to: the circumstances surrounding the narration of Marlow's own tale. This allows Conrad to place at one remove farther from the reader the events of Marlow's journey up the Congo, making them more vivid and fantastic, while allowing him to introduce a second cast of characters who confirm the moral pessimism of the story. Clearly both shells of the narrative, the outer and inner, are equally fictive. The reader, however, suspending disbelief for a moment to imagine that Marlow's auditors aboard the Nellie belong to a realm somehow more real and immediate than the realm of those

112 Solitude versus Solidarity

who people his phantasmagoric tale, may realize two things about the characters of the outer layer. The first is that the grouping is not as arbitrary as it seems. The second involves the conviction that Marlow's listeners share the guilt of those within the tale in their complacency and involvement, however indirect, with the colonial system.123 To attain these insights, the reader must remain detached from both realms, while simultaneously and apparently paradoxically identifying more closely with the characters of the frame story, who seem more familiar, and with whom the reader is likely to feel more comfortable. Like the company officials in the story, the men who constitute Marlow's audience are named only by their occupational titles. This conveys more than the loss of individual identity in an impersonal world. It suggests a more profound link between the rapacity of the colonial system that Marlow speaks of and the civilized business and legal world he addresses. The bones that are the raw material of the game of dominoes that Marlow's listeners begin to play recall the ivory for which the colonizers scramble as well as the corpses of elephants and native people that they leave in their wake. As the reader identifies with those aboard the Nellie, he comes to realize that the gap between the world represented by the listeners and that conveyed in the tale is tenuous at best. Thus the realm of fiction that Marlow's audience inhabits, which includes the dramatized "narratee" who in turn will become the anonymous narrator, contributes to the work by providing Conrad a means of further depicting the disparity between seeing and comprehending. The intermittent references to the outer group invariably reveal their lack of comprehension of the meaning that Marlow attempts to convey. The framework structure and consequent dramatization of the act of narration parallel the thematic concerns of the story, which include an examination of the dynamics of the relation between fiction and reality, the difficulties of perception, cognition, judgment, and expression. The structure of the narrative thus mirrors the reality "that we are condemned to see through frames," as Gabriel Josipovici says. "And recognition of this brings with it a kind of freedom; for it stops us from falling into the trap of thinking that meaning inheres in words, objects or events."124 Taylor defines the aim of modern epiphanic art as a retrieval of genuine experience by peeling away layers of accumulated meaning and returning to the freshness of things in themselves: "The emphasis was on the hard-edged presentation of the thing, its clear delineation ... This emphasis on clarity and distinction was ... part of the refusal of the overlay of inauthentic meaning, of the accretions of the instrumental society and the inauthentic and etiolated feelings it gen-

ii3 "Heart of Darkness" erated. To cleanse these and allow reality its full force, to retrieve genuine experience, it was necessary to return to the surface of things."125 The recovery of lived experience is one of the recurring goals of modern art, literature, and philosophy. In the case of the visual arts, this recovery demands a reflexive turn, an avowal of the artifact of art, an examination within the work of art of the nature of representation. Impressionism retrieves the freshness and immediacy of experience even as it calls attention to itself as artifact. It is an endeavour to capture the appearance of the object from a chosen angle and distance in a certain light without the intrusion into the work of subjective self-expression on the part of the artist, and simultaneously a highly reflexive form of art in which the painterly use of light and colour remains in the forefront of the viewer's experience. Its goal is to reawaken us to the hidden appearances of familiar objects or scenes that underlie "the deadening, routinized, conventional forms of instrumental civilization"126 and to stimulate our dimmed sense of perception. Impressionism marks an endeavour to return to authentic experience, to strip away the familiar forms with which we structure reality so that we may achieve fresh sensory stimulation. In his treatment of Conrad as an Impressionist writer, Jameson designates "Conrad's stylistic production as an aestheticizing strategy... which for whatever reason seeks to recede or rewrite the world and its own data in terms of perception as a semi-autonomous activity ... Now for the first time the senses become foregrounded as a theme in their own right, as content rather than as form."127 Perception unencumbered by cerebral constructs, by the frames that are our windows on the world, is, however, an epistemological impossibility. Influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche "stressed the utter lack of order in original, raw experience ... In order to live at all in this world, we have to impose some order on it.""8 Conrad is frequently described as an impressionist writer, but critics' use of this nomenclature is often unclear. The key notion is the initial indecipherability of unmediated experience. Although this goal is ultimately unattainable, it can be approximated. Bruce Johnson gives an appropriate example from "Heart of Darkness": Marlow's observation that "Sticks, little sticks were flying about," and his subsequent decoding the meaning of the event: "Arrows, by Jove! We were being shot at!" (80). Another instance occurs earlier. The mysterious "tumultuous and mournful uproar" that arises "as though the mist itself had screamed" (73) invokes the following response from one of the pilgrims: "Good God! what is the meaning?" (74). Once again, experience is initially undeciphered, its significance open to interpretation. The meaning that Marlow attributes to the "attack,"

114 Solitude versus Solidarity

however, reveals that it has nothing of the "fierce character boding of immediate hostile intention" (78), but seems rather to express "an irresistible impression of sorrow ... It was undertaken under the stress of desperation, and in its essence was purely protective" (78). Johnson theorizes that since the thrust of the story is toward unmediated observation, the locus of this fresh, unencumbered mode of perception is found in the primitive core of the continent: In meticulously recording these uninterpreted or minimally interpreted observations - and they are often visual - Conrad reflects one of the original purposes of impressionism: to return to the most aboriginal sensation before concepts and rational categories are brought to bear ... Since the entire impetus of Heart of Darkness is toward such origins, in morality ("restraint"), language, and consciousness itself, it would be very unusual indeed if these instances of unrehearsed perception were not at some level in Conrad's mind analogous to his destination upriver, to the "primitive" form of things, which turns out not to be necessarily savage at all. As in most elements of this story the putatively "civilized" becomes the most genuinely savage, so "civilized" perception, where items are duly registered in nets of traditional or customary signification at once, can readily become a form of violence.129

Awareness grows of historical and cultural determinism operant in our perception and structuring of experience. "Heart of Darkness" is a strong indictment of a process of naming that fails in its endeavour to establish control, for language is highly compromised in the colonial world Conrad portrays. Ian Watt is the originator of the term "delayed decoding," which now occupies an established position in the lexicon of Conrad criticism. He defines the device, and compares its epistemological assumptions and effects on the reader to the subjective aspect of Impressionism and the greater interpretive demands it makes on the viewer: "It combines the forward temporal progression of the mind, as it receives messages from the outside world, with the much slower reflexive process of making out their meaning ... [Conrad] developed one narrative technique which was the verbal equivalent of the impressionist painter's attempt to render visual sensation directly. Conrad presented the protagonist's immediate sensations, and thus made the reader aware of the gap between impression and understanding; the delay in bridging the gap enacts the disjunction between the event and the observer's trailing understanding of it."13° Watt's definition of literary impressionism and his explication of its relation to the device of delayed decoding is worth quoting at length,

115 "Heart of Darkness" for he is on solid ground in his understanding of the subjective aspect of visual Impressionism. His study forms the foundation of many that followed in his footsteps, using Impressionism as a key to understanding Conrad's epistemological relativism and consequent narrative innovations: Conrad's main objective is to put us into intense sensory contact with the events; and this objective means that the physical impression must precede the understanding of the cause ... This takes us deeply into the connection between delayed decoding and impressionism: it reminds us ... of the precarious nature of the process of interpretation in general; and since this precariousness is particularly evident when the individual's situation or his state of mind is abnormal, the device of delayed decoding simultaneously enacts the objective and the subjective aspects of moments of crisis. The method also has the more obvious advantage of convincing us of the reality of the experience which is being described; there is nothing suspiciously selective about the way it is narrated; while we read we are, as in life, fully engaged in trying to decipher a meaning out of a random and pell-mell bombardment of sense impressions.131

Indeed, there need be no dissociation between lived, immediate, sensory experience and intelligible significance. The establishment of meaning is problematic but not impossible in this text. The narrative solution represented by the device of delayed decoding allows Conrad to foreground the registering, processing, and finally conceptualizing, understanding, and communicating the meaning of the raw, unmediated data that impinge upon human consciousness during every waking and sleeping moment, whether the situation be critical or mundane. The relativism, even solipsism, of modern epistemology is both a major theme in itself and a problem that spurred Conrad's development of innovative narrative structures that reflect rather than overlook the daily challenges faced by everyone in sifting out the multifarious impressions and interpreting their cause and significance. Delayed decoding is especially appropriate to the Marlow tales, for the reader's comprehension is guided by and somewhat limited to the cognisance of the dramatized, limited narrator. The cognitive processes of the knowing subject become the cornerstone of our avowal that we must accept ambiguity and ambivalence as part of the human condition. Although he does not cite Mannheim, Watt couches a similar insight concerning the breakdown of a shared world view, and the

n6 Solitude versus Solidarity

very impossibility of communication when this problem is not even acknowledged: We go from the silent, lethal madness of the trading company to that of the civilisation for which it stands; Marlow is confronting a general intellectual and moral impasse whose narrative climax is enacted when he is forced to lie to the Intended; and this gap, in turn, can be seen in a wider historical and philosophical perspective as a reflection of the same breakdown of the shared categories of understanding and judgment, as had originally imposed upon Conrad ... the indirect, subjective, and guarded strategies that characterised the expressive modes of Symbolism ... One could argue that the distinctive aim, not only of Conrad but of much modern literature, is not so much "to make us see," but, somewhat more explicitly, "to make us see what we see"; and this would ultimately involve a view of narrative in which every detail is inherently symbolic.132

The cryptic, private nature of symbols, despite the difficulties it presents the interpreter, teacher, or critic, is nonetheless the only authentic mode of expression in a world where universally understood systems of signification are not longer viable. Impressionism and Symbolism are both related, in Watt's view, to the death of omniscience in the late nineteenth century: "Historically the impressionist and symbolist tendencies are alike in being antitraditional assertions of the private individual vision."133 Accepted wisdom yields to individual insight in art that is essentially epiphanic - art that privileges private over shared meaning, and is highly sceptical of the possibility of communication, community, and the validity of the notion of shared values and meaning, be the basis of their commonality cultural or professional. Nonetheless, the artistic process is invariably a dedicated effort to attain some degree of common understanding. Art that endeavours to present, as Taylor puts it, the freshness of things in themselves, and to celebrate unveiled perception free of previously conceived notions or intellectual prejudice, is inevitably going to make of cognition itself - its potential and its limitations - a major theme, and is thus inherently reflexive rather than referential, opaque rather than transparent. Further, Marlow's story itself consists of a series of other stories, framed in the sense that they are tales related by eyewitnesses or enigmatic snatches of conversation overheard by Marlow himself at the jungle outposts. These frames recede deeper into the Congo and Marlow's text is not quite the first-hand account it is often held to be. Marlow's changing impressions of Kurtz, for instance, are fed by innuendo and rumour that he hears along the way. First, from the

H7 "Heart of Darkness"

chief accountant, he learns that Kurtz "will be a somebody in the Administration before long" (47), then the manager tells him that he is "very, very uneasy" because Mr Kurtz, "the best agent he had, an exceptional man," is ill (51). From the brickmaker Marlow learns that Kurtz is "a prodigy,... a special being" (55), a "universal genius" (58). The manager's covert plot to murder Kurtz is de-emphasized by Marlow's overhearing it while half asleep and not immediately recognizing the implications of the words of the manager's uncle: "The climate may do away with this difficulty for you. Is he alone there?" (63). Their discussion of Kurtz's mysterious decision to return to the Inner Station triggers Marlow's first mental glimpse, however inaccurate, of the man who becomes more and more the focus of his journey: "Perhaps he was just simply a fine fellow who stuck to his work for its own sake" (64). In these instances Marlow functions as the narrator of conversations he has participated in and overheard, and his multiple and frequently revised interpretations of Kurtz finally give way to his realization, sparked by the death of his helmsman, that the hope of a conversation with Kurtz has become his key motivation. Yet at the very beginning of his narrative, and it must be remembered that by this time his experience in the Congo has been concluded and is being shared with his listeners in retrospect, Marlow reveals that no clarity or kernel of meaning can be expected to emerge from his narrative. He says this of his encounter with Kurtz: "It was the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me - and into my thoughts. It was sombre enough, too - and pitiful - not extraordinary in any way - not very clear either. No, not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind of light" (32). Marlow's revelation of Kurtz's presiding "at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites" is also "reluctantly gathered from what [he] heard at various times" (86). Marlow fails to identify immediately, because he is not at first close enough to see, that the "round carved balls" (89) that ornament the posts surrounding the Inner Station are in fact "not ornamental but symbolic ... heads on the stakes" (96). In the meantime Marlow listens to the inarticulate tale of the harlequin "not so much told as suggested to me in desolate exclamations, completed by shrugs, in interrupted phrases, in hints ending in deep sighs" (96). Only a portion of Marlow's tale is primary information, and his entire "yarn" is filtered through the consciousness of the anonymous listener, whose participation further distances from the reader the experience related. The frame narrator and the multiple embedded structure of the narrative dramatize the theme of transformation of the concretely real into the phantom-like realm of

n8 Solitude versus Solidarity shadow. At the story's "heart," we find that Mr Kurtz, and all he stood for, have suffered a similar transformation. In his recent study Conrad's Fiction as Critical Discourse, Richard Ambrosini writes: "The frame narrator is drawing the reader's attention to the duality of Marlow's story ... [to] the distortions which the re-creation of his subjective experience produces on the narrative."134 The frame narrator's first intrusion into Marlow's narrative occurs immediately following Marlow's description of his hatred of lies. He reveals that Marlow has become invisible during the course of his narrative, and that his listeners, far from comprehending the meaning of Marlow's tale, may well be asleep. The second destruction of the illusion of Marlow's narrative occurs when Marlow, as he tells of his travels further up the river, begins to associate reality with the silence of the wilderness. His work navigating the steam boat, like the occupations of his listeners, is labelled "tricks": "The inner truth is hidden - luckily, luckily. But I felt it all the same; I felt often its mysterious stillness watching me at my monkey tricks, just as it watches you fellows performing on your respective tight-ropes" (67). But men choose not to acknowledge the illusory nature of the ideal behind the work that invests their life with meaning, as conveyed by the anonymous growl, "Try to be civil, Marlow" (67). This reveals that at least one of the auditors in addition to the frame narrator is awake - only in the superficial sense, however. At this point Marlow locates meaning in the inscrutable silence of the wilderness. His descriptions of the jungle as he journeys up the Congo to Kurtz are slippery. He cannot find words to correspond to the visual impressions or to convey the sensation of the primeval silence wherein the meaning is supposed to lie: We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads till the first break of day. Whether it meant war, peace, or prayer we could not tell... We were wanderers on prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet... The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us - who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings. (68) The jungle is characterized by silence, which is occasionally shattered by inscrutable noises, and stillness: "And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intent" (66). The African wilder-

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ness will not yield its meaning to Marlow. Its secrets remain impenetrable, indecipherable to the interpretative categories that are the epistemological baggage of Western man. Marlow then transfers the locus of meaning to Kurtz - "the farthest point of navigation" and "the culminating point of my experience." He makes it clear that his purpose in navigating the steamboat has become synonymous with meeting Kurtz: "For me it crawled towards Kurtz - exclusively" (68); "sometimes I would pick out a tree a little way ahead to measure our progress towards Kurtz" (72). The text, however, begins to suggest that the meaning may not be found in an encounter with Kurtz. The first evidence is Marlow's sceptical "flash of insight" concerning the futility of all communication and knowledge: "I fretted and fumed and took to arguing with myself whether or no I would talk openly with Kurtz; but before I could come to any conclusion it occurred to me that my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility. What did it matter what anyone knew or ignored? What did it matter who was manager? One gets sometimes such a flash of insight. The essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface, beyond my reach, and beyond my power of meddling" (72). Because of the approaching dusk, Marlow is forced to wait until morning to continue his journey upriver toward Kurtz. If the metaphoric structure of the story associates visibility with comprehension, the blinding Marlow experiences that night and the following morning in the midst of the jungle, so pregnant with meaning, calls into doubt the potential for comprehension of meaning anywhere: "You looked on amazed, and began to suspect yourself of being deaf - then the night came suddenly, and struck you blind as well... When the sun rose there was a white fog, very warm and clammy, and more blinding than the night... The rest of the world was nowhere, as far as our eyes and ears were concerned. Just nowhere" (73-4). The association of visibility and comprehension is sundered, to be replaced by the epiphany, that moment or flash of insight of inscrutable origin that reveals meaning or forces one to acknowledge the futility of the quest for meaning. The death of the native helmsman, with whom Marlow could not communicate, embodies some profound meaning that Marlow is destined never to understand: "I declare it looked as though he would presently put to us some question in an understandable language; but he died without uttering a sound" (82). In a moment of despair Marlow flings overboard a new pair of shoes because they are full of the helmsman's blood. Until now he had worked on the assumption that he would find the nexus of meaning for which he searches in a conversation with Mr Kurtz. Marlow's immediate reac-

lao Solitude versus Solidarity

tion to the helmsman's death - "And by the way, I suppose Mr. Kurtz is dead as well by this time" (82) - is followed by the intuition, the flash of insight, which is soon confirmed, that "I had been striving after something altogether without a substance" (83). And, thinking ahead to the inconclusive nature of his experience with Kurtz, Marlow admits, "I am not prepared to affirm the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him" (87). The reader or listener becomes certain, at this point, that meaning will not be revealed by Marlow's encounter with Kurtz. Marlow sincerely grieves for the helmsman and pays tribute to his faithful, unquestioning devotion to duty - whatever his shortcomings - and his contribution of solid persevering labour navigating the boat. If there is an idea behind the helmsman's labour, it is more akin to Marlow's work ethic than is anything Kurtz has to offer: "He had done something, he had steered; for months I had him at my back - a help - an instrument. It was a kind of partnership ... a subtle bond had been created of which I only became aware when it was suddenly broken" (87-8). The "startling extravagance" (83) of his sorrow over the helmsman's death causes Marlow to reaffirm his faith in "your power of devotion, not to yourself, but to an obscure, backbreaking business" (86). With the death of the helmsman comes another of Marlow's epiphanies, although he does not identify it as such this time, that Kurtz's gift of expression is not only insubstantial but subject to the same manipulations and distortions that characterize language as it is used by the colonizers throughout the tale. The problem is inherent in the nature of language. On Marlow's encounter with the Russian harlequin, which occurs shortly after the death of the native helmsman, Ambrosini's thoughts are interesting: "Marlow's last hope to have the wilderness rationalized and explained is lost. Here, in front of him, he has the living proof that the danger is amplified by Kurtz's words."135 And as is always the case, innocence increases vulnerability. Suresh Raval writes of the harlequin and his bond with Kurtz that "innocence remains bound to the very essence of savagery, for it has no insight into evil... innocence cannot sustain our confidence in civilization and its values, nor can it help us to reconstitute the community through some deeper grasp of the individual."136 Innocence has no knowledge of or defence against evil. The interventions of the frame narrator succeed in placing in the foreground Conrad's concern with the nature of discourse itself; his integration, that is, of the aesthetic and the moral. Wasserman says this of Marlow: "His greatest difficulty lies in the nature of his experience, which is simply not susceptible to apprehension by the means at his disposal. The Congo itself is so alien to the white European that

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not only language but the modes of thought at the basis of language are irrelevant to it."137 Marlow characterizes Kurtz's gift of expression as "the bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and most contemptible, the pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness" (83). The aesthetics of Kurtz's discourse, his eloquence and rhetorical skill, assume moral implications, albeit negative ones - his words are hollow, his gift contemptible. Marlow's descriptions of how he imagines Kurtz stop suggesting that Kurtz is a man of substance, or a "gifted creature" (83), and begin to characterize Kurtz in terms of what he lacks. His "nerves went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which ... were offered up to him - do you understand? - to Mr. Kurtz himself" (86). It is appropriate that the reader and Marlow's listeners never experience Kurtz's eloquence at first hand, for this textual enigma, this absent centre, magnifies even as it refuses disclosure of an ideological sham. Marlow describes Kurtz's report for the "International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs": It was eloquent, vibrating with eloquence, but too high-strung, I think ... The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know ... This was the unbounded power of eloquence - of words - of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: "Exterminate all the brutes!"(86-7)

These, except the final four, are words with no idea behind them. The idea of colonialism, with which Marlow justifies the enterprise at the beginning of his story, has vanished from behind Kurtz's words. They stand alone. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the idea of colonialism stands in bold relief, expressed nakedly in these final four words. This causes one to wonder whether language is more potent when it reveals or when it conceals. Language simultaneously epitomizes and functions as metaphor of the allegedly advanced state of Western civilization that the white European introduces into Africa. Moreover, language is fragile and highly susceptible to subversion of its representational purpose. The betrayal of language assists in and represents the betrayal of the civilized ideals that the pamphlet espouses. That the pamphlet opens with a justification of the deification of the white man reveals the civilized ideals it cele-

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brates for what they truly are. The famous postscriptum is not, then, in any way contradictory to the content of the report. It is, in fact, the logical and only conclusion, a true statement of method, for the idea of colonialism has deteriorated into plunder and permitted the worship of human deities. Marlow denies that he has the power to choose to lay the ghost of Kurtz's gifts with silence: "I was to have the care of his memory. I've done enough for it to give me the indisputable right to lay it, if I choose, for an everlasting rest in the dust-bin of progress, amongst all the sweepings and, figuratively speaking, all the dead cats of civilization. But then, you see, I can't choose" (87). It is interesting to speculate why Marlow, whose role in the frame story is creator of the narrative of his journey to Kurtz, feels he does not have the option of remaining faithful to Kurtz by not revealing the discrepancy between the ideal and the man. Marlow's silence where his narrative exists would in fact be the equivalent of the lie to the Intended. Why does he feel he has no choice but to narrate the tale, and how can he do so and remain loyal to Kurtz? In deciding to relate the tale Marlow reaffirms his allegiance to the ideals that form the foundation of Western civilization. The third intervention by the frame narrator occurs immediately following the death of the helmsman, and just prior to Marlow's admission that "I laid the ghost of his [Kurtz's] gifts at last with a lie" (84). Marlow expresses exasperation with the want of understanding conveyed by the sigh and comment "Absurd" uttered by an unidentified listener during his description of the death of the helmsman and his anxiety about hearing Kurtz. Marlow is visible for only one brief moment while a match flares, then dissolves once again into the night. He reveals to his audience the artificiality of the social structures in which they find security and meaning, and for the first time equates Kurtz's voice with all those others he has heard: "I was cut to the quick at the idea of having lost the inestimable privilege of listening to the gifted Kurtz. Of course I was wrong. The privilege was waiting for me. Oh, yes, I heard more than enough. And I was right too. A voice. He was very little more than a voice. And I heard - him - it - this voice - other voices - all of them were so little more than voices - and the memory of that time itself lingers around me, impalpable, like a dying vibration of one immense jabber, silly, atrocious, sordid, savage, or simply mean, without any kind of sense" (84). Marlow mourns his lost privilege of listening to the gifted Kurtz as if he had "been robbed of a belief" (83). The belief he has lost is his faith in language; more specifically the validity of the idea behind Ian-

123 "Heart of Darkness"

guage, and the hope of discovering meaning at the end of his journey. With controversy swirling around the nature of language, where, then, does this leave the status of narrative? Language is the medium of the story-teller and the tool of fiction. Yet, as Wasserman expresses it, "its reality rarely corresponds with the humanistic assumptions according to which it is used."138 Although modern epistemology does not allow one to assert that there is an idea behind language, or a meaningful reality associated with one's system of values, the very attempt to communicate, as Marlow the story-teller knows, is better than the alternative, and our only bulwark against utter isolation and nihilism. Ambrosini discusses Conrad's commitment to fiction, reflected in Marlow's dedication to keeping alive the memories of Kurtz and Jim, in terms of the integration of his moral and aesthetic concerns, the former expressed in his tales and the latter in his critical discourse: "He never separated the moral implications of the commitment to memory which underlies his 'handling of personal experience' from his aesthetic concern about the effectiveness of a medium aimed at touching 'universal emotions.'"139 The conclusion of Masterman's 1909 sociological study The Condition of England provides insight into the role of Marlow, the man through whose eyes we witness the degradations of the colonial system, and who ultimately introduces us to Kurtz: "The wise man will still go softly all his days ... apprehending always how slight an effort of stupidity or violence could strike a death-blow to the twentiethcentury civilisation, and elevate the forces of destruction triumphant over the ruins of a world."140 Conrad's novels combine an affirmation of the importance of humanity's historical existence, a query into the validity of traditionally held values, and a growing consciousness of the status and purpose of fiction and its relation to critical discourse. Guetti's nihilistic reading of "Heart of Darkness" rejects the view that the struggle for meaning against unintelligibility is the narrative's meaning, asserting instead that when a writer "attempts to create his own formal or metaphorical frame or to demonstrate the failure of order by exhibiting the struggle for it in an individual consciousness, then the presentation of imaginative failure becomes largely inseparable from the presentation of sheer linguistic disorder."141 On the contrary, Marlow's endeavour to portray the degraded conditions of language and experience as he finds them in Africa is a valid topic for fiction. His struggle with the theme of the failure of imagination is a noble one. Guetti fails to perceive that Marlow's presentation of linguistic disorder, emblematic of the moral bankruptcy of Western culture as it manifests itself in the colonial enter-

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prise, reflects the experiences he encounters at the colonial outposts but does not invalidate his endeavour to re-establish a more fitting relation between words and meaning. The linguistic disorder extends neither to Marlow's narrative nor to Conrad's tale. Marlow seeks to create an imaginative order in which the linguistic and moral failure of his subject is revealed in stark contrast to its stated sanctimonious purpose. At the heart of Marlow's self-doubting exists profound scepticism about the foundation of civilization, the possibility of knowledge, and validity of ideals. His willingness to tell a tale that undermines the values according to which he lives as well as the language in which he must speak suggests that the meaning lies in the effort. If this were not so, and Guetti is correct, then "Heart of Darkness" would not exert the power it does. Perry discusses the "tale-teller's dilemma of creating, comprehending, and communicating" as meaningful action and indeed as Conrad's focus in the Marlow tales: "His novels and stories constantly reiterate that in a universe devoid of objective meaning, purposeful action requires some private or shared illusion; clear-sightedness leads only to the vacuous agony of solitude, confusion, and despair; and an accurate record of the meaning and value of a man's actions can never be formulated."142 This reading differs fundamentally from Guetti's, for Perry recognizes as inherently worthwhile the endeavour to formulate meaning. In his essay "The Meaning of Meaninglessness," theologian Paul Tillich examines the phenomenon he labels "the courage of despair" - humanity's capacity for self-affirmation in the face of meaninglessness: "The acceptance of despair is in itself faith and on the boundary line of courage to be," he writes. "In this situation the meaning of life is reduced to despair about the meaning of life. But as long as this despair is an act of life it is positive in its negativity."14' The courage to face and express despair saves some from the utter abyss of nihilism: "Twentieth-century man has lost a meaningful world and a self which lives in meanings out of a spiritual centre. The man-created world of objects has drawn into itself him who created it and who now loses his subjectivity in it. He has sacrificed himself to his own productions. But man is still aware of what he has lost or is continually losing. He is still man enough to experience his dehumanization as despair ... He reacts with the courage of despair, the courage to take his despair upon himself and to resist the radical threat of nonbeing by the courage to be as oneself."144 Marlow and Kurtz share this courage. Both attempt to express their experience of darkness to others. Miller labels Conrad's fiction "an effort of demystification"; its goal is to liberate us from our exile "in

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a nightmarish realm of illusion ... It attempts to rescue man from his alienation ... to lift the veil of illusion, and to make the truth appear."14' Humanity has evolved. Marlow embodies lucid consciousness and devotion to the ideals of Western civilization, yet the tale he tells belies the progress he represents. Marlow simultaneously acknowledges his kinship with the primitive and the void where his ideals used to be. He is able neither to understand nor to judge the value of meaning inherent in the wilderness. Yet he is not destroyed by the darkness. The last action Marlow undertakes is his endeavour to communicate his understanding to others. "Is there no way," Miller asks, "to remain in touch with the darkness without being engulfed by it, no way to be actively engaged in life without becoming part of an empty masquerade?" Tillich maintains that the transformation of despair into the creative expression of despair is the only meaningful manifestation of the courage of despair. "Action that is taken with the awareness that the lie is a lie," Miller agrees, "is the only action which is not a mournful and sombre delusion." Kurtz's final cry is also an affirmation, although it differs from Marlow's in that it finds neither its occasion nor its justification in a deliberate attempt to communicate meaning in a familiar form to a specific audience. Tillich asserts that the courage of despair may exist in a man unbeknownst to himself: "In situations of cynicism and indifference he is not aware of it... Every act of courage is a manifestation of the ground of being, however questionable the content of the act may be." The very fact that Kurtz cried out at all, "a cry that was no more than a breath" (111), is evidence that he retains the capacity to transform despair into the expression of despair, however oblique. The experience of darkness is prerequisite for what Tillich calls self-affirmation. One who has not been tested has nothing to express or to teach. Marlow's language, unlike Kurtz's, is the language of fiction. Miller distinguishes this from the language of everyday experiences and associates it with the "unworded" and "profound darkness."148 The language of fiction employed by Marlow creates a veil, both protective and revealing, between the reader's consciousness and ability to empathize with an experience otherwise unavailable, and Kurtz's surrender to the darkness that swallows him: "Like a new Orpheus, Marlow can only rescue Kurtz indirectly, by transforming his life into words. Writing gives a form to the indefinable ... Writing is a dangerous hovering between two realms which are incompatible."149 The insistence upon the immediacy of the narrator and the repeated dramatization of the quest for meaning in the modern novel is perhaps the only positive response to the despair of the twentieth century.

126 Solitude versus Solidarity Despair is transformed into an inspiring, moving force, and the value of the narrative form to express the courage of despair is affirmed. 3 Colonialism and Individuality Marlow is both fascinated and repelled by Kurtz's lack of restraint the want of an idea behind his accumulation of ivory and his delight in being idolized as a deity. Kurtz and the Belgian trading company he represents practise what Weber terms "booty," "political" or "parasitic" capitalism: the pursuit of gain in a speculative manner rather than through rational calculation. One aspect of parasitic capitalism is, as Bendix points out, "colonial or fiscal exploitation on the basis of force guaranteed by political authority, i.e., continuous earnings through compulsory payments, forced labour or monopolistic trade in colonies."150 True capitalism, the most rational and methodical of all social systems, in its ideal form is characterized by elements of "disciplined deprivation,"1'1 and the potential dispensability of every individual. Booty capitalism is made possible by imperialism, a power politic analysed by Hannah Arendt in her study The Origins of Totalitarianism: Imperialism, which grew out of colonialism and was caused by the incongruity of the nation-state system with the economic and industrial developments in the last third of the nineteenth century, started its politics of expansion for expansion's sake no sooner than around 1884 ... Nothing was so characteristic of power politics in the imperialist era than this shift from localized, limited and therefore predictable goals of national interest to the limitless pursuit of power after power that could roam and lay waste the whole globe with no certain nationally and territorially prescribed purpose and hence with no predictable direction.152 Most apt in this context is Marlow's portrait of the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, which reads as a parody of colonization at its worst. Marlow names their alleged "mission" "an invasion, an infliction, a visitation" (61), but even these words fail to convey the purposeless plunder of the country: "Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage: there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe" (61).

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Weber pinpoints the end of the nineteenth century as the time of the rise of permanent institutionalized bureaucracy. He simultaneously welcomes the increased efficiency and devotion to duty, and mourns the loss of magic in the world. Arendt analyses race and bureaucracy as two new devices for political organization and foreign domination developed in Africa during the first decades of imperialism. The characteristics of the bureaucrat who serves the imperialist principle of expansion closely echo Weber's description of the functionality and conformity of the person who serves the anonymous forces of bureaucracy: "No matter what individual qualities or defects a man may have, once he has entered the maelstrom of an unending process of expansion, he will, as it were, cease to be what he was and obey the laws of the process, identify himself with anonymous forces that he is supposed to serve in order to keep the whole process in motion. "J53 Bureaucracy, Arendt points out, was the instrument of a more mature imperialist policy, characterized by expansion rather than trade, "in which every area was considered a stepping stone to further involvements and every people an instrument for further conquest."154 The colonization of the Congo described in "Heart of Darkness" does not represent an advanced stage in the bureaucracy that supports imperialist expansion. It has not yet been organized into the efficient hierarchical system that is Weber's ideal type. The "merry dance of trade and death" (41) Conrad describes remains static and without direction, kept track of by the "correct entries of perfectly correct transactions" (47) entered by the impeccably dressed and groomed accountant in the midst of a grove of death at the company's coastal station. Conrad's story is set just prior to the rise of bureaucracy and imperialist expansion in a world of booty capitalism and makeshift bookkeeping. The trading company represents a very early stage in the progression toward a highly organized bureaucracy, while Kurtz, moving in the other direction, is a highly individualistic - initially moral - adventurer existing on the fringe of society who moves out of it completely. The Belgian colonization of the Congo, as depicted in "Heart of Darkness," is more akin to the gold rush or other similar plunderings of a land's natural riches than to a mature imperialist system: "The superfluous men ... who came rushing down to the Cape, still had much in common with the old adventurers ... The difference was not their morality or immorality, but rather that the decision to join this crowd 'of all nations and colors' was no longer up to them; that they had not stepped out of society but had been spat out by it; that they were not enterprising beyond the permitted limits of civilization but simply victims without use or function ... They were not individuals

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like the old adventurers, they were shadows of events with which they had nothing to do."155 Arendt's analysis of the kind of men who plundered the gold of South Africa, and presumably the ivory of the Belgian Congo as well, echoes the distinction implicit in Weber's thought between the high degree of individuality allowed by prebureaucratic systems and the dull uniformity combined with a lack of control over his own life that characterizes the new man: "They were nothing of their own making, they were more like living symbols of what had happened to them, living abstractions and witnesses of the absurdity of human institutions."156 One is reminded of the staff of the company stations, who are presented with an aura of phantom-like unreality. Their meticulous work is illusory; they are the superfluous or lost men who populate the colonial world as Arendt describes it. The chief accountant is described as a "miracle," "a sort of vision," "a hairdresser's dummy" (45-6), whom Marlow would not even mention in his story except that "it was from his lips that I first heard the name of the man who is so indissolubly connected with the memories of that time" (45-6). Faultlessly dressed, the accountant labours over entries "which were in apple-pie order" (46), and seemingly embodies the ideals of altruism, humanism, and accountability that are supposed to be the moral backbone of the colonial enterprise, against a backdrop of death and decay littered with the debris of colonialism, both material and human: "black shadows of disease and starvation" (44). At the Central Station, Marlow meets the general manager, who is "commonplace" (50) in every way, except that he is never ill: "He originated nothing, he could keep the routine going - that's all. But he was great. He was great by this little thing that it was impossible to tell what could control such a man. He never gave that secret away. Perhaps there was nothing within him ... Once when various tropical diseases had laid low almost every 'agent' in the station, he was heard to say, 'Men who come out here should have no entrails'" (50-1). This literally hollow man is a precursor of Kurtz, the morally and spiritually hollow man who is nonetheless, Marlow judges, remarkable. Kurtz is remarkable for saying something, directly, honestly; for using language against the grain of its use by the company officials. This man is great for keeping a routine going - for even seeming to - in the midst of chaos and paralysis. Similarly, the superfluous brick-maker, who makes no bricks because there is no straw and in any event no need, appears to Marlow a "papier-mache Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke my forefinger through him, and would find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe" (56). His lack of achievement, however, compares favourably with the tangible

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but disgusting accomplishment of the white road-maker, whose project for improvement results in bullet-ridden black bodies lying by the roadside. The pseudo-bureaucracy of the company lacks the bureaucratic establishment that imbues work with apparent meaning. Further, the juxtaposition of its wanton rapacity and the stillness of the wilderness emphasizes the want of meaning behind its activities. The company officials realize the worst of Weber's fears for the future. In the powerful but pessimistic conclusion to his essay "Protestant Asceticism," originally published in 1905, Weber, briefly citing Goethe, creates an image of the man of the future that can be read as a most apt description of the trading company officials and pilgrims who populate the heart of darkness: "No one knows as yet who will live within these confines in future, and whether, at the end of this vast development, totally new prophets will emerge or there will be a powerful revival of old ideas and ideals; or, if neither of these, whether there will be a state of mechanised petrifaction, embellished by a kind of frenzied self-importance. In that case it might indeed become true to say of the last men' of this cultural development: 'specialists without soul, hedonists without heart; this cipher flatters itself that it has reached a state of humanity never before attained' (Goethe)."157 The ivory of the Congo is literally worshipped as representing an absolute economic value: "The word 'ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it" (52). Arendt describes the same anachronistic view of the gold of South Africa, an element she calls the most superfluous raw material on earth: "It was significant that a society about to part with all traditional absolute values began to look for an absolute value in the world of economics, where, indeed, such a thing does not and cannot exist, since everything is functional by definition ... The luck hunters were not distinctly outside civilized society, but, on the contrary, very clearly a by-product of this society, an inevitable residue of the capitalist system and even the representatives of an economy that relentlessly produced a superfluity of men and capital."1'8 She also points out that the Boers feared that gold as the basis of a new economic order would destroy the racial organization of society. However, "the irrational, non-functional place of gold in the economy made it independent of rational production methods."159 Race is the second device of foreign domination developed during the early years of imperialism in Africa: "Race was the emergency explanation of human beings whom no European or civilized man could understand and whose humanity so frightened and humiliated the immigrants that they no longer cared to belong to the same

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human species."160 Marlow is distinguished from the other whites in the Congo by his recognition that what seems so terrible and strange is not without meaning for oneself: The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there - there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly and the men were - No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know that was the worst of it - this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity - like yours - the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you - you so remote from the night of first ages - could comprehend. (69)

The concept of race in Arendt's study is associated with a natural environment that is particularly hostile, untamed, and unconquered. It has more to do with the relationship of the native people to nature than with pigmentation: "What made them different from other human beings was not at all the color of their skin but the fact that they behaved like a part of nature, that they treated nature as their undisputed master, that they had not created a human world, a human reality, and that therefore nature had remained, in all its majesty, the only overwhelming reality - compared to which they appeared to be phantoms, unreal and ghostlike. They were, as it were, natural human beings who lacked the specifically human character, the specifically human reality, so that when European men massacred them they somehow were not aware that they had committed murder."161 Conrad often writes of the natives as if they are literally inhaled and exhaled by the wilderness, as if they remain virtually a part of the jungle because they have not carved a human landscape out of it. At the Inner Station they are "poured into the clearing by the darkfaced and pensive forest," then are drawn in once more "as the breath is drawn in a long aspiration" (99). The human world, the human reality that they have not created, is what Westerners understand as civilization. These terms may suggest that I endorse the now outdated value judgment that privileges Western notions of development over the traditions of indigenous cultures that live in harmony with nature and do not endeavour to master it. It must be remembered, however, that Victorian faith in progress was unqualified by late

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twentieth-century perception of the environmental degradation and cultural and actual genocide to which imperialism leads. I refer to the taming of wilderness or the enlightenment of savages as a redeeming ideal of colonialism in order to reflect Victorian conceit concerning their own notion of civilization, and I use such terms ironically in this study of Conrad as they are used in Conrad's fiction itself. The timing of this story, during the Belgian colonization of the Congo, allows Conrad to examine three related issues. The first is the Western belief, which Conrad does not share, that it is humanity's destiny to master nature. The second is our concurrent and related dehumanization in conjunction with the rise of technology and bureaucratic authority. The third is the validity of Western civilized ideals, which are cited to valorize the colonial enterprise. The scepticism concerning the future of civilization, so prevalent in Conrad's adopted land at the turn of the century, is dramatized by his juxtaposition of Western values against the exotic, uncivilized backdrop of the African wilderness. Humankind in the late nineteenth century seemed aware it was living in an uneasy transition period; a time, as Hynes suggests, "that is conscious of its uncertain continuation."162 According to Miller, Conrad was still able to discern clearly the contrast between civilization and its antithesis: "Conrad was able to see, better than we can today, the nature of the historical process unfolding before his eyes. For us the process is more or less complete ... It is difficult for man now to see his civilization clearly because there is nothing to set it against for purposes of comparison, but Conrad could put imperialism against the backdrop of the darkness it was about to conquer."163 I disagree with Miller's confidence that the historical process of imperialism is more or less complete. The continuing history of American intervention in Latin America, and industrial development in the relatively pristine wildernesses of the Arctic and Antarctica, demonstrate that imperialism motivated by greed is far from over; that human entitlement has not been reconsidered in light of its negative impact on other cultures and nature. "Heart of Darkness" reveals that civilization does not stand the test of exposure to the barbaric. The failure of civilization is most starkly represented by the fall of one who is its most ideal representative. When Kurtz first arrived in the wilderness he was, the brick-maker tells Marlow, "a prodigy ... an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and devil knows what else" (55). He bore the torch of the enlightened ideals of Western civilization into the jungle. Yet their inadequacy, or sheer irrelevance, is foreshadowed in the oil sketch he painted more than a year before his arrival at the inner trading post.

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The sketch represents a woman, "draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre - almost black. The movement of the woman was stately, and the effect of the torch-light on the face was sinister" (54). The light-dark chiaroscuro, which mirrors the ambivalence of the tale, in this instance subverts the traditional association of light with goodness and dark with evil. Miller briefly defines civilization as it was perceived in the late nineteenth century: "In Conrad's view civilization is the metamorphosis of darkness into light. It is a process of transforming everything unknown, irrational, or indistinct into clear forms, named and ordered, given a meaning and use by man."164 In contrast with Kurtz's grand plan of bringing light and order to the people of the jungle, Marlow encounters the darkness of Africa armed with little more than his ideal of devotion to duty. Of his navigational duties for the journey up the Congo, Marlow says: "When you have to attend to things of that sort, to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality - the reality, I tell you - fades" (67). "I had to watch the steering, and circumvent those snags, and get the tin-pot along by hook or by crook. There was surface truth enough in these things to save a wiser man" (70). The same faith in work infuses the seamanship manual Marlow finds on his journey to the Inner Station. Yet this association of work and reality finally yields to another, incompatible view of reality, which claims it resides in the inscrutable sounds and silences of the African jungle, and is ultimately incommunicable. In the preamble to his narrative, Marlow contrasts the colonizing enterprises of Britain, informed by an idea and carried out methodically, to the thoughtless greed and brutality of the Romans who came to the savage land that is now Britain in the early centuries after Christ: "What saves us is efficiency - the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force" (31). The frame narrator, too, pays tribute to the empire-building past of England: "Hunters of gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! ... The dream of men, the seeds of commonwealths, the germs of empires" (29). His enthusiasm is abruptly checked by Marlow's remark, "And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth" (29). The contrast between British imperialism and the colonial conquests of other nations proves ungrounded. Both ultimately rest upon greed and the displacement of others who look different or whose civilization does not bring nature under humanity's purview as Western civilization does.

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"Heart of Darkness" documents the metamorphosis of the values of Western civilization from ideals into words and finally idols. Marlow owes his sanity - his continued ability to cope with surface reality - to his devotion to work. Work is the second of Marlow's redeeming ideals, as truth had been his first. Efficiency and the enlightenment of savages are among the redeeming ideas behind the task of colonization. Yet Marlow acknowledges the bizarre transformation of these ideas into idols: "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to ..." (31-2). Civilization is distinguished from savagery by its faith in a code of conduct, and its elevation of the merely conventional to the status of the ontologically real. "The strangeness of other people is hidden behind forms, clothes, institutions," Miller writes, "and some convention always stands between man and man. Civilization is the triumph of the human, of the all too human."163 This can be seen in the way the individual identities of Marlow's listeners aboard the Nellie are hidden behind the labels of their titular roles, and attests to the triumph of Weber's forecast of a fully bureaucratic society in which social role subsumes individual identity. The same is true of the trading company staff. Although they exist in a less developed, less efficient system - a phantom world - it is by the name of their occupation and their appearance, imbued with a great deal of irony, that Marlow identifies them. Nominal relations between names or labels and reality assume primacy over substantive relations. Marlow's narrative is primarily concerned with exposing as false the humanitarian myths underlying the ancient institution of colonialism. Colonialism functions as a metaphor of civilization. That this enterprise is founded on ideals that are not real shatters the foundations of civilization just as the inescapability of Marlow's lie to the Intended reveals as fictions the values upon which civilization is based. Seamus Deane writes: "The process by which [colonialism] disguised its criminal nature is shown by Conrad to be the very process by which civilization creates its ideal conception of itself. Seen in this light, civilization is a conspiracy which conceals from its members the criminality which they all share ... Colonialism was not merely an economic and social arrangement for the benefit of Europeans. It was a metaphor or analogue for the way in which Europeans understood civilization."166 This has ramifications both in the way that devotion to efficiency is undermined by the nature of the work performed at the trading station, and ultimately in Kurtz's dra-

134 Solitude versus Solidarity matic betrayal of the cause of civilization. For nowhere is the inconsistency between the ideology informing colonialism and its execution more stark than in the decline and fall of the inestimable Mr Kurtz. Marlow conceives of work as private, a redeeming ideal, meaningful not in extraneous or objective terms. Instead, its meaning inheres in the activity itself, inasmuch as it provides individual identity in an increasingly depersonalized world. Humanity must, however, believe in its chosen work for its own sake, and not seek valorization from external sources. These are Marlow's thoughts: "I don't like work, - no man does - but I like what is in the work, - the chance to find yourself. Your own reality - for yourself, not for others - what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means" (59-60). Significantly, this passage marks a watershed in Marlow's conception of work. Work had initially constituted for him a component of the surface reality beneath which the truth lies hidden. Here, it formulates part of the identity, selfhood, and truth of the genuine individual. From this point on, work assumes a greater and different kind of value. The work performed as part of the task of colonization, however, is imbued with a sense of unreality and lack of purpose. Aboard the French steamer heading toward Africa, Marlow feels alienated from his fellow passengers. His recognition of the farcical nature of the duties to be performed in the custom-houses at which the steamer lands, "clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness" (40), marks the beginning of his association of what is real and meaningful with the jungle: "The voice of the surf now and then was a positive pleasure, like the speech of a brother. It was something natural, that had its reason, that had a meaning" (40). Marlow's perceptiveness allows him to understand early that the toil of colonization is "a mournful and senseless delusion" (40). Admiring the "wild vitality" and sense of belonging of the blacks he sees around the coast, Marlow emphasizes the fragmented nature of the world he belongs to by recording its impingement upon theirs - the violation of Africa: "For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straight-forward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away. Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast ... In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent... Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring us earnestly there was a camp of natives - he called them enemies! - hidden out of sight somewhere" (40-1). Raval succinctly comments upon this episode:

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"The absence of a conventional target is really the absence of legitimacy in the imperialist incursion into an alien land."16? Conrad is the master of atormzation of experience into fragments. There is no reality to this war, and the natives are not enemies. Words are shrewdly used to disguise that the task at hand, of dubious merit in its own right, has degenerated into wanton destruction. Significant for the thematic implications of the story is the proximity of the perversion of the idea of work to the rending asunder of words and meaning. Language and work are analogous structures in Marlow's mind; both are here severed from any substantial relationship with their referents. The fragmented experiences are conveyed by words that have lost significance, work that accomplishes nothing meaningful, and names that do not name: "We passed various places trading places - with names like Gran' Bassam, Little Popo; names that seemed to belong to some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister back-cloth" (40). The philosophical basis for the modern suspicion that the relation between name and reality is merely arbitrary can be traced to the mid-fourteenth century, the era of the articulation of the nominalist position, associated with the English Franciscan William of Ockham, that language is itself a constituent of reality; sign and signifier are one. Figures of speech are recognized as fictions; the cognitive power of language is essentially conventional; words and symbols have no inherently appropriate relationship to what they signify. Ockham's intellectual realization of the gulf between sign and signified means that the very status of language and of non-verbal signs becomes problematic and hence the object of scrutiny. From this follows the implication that reflexivity is the norm for any text. The literary use of language becomes suspect; the function of language in revealing reality is called into question. This allows language to be manipulated to the extent that the meaning imposed upon names or symbols comes dangerously close to obliterating their agreed-upon meaning. This represents the subjective limit of the creative - or potentially destructive - power that words exert upon reality. The issue that Marlow explores in this examination of naming is the destruction of any inherent or meaningful relationship of sign and signified. Language attributes to symbols an ontological status equal to their referents, therefore cancelling the notion of a priori, inherent meaning in words and names and in the values and ideals to which language and symbols point. Language and indeed all forms of symbols are mere objects, the signifying power of which is reducible to, and as mutable as, their description. The potential of this semiotic view to destroy the enterprise of story-telling is evident. The fact that Marlow soldiers on, not only using language he knows

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to be malleable and corruptible but exposing its very malleability and potential corruption at the possible expense of undermining the moral authority of his own venture, mitigates Guetti's position concerning the victory of moral and linguistic disorder. Rather, it confirms my view that heroism lies in the quest for imaginative order and meaning in full acknowledgment of the moral and intellectual dishonesty that language can so conveniently be used to mask. It comes as no surprise that Marlow's meeting with Kurtz is the epitome of disjunction and atomization. Not only does Kurtz shatter Marlow's expectations, he leaves Marlow at a loss to describe him, except in oxymoronic terms as a "pitiful Jupiter" (100), or as an abstraction, a disembodied voice. "Where the ideals of society have gone most awry, the association between word and signified object is most severed; it follows that perception in such cases is rendered the most difficult."168 Karl Mannheim's notion of atomism illuminates Marlow's experience, for in establishing the necessity of a personal system of truths, Marlow implicitly subverts the notion of common reality. It follows that the common medium for expression is undermined. Herein lies the crux of Mannheim's theory. With the valorization of each individual's private lexicon of value and meaning, modern society is atomized to such a degree that, in a crowd of more than one, no assertion of fact or appeal to universally acknowledged value can be sustained. The novella closes with Marlow and his audience travelling into the "immense darkness" (121) of subjective epistemology and morality, of duplicitous language, of ambiguous and deceptive definitions. Meaning and truth must exist somewhere in the darkness, but the respective forms by which they manifest and express themselves remain dependent upon a plurality of individual value systems. Wirth's comment on the implications of the disintegration of group solidarity for violence and crime is especially relevant to this discussion of the degeneration of Kurtz, and Marlow's loyalty to Kurtz as his choice of nightmares: We no longer perceive the same things as real, and coincident with our vanishing sense of a common reality we are losing our common medium for expressing and communicating our experiences. The world has been splintered into countless fragments of atomized individuals and groups. The disruption in the wholeness of individual experience corresponds to the disintegration of culture and group solidarity. When the bases of unified collective action begin to weaken, the social structure tends to break and to produce a condition which Emile Durkheim has termed anomie, by which he means a situation which might be described as a sort of social emptiness or void. Under such conditions suicide, crime, and disorder are phenomena

137 "Heart of Darkness" to be expected because individual existence is no longer rooted in a stable and integrated social milieu and much of life's activity loses its sense and meaning.169

The work by Emile Durkheim to which Wirth refers is Durkheim's famous analysis of modernization and "anomic suicide" in his Suicide: A Study in Sociology. Durkheim posits no direct relationship between poverty and suicide rates, but rather that suicides increase during periods of crisis and upheaval, "disturbances of the collective order," whether the impact on the economy be positive or negative: "Every disturbance of equilibrium ... is an impulse to voluntary death. Whenever serious readjustments take place in the social order, whether or not due to a sudden growth or to an unexpected catastrophe, men are more inclined to self-destruction. How is this possible? How can something considered generally to improve existence serve to detach men from it?"170 Like Marx before him, Durkheim looks to the human capacity for self-reflection to explain the restlessness and discontent that lie at the heart of the human condition: "Irrespective of any external regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss ... Insatiability is rightly considered a sign of morbidity ... Inextinguishable thirst is constantly renewed torture."171 Durkheim's view that regulative or moral force alone, exerted by society acting as the conscience of humankind, can restrain our unlimited desires is applicable to neither Kurtz nor Jim, for both have stepped beyond the reach of the moderating force of society. The state of being released from all restraint upon aspirations, a privilege few are afforded, does in fact manifest itself in periods of crisis or profound transition, for society can no longer exert its beneficial influence as a collective authority. Discipline is rare precisely when it is most needed. The suicide rate does not display the fluctuations one would expect were it linked exclusively to periods of crisis that, however acute, are short and intermittent. Durkheim diagnoses the deregulation of industrial relations as the cause of the virtually constant state of crisis and anomy that he perceives in the modern social order. With the diminishing of the influence of religion and government as regulators in modern market economies, and the establishment of prosperity as an end in itself rather than a means to a more altruistic ideal such as social justice, "the appetites thus excited have become freed of any limiting authority. By sanctifying them ... this apotheosis of well-being has placed them above all human law. Their restraint seems like a sort of sacrilege."172 Traditionally imposed ceilings on ambition and greed are removed, prompting Durkheim's succinct

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definition of anomy as "this morbid desire for infinity/'173 and his comparison of anomic and egoistic suicide: "Both spring from society's insufficient presence in individuals. But the sphere of its absence is not the same in both cases. In egoistic suicide it is deficient in truly collective activity, thus depriving the latter of object and meaning. In anomic suicide, society's influence is lacking in the basically individual passions, thus leaving them without a check-rein."174 The former, according to Durkheim, recruits its victims among intellectuals; the latter among the more economically oriented. The vicious cycle of greed that can never be sated means that present reality is devalued in the face of future potential, which is itself immediately devalued as it is realized. Discipline, which becomes a resource in catastrophe because it breeds resilience, is lost: "The longing for infinity is daily represented as a mark of moral distinction, whereas it can only appear within unregulated consciences which elevate to a rule the lack of rule from which they suffer."175 The implications of this statement for Kurtz are obvious, for his greed is not only materialist; it is two-tiered, the second realm being the potentially more dangerous self-aggrandizement toward the status of idol or deity. The profound acumen of the following remark is applicable to Decoud's suicide, the only one in the Conrad canon examined in this study explicitly referred to as such, and also to the voluntary relinquishments of life variously manifested by Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo: "Those who have only empty space above them are almost inevitably lost in it, if no force restrains them."176 Decoud's suicide can be categorized as egoistic suicide, while the deaths of the other three Conradian heroes can be understood, in part, in terms of Durkheim's notion of anomic suicide. While the ethical values of European society provided an artificial restraint or at least did not permit crime to exist side by side with more refined behaviour, the "phantom world of colonial adventure," to borrow Arendt's phrase, imposed none of these restraints. "'Certainly!' grunted the other [the manager's uncle]; 'get him hanged! Why not? Anything - anything can be done in this country ... The danger is in Europe'" (64-5). The surreptitious plot of one hollow man to murder another meets its only resistance in the harm it may do to the manager's opportunities to advance in the administration of the company, based in Europe. The colonial setting of Conrad's tale allows him to dramatize in a stark manner the subversion of civilized ideals through betrayal. Colonizers could, however, count on their reputation being maintained in Europe by those who subscribe to the position, with or without personal conviction, that the colonial enterprise represents enlightenment and progress. This illusion is absolutely impenetrable to the soft-minded, here represented by

±39 "Heart of Darkness"

women such as Marlow's benevolent old aunt, and others like her: "They live in a world of their own, and there had never been anything quite like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether" (39). Pointing out that "the era of great industrial development and imperialist success was also the era of idealism in philosophy and politics," Raval comments on the deceptive effect of this strange symbiosis of exploitation and idealism: "A characteristic Conradian insight here is that imperialism blinds those who serve its purpose to the real implications of their actions, so that ideals, seemingly altruistic, bring into being the practical realities of colonial exploitation."177 Paradoxically, the secret is also safe in the hands of one like Marlow, who, having perceived the fragility of unexamined principles, comes to recognize the necessity of the saving illusion. Precisely because he is not blind to the true implications of imperialism, but instead has come face to face with its utter moral desolation, Marlow remains silent in the presence of a true believer in the person of Kurtz's Intended. Marlow initially attributes to Kurtz moral ideas akin to those which he at first believed to lie behind the task of colonization. This sense of kinship with Kurtz is confirmed by the manager's repetition of Kurtz's ideas concerning colonialism, that it is not merely a trading activity but entails a duty on the part of the white man to enlighten the savages: "Each station should be like a beacon on the road toward better things, a centre for trade of course, but also for humanizing, improving, instructing" (65). That Marlow ultimately comes to associate Western values with the surface that conceals a lie is revealed when he refutes the proffered interpretation of "fine sentiments" - restraint - as the reason he did not go ashore "for a howl and a dance" (69). He attributes to principles such as these an ontological status equal to that of physical labour, the deluded manner in which European men and women use language, and the costume of the accountant; all are restraints and belong to the realm of the surface: "Principles won't do. Acquisitions, clothes, pretty rags rags that would fly off at the first good shake. No: you want a deliberate belief" (69). The word "deliberate" implies that faith is maintained in face of evidence that it can be subverted. Moral principles "are less than chaff in a breeze" (76). Epistemological and moral relativism are explicitly and inextricably intertwined. Words are slippery, stripped as they are of any single, eternal, immutable meaning. Language is a hollow sham; the moral ideals that it expresses are fatally fragile; the common reality that it assumes no longer exists. Considering the accountant a representative of human enterprise as it must have appeared to Conrad, Miller emphasizes that fidelity to duty, "equilibrium in the midst of demoralization," may well dis-

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guise the truth stripped of its cloak of time that the jungle offers, but he believes the accountant's act of will has its purpose and is not inherently dishonest: "The accountant represents the triumph of an unceasing act of will, a will to keep the darkness out and to keep what is within the charmed circle of civilization clear, distinct and inventoried ... The idea [of order and accounting] is civilized man's protection against the anarchic power of atavistic ways of life."178 Perhaps this explains why Marlow, having asserted from the start that meaning inheres in the inscrutable jungle, nonetheless insists that his account of his experience in Africa is valid: "I have a voice, too, and for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced" (69). Both the accountant and Marlow employ acts of volition; the former to deny the chaos and darkness of Africa, and the latter to incorporate into a meaningful pattern his experience of the chaos and impenetrable silence, and the artificial order of European modes of thought, speech, and organization, which after all are Marlow's legacy. Kurtz betrays the ideas of enlightenment and devotion to duty that lie behind colonialism. In self-imposed exile from the world of accepted social values, a world based upon "the future of a purpose and the past of an accomplishment," as Arendt eloquently characterizes it, "a world created and fabricated by [man] himself,"179 Kurtz sets himself up as a god. What he lacks is the "power of devotion, not to yourself, but to an obscure, back-breaking business" (86). Arendt writes this of the Boers in South Africa who refused to acknowledge their kinship with black human beings, and deified themselves to retain an artificial hierarchical superiority to the natives: "Living in an environment which they had no power to transform into a civilized world, they could discover no value higher than themselves."180 It is true too of the colonists within Marlow's tale, and of his confreres who populate the frame story, for they are tacitly complicit in the crimes that occur within. Marlow implies that the restraint holding together the human social fabric is largely the result of concern for the opinion of others: "You can't understand. How could you? - with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows, and lunatic asylums - how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man's untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude - utter solitude without a policeman - by way of silence - utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of public opinion?" (85). Weber too speaks of fear of freedom as a factor promoting the restraint required in the modern

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world: "Of the purely political factors promoting bureaucratisation, the most enduring is the increasing need felt by a society grown accustomed to stable and absolute peace for order and protection ('police') in all areas."181 Kurtz does not feel this need. Faced with utter solitude in the midst of a body of men willing to worship him as a god, living a charmed existence devoid of consequence, he violates the codes of morality and restraint that uphold the ideal of civilization: "He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land I mean literally." Marlow says: "I had to deal with a being to whom I could not appeal in the name of anything high or low. I had, even like the niggers, to invoke him - himself - his own exalted and incredible degradation. There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! he had kicked the very earth to pieces" (107). Kurtz enacts a final stand of radical individuality in defiance of the deadly conformity required by an increasingly systematized world. The tension between the individual and his social role will become all-pervasive, and the magic will finally be driven out of life. MacRae, discussing Weber's aversion to the crushing oppression of the orderly routine of a secularized bureaucratic world, writes a eulogy for individual freedom: "People will always be in tension with the social roles that society requires them to play, and freedom is the rare consequence for a few when that tension accidentally is relaxed. Objectively in a world of rationality, of bureaucracy and the masses one should not expect its survival. Instead we should expect disenchantment to become complete, bureaucracy and regulation universal, and secularization to displace all the meanings of faith and hope while administrative welfare eliminates charity."182 If Kurtz is understood as a charismatic leader, his acceptance of the idolatry of the native people is a perversion of the idea that the charismatic leader possesses divine grace. "The genuinely charismatic leader," Weber writes, "is answerable rather to his subjects; ... he personally is the genuine master willed by God."183 Kurtz's greed, while not rationally organized, is still materialist, and he is answerable to himself alone. He sheds the veneer of civilization that distinguishes the European from the African. Arendt suggests a connection between the phantom-like quality of Kurtz and some of Conrad's other heroes, and the circumstances of colonialism: "Native life lent these ghostlike events a seeming guarantee against all consequences because anyhow it looked to these men like a 'mere play of shadows. A play of shadows, the dominant race could walk through unaffected and disregarded in the pursuit of its incomprehensible aims and needs.' The world of native savages was a perfect setting for men who had escaped the reality of civilization."'84 Kurtz is as insubstan-

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tial as the ideas he betrays. When Marlow first glimpses him carried on a stretcher into the compound of the Inner Station by the natives, he seems an "atrocious phantom," "an animated image of death carved out of old ivory" (99). When the manager accuses Kurtz of betraying the company, Marlow's response is to turn to Kurtz for relief from this hypocrisy. The company betrays its task of "weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways" (39), unless the massacre of innocent people can be considered a fulfilment of this task. Marlow chooses Kurtz because "pure, uncomplicated savagery," he feels, is "a positive relief" (98). Kurtz's soul becomes emblematic, for T.S. Eliot and others, of the overly introspective, self-conscious soul of modern man which has "looked within himself, and ... gone mad" (108). Mannheim links the atomization of the individual and the disintegration of group solidarity with the upsurge of crime and suicide. Whether Kurtz's death is the result of a covert murder plot, as Cedric Watts holds, or the suicide of a soul gone mad is beside the point, for like King Lear's death, it is the only possible dramatic conclusion to a life so intensely lived. He has chosen to satiate his soul with "primitive emotions, avid of lying fame, of sham distinction, of all the appearances of success and power" (no). In so doing he reveals as false the traditional values upon which civilization is founded. The standard of conduct that he has betrayed can now be understood to have been all along as insubstantial as he has become. Kurtz's penetration or rending of the veil of civilization destroys him. Marlow, as the keeper of Kurtz's reputation, and the secret of his soul, tells what amounts to a surface lie in order to conceal a deeper truth, one that he knows society will not withstand, any more than Kurtz withstood his glimpse of his own impenetrable darkness. Seamus Deane makes clear the repercussions of the sundering of human solidarity: Crime in Conrad precedes violence. It involves a breach of the social contract through which violence enters. Conrad thus offers the perception that the betrayal of the idea of solidarity leads to an actual fragmentation. Again it is the conception of coherence which creates coherence. Once the conception fails to survive a crucial test, the coherence vanishes in a storm of violence. The ultimate question, then, is about the validity of the initial conception. If the idea of human solidarity were something more than an illusion, would it ever fail such tests? ... Ideals may be fictions, but they are necessary angels. If they do not haunt us, we will become individual and isolated ghosts. Yet the sad fact is that it is the heroic people, the criminals, who destroy our most

143 "Heart of Darkness" necessary illusions. Their criminality is itself paradoxical, for it is the very thoroughness of their search for personal integrity which reveals the potential frailty of the idea of solidarity.185

It is this ideal that Marlow rescues in his lie to the Intended. Marlow is unlike the pilgrims and company officials in that he recognizes the fragility of the social contract, but unlike Kurtz in that he does not kick himself loose. He abides by those very standards that reveal themselves as illusory and fictional. He must live with the sense of his alienation and his perception of others as intruders, without the potential for the radical expression of his knowledge that Kurtz is allowed. The image of the "whited sepulchre" emerges in Marlow's description of the placid Brussels, the "sepulchral city" to which he returns. This image is from Matthew 23: 27: "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."186 Because of Marlow's extraordinary experience of a world without restraints, he perceives the potential for evil and moral chaos underlying the complacent, orderly appearance of this city and its inhabitants. He sees "beneath the surface of commitment," to borrow Whiteley's succinct phrase; he understands that people "have fallen into mechanistic, involuntary movements that reduce them to the status of automatons."187 He grows increasingly impatient of their moral vapidness and spiritual blindness. Brussels is emblematic of a civilization that appears clean and holy, but is hollow and corrupt within. Its laws blind us to the "moral degradation of the idea" (Nostromo, 427) that justifies colonial rapacity. Kurtz cannot reconcile his extreme individual autonomy to the conventions of society, and he will not sacrifice it. He reveals the immorality of the colonial system by carrying its implications to their extreme. If Marlow is understood as a spokesman for group solidarity, Kurtz is seen to enact the final stand of radical Romantic individualism in a world, such as Weber describes, dedicated to conformity and the subjugation of one's self in face of the greater good of all. Their conflict is a dramatization of that between stability and charisma. Kurtz's death is that of spectacular individuality as colonialism gives way to the more systematic approach of imperialism, a methodical social structure that would indeed pronounce Kurtz's methods "unsound."


Lord Jim


Of course reason is hateful - but why? Because it demonstrates (to those who have the courage) that we, living, are out of life - utterly out of it. The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of a humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence. In a dispassionate view the ardour for reform, improvement for virtue, for knowledge, and even for beauty is only a vain sticking up for appearances as though one were anxious about the cut of one's clothes in a community of blind men. Life knows us not and we do not know life - we don't know even our own thoughts. Half the words we use have no meaning whatever and of the other half each man understands each word after the fashion of his own folly and conceit. Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow - only the string of my platitudes seems to have no end. As our peasants say: "Pray, brother, forgive me for the love of God." And so we don't know what forgiveness is, nor what is love, nor where God is. Assez.1 In this extract from an 1898 letter to Cunninghame Graham, Conrad considers and relates two issues crucial to this study. The first is the epistemological crisis that crystallizes into solipsistic despair as we admit the impossibility of truly understanding one another, or even ourselves. The inadequacies of the thought process and human communicative skills become painfully obvious. The second is the


Lord Jim

negation of faith in progress wrought by living in a universe in which the concept of godhead and teleological plan are replaced by the scientific reality of the reduction of humanity and cosmos to undifferentiated inert matter, the evolution of which consists of random mutations. Examined from a scale of such vast expanse, it is difficult to convince ourselves that the fate of the individual, and of the concepts to which we bind our notions of morality and solidarity, are anything other than farce. Conrad translates the Darwinian concept of unguided, unconscious evolution into the stark image of the knitting machine which first creates itself, and then the universe, cruelly incorporating all the components, such as consciousness, faith, illusion, disillusion, and despair, which condemn us to a struggle that the modern sceptic views as absurd. This is from an 1897 letter to the same correspondent: There is a - let us say - a machine. It evolved itself (I am severely scientific) out of a chaos of scraps of iron and behold! - it knits. I am horrified at the horrible work and stand appalled. I feel it ought to embroider - but it goes on knitting. You come and say: "this is all right; it's only a question of the right kind of oil. Let us use this - for instance - celestial oil and the machine will embroider a most beautiful design in purple and gold." Will it? Alas no. You cannot by any special lubrication make embroidery with a knitting machine. And the most withering thought is that the infamous thing has made itself; made itself without thought, without conscience, without foresight, without eyes, without heart. It is a tragic accident - and it has happened. You can't interfere with it. The last drop of bitterness is in the suspicion that you can't even smash it. In virtue of that truth one and immortal which lurks in the force that made it spring into existence it is what it is - and it is indestructible! It knits us in and it knits us out. It has knitted time, space, pain, death, corruption, despair and all the illusions - and nothing matters. I'll admit however that to look at the remorseless process is sometimes amusing.2

Lord Jim is the history of a young man whose ideals are real guides to living a life to which he attributes a strongly articulated purpose, and of which he believes himself in control. It is the saga of a young man struggling to honour an imposed code of behaviour, in which he believes in face of a conflicting notion of individual freedom. His history is re-created by an individual who is in the process of questioning all received values. It is not surprising that we meet Marlow again in this tale. "The 'event' in Lord Jim is the analysis and dissolution of the event/'3 Hence the analytic mind of Marlow is once again foregrounded. The sources of information that assist Marlow in his

146 Solitude versus Solidarity

quest to assess and ultimately to re-create Jim are multiple, and run the gamut from the cynical to the idealistic. Not only is no single perspective definitive, but their sum does not create a coherent whole. The evidence brought to bear upon Jim is more judgmental and apparently more explicit than the teasingly impressionistic glimpses that Marlow is afforded of Kurtz on his journey upriver to the heart of darkness. In Lord Jim, the embedded tale and the conflicting accounts offered by the sources who enable Marlow to reconstruct Jim's story for his auditors attest to the untenability of the notion that a single definitive perspective can emerge from an investigation of any nature, be it the official trial that opens the novel, Marlow's composite but ultimately personal exploration of Jim's deeds and motives, or Jim's final, silent inquiry into his own heart. I will explore the implications of the oral nature of the tale, the disruption of the chronological progression of time, and the multiple frame structure of Marlow's narration of Jim's story as a prelude to my central argument that there exists a relationship between epistemological uncertainty - the ambiguity manifested in the complex narrative procedure - and the untenability of precepts underlying imperialism, founded on a mentality that holds to be self-evident a questionable solidarity based on cultural values and racial bonds. Marlow's quest for meaning is made explicit. Despite the lack of conclusiveness, for final judgment is impossible, the key lies in the dramatization of Marlow's struggle to understand. Hence the diatribe concerning the inability of mere facts to disclose truth, which occurs during Jim's ordeal at the trial and which originates in the consciousness of a more traditional omniscient narrator, is shown to be valid when the job of narration is given to Marlow. Emphasis is once again placed on the examination of the knowing subject, as Mannheim has asserted that it must be. Epistemological relativism is reflected in the formal structure of the novel, as well as in its thematic vindication of the notion that factual language ignoring the context and nuances of human experience is inadequate to penetrate to the heart of the matter. The frame structure with its multiple perspectives and chronological shifts is an implicit acknowledgment of the precarious nature of knowledge and the relativity of truth. The omniscient vantage point from which we are introduced to Jim and which allows us access to his consciousness during the trial is quickly superseded by a recounting of Marlow's oral narrative. Like "Heart of Darkness," the first section of Lord Jim is structured as an embedded re-enactment of one of Marlow's many recitals of Jim's tale, related to an undisclosed audience by an anonymous narrator. Into Marlow's oral yarn are woven the eyewitness or conjee-

147 ^or^ /i*"

tural testimonies of those whose life has touched Jim's in some way. Truth, inasmuch as it is attainable at all, is a communal project involving, apparently paradoxically, multiple versions and perspectives. There is no single, ultimate, ontologically real and eternal truth; no stable, absolute system of values that render possible the formulation of a valid judgment of another. Truth is eternally elusive, submerged in mystery and doubt. The fragmented and often conflicting versions of truth offered by the many witnesses that Marlow parades through his narrative attest to the ultimately private, sealed nature of each individual's reality, and simultaneously to the impossibility of reconstructing a version of truth that is other than communal and composite. Ultimately, the multifaceted, interpretive but never definitive experience of Marlow's listeners and Conrad's readers is a paradigm for the relative nature of truth and judgment. Moreover, the doubt-ridden narrative complexity, which expresses the epistemological theme of the elusiveness of truth, is in turn paradigmatic of the self-doubt and incipient failure of imperialism; a failure that results from the shaky intellectual and social foundations upon which it rests, as well the dubious mentality of those who support and profit from it. Central to this novel is the issue of Jim's betrayal of the brotherhood of the sea. The intellectual foundation of my discussion of Jim's shattering of the code of group solidarity is Weber's analysis of charisma and its routinization in contemporary society. As in "Heart of Darkness," Marlow represents fidelity to the work ethic and to the notion of community. Ultimately, Conrad indicates that there exists barely the space of a hair's breadth, easily transgressed, between fidelity and betrayal, heroism and cowardice, guilt and innocence. Kurtz's death in "Heart of Darkness," Brierly's suicide and Jim's own death in this novel, and Decoud's suicide and the death of the title character in Nostromo can be attributed to the shock of the realization of this universal weakness. Marlow's interest in Jim is born, in part, of his growing scepticism concerning the nature of and the motives for the adhesion of communities, and his doubt concerning the validity of "the sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct." His repeated insistence that Jim is "one of us," a member of the brotherhood of the sea despite his crime, his betrayal of its code, reveals that Marlow is able to transcend the limitations of one whose life's meaning derives exclusively from unquestioning adherence to a code, and to empathize with the plight of one who has fallen from grace within the community. The conflict at the core of the novel is therefore between the absolute authority of codes of conduct and the permissibility of indi-

148 Solitude versus Solidarity

vidual deviation from such codes. Another formulation of this conflict is couched in terms of social cohesion or human solidarity versus the ultimate mystery and enigma of the individual, especially one whose betrayal of the bond of solidarity to which he had initially pledged allegiance results in his being labelled a criminal and an outlaw. Ambivalence concerning Jim's guilt or innocence results from and reflects the incompatibility of radical, Romantic individualism that allows for no judgment against any fixed standard of conduct and the stability of a code of human solidarity. Judged against the inflexible standard of a code, Jim's guilt is irredeemable and unmitigated. With the shades of grey introduced by the notion of the impenetrability of the consciousness of the individual, however, and the diminishing of any absolute standard of judgment that characterizes the modern era, the issue of Jim's guilt or innocence becomes very problematic. The ambiguity and mystery that infuse Marlow's assessment of Jim may also be understood as an evasion, on Marlow's part, of the frightening and damning implication of Jim's betrayal: the collapse or destruction of shared beliefs that lie at the root of the idea of community. He weaves an elaborate web of enigma around the issue of Jim's guilt, thereby evading the insight concerning the criminality of society itself, and the implication of this insight for his notion of communal solidarity. Paradoxically, it is only by granting Jim his claim to the exceptional status of the radical individual that Marlow can preserve the illusion of the solidarity of the majority. As the narrative progresses, and especially as Stein's influence becomes increasingly apparent, Marlow explicitly ponders the limitations of language and of knowledge itself, especially knowledge that can be attained of another. Consequently, he switches from allegiance to a collectivist notion of social cohesion to a keen sense of the utter loneliness and isolation, the ultimate elusiveness and enigma of each individual. The conflict between solitude and solidarity is intrinsic to Marlow's consciousness, and central to the three Conrad novels examined in this book. In Stein, the engaging scholar to whom Marlow turns for advice in his dealings with Jim, we find the closest reconciliation possible between the reflectivity of the philosopher and the intrepidity of the adventurer. Stein believes that both the quest for the ideal and the complacent acceptance of the real are potentially destructive, but that one must immerse oneself in the destructive element if one is truly to live. Stein offers Jim an opportunity rare in this life - the chance to recapture his dream of heroism, to redeem himself, both as an individual and as a member of the community. Jim's pursuit of the


Lord Jim

impossible dream is, as Stein suggests, ultimately destructive, for the discrepancy between the ideal and the real will not remain forever submerged. Stein's pronouncements restate without solving the central dilemma of Jim's existence - the double paradox that to be fully alive one must seek and submit to the destructive element; and that to fulfil oneself as an individual, one must make a commitment to the community. Jim's mastery of his fate as the benign, wise white ruler of the native community on Patusan entails his partial and temporary redemption, but leads inexorably to his death when his weak spot, his fear that he is not brave enough, is once again assailed, this time by the virulent attack of the degenerate Gentleman Brown. As he did in "Heart of Darkness," in Lord Jim Conrad tackles the issue of the role of language - its capacity to serve as a refuge, to evade and alter as well as to disclose truth. Yet his conviction of the inherent validity of the quest for knowledge and meaning is once again attested to by the existence of the novel, consisting of Marlow's oral narrative and his final attempt to reconstruct Jim's downfall. Conrad's emphasis on the active quest for meaning, and the elusiveness of ultimate truth, anticipates Mannheim's assertion that the attempt to understand must be anchored in the analysis of the cognitive process of the knowing subject. Marlow's narrative is couched in an ambiguity. Herein lies its essential honesty. Marlow's double perspective, here and in "Heart of Darkness," of words, values, and formal order as illusions but necessary ones allows him the luxury of denouncing these human constructs as such, even as he seeks shelter within them. This is not intellectual dishonesty on Marlow's part, for he has glimpsed the alternative, the moral disintegration of Kurtz, and judged it to be too dark altogether. In this novel, the language of facts and the realm of artistic narrative intermingle, their boundaries blurred by the essential deceptiveness of both: "There shall be no message, unless such as each of us can interpret for himself from the language of facts, that are so often more enigmatic than the craftiest arrangement of words" (256). Language and story-telling are among the subjects of Marlow's ponderings, and not merely their vehicle. Conrad explores how the structure of language implicitly supports and validates the social order that gives rise to it by structuring the nature of thought, memory, and perception, and defining the limitations of creative and inquisitive thinking. This is dramatized in Marlow's growing conviction that the doctrine of social cohesion is an illusion, that each individual is ultimately lonely and lies irredeemably beyond the grasp of another; and hence that communal solidarity is finally vulnerable to the challenge of the radical individual. Even the strength of Jim's love for Jewel

150 Solitude versus Solidarity

does not conquer his need to pursue his dream of heroism and impossible greatness. This private dream is the force behind his betrayal of his lover, and also his breach of faith with the native community of Patusan, of which she is a member. The issue of Jim's success or failure turns upon the question of the absolute or illusory nature of the social code that has been betrayed. In his chapter entitled "The Self in Moral Space," Taylor comments that as moral agents functioning in time we grasp our lives in narrative form, and endeavour to create coherent stories to understand ourselves and others. This in turn affects how we conceive of and construct our moral framework. The archetype of the quest or journey becomes the inevitable paradigm for narratives concerning human life, for each person must construct a coherent narrative to come to grips with his or her life, or that of another. Taylor holds that each individual is responsible for the creation of a moral framework, within his or her cultural context: "We cannot but strive to give our lives meaning or substance, and this means that we understand ourselves inescapably in narrative." Only the narrative form conveys the quest, which is among the "inescapable structural requirements of human agency."4 Lord Jim is not only about the conflict between Romantic individualism and solidarity that rages initially between Jim and Marlow. Later, after his interviews with the French lieutenant and Stein, the novel documents how this same conflict rages within Marlow himself. Marlow's previous moral framework granting authority to a fixed standard of conduct begins to crumble as the result of his involvement with Jim, to be replaced with a peculiarly modern scepticism. Furthermore, his development as a moral agent can profitably be examined across the various texts in which he appears. Michael Rossiter asserts: "If Marlow witnessed the absurdity of civilization as a whole in "Heart of Darkness," then he is seeking some sort of redeeming knowledge in the next functional element of society, the individual."5 Suresh Raval agrees: "Marlow's experience, in Heart of Darkness, of the complicity of idealism with imperialism opens a reflection on the nature of the self and its foundation in the community. This is the reflection Marlow probes, more directly, in Lord Jim."6 In both stories, the narrative traces Marlow's development as a moral agent, and interrogates the nature and status of critical and creative discourse. The omniscient perspective of the first five chapters is crucial for several reasons. First, it presents the reader with background information concerning Jim's formative years that Marlow could not possibly possess. It reveals the narrative form in which Jim's initial self-

151 Lord Jim conception is created, and foreshadows the impossibly glorious and heroic self-image he will endeavour to recapture on Patusan. Coming from an abode "of piety and peace" (10), Jim's vivid imagination has been fed, we discover, by adventure literature, and his self-image has been created in its form: "He confronted savages on tropical shores, quelled mutinies on the high seas, and in a small boat upon the ocean kept up the hearts of despairing men - always an example of devotion to duty, and as unflinching as a hero in a book. "7 The importance of the word "unflinching" is only apparent on a second reading, for it recurs in the description of the "proud and unflinching glance" (312) Jim gives just before he falls forward, dead, in the melodramatic sacrificial death he brings upon himself in retribution for the slaying of his friend, Dain Waris. Jim's death meets the romantic criteria of the adventure, romance novels that have nurtured his imagination, and the retributive philosophy of the Malay tribe he had benignly ruled. And perhaps it satisfies his ego, but it realizes Jewel's worst fears and betrays her trust, leaving her alone to draw the conclusion that Jim is, indeed, a deserter, like all white men. It also leaves open the question of whether Jim redeems or merely repeats his previous betrayals. Whiteley feels that to adhere exclusively to either position "is to ignore the meaning of the ambiguity, for it is impossible finally to decide whether Jim's failure reverses itself or persists."8 The problem is that of distinguishing between perception and imagination when the epistemological thrust of the novel, in Whiteley's own terms, has been to collapse this distinction. The disparity between Jim's illusion of himself and reality is immediately underscored in the description of his first failure aboard the training boat when it is struck by a gale. The lesson is lost to Jim, however, who becomes angry at the storm for "taking him unawares and checking unfairly a generous readiness for narrow escapes" (13), as though this incident had not proven precisely his general inability to think clearly and act quickly under stress. In a convoluted train of thought he interprets his inertia when faced with this violent gale as an indication that "he could affront greater perils": "When all men flinched, then - he felt sure - he alone would know how to deal with the spurious menace of wind and seas" (13). Note the repetition of the word "flinched." Only in Ms imagination and at the moment of his sacrificial death is he unflinching, and even then it is unclear whether he is motivated by courage or stubborn pride. Jim's egocentriciry is witnessed in his interpretation of the gale as possessing "a fierce purpose ... a furious earnestness in the screech of the wind, in the brutal tumult of earth and sky, that seemed directed at him" (12). It seems to him an unfairly timed test of his eternal readiness. Like

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many of us, Jim reads into the facts of his biography an interpretation they do not necessarily support. Jim's failure of nerve will be repeated aboard the Patna. More germane, however, to the narrative form the novel is to take is the diatribe against facts that the omniscient narrator is able to recount because of his penetration of Jim's consciousness. Ironically, the narrator of this section, although his point of view is that of traditional omniscience, dwells on the inability of facts and official language to convey reality. During the ordeal of Jim's interrogation on the witness stand at the trial investigating the Patna affair, the reader is with the narrator inside Jim's consciousness, and is privy to what the spellbound audience cannot be, but what the perspicacious Marlow perhaps intuits. This is Jim's anguished recognition of the inadequacy of facts to reveal the heart of any matter shaded with areas of grey: They wanted facts! Facts! They demanded facts from him, as if facts could explain anything! ... After his first feeling of revolt he had come round to the view that only a meticulous precision of statement would bring out the true horror behind the appalling face of things. The facts those men were so eager to know had been visible, tangible, open to the senses, occupying their place in space and time, requiring for their existence a fourteen-hundred-ton steamer and twenty-seven minutes by the watch; they made a whole that had features, shades of expression, a complicated aspect that could be remembered by the eye, and something else besides, something invisible, a directing spirit of perdition that dwelt within, like a malevolent soul in a detestable body. (27-9)

Jim is concerned that the priorities of the trial ignore nuance in favour of hard, cold facts. Truth is often hidden beneath the veil of illusion offered by facts. Facts do not represent to Jim some solid bedrock of experience, subject to persistent misinterpretation. Personified as villains here, they themselves have a sinister aspect, an inherently dark nature that renders them an unreliable barometer against which to judge deviations in comprehension or behaviour. Jim's thoughts, articulated by the omniscient narrator, form an explicit statement regarding the revelatory limitation of the "face of things." Equally revealing, however, is the omniscient narrator's crucial omission - the key fact that the Patna had not, after all, sunk. This raises concern about the very existence of the shades of grey to which Jim clings in order to preserve his heroic self-image. The deception that would result from telling the story from the vantage point of

153 Lord Jim

Jim's consciousness is now evident. The content of the "question to the point" which Jim answers with a curt "Yes, I did" (29) is not revealed, but it must disclose the "naked and ugly" fact to which Marlow alludes: that Jim had jumped from a ship he believed to be sinking, rather than honouring the code of the seaman by putting the lives of the passengers before his own. The damning fact of Jim's abandoning a sinking ship is all the more damning with the realization that the ship remained afloat. These are the facts Jim fears deceptive in isolation, the facts which he fears, if not tempered with nuance, distort the reality of the event: "His mind positively flew round and round the serried circle of facts that had surged up all about him to cut him off from the rest of his kind" (29). These are the facts, however, which cannot be ignored, and they will be revealed by the man whose eyes Jim met during the trial, whose glance "was an act of intelligent volition" (30). The omniscient point of view is inappropriate to, indeed impossible for, a narrative that interrogates the status of facts and the nature of discourse. The limitations of omniscience are now revealed, and the task of narration is turned over to Marlow, whose multiple-perspective investigative style of reportage will bring many points of view to bear on Jim's fatal flaw. Furthermore, emphasis is once again placed on the examination of the cognitive act of the knowing subject, as Mannheim had asserted that it must be in an era characterized by the atomization of the individual and the disintegration of a previously coherent world view. Jim's insight concerning the insufficiency of facts to explain an inner reality is disclosed through narrative structure with the introduction of Marlow. Marlow's narrative begins at chapter 5, and opens with a cryptic reference to the "yellow-dog thing" (31), an incident that was the occasion of his first conversation with Jim. This is not related in full sequence and detail until the following chapter, when he once again mentions his first eye contact with Jim while describing Brierly's reaction to Jim's testimony - and Brierly's subsequent suicide. The necessity of illusion and the unbearable close ties between truth and death are immediately established. Marlow ascribes incidents such as his first encounter with Jim, which often result in unwelcome confidences, to the devil: "The kind of thing that by devious, unexpected, truly diabolical ways causes me to run up against men with soft spots, with hard spots, with hidden plague spots, by Jove! and loosens their tongues at the sight of me for their infernal confidences; as though, forsooth, I had no confidences to make to myself, as though God help me! -1 didn't have enough confidential information about myself to harrow my own soul until the

154 Solitude versus Solidarity

end of my appointed time" (31-2). However incidental and unusual the beginning of Marlow's relationship with Jim, he is to become the keeper of the secrets of Jim's soul, as he had been the keeper of the secrets of Kurtz's soul. The greater part of the novel, chapters 5 to 35 inclusive, is fashioned as a re-enactment of one of Marlow's many deliveries of Jim's story: "And later on, many times, in distant parts of the world, Marlow showed himself willing to remember Jim, to remember him at length, in detail and audibly" (31). Thus the anonymous narrator of the frame story introduces Marlow's embedded tale. Marlow's oral yarn, into which he weaves at will the testimonies of many witnesses and interpreters of Jim's deeds, as well as his own role as confidant, father figure, and devil's advocate, is a structural device that allows Conrad to develop a many-layered, multiple-perspective novel that underlines his recurring epistemological concern with the relativity of truth and the impossibility of forming a single valid judgment concerning the inner life of another. Further, according to Randall Craig, the oral mode of Marlow's narrative is "a formal reenactment of the Marlovian theme that belief and truth are necessarily communal projects."9 Belief and truth are communal projects not only in the sense that a composite truth is approached at best and only precariously through a multiplicity of versions and perspectives, but also in the more thematic sense that no belief or truth is ever absolutely true for all time, but at most only a temporary creation of a specific society in a given period. Fredric Jameson also refers to the works of Max Weber in conjunction with Lord Jim. He sees Marlow's role of the oral bard as anachronistic, a nostalgic glance back to the era before capitalism caused the reification of man from his social role. Although Marlow is considered throughout my book as the Weberian modern man, this does not put me at odds with Jameson, for we are using Weber's vocabulary in radically different ways. My argument is that Marlow's dramatization within the text allows Conrad to emphasize cognitive processes and limitations, so that the reader is constantly engaged in the process of judging not only Jim but also Marlow's struggle to grasp the enigma presented by Jim. Epistemological relativism infuses theme and is a determining factor in narrative structure. Marlow acts as an ambassador for all who struggle to understand the basis of knowledge and judgment in the modern era devoid of absolute values, as characterized by Mannheim. Jameson, however, considers Marlow's role as oral bard to be archaic, harking back to a bygone era:

155 ^or^ 7*m The representational fiction of a storytelling situation organized around Marlow marks the vain attempt to conjure back the older unity of the literary institution, to return to that older concrete social situation of which narrative transmission was but a part, and of which public and bard or storyteller are intrinsic (although not necessarily visible or immediately present) components: such literary institutions, once genuine or concrete forms of social relationships, have long since been blasted by the corrosive effects of market relations, and, like so many other traditional, organic, precapitalist institutions, systematically fragmented by that characteristic reorganizational process of capitalism which Weber described using the term rationalization ... Meanwhile, Conrad's elaborate narrative hermeneutic - what really did happen? who knows it all? what impressions do people have who possess only this piece of the puzzle, or that one? - tends to reinforce and supply powerful narrative demonstrations of just that ideology of the relativity ... From the perspective of language, however, this self-generation of the text translates itself as the boiling emergence and disappearance of so many transitory centers, now no longer points of view so much as sources of language: each new detail, each new perspective on the anecdote, brings into being, as the very center of its whirlpool, another new speaker, himself for the moment the transitory center of a narrative interest which will quickly sweep him away again ... If the multiple narrative shifts in Conrad are to be seen as textbook exercises in point of view ... they are point of view conceived as being inseparable from speech, from the materiality of language.10 Marlow is nothing if not the word made flesh. Ian Watt quotes some of Conrad's letters, which express a strikingly similar view of the concrete, even magical nature of words: "How fine it could be ... if the idea had a substance and words' a magic power, if the invisible could be snared into a shape" (November 1898). In 1911 Conrad confirmed to an Italian correspondent his "ineradicable conviction that it is in the living word que 1'on saisit le mieux la forme du reve."" The multi-layer, multiple-frame structure of the novel, which is made possible by the device of an oral narrative delivered by a witness/participant, allows Conrad simultaneously to emphasize the instability of judgment by presenting a multiplicity of perspectives and bringing many interpretations to bear on Jim's life, and to stress that the values adhered to by Marlow and his witnesses are temporal and specific, not eternal and absolute. The formal structure of this oral tale inherently calls into doubt the ultimate validity of facts to convey truth, and demands an interpretative, intuitive understanding. Theme and structure are always inseparably interrelated. The elusive nature of truth is not only implicit in the many-tiered narra-

156 Solitude versus Solidarity

tive construction but is also explicitly acknowledged by Marlow, most notably in his interview with Stein when Stein asks: "What is it that for you and me makes him - [Jim] exist?" (165). Marlow momentarily finds it "difficult to believe in Jim's existence," then suddenly experiences this flash of insight: "His imperishable reality came to me with a convincing, with an irresistible force! I saw it vividly, as though in our progress through the lofty silent rooms amongst fleeting gleams of light and the sudden revelations of human figures stealing with flickering flames within unfathomable and pellucid depths, we had approached nearer to absolute Truth, which, like Beauty itself, floats elusive, obscure, half submerged, in the silent still waters of mystery" (165). Marlow's final words are reminiscent of Keats's haunting lines from "Ode on a Grecian Urn": "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."12 Truth is eternally submerged in mystery. "I cannot say I had ever seen him distinctly not even to this day, after I had my last view of him" (169), Marlow says of Jim, destroying narrative illusion by reminding his listeners and the reader that he has already had his last glimpse of Jim - a glimpse which, the reader and only one privileged listener will discover, does not terminate the narrative or Marlow's involvement with Jim. "But it seemed to me that the less I understood the more I was bound to him in the name of that doubt which is the inseparable part of our knowledge. I did not know so much more about myself" (169). The doubt of which Marlow speaks is embedded by Conrad in the narrative structure and hence becomes an inherent aspect of the reading, or listening, experience. Donald Benson searches for a paradigm for Marlow's alternating corporeal and ethereal nature in the physical sciences of the era. Certain cosmic premises are shared with the literature of the period, and some of the same epistemological and ontological uncertainties are being addressed: "It is a cosmos of spatial dislocations, material instabilities, and temporal discontinuities." Relating this to the "unshaping" and "dematerializing" prevalent in Conrad's fiction, Benson considers the new physics a matrix for Marlow's experience and recounting of Jim's story: "Such an enigma, and Marlow's anxiety to resolve it, faithfully express the preoccupation of late nineteenth-century culture, its physical science included, with increasingly tenuous distinctions between the seen and the unseen, the material and the immaterial... The controlling paradigm of Marlow's efforts to see Jim directly, developed both literally and metaphorically, is a paradigm of material instability and discontinuity, of mist and darkness."13


Lord Jim

None of the witnesses whom Marlow parades through his narrative has the complete endorsement of Conrad, or of Marlow himself. Individually they provide information concerning turns of events that Marlow himself could not have had access to, and interpretations of Jim's deeds and circumstances that reveal as much about the speaker as they do about Jim. Collectively they provide the fabric from which Marlow's composite narrative is woven. They are the performers, he the intricate choreographer who endeavours to find or create order and meaning from the collage of subjective viewpoints. By their very existence they remind us of the relativity of all versions of truth, and help us to maintain a detached perspective. These varied tales comment implicitly not only one upon the other but also upon the central tale, Marlow's own, into which they are integrated. Ultimately the multifaceted, interpretive but never definitive experience of Marlow's listeners and Conrad's readers is a paradigm for the inconclusive, doubt-ridden nature of truth, and the precarious nature of judgment. The labyrinthine structure of the novel, with its plentitude of perspectives and interpretations, does not converge upon a single, final truth but instead reveals the impossibility of such a disclosure. This is especially true of the first section of the novel, consisting of Marlow's composite narrative, in which the exploration of the nature of discourse, emphasized thematically and embedded structurally, is at least as important as the moral and epistemological implications of Jim's story. An examination of the contributions and limitations of each witness in his or her turn follows, bearing in mind the ultimate issue of the "mystery" at the heart of Lord Jim. Only those who contribute to what Ambrosini terms the "underlying discourse"14 of the story will be discussed. Other witnesses, like Archie Ruthvel, Captain Elliot, and Mr Jones, whose contributions are restricted to the level of plot development and maintenance of the consistent illusion that Marlow seeks outside sources to document information he cannot possibly possess at first hand, will be excluded. The reflexive element in Conrad's fiction is not as pervasive as it is in postmodern fiction, or as dominant as scholars who bring their own critical-theoretical agenda to Conrad's writing would have us believe. Reflexivity is one of many elements interwoven in the rich fabric of Conrad's work, and will be explored along with other philosophic issues. Marlow complains of the superficiality of the trial: "The examination of the only man able and willing to face it was beating futilely round the well-known fact, and the play of questions upon it was as instructive as the tapping with a hammer on an iron box, were the object to find out what's inside" (48). Marlow devotes some time to

158 Solitude versus Solidarity

the intense reaction of one of the trial's two nautical accessors, Captain Montague Brierly. He is a man to whom self-doubt is a stranger: "He had never in his life made a mistake, never had an accident, never a mishap, never a check in his steady rise, and he seemed to be one of those lucky fellows who know nothing of indecision, much less of self-mistrust" (48). Following a long expose of Brierly's unselfconscious conviction of his superiority over all the other "poor creatures" (49) of the world, Marlow shocks us with Brierly's fate: "The sting of life could do no more to his complacent soul than the scratch of a pin to the smooth face of a rock. This was enviable ... his self-satisfaction presented to me and to the world a surface as hard as granite. He committed suicide very soon after" (49). Captain Brierly presents to the world - and to himself - the same illusion of perfect serenity as does Richard Cory in the famous 1897 poem of that name by Edwin Arlington Robinson: "And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, / Went home and put a bullet through his head."15 Why does Brierly kill himself? First to be pointed out is that Marlow's listeners and Conrad's readers do not at this point know that the Patna has not sunk; hence the gravity of Jim's transgression remains undisclosed. But Brierly does know, and his first concern is with public perception of a chink in the armour of the solidarity of the merchant marine corps: "This infernal publicity is too shocking" (56). Whereas Marlow sees a "redeeming feature" (57) in the courage Jim demonstrates in facing the trial when he could just as easily flee and not be pursued, Brierly does not. He represents absolute fidelity to group solidarity, and as such reveals the extreme consequences of one whose moral framework is tied exclusively and without question to an externally imposed, strictly applied code of conduct. Brierly is concerned, on one level, with the brotherhood of all seamen, with the shameful discrepancy Jim's trial reveals between ideal submission to the code and Jim's betrayal of it. These are his words to Marlow: "The worst of it is that all you fellows have no sense of dignity; you don't think enough of what you are supposed to be ... We aren't an organized body of men, and the only thing that holds us together is just the name for that kind of [professional] decency. Such an affair destroys one's confidence" (56). Brierly's concern with the surface, with the appearance of an affair rather than its substance, is attested to by his concern with the name of the brotherhood of the seaman. Naming is crucial as a means of control, and is central to nominalist epistemology that denies the notion of an inherent relation or substantial connection between sign and signified. Concern is directed to the name or label, and away from the substance behind the name, the importance of which is subsequently diminished.


Lord Jim

Brierly's transfer of concern from the brotherhood's ideal to its name resurfaces in Marlow's uncharacteristic suggestion to the French lieutenant that perhaps the right or wrong of an affair can "reduce itself to not being found out" (115). The connection between Marlow's interviews with Brierly and the French lieutenant is, however, more profound than this. Ambrosini's astute observation concerning the placement of Marlow's interview with the French officer is enlightening: "If Conrad had really intended to emphasize the officer's honor in opposition to Jim's cowardice, why does he have Marlow resume the conversation at the point where Jim displays his fidelity to an abstract code of behavior by turning down Brierly's (and later Marlow's) offer of some money to run away?"16 Whereas to Brierly the idea of honour has indeed reduced itself to not being found out, to both Jim and the French lieutenant such an expedient notion of an ideal code of behaviour is unthinkable. Jim and the French lieutenant, however, part company in Jim's inability to translate into action the idealized standard of conduct to which he pledges allegiance. Adherence to a code of behaviour is more important to Brierly than fidelity to the idea underlying the code. Interesting to note is that only after Marlow's conversation with Brierly do Marlow's eyes meet Jim's for the first time. They have not yet spoken. Marlow feels he can "be of no use" (57) to Jim, and does not yet understand Brierly's state of mind. He fails to grasp that Jim's transgression forces Brierly to acknowledge the universal weakness of which Marlow has previously spoken. Brierly comes to realize that the strong and the weak, the faithful and the betrayer, are separated by only a hair's breadth, and hence that his perfection as a seaman is as vulnerable as Jim's: "Nothing more awful than to watch a man who has been found out, not in a crime, but in a more than criminal weakness. The commonest sort of fortitude prevents us from becoming criminals in a legal sense; it is from weakness, unknown, but perhaps suspected, ... from weakness that may lie hidden, watched or unwatched, prayed against or manfully scorned, repressed or maybe ignored more than half a lifetime, not one of us is safe" (38). On a profound level, Jim's trial was also Brierly's. Marlow realizes that "he was probably holding silent inquiry into his own case. The verdict must have been of unmitigated guilt, and he took the secret of the evidence with him in that leap into the sea" (49-50). Had Jim repeated his desertion of the Patna at Brierly's bidding by fleeing the trial, Brierly could have escaped the admission, so freely acknowledged by Marlow, that Jim is "one of us." Hence he could have evaded personal implication in Jim's betrayal of the code of the sea.

160 Solitude versus Solidarity

Instead Jim stands trial and is found guilty, but it is Brierly whose spirit does not "survive the condemnations, survive the halter" (38). As a comment on Jim's predicament, Brierly's suicide reveals by contrast Jim's resilience, and the truth of Marlow's implicit assertion that one can simultaneously be guilty and yet be "one of us." Brierly allows the code of professional solidarity such unchallenged autocracy over his life that just the potential that one day he too may be guilty of transgression shatters the illusion of certainty that has underpinned his self-image and motivated his unwavering fidelity to the accepted standard of behaviour. His reaction is curious, for he does not share Marlow's ability to sympathize with the plight of one who has fallen from grace. Nor can he transcend the circumscription of one whose self-esteem and moral framework derive exclusively from unbending adherence to a code. Yet he identifies so completely with Jim's transgression that he punishes himself as though it were his own. Brierly's suicide is somewhat akin to Kurtz's death, for both men have peered into a moral void in which their standards of conduct are annihilated, and both succumb to their vision of nihilism. Brierly imaginatively perceives the tenuous boundary between fidelity and betrayal through the deeds of another, whereas Kurtz has chosen for himself the destructive freedom from social constraint. In addition to the report of the captain of the French gunboat Avondale, Marlow introduces to the narrative, by a complicated sequence of chronological shifts, the personal testimony of a lieutenant who had been serving as a boarding officer on the Avondale at the time of its rescue of the Patna. Marlow jumps from the trial, to which he had reverted to offer to his listeners Brierly's account of the lights of the Patna being invisible and the successful towing of the Patna by the Avondale, to a chance encounter with the lieutenant more than three years later in Sydney. The French lieutenant begins by telling Marlow he finds the Patna affair "impossible de comprendre" (108), and the failure to understand runs more deeply than simply a language gap. The lieutenant describes the bravery of the French crew and the dangers to which they exposed themselves to rescue the Patna in a matter-offact manner with no self-glorification, revealing an unquestioning adherence to duty, even when it involves putting the safety of others before one's own: "One does what one can "(109). The French lieutenant is a damning witness who, like Brierly, views Jim's case solely from the authoritative and absolute perspective of the "sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct." He too represents unquestioning fidelity to the code of professional solidarity, and unflinching devotion to duty. Unlike Brierly, however, he lacks the imaginative vision to question and penetrate

161 Lord Jim

the code of honour and work ethic by which he lives his unreflective life: "One truth the more ought not to make life impossible ... But the honour - the honour, monsieur! ... The honour ... that is real - that is! And what life may be worth when ... when the honour is gone - ah ca! par exemple - I can offer no opinion. I can offer no opinion because - monsieur - I know nothing of it ... This, monsieur, is too fine for me - much above me -1 don't think about it" (115). The French lieutenant cannot understand the reason behind the dereliction of duty committed by the crew of the Patna when the ship remained afloat and its passengers alive, any more than he can understand Marlow's philosophical suggestion that perhaps lack of honour can "reduce itself to not being found out" (115). He is one of Conrad's simple, unreflecting, unassuming heroes, much like MacWhirr in Typhoon, who unlike Brierly escape the horrible insight that the line between heroism and cowardice, fidelity and betrayal, can be fine indeed. But the French lieutenant is at the same time a relic, one who would not survive in a world in which all accepted values are called into doubt. He inspires in Marlow these thoughts: "Time had passed indeed: it had overtaken him and gone ahead. It had left him hopelessly behind with a few poor gifts: the iron-grey hair, the heavy fatigue of the tanned face, two scars, a pair of tarnished shoulder-straps; one of those steady, reliable men who are the raw material of great reputations, one of those uncounted lives that are buried without drums and trumpets under the foundations of monumental successes" (111-12). Hence his commentary on Jim's action is not definitive. It is circumscribed by the limitations of his experience and insight; his unquestioning adherence to the code that gives his life meaning. The fear that the French lieutenant asserts exists within each person, the cowardice into which each individual is born, must be overcome as a matter of course and necessity so that the code of the merchant marine is honoured: "Brave - you conceive — in the Service - one has got to be - the trade demands it" (114). He embodies the virtue of devotion to duty, as Marlow does, but he lacks the imaginative insight that allows Marlow to empathize with the plight of one who has fallen from grace within the community, and to hold simultaneously the apparently conflicting views that Jim is a failure and an embarrassment, and also "one of us." The French lieutenant has never experienced a flash of insight such as the one his mundane comment, "Mon Dieul how the time passes!" (m), inspires in Marlow: "It's extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it's just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalcula-

162 Solitude versus Solidarity

ble majority so supportable and so welcome. Nevertheless, there can be but few of us who had never known one of those rare moments of awakening when we see, hear, understand ever so much - everything - in a flash - before we fall back again into our agreeable somnolence" (111-12). Yet Marlow's own judgments and conclusions - or rather his lack of conclusiveness in favour of his repeated insistence that Jim is ultimately a mystery and an enigma - are also suspect. For at issue here is the conflict central to the novel. If each person is mysterious, solitary, unreachable by any other, then no concept of human solidarity or social cohesion has any meaning. If, on the other hand, the human community is bonded by shared beliefs and values, then judgment of Jim's case is not so difficult to render. If the reality of the human condition lies somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes, and life truly is a balancing act between solitude and solidarity, then the moral ambiguities with which Marlow wrestles are truly issues and do not necessarily represent evasion of the implications of Jim's criminality. Accounts of Marlow's encounter with the French lieutenant often interpret the French officer as too rigid in his adherence to the mariner's code. His rigidity, however, can be seen as a bulwark against the perils of an exclusively subjectivist epistemological and moral slant. From this perspective, the code is a restraint that prevents the lapse into a state in which values have no meaning whatsoever; it is, according to Raval, "a recognition of the self's liabilities" that "grants moral sanction to one's life."17 An unspecified ordeal that has at some point planted the seeds of self-doubt in the French lieutenant enables him to achieve the self-realization to say: "And after all, one does not die of it... Of being afraid ... I have made my proofs. Eh bieni I, who am speaking to you, once ... " (113-14). His voice trails off, and he does not share the specifics of this defining moment in his life. His rigidity also allows him to survive the implications of Jim's crime, for he recognizes that the individual may at times find himself in opposition to social ideals, whereas Brierly's situation is more fragile - any chink in the armour of his self-conception is more than he can bear. The French lieutenant believes that, during these inevitable moments of conflict between individual fulfilment and adherence to a communal code, one's nature must be subverted, one's fulfilment sacrificed, so that the code remains viable and valid. In his hierarchy of values, individualism must remain subservient to common standards. But his insight is won through experience; he is not the myopic witness that critics have tended to see. Indeed, Marlow's discussion with the French lieutenant can be pinpointed as the

163 Lord ]im locus of Marlow's first endeavour to synthesize his sympathy with notions of radical individualism, on one hand, and his conflicting allegiance to codes of collective responsibility, on the other.18 This is the conflict at the core of the novel as well as at the core of modern moral and political debate. It is central to Stein's pronouncement on "how to be." It is only after Marlow has related the testimony of these two witnesses that he tells his audience of his offering to Jim of Brierly's bribe, and Jim's refusal. This event is effectively distanced from Marlow's listeners by a complex series of frames. Narrating his story in an undisclosed location, Marlow remembers himself sitting alone in the Sydney cafe, after the French lieutenant has left, thinking of his painful interview with Jim in the Malabar Hotel during the trial, when "the respectable sword of [Jim's] country's law was suspended over his head" (117-18). He considers Jim's current situation as water-clerk in Samarang, a fate that he could have evaded had he accepted the offer Marlow is about to relate: "He was guilty, too. He was guilty - as I had told myself repeatedly, guilty and done for; nevertheless, I wished to spare him the mere detail of a formal execution ... There is no morality in the impulse which induced me to lay before him Brierly's plan of evasion - I may call it - in all its primitive simplicity" (118). The clear-cut verdict that Marlow here passes on Jim is based upon the standard of the brotherhood of the sea. Jim's guilt, measured thus from Marlow's initial moral framework, which entails subservience of the individual to a code, is clear and unmitigated: "The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind" (121). But this is not Marlow's final word on the matter. If, Rossiter asks, "individual volition becomes primary to the ethic ... what are the consequences of this primacy for the foundations of society?" He responds to his own question thus: "It represents the potential absolute alienation of the individual from society ... Jim represents a threat to so many people in this novel ... because his pursuit of solitary fulfilment threatens anyone's moral framework that involves the necessary attempt at reconciliation of the self with others."1? Marlow begins to recognize that individual and community are often inextricably at odds and cannot be reconciled. The ambivalence that he demonstrates concerning the issue of Jim's guilt both reflects and results from the incompatibility between radical, Romantic individualism, such as that claimed by Kurtz, which allows for no judgment against any fixed standard, and the stability of a code of human solidarity, whatever its origin. Judged against the inflexible standard of a code of conduct, the guilt of Kurtz and Jim is absolute and irre-

164 Solitude versus Solidarity

deemable. With the shades of grey introduced by the conflict between individualism and conformity to the dictates of the collectivity, however, and the consequent diminishing of any absolute standard of judgment, the issue of Jim's guilt or innocence becomes very misty indeed. The attempts by Marlow and Brierly to avoid the implications of Jim's crime are inevitably undone by Jim's simple faith in the efficacy of crime and punishment. Recounting Jim's refusal of his offer of Brierly's "plan of evasion," Marlow says: "The subtle intentions of my immorality were defeated by the moral simplicity of the criminal. No doubt he was selfish, too, but his selfishness had a higher origin, a more lofty aim. I discovered that, say what I would, he was eager to go through the ceremony of execution; ... he believed where I had already ceased to doubt" (118). The doubt, or the solipsism beyond doubt, that Marlow expresses as early as the trial scene confirms that Marlow's interest in Jim ultimately indicates Marlow's questioning his allegiance to the group ethos figured forth in the phrase "one of us." Jim is determined not to evade the formal execution for his crime, despite the fact that it will label him for life, so that he cannot be accused of a second jump. Yet Jim shares Marlow's ambivalence concerning his true guilt or innocence, an ambivalence both conveyed and perpetuated by the collapsing of the distinction between perception and imagination, as Whiteley points out. A hopelessly inadequate perspective from which to view Jim is offered by Chester, the ruthless Australian adventurer to whom Jim's effort at self-redemption reveals his worthlessness: "Takes it to heart? ... Then he's no good ... You must see things exactly as they are - if you don't, you may just as well give in at once. You will never do anything in the world" (125). Chester's myopia, his commitment to the surface reality and the quick escape, are indicative of his spiritual death. His unthinking assumption that there exists an objective reality the true nature of which is evident to all but the soft-headed assumes an objective epistemological stance that is everywhere in Conrad's work and in all of modern literature and philosophy undermined. He and his partner Robinson, Marlow concludes, "were too phantasmal and extravagant to enter into anyone's fate" (134). Yet his offer of retreat for Jim on a guano island is not in principle different from Brierly's offer of evasion or from Stein's offer of retreat on the more attractive Patusan, which is accepted. And Chester's occasional perspicacity is witnessed in his retort "Don't you?" to Marlow's rather weak objection: "I don't know that I want to do anything with him" (130). Marlow admits, not much later, that it is his goal to be rid of responsibility for Jim, to do something with him, before embarking on the long journey home to England: "I desired, more than I was


Lord Jim

aware of myself, to dispose of him - to dispose of him, you understand - before I left" (169). Chapters 15 to 20 witness Marlow wrestling with Jim's fate, and his decision to consult Stein. They also provide the occasion for some of Marlow's most explicit ponderings of the power of the written and spoken word, and the very precarious, limited nature of the knowledge one can ever obtain of another human being, or even oneself: "He was not - if I may say so - clear to me. He was not clear" (136). Marlow's letter-writing session, during which Jim suffers in silence, gives rise to Marlow's pondering the "weird power in a spoken word": "And a word carries far - very far - deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying through space. I said nothing; and he, out there with his back to the light, as if bound and gagged by all the invisible foes of man, made no stir and no sound" (134). During the course of his musings, Marlow switches allegiance from the fixed standard of conduct that had allowed him to pass his verdict of unmitigated guilt, to a keen sense of the utter isolation and solitude of each individual, which renders impossible final knowledge or judgment of another human being. During their meeting in the Malabar Hotel, Marlow is overcome with a sense of the utter loneliness of each individual, so intensely manifested in Jim's case: I at least had no illusions; but it was I, too, who a moment ago had been so sure of the power of words, and was now afraid to speak, in the same way one dares not move for fear of losing a slippery hold. It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun. It is as if loneliness were a hard and absolute condition of existence; the envelope of flesh and blood on which our eyes are fixed melts before the outstretched hand, and there remains only the capricious, unconsolable, and elusive spirit that no eye can follow, no hand can grasp. (138)

Simultaneous with Marlow's acknowledgment of the power of words to alter, to create and destroy reality, is his mourning the ultimate impotence of words, or of any human form of communication, to bridge the gap between people in a world where human beings are essentially and even necessarily solitary. Paradoxical, too, is Marlow's commitment at this moment to the notion that each person is essentially lonely, elusive, and beyond the grasp of any other. This is incompatible with his initial fidelity to the bonds of group solidarity that unite those who have dedicated their lives to the sea, the under-

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lying corollary of which is commitment to the forces of social cohesion ostensibly capable of transcending the essential loneliness of each individual and rendering possible true communication. The conflict between solitude and solidarity is intrinsic to Marlow's consciousness. He is a spirit torn between loyalty to the doctrine of cultural solidarity and the inescapable recognition that each person is, after all, irredeemably alone, and therefore mysterious. Concurrent, interrelated, and necessarily intertwined is Conrad's investigation of the nature of discourse, fiction, truth, and communication. Marlow's pondering the nature of words in relation to his grappling with his divided spirit and conflicted allegiance to the ideal of solidarity versus the terrible insight of unremitting solitude intersects at this point with Conrad's "meta-narrative commentary,"20 as Ambrosini aptly phrases it, concerning his effort to synchronize his moral concerns and aesthetic practice. Jameson also believes that the '"metacommentary/ ... the structuralist-textual reading of Conrad's form as an immanent dramatization of the impossibility of narrative beginnings and as the increasing reflexivity and problematization of linear narrative itself"21 must be developed alongside consideration of the philosophic issues which Jim's predicament and personal quest raise. The debates concerning the nature of language, fact versus fiction, and solidarity versus solitude that imbue this text coalesce in these, Marlow's most explicit ponderings about the efficacy of language, the human condition, and the philosophic issues of work, idealism, and fidelity. Jameson's assessment of the maturity of Conrad's auto-referentiality in the first section of Lord Jim is balanced inasmuch as he holds that the reflexive element is so strong that the text can almost be considered postmodern rather than early modern, yet he does not claim that metacommentary supersedes all other elements of the text. This is his view of Conrad's ecriture: Certainly the first half of Lord Jim is one of the most breathtaking exercises in nonstop textual production that our literature has to show, a self-generating sequence of sentences for which narrative and narrator are mere pretexts, the realization of a mechanism of well-nigh random narrative free association, in which the aleatory and seemingly uncontrollable, unverifiable generation of new detail and new anecdotal material out of the old - all the while filling in the exposition, so that it ends up presenting the narrative content as exhaustively as any representational aesthetic - obeys a logic of its own, as yet unidentified in this text taken by itself, but which in the hindsight of the emergent textual aesthetic of our own time we can clearly see to be textuality fully grown.22


Lord Jim

Indeed, grasping with thorny issues such as personal identity and the self and society inevitably involves an interrogation of the nature of language and its signifying role. For it only through language that we connect with others, however ephemeral a bridge this may be. During their second tense interview in Marlow's room in the Malabar Hotel, after the magistrate has delivered his verdict that Jim's certificate is cancelled, Marlow acknowledges that a retreat is precisely what Jim requires, but will be unable to find: "On all the round earth, which to some seems too big and that others affect to consider as rather smaller than a mustard-seed, he had no place where he could - what shall I say? - where he could withdraw. That's it! Withdraw - be alone with his loneliness" (131). Chapters 18 and 19 evoke several years of Jim's vagabond existence, chased from each successive post by the inability of the world, in its vastness, to provide him with a refuge impenetrable to anyone who can connect him with the Patna affair. Marlow's contention that the word deals destruction through time is supported as we watch Jim, haunted by gossip, flee from post to post, each less appropriate than its predecessor. Marlow wonders whether these futile flights indicate heroism or cowardice: "To fling away your daily bread so as to get your hands free for a grapple with a ghost may be an act of prosaic heroism. Men had done it before ... and men who had eaten and meant to eat everyday had applauded the creditable folly ... There was always a doubt of his courage. The truth seems to be that it is impossible to lay the ghost of a fact ... What I could never make up my mind about was whether his line of conduct amounted to shirking his ghost or facing him out" (150). Marlow is unsure whether Jim's moves are acts of bravery in risking an uncertain future in pursuit of an ideal, or versions in miniature of his jump from the Patna. Jim's hope, however, is not merely for escape, but for "something in the nature of an opportunity" (154) to begin anew "with a clean slate" (142). Again Marlow wonders whether the truth lies in Jim's optimism and naivete, or in his own fatalistic view of human destiny: "But as to me, left alone with the solitary candle, I remained strangely unenlightened. I was no longer young enough to behold at every turn the magnificence that besets our insignificant footsteps in good and in evil. I smiled to think that, after all, it was yet he, of us two, who had the light. And I felt sad. A clean slate, did he say? As if the initial word of each our destiny were not graven in imperishable characters upon the face of a rock" (142-3). Jim's final defeat in Patusan, often interpreted as a failure of nerve to stand up to Gentleman Brown, a failure born of the same weakness that resulted in his desertion of the Patna, confirms that

i68 Solitude versus Solidarity

Marlow's fatalism is correct. The past reasserts itself not because of a ideologically decreed plan oriented toward some ultimate if inconceivable good, but because a single weak spot can be assaulted from many sides and lead to repeated downfalls. Yet time and again Marlow endeavours to provide Jim with the opportunity he craves. 2 STEIN AND THE P O I S O N E D CHALICE

Most compelling of all the witnesses who reflect upon or touch Jim's fate is Stein. A synthesis of the academic and the adventurer, Stein utters enigmatic pronouncements that are at once wistfully idealistic and romantic, and uncompromisingly realistic, even fatalistic. In the world of Stein's youth, contemplation is not incompatible with adventure. The aging Stein agrees to provide Jim with a tropical island complete with a beautiful maiden - and a stereotype villain lurching on the fringes - the very stuff adventure yarns are made of, but hardly the tabula rasa for which Jim hopes. Jim's hope for a second chance is somewhat deluded, for the Patna has already provided him the opportunity to redeem his failure aboard the training ship, and he has once again failed. Jameson dubs this historical irony: "This kind of irony is that of the lessons of history/ from which one is said to learn ... that they teach no lessons; it is the irony of reequipping oneself better to wage the previous war, for which one was so grievously unprepared, with the result that one is equally unprepared, but in a new way, to fight the following one."23 Jim imagines he has learned the lesson of perseverance, of staying the course no matter what the consequences. This proves to be his downfall, and that of the native community whose trust he betrays with his steadfastness in face of an unworthy emissary who would make him wince. Marlow's introduction of Stein, the reasons he gives for seeking Stein's advice, are interesting in themselves: I desired to confide my difficulty to him because he was one of the most trustworthy men I had ever known. The gentle light of a simple unwearied, as it were, and intelligent good-nature illuminated his long hairless face ... It was a student's face ... I speak of him at length, because under this exterior, and in conjunction with an upright and indulgent nature, this man possessed an intrepidity of spirit and a physical courage that could have been called reckless had it not been ... completely unconscious of itself ... He was also a naturalist of some distinction, or perhaps I should say a learned collector. Entomology was his special study. His collection of Buprestidae and Longi-

169 Lord Jim corns - beetles all - horrible miniature monsters, looking malevolent in death and immobility, and his cabinet of butterflies, beautiful and hovering under the glass of cases of lifeless wings, had spread his fame far over the earth. (154-5)

Stein considers his entomological collections to be the best part of himself. He had spent his youth in pursuit of fortune and adventure, his middle years in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. He is the most reflective of Marlow's witnesses. The word "dream" is mentioned first as Marlow compares the early part of Stein's life to his more recent past. The death of his native wife and child "ended the first and adventurous part of his existence. What followed was so different that, but for the reality of sorrow which remained with him, this strange part must have resembled a dream" (158). The solitary, sedentary, studious nature of the second half of Stein's life allows him to recognize in Jim one who must, because of an early mistake, reconstruct the life of adventure and heroism that Stein had so successfully lived. Stein provides the opportunity for a second chance. The image of the captured butterfly invokes the irony that Stein's quest to study and preserve rare specimens entails the death of the individual creature: "I respected the intense, almost passionate, absorption with which he looked at a butterfly, as though on the bronze sheen of these frail wings, in the white tracings, in the gorgeous markings, he could see other things, an image of something as perishable and defying destruction as these delicate and lifeless tissues displaying a splendour unmarred by death" (158). The paradox that to preserve an image of perfection of the species Stein must destroy a rare individual mirrors Marlow's dilemma, especially with respect to Brierly's offer. Should Marlow sacrifice Jim's opportunity to redeem himself in order to preserve the facade of group solidarity? Marlow does not, and hence he comes to Stein seeking advice. Invoking the ancient image of God as master-builder, Stein compares the masterpiece that is the butterfly with the rather flawed masterpiece that is man. The static perfection of the butterfly is contrasted, in these passages, to the dynamic human species, ever striving for but never attaining perfection; "Marvellous!" he repeated, looking up at me. "Look! The beauty - but that is nothing - look at the accuracy, the harmony. And so fragile! And so strong! And so exact! This is Nature - the balance of colossal forces. Every star is so - and every blade of grass stands so - and the mighty Kosmos in perfect equilibrium produces - this. This wonder; this masterpiece of Nature - the great artist... Man is amazing, but he is not a masterpiece ... Perhaps the artist was

170 Solitude versus Solidarity a little mad. Eh? What do you think? Sometimes it seems to me that man is come where he is not wanted, where there is no place for him; for if not, why should he want all the place? Why should he run about here and there making a great noise about himself, talking about the stars, disturbing the blades of grass? ..." (158-9)

Stein's existential view of the absurdity of humanity's efforts in a universe in which we evolved by accident and are not truly wanted is in stark contrast to Jim's egocentric premise that the earth is not "big enough to hold his caper" (150). Furthermore, Stein's articulation of the destructiveness of our need to seek and conquer is an apt assessment of his own past - the part of his life that now seems like a dream. The image of the butterfly represents the arrest of mutability and deterioration by death. Hence the butterfly can be seen as an emblem of Jim's story. Richard Stevenson writes: "The butterfly acts as an emblem of the ideal for which man strives, an emblem frozen in a timeless moment that both enchants man and reminds him of his own subjection to the world of process ... Jim and the butterfly represent a defiance of earth-bound mutability - but at a cost ... [Jim's] 'romantic' quest for release from human limitations becomes, finally, a quest for death."24 In his youth, Stein had captured this butterfly, "the most gorgeous object of his dreams" (161). The heroism of Jim's dreams has, on the other hand, slipped away. Marlow relates Jim's story to Stein, and Stein immediately understands Jim's essence: "He is romantic" (162). Stein is content in his old age, for, despite some failures which he accepts, his abilities have allowed him to attain the dreams of his youth. Jim, on the other hand, is never satisfied, for he perpetually seeks to realize an ideal that remains beyond his grasp. In his study of anomic suicide, Durkheim contrasts the contentment of the fulfilled individual to the disillusion of the unfulfilled: "The wise man, knowing how to enjoy achieved results without having constantly to replace them with others, finds in them an attachment to life in the hour of difficulty. But [for] the man who has always pinned all his hopes on the future ... weariness alone ... is enough to bring disillusionment, for he cannot in the end escape the futility of an endless pursuit... It is everlastingly repeated that it is man's nature to be eternally dissatisfied, constantly to advance, without rest or relief, toward an indefinite goal."25 This is precisely the sentiment that Stein expresses in his eloquent appraisal of the human condition. His famous prescription "How to be" juxtaposes the calmness of the butterfly to the restlessness and ceaseless striving of the man; it captures the perpetual conflict

171 Lord Jim

between humanity's dream of what we should be and the reality of what we are: "This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap of dirt and sits still on it; but man will never on his heap of mud keep still. He wants to be so, and again he wants to be so ... He wants to be a saint, and he wants to be a devil - and every time he shuts his eyes he sees himself as a very fine fellow - so fine as he can never be ... In a dream ... And because you not always can keep your eyes shut there comes the real trouble - the heart pain - the world pain. I tell you, my friend, it is not good for you to find you cannot make your dream come true, for the reason that you not strong enough are, or not clever enough. Ja!... And all the time you are such a fine fellow, too! Wie? Was? Gott in Himmell How can that be? Ha! ha! ha!" (162-3)

The dream in this instance signifies the aspirations of Jim, and all of humankind, to impossible finesse and perfection, or even perfect villainy. "The butterfly represents a triumph over contingency,"26 Paul Armstrong writes. This triumph, however, is attainable only at the cost of death, Durkheim confirms this view, asking of the unfulfilled individual: "What more can the future offer him than the past, since he can never reach a tenable condition nor even approach the glimpsed ideal? ... Our thread of life on these conditions is pretty thin, breakable at any instant."2? Stein's next pronouncement is the novel's most famous and most controversial passage. It is a very difficult series of metaphors that seems on the one hand to equate the dream into which man falls at birth with the sea, in which a fallen man will drown if he attempts to surface. It is unclear whether Stein means we will drown if we attempt to abandon the dream, or if we endeavour to realize it at any price. Perhaps in this imperfect world both the rejection of the dream, with its implied acceptance of mundane reality, and the impossible quest to fulfil the dream, the pursuit of the ideal, are finally destructive. I propose that the explicit association of the sea and the dream implies that "to follow the dream, and again to follow the dream" (164) is to "the destructive element submit yourself" (163). It must be understood, however, that the only option to submission to the destructive element is not constructive realization of any ideal, but passive acceptance of death itself, or at the most a dull-edged deathin-life. This passage is simultaneously pessimistic and bravely accepting of the challenge of life itself. Jim's quest, therefore, for something in the nature of an opportunity is in fact a refusal to accept the verdict of the opportunities he has thus far been granted. It is also an expression of hope that the "imperishable characters [graven]

172 Solitude versus Solidarity

upon the face of a rock" (143) can be undone, and a new script written more in accordance with the ideal vision of himself to which he clings. This quest after the impossible does indeed become destructive. So too, however, does complacency. The endeavour to synchronize experience and imagination is both exhilarating and inevitably defeating. This pronouncement is open to other interpretations, and much controversy. Stein's mention of "this terrible thing" refers to his preceding statement to the effect that no dream can remain unshattered, no eyes perpetually closed to the discrepancy between dream and reality. Hence the tragedy of the human condition: "A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns - nicht wahrl ... No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me - how to be? ... I will tell you. For that, too, there is only one way ... And yet it is true - it is true. In the destructive element immerse ... That was the way. To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream - and so, ewig - usque adfinem ... " (163-4). The fascinating use of chiaroscuro as Stein materializes and dematerializes while stepping in and out of range of the only source of light in his study, the lamp near his desk, symbolically casts a shadow of doubt on his pronouncements. Here is Marlow's reaction: The whisper of his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and uncertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a plain at dawn - or was it, perchance, at the coming of night? One had not the courage to decide; but it was a charming and deceptive light, throwing the impalpable poesy of its dimness over pitfalls - over graves. His life had begun in sacrifice, in enthusiasm for generous ideas; he had travelled very far, on various ways, on strange paths, and whatever he had followed it had been without faltering, and therefore without shame and without regret. In so far he was right. That was the way, no doubt. Yet for all that the great plain on which men wander amongst graves and pitfalls remained very desolate under the impalpable poesy of its crepuscular light, overshadowed in the centre, circled with a bright edge as if surrounded by an abyss full of flames. When at last I broke the silence it was to express the opinion that no one could be more romantic than himself. (164)

The chiaroscuro, the varying shades of light and dark among which Stein flits as he articulates his enigmatic thoughts on the dream and the destructive element, is here transformed into an emblem of Marlow's remaining "strangely unenlightened" (142).


Lord Jim

Stein's words open before Marlow "a vast and unknown expanse," and he cannot identify whether the horizon be dawn or dusk. Marlow fears the "charming and deceptive" light may hide the "graves and pitfalls" into which Stein, in pursuit of his dream, has not stumbled, but into which Jim most certainly has. Stein's dreams are located in his past, not in his future, and they too have extracted a high price - his wife and child. But Stein has survived the pursuit of his dream, and its mutability. Unlike Jim, he is able to reflect serenely on his early life in this, his sedate renunciation of his gloriously adventurous past. Marlow responds, as do most readers, to the enigma and ambiguity of Stein's pronouncements. Acknowledging the "destructive element," they seem to Marlow nevertheless to hide, in their "impalpable poesy," the "abyss full of flames" to which the single-minded pursuit of the dream may lead. The most important element of Stein's vision in Richard Stevenson's view is that "both the ideal and the real are potentially destructive, especially when either is held to exclusively."28 These oracular proclamations must not be reduced to something they are not - simple reductive equations of the dream with the destructive element and death. Their point is ambiguity - this is reinforced by the crepuscular light imagery and underlined by Marlow's own ambivalent reaction. It must be remembered that they are spoken by no ordinary man but by one whose remarkable life integrates two polarities of human existence: the vita activa and the vita contemplativa. These are Marlow's thoughts on Stein's life, as contrasted with Jim's: "I only saw the reality of his destiny, which he had known how to follow with unfaltering footsteps, that life begun in humble surroundings, rich in generous enthusiasms, in friendship, love, war - in all the exalted elements of romance ... 'Yes/ I said, as though carrying on a discussion, 'and amongst other things you dreamed foolishly of a certain butterfly; but when one fine morning your dream came in your way you did not let the splendid opportunity escape. Did you? Whereas he ...'" (165-6). Jim has allowed his opportunity to escape, his dream to be lost. Stein affirms that he too has tasted the bitterness of missed opportunities: "'Everybody knows of one or two like that," said Stein; "and that is the trouble - the great trouble ... '" (166). Despite his successes, he has known failure and lost dreams, and hence is able to empathize with Jim's failure and his quest for a new opportunity, even while his musing on the destructive element suggests that Jim now seeks the impossible. The opportunity Jim is presented with seems too good to be true and is, once again, his to lose: "He left his earthly failings behind him and that sort of reputation he had, and there was a totally new set of conditions for his imaginative faculty

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to work upon. Entirely new, entirely remarkable" (167). The new opportunity offered to Jim by Stein is not essentially different from the bribe offered to Marlow by Brierly to be rid of the embarrassment of - and the necessity to admit one is a secret sharer in - Jim's crime; however. Stein's offer is not tainted with the need to evade the implications of Jim's failure. Marlow recalls Brierly's offer here, and Stein responds: "One doesn't like to do it of course, but it would be the best thing, seeing what he is" (167). Stein's pronouncements do not lend themselves to minute, rational analysis because they do not solve but merely restate the central dilemma of Jim's existence - and that of all men and women: the paradox that to be fully alive physically and spiritually one must seek the destructive element and submit to it. In so doing, one acknowledges and invites death. The question that this poses concerning the second half of the novel, the adventure of Jim's reign over Patusan, is whether Jim's sacrifice of his life to appease Doramin's need to avenge Dain Waris's death is a final submission to the destructive element and hence an acceptance of the challenge of his dream of heroism, and therefore a triumph; or a final futile pursuit of a larger-than-life greatness that the facts of his biography simply do not sustain. Or is it both simultaneously? This question is, like Stein's pronouncements, a reiteration of the central dilemma of the novel. Response can only be intuitive, and dependent upon the reader's own intellectual and moral allegiances. In his discussion of imagination and the saving illusion in Lord Jim, Daniel Ross maintains that Jim remains distinct from, and ultimately superior to, even those witnesses whose standards of heroism and action further damn his initial crime of cowardice. For Jim possesses what they either lack, in the case of the French lieutenant, or take to morbid and destructive extremes, as Brierly does: the faculty of imagination. Ross charts Jim's development from one hampered by illusions that result in stasis or cause regression to one who partially redeems himself through his belief in dreams, which promotes a life of meaningful action in their pursuit. He asserts that Conrad "employed the imagination to find, perhaps to create, a 'saving illusion' which is less a lie against fact than a form of truth which transcends the bare factuality of existence. "2? This is true too of the famous "saving illusion" to which Marlow clings at the end of "Heart of Darkness.". Imagination is both potentially redemptive and destructive. Jim's imagination allows him to assume the role of artist, with his own life the subject of his creativity and atonement for his initial transgression his aim. Ross evokes Nietzschean vocabulary to evaluate Stein's advice: It concerns "how to accommodate oneself to the consciousness that Nietzsche considered so destructive ... Total

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submission would obliterate consciousness, making it impossible to be human."30 Nietzsche is cited for recognizing that illusion is crucial to the modern person who must live in a world from which the concept of teleological plan has been eradicated. Like Hardy, Conrad was sensitive to the ravages wrought on humanity by the conflict between the human faculty of self-consciousness and the inevitable insight that we live in a world indifferent to our values and aspirations. Illusions serve as bulwarks against the sense of meaninglessness this insight provokes, but we must never fully surrender to them. Instead, we must strive to balance insight and illusion. Indeed, it is this same equilibrium that Stein seeks when he warns Jim that exclusive adherence to either the real or the imaginary is destructive. Ross believes that Marlow's consultation with Stein results in such a strong endorsement of the power of imagination that it succeeds in "shifting the focus from moral to imaginative judgment."31 Imagination is redemptive, for it restores the sense that life is inherently meaningful and motivates the quest for atonement. It is destructive in that it may hide from humanity's purview the limitations and dangers of this quest. Marlow's straightforward narration of Jim's Patusan adventure renders detailed examination unnecessary, for it lacks the frame structure and multiple perspective that make so intriguing both the first part of the novel and Marlow's reconstruction of Jim's final downfall. It has frequently been written off as an incongruous and anachronistic reversion to the romance genre. On the contrary, William Bonney's view that Conrad reworks this time-honoured genre with the purpose of subverting the assumption upon which it rests to imply that the universe is devoid of teleological design32 is a more penetrating insight. Modern humankind must therefore create and sustain its own sense of meaning in life and control of its destiny, or risk surrender to the overwhelming sense of life's futility. Rather than running away, Jim is, in Ross's view, "moving toward a new conception of himself" in Patusan which will allow him to refashion his identity as an authentic individual rather than one shackled by "the authority of external imperatives."33 This section of the novel is, in this sense, a thoroughly modern romance; one that places squarely on our shoulders full responsibility for our life and, in so doing, provides an example of successful integration of antique and modern in both theme and structure. This is, however, a partial strategic victory on Conrad's part - he did not succeed in creating an all-embracing incorporation of the traditional into the modern element. During the oral narration of Jim's story, Marlow states: "I affirm he had achieved greatness" (172); and again: "His opportunity sat veiled by his side like an Eastern bride waiting to be uncovered by the hand

176 Solitude versus Solidarity

of the master ... Such was the way in which he was approaching greatness as genuine as any man ever achieved" (185-6). "Perhaps, indeed, nothing could touch him since he had survived the assault of the dark powers" (187). It must be remembered that these judgments are made during the course of a narration delivered one full year before the events that precipitate Jim's final downfall on Patusan. Yet Marlow repeatedly and ominously insists that Jim is not only master of but slave to his exotic island realm: "All his conquests, the trust, the fame, the friendships, the love - all these things that had made him master had made him a captive, too" (188). "Every day added a link to the fetters of that strange freedom" (199). Marlow's narrative is here as elsewhere peppered with ambiguity. Jim is both master of and slave to his destiny, just as before he had been undeniably guilty of betrayal of the seaman's code and simultaneously "one of us." One cannot help wondering if Marlow makes too much of - or even invents - the mystery, when it is the complexity alone that matters. Jim, he has previously told us, "made so much of his disgrace while it is the guilt alone that matters" (136). Nor is Marlow's quest for mystique so difficult to understand. His motive is no different from that which inspires Brierly to offer the bribe. Jim's betrayal of group solidarity threatens the very existence of the code of the seaman indeed that of all concepts of cultural solidarity. Marlow's evasion of the obvious is ultimately a refusal to acknowledge this very frightening reality. As Marlow is about to end the visit to the island realm that furnishes him with material for his narration of Jim's adventures on Patusan and his love affair with Jewel, she involves him in a conversation born of her fear of losing Jim to his own world: "I belonged to this Unknown that might claim Jim for its own at any moment" (232). Following Jewel's confiding in Marlow the story of her mother's tragic life and bitter death is his famous examination of words as belonging to the realm of sunshine and form which, he has previously asserted, "after all, is our domain" (187): It had the power to drive me out of my conception of existence, out of that shelter each of us makes for himself to creep under in moments of danger, as a tortoise withdraws within its shell. For a moment I had a view of a world that seemed to wear a vast and dismal aspect of disorder, while, in truth, thanks to our unwearied efforts, it is as sunny an arrangement of small conveniences as the mind of man can conceive. But still - it was only a moment: I went back into my shell directly. One must - don't you know? - though I seemed to have lost all my words in the chaos of dark thoughts I had contemplated for a second or two beyond the pale. These came back, too, very

177 ^on^ /!m soon, for words also belong to the sheltering conception of light and order which is our refuge. (236)

This realm eclipses the realm of shadow and the formless, which has the power to cause humanity to doubt its own existence, and that of others, giving "a sinister reality to shadows alone" (187). This is a realm that Marlow acknowledges to be real, but to which he succumbs only briefly. His world view, however, is coloured by his acknowledgment of this sinister reality. Like light and clearly delineated form, language imposes the appearance of order and safety on a world that is often chaotic and dangerous. Marlow here virtually admits that words, as they are organized into thought and narrative form, evade and alter at least as much as they reveal. But in his very admission, and in the ambiguity that is emphasized rather than glossed over in his narrative, Marlow is more honest than many story-tellers. His retreat to the "sheltering conception of light and order" is consciously acknowledged as such; hence his double perspective of words, light, and order as illusions but necessary ones allows him the luxury and irony of denouncing the shell as human fabrication, even as he retreats within. Simultaneously, it allows Conrad the opportunity to examine his chosen medium, even as the existence of the text itself is an implicit endorsement of the efficacy of fictional language and critical discourse in the complex endeavour to establish meaning. The limitations of the language of fact are evident. Emphasis rests on the attempt to understand that is anchored in the analysis of the cognitive process of the knowing subject. Conrad and Marlow share a conviction, however tentative, of the value of effort to mould formless sound into meaningful melody. C.B. Cox's thoughts on this issue are interesting: "The total experience of the novel does not support a negative attitude towards language. We can adequately acknowledge, with a verbal paradox, that words are inadequate. The existence of the novel presupposes there is some virtue in seeking appropriate form, even if the quest can never be finally successful. Although life is an irrational chaos with no possibility of a discovery of an organizing image, Conrad believes the determination to search for one witnesses to a desirable framework of mind."34 Not only language but perception itself is part of that "sheltering conception of light and order" that shields humanity from the vision of the moral and epistemological chaos to which Kurtz surrenders. To perceive is necessarily if unconsciously to ascribe order to a world that may have no inherent order. Language may be used to seek the light or to edit out those aspects of existence

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that are too dark altogether, as Marlow does in an act of kindness to Kurtz's Intended. The act of perception, far from a tool of objective inquiry, is, like language itself, the subject of Conrad's investigation. "For both Conrad and Schopenhauer," Mark Wollaeger writes of the author and his favourite philosopher, "art is partly a release from the tyranny of ordinary perception, partly a rescuing of knowledge from the flow of time."35 Narrative captures the flux of experience and transforms it into something permanent, imperishable, just as art arrests the flow of time and crystallizes in immutable form one moment that will never be lost. As Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states, however, the act of observation itself inevitably modifies the observed: "Since the measuring device has been constructed by the observer, we have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."36 The power of art is such that it allows the scrutiny of its own components. Because they are so firmly anchored as explorations of Conrad's moral concerns, his novels mitigate radical scepticism even as they investigate its potential repercussions. The Marlow tales cannot be labelled exclusively metafictional although they examine the nature of discourse itself, for running parallel to Marlow's growing recognition of epistemological limitations is his deep concern with moral and philosophical issues, especially the nature of community, the possibility of communication, and the ideal of solidarity. In fact, Raval points out that the metanarrative element of the text intensifies rather than diminishes its political and ethical concerns: "The more self-reflexive turn the narrative takes, the more inescapable the larger ethical and political questions become."37 Under the ceaseless barrage of Jewel's questioning, Marlow finds himself entertaining two contradictory, apparently mutually exclusive positions. Both are at once true - and inadequate. Jewel will not lose Jim because he is untrue or fearful. But the following is also true. Jim is simultaneously better than other men, and not good enough to be sought after: And Jim, - too - poor devil. Who would need him? Who would remember him? He had what he wanted. His very existence probably had been forgotten by this time. They had mastered their fates. They were tragic ... Nothing easier than to say, Have no fear! Nothing more difficult... Even the winged words of truth drop at your feet like lumps of lead. You require for such a desperate encounter an enchanted and poisoned shaft dipped in a lie too subtle to be found on earth ... What I had to tell her was that in the whole

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world there was no one who would need his heart, his mind, his hand. It was a common fate, and yet it seemed an awful thing to say of any man ... Why should she fear? She knew him to be strong, true, wise, brave. He was all that. Certainly. He was more. He was great - invincible - and the world did not want him, it had forgotten him, it would not even know him ... "Because he is not good enough." (238-40)

Marlow borrows Homer's epithet "winged words," and attributes to words a Homeric physicality, likening them to lumps of lead. In the world of the oral bard, words are potent, magical. Conrad himself expresses a similar view in letters to correspondents, cited above. But Marlow is not, finally, a Homeric singer of tales, and the epistemological thrust of his yarns is to acknowledge the potency of language, its destructiveness when abused, and simultaneously to question its efficacy in penetrating the heart of the matter. Both Marlow and Jim have said the very same thing to Jewel. "Did we both speak the truth - or one of us did - or neither?" (241) asks Marlow. The question seems unanswerable. In her naivete, Jewel seeks the definitive assessment of Jim's character that the reader and Marlow know to be unattainable. Marlow's lie to Jewel is similar to his more celebrated lie to Kurtz's Intended. Both transcend the issue of sensitivity and probe the very capacity of language to convey the "dismal aspect of disorder" that is the darkness or void at the heart of all being. Both lies are ultimately valorized as necessary to preserve the "saving illusions" upon which all notions of community depend. This indictment is aimed at human society rather than at Jim; it is, Ross holds, "a profound evaluation of the failure of the modern human community." Indeed, the fact that Marlow continues Jim's story "defies the judgment that neither Jim nor anyone else is 'good enough'."38 The insight, revealed in Kurtz's enigmatic deathbed pronouncement, is that the core of reality and of human experience lies beyond the human power of articulation and ultimately beyond the scope of knowledge itself. Language is inadequate, but, in a bitter paradox, Patrick Whiteley holds that "meaning disappears when language fails, and language fails when its hopes for embodying reality are crushed beneath the horror. "39 The multiplicity of perspectives and oscillations between faith in ideals as barometers of human behaviour and imprisoners of human spirit means that there is no ultimate authority against which to judge transgression and betrayal. "Marlow must," therefore, Raval writes, "from time to time put his narrative into question, and claim for it only contingent authority."40 Of all Marlow's encounters with those

180 Solitude versus Solidarity whose life Jim has touched, none shatters his already tenuous faith in his narrative authority with nearly the intensity of his poignant encounter with Jewel. Later that evening, as Marlow stands alone on the eve of his final departure from Patusan in the darkness of the moonlight, he muses on the apparent insubstantiality of this exotic place. Earlier in the narrative, Marlow has reminded his listeners that Jim is real to them only inasmuch as Marlow is able to transform his being into language: "He existed for me, and after all it is only through me that he exists for you. I've led him out by the hand; I have paraded him before you" (171). In this passage the reality of Patusan, and the stories that unroll there, seem to pass out of existence, except as a function of Marlow's memory, revealed in his narrative: I only know that I stood there long enough for the sense of utter solitude to get hold of me so completely that all I had lately seen, all I had heard, and the very human speech itself, seemed to have passed away out of existence, living only for a while longer in my memory, as though I had been the last of mankind. It was a strange and melancholy illusion, evolved half consciously like all our illusions, which I suspect only to be visions of remote unattainable truth, seen dimly. This was, indeed, one of the lost, forgotten, unknown places of the earth; I had looked under its obscure surface, and I felt that when tomorrow I had left it forever, it would slip out of existence, to live only in my memory till I myself passed into oblivion. I have that feeling about me now; perhaps it is that feeling which had incited me to tell you the story, to try to hand over to you, as it were, its very existence, its reality - the truth disclosed in a moment of illusion. (243)

All that had been immediate and sensual suddenly becomes for Marlow remote, distant, and abstract, so much so that the distinction blurs between what has an ontologically real, external existence and what lives on only in his memory. Blurred too is the distinction between illusion and truth, pivotal in the Marlow tales. Illusions here are glimmers of truth unattainable to the conscious mind, more akin to the brief flashes of insight Marlow enjoys in "Heart of Darkness" than to the lies or half-truths that must be promoted and endured in order to preserve faith in a fragile and flawed civilization. Memory becomes a very potent force as the sole repository of the identity of an individual and the spirit of place. It is only through Marlow's ability and willingness to share Jim's story that Jim's struggle has reality and meaning. These passages are a tribute to the power of the story-teller, who seeks common values and meaning in a modern world characterized by fragmentation, isolation, and indi-

181 Lord Jim vidualism, Jim and Jewel exist only in Marlow's narration of their story: "They exist as if under an enchanter's wand. But the figure round which all these are grouped - that one lives, and I am not certain of him. No magician's wand can immobilize him under my eyes" (249). Marlow's oral narrative ends in a series of contradictions. The tale he relates exists only, it would seem, in the telling. Jim has "at last mastered his fate." He is "satisfied ... nearly" (244). And he is tragic. Jim is an extravagant mystery. At the same time he is "one of us." On the surface, there should be nothing mysterious about Jim. Marlow creates the mystery to prevent or delay the necessity of coming face to face with the collapse or destruction of shared beliefs that are at the root of the idea of community to which he adheres. The radical individualism that Jim claims for himself - and that Marlow grants him - threatens the notion of cultural solidarity, an ideal to which Marlow is loyal. Paradoxically, it is only by granting Jim this claim to exceptional status that Marlow can preserve the illusion of the solidarity of the majority, even if this requires that the devotion demonstrated by a man such as the French lieutenant be denigrated to the Weberian concept of the slavish devotion to duty of the conformist and the mediocre. Jim's final message to his family in England cannot be formulated into words. Never uttered, it is abandoned. As Marlow leaves, Jim is a solitary white figure standing "at the heart of a vast enigma" (253). Suddenly, Marlow loses sight of him, and as his oral narrative ends, Jim's very existence is called into question. Denial of the agent provocateur is necessary to preserve the illusion of solidarity, and the very conception of community. This passage dramatizes Conrad's conflicting commitment to solidarity and his insight concerning the inescapability of solitude. It also raises the central question in the tradition of Cartesian philosophical scepticism to which Wollaeger argues Conrad is heir concerning the very possibility of existence independent of a perceiving consciousness.41 The last section of the novel, chapters 36 through 45, is a patchwork quilt of information Marlow has gathered and sent to the privileged listener more than two years after the event of the oral narrative: "I put it down here for you as though I had been an eye witness. My information was fragmentary, but I've fitted the pieces together, and there is enough to them to make an intelligible picture" (258). The transition from the omniscient narrator's to Marlow's account of Jim's story, and this diminishing of Marlow's audience to consist solely of the privileged reader and hence Marlow's adoption of a written format, are both structurally and thematically the most important transitions in the novel. These two transitions, as Linda

182 Solitude versus Solidarity

Shires points out, respectively "distance the reader from access to Jim's mind and then from direct access to Marlow's mind. We end up with Marlow's third-hand written reporting."42 She is correct that observation entails participation. In what is perhaps a quest for symmetry between Marlow's oral narrative and his final letters, however, she ascribes to the anonymous recipient of Marlow's package "equal authority"43 to that of Stein. This is untenable, for the privileged listener's intelligence and sensitivity do not approach Stein's, and in fact some of the values he espouses are those that are under fire in Lord Jim and "Heart of Darkness." To Marlow's other listeners, Jim's incomplete story "had made discussion vain and comment impossible" (253). The privileged listener is distinguished by his consistent interest in Jim's history. More concerned with collective than individual identity, the privileged listener has not been as swayed by Jim's story as Marlow has been. His attitudes are typically those of the Victorian English gentleman regarding the "ethical progress" of his culture and the duty of his superior race to the other races who people the earth. Marlow writes to him: You said also -1 call to mind - that "giving your life up to them" (them meaning all of mankind with skins brown, yellow, or black in colour) "was like selling your soul to a brute." You contended that "that kind of thing" was only endurable and enduring when based on a firm conviction in the truth of ideas racially our own, in whose name are established the order, the morality of an ethical progress. "We want its strength at our backs," you had said. "We want a belief in its necessity and its justice, to make a worthy and conscious sacrifice of our lives. Without it the sacrifice is only forgetfulness, the way of offering is no better than the way to perdition." In other words, you maintained that we must fight in the ranks or our lives don't count. (255)

The privileged listener shares Marlow's initial ideal of adherence to cultural - in this case racial - solidarity, but lacks the countervailing scepticism Marlow expresses at the beginning of "Heart of Darkness." Like many people, he projects his values and concerns onto the story he is told. Lord Jim's story is not essentially that of the benign and wise white ruler devoting his life to aid his less fortunate brothers of other races. He does in fact to some degree become this stereotypic figure, but the storybook existence of Patusan and its inhabitants provides Jim with the opportunity to make up a lost chance. It is a haven where lost opportunities can be regained, life stories rescripted. Although Jim is "one of us" he is also a renegade, and his stay in Patusan is not motivated by a commitment to the establishment of order and the progress of ethics as the white European would

183 Lord Jim

understand these terms. Nor is his life sacrificed to these ideals, for Jim is completely self-absorbed. In his view of the universe, disgrace and triumph are interpreted as results of trials and opportunities devised for him alone. Marlow's assessment of Jim's career supports the view that the Patusan episode is Jim's personal opportunity for redemption in his own eyes: "The point, however, is that of all mankind Jim had no dealings but with himself, and the question is whether at the last he had not confessed to a faith mightier than the laws of order and progress" (255). Jim's attitude, in which the self is separated by clearly delineated borders from the other, has become an issue in contemporary criticism concerned with works that chronicle the impingement of white culture in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, or Latin America. The bone of contention is not only that these lands become exotic settings for the personal trials and tribulations of white interlopers, or for their colonial aspirations underpinned by greed, but that even the most seemingly enlightened criticism of such works does not question the two basic assumptions upon which this genre depends. Citing Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and Michel Foucault, Reynold Humphries questions the unconscious assumption of Eurocentric interpretations of Kurtz's famous cry "The horror! The horror!": "The only experience that matters is Kurtz's and that his collapse as a moral, sensitive human being is a tragedy both personal and collective, the collective being European and in no way African. The Africans are faceless and anonymous, wretched products of Kurtz's folly and objects of Westem Angst on this score."44 The same is true in criticism of this novel, for critics look at Jim's adventures on Patusan as his opportunity to redeem himself, differing only in their evaluation of his success or failure. No attention is given to the native people of Patusan, who first benefit from and then suffer because of Jim's presence. Jim himself is less guilty of this arrogance than his critics are, for at least he feels impelled to pay for the lost lives of his friend Dain Waris and his men with his own life. Marlow's statement "I affirm nothing" qualifies his earlier statement "I affirm he had achieved greatness" (172), made during the oral narration in anticipation of the Patusan adventure he was then about to relate. Marlow repeatedly insists that the language of facts and the realm of artistic narrative intermingle, their boundaries blurred by the essential deceptiveness of both: "It is impossible to see him clearly - especially as it is through the eyes of others that we take our last look at him ... There shall be no message, unless such as each of us can interpret for himself from the language of facts, that are so often more enigmatic than the craftiest arrangement of words"

184 Solitude versus Solidarity

(255-6), The solipsism that Marlow here displays indicates an apparent conviction of the essential isolation of each person and the resultant vulnerability of communal solidarity to radical individualism. This mindset is the true threat to any doctrine of social cohesion. Jim's isolated betrayal of the code of the merchant marine is simply the catalyst that forces acknowledgment of this reality, a catalyst resulting in Brierly's suicide and Marlow's evasiveness - his creation of the mystique of Jim. Marlow assumed the narration of Jim's story from the initial narrator, who acknowledged the inadequacy of facts, but whose point of view did not allow him to transcend their limitations. Marlow makes language one of the subjects of his pondering, and not merely its vehicle. Both Marlow and Jim attempt to create worlds that respond to their needs, priorities, and criteria, the one in fiction, the other in fact. Marlow includes in his package to the privileged listener a fragment of the letter begun by Jim as he is "confronted by his fate" (256) in his fortress home on Patusan. The date and the intended recipient are unspecified. "An awful thing has happened ... I must now at once ..." (256). The previous message to his family that he began to formulate was also abandoned. Like Kurtz's final pronouncement on his life, Jim's final confrontation with his fate is private, beyond his powers of articulation, unutterable, inexplicable: "There's nothing more; he had seen a broad gulf that neither eye nor voice could span" (256). At this point Marlow knows Jim's fate, but the privileged listener, along with the reader, is reading through the parcel Marlow has sent, and does not yet know. Marlow also sends an old letter from Jim's parson father that predates the Patna affair. This provides a valuable clue as to why Jim felt communication with his family had become impossible. The comfortable morality born of an essentially benign view "equably trusting providence and the established order of the universe" (257) of which this letter speaks has long since been shattered by Jim's experience. The parson's simple and absolute conception of "how to be" can never expand to embrace the nature of Jim's fall, and his attempted redemption: "Virtue is one all over the world," his father maintains, "and there is only one faith, one conceivable conduct of life, one manner of dying." "Who once gives way to temptation, in the very instant hazards his total depravity and everlasting ruin" (257). Jim's family, circumscribed life of unchallenged and "undisturbed rectitude" (257) has allowed them the luxury of unblurred value judgments and rules of social conduct that exclude the alienation and moral conflicts, such as the efficacy of future success to redeem past failure, with which Jim has struggled: "Nothing ever came to them; they would never be taken unawares, and never be called upon to grapple with fate" (257).


Lord Jim

Marlow's primary source of information concerning Jim's final downfall is a death-bed interview with the villain himself, "a latterday buccaneer" (265), whose evil is "akin to madness" (259). He goes by the incongruous name Gentleman Brown. Marlow conveys this information to his correspondent in the form of a written narrative that differs markedly in tone and method from Marlow's oral narrative, and even from the letter to the same correspondent in which Marlow relates his meeting with Stein and Jewel at Stein's home. The first half of Marlow's written narrative, encompassing chapters 38 to 40, is remarkable for the lack of intervention between Marlow's speculating mind and the reader, for the absence of digression and chronological shifts, for the straightforward telling, which implies the sense of an inexorable, inevitable "progress d'effet" (the phrase was coined by Ford Madox Ford) from challenge to defeat and death. Marlow's interpretive role does not re-emerge until chapter 41 in which Jim and Gentleman Brown are offered as embodiments of "the opposite poles of that conception of life which includes all mankind" (286). Yet Brown's moral framework is described by Rossiter as "the mirror image of Jim's own": "Brown's alienation from society is different from Jim's only in the sense that it becomes manifested in violence directed at society ... His role in Jim's fate is bitingly ironic: a violent incarnation of the meaninglessness and disdain for order that haunts Marlow and his narrative, a more extreme version of what alienation can mean for an individual."45 Marlow reconstructs, from the evidence of Gentleman Brown's personality as he understands it, the reason for Brown's immediate and venomous hatred of Jim. It is not an uncommon reason; Jim is simply not what Brown expects of a man who has undergone such dramatic failure on a broad stage: "I know that Brown hated Jim at first sight. Whatever hopes he might have had vanished at once. This was not the man he had expected to see. He hated him for this ... he cursed in his heart the other's youth and assurance, his clear eyes and his untroubled bearing" (286). Personal failure has not rendered Jim a hard-bitten cynic. His idealism has survived his dark night of the soul. It is the resilience of innocence that Brown finds intolerable. Brown's talent, however, is finding the Achilles' heel, the weak spot in an adversary, and delivering the deadly blow: "And what do you deserve? ... you that I find skulking here with your mouth full of your responsibility, of innocent lives, of your infernal duty? ... And what did you come for? ... There are my men in the same boat - and, by God, I am not the sort to jump out of trouble and leave them in a d— d lurch ... I am here because I was afraid once in my life. Want to know what of? Of a prison" (288). Brown's assertion of their essential equality, that the story of Jim's life is no better than his, shatters Jim's

i86 Solitude versus Solidarity

serenity and faith in his superiority, for however much Brown deceives himself and others, there is a grain of truth in what he says. The degenerate, egocentric, and immoral Brown induces Jim to agree to help him in the name of some misguided sense of racial solidarity - and solidarity between two spectacular failures adrift in a world in which the certain and simple values of Victorian England have no place: "And there ran through the rough talk a vein of subtle reference to their common blood, an assumption of common experience; a sickening suggestion of common guilt, of secret knowledge that was like a bond of their minds and of their hearts" (291). There is no experience more devastating than to have one's being denigrated by a man one considers to be degenerate and beneath oneself; to be forced to recognize oneself in the ravings of a madman. Brown recognizes Jim's fatal vulnerability and he goes for the jugular. However, his perspicacity, the essential truth that underlies his vicious ranting, does not allow Jim the luxury of dismissing the attack, considering the credibility of its source. For the truth to come from one such as Marlow is bearable - and indeed Marlow couches his insight in ambiguity; for truth to emanate from the venomous, virulent attack of Gentleman Brown is Jim's undoing. Being depicted as the secret sharer in Brown's criminality is more than Jim can bear. His saving illusions are shattered. Marlow recreates in his imagination the psychological machinations by which Brown manipulates Jim into treating their confrontation as one between equals: "No, he didn't turn Jim's soul inside out, but I am much mistaken if the spirit so utterly out of his reach had not been made to taste to the full the bitterness of that contest ... Brown, as though he had been really great, had a satanic gift of finding out the best and the weakest spot in his victims ... When he asked Jim, with a sort of brusque despairing frankness, whether he himself - straight now - didn't understand that when "it came to saving one's life in the dark, one didn't care who else went - three, thirty, three hundred people" - it was as if a demon had been whispering advice in his ear! 1 made him wince,' boasted Brown to me" (290-1). The bitter irony is that Jim is destroyed by the least worthy of all possible emissaries from the world for which he believes himself not good enough. Marlow's other potential principle source of information is Jewel herself, interviewed eight months prior to Marlow's meeting with Brown, at Stein's home where she now lives: "Young hearts are unforgiving," Stein warns Marlow of Jewel. "The strength of life in them, the cruel strength of life" (261). Jewel confronts Marlow, her suspicion of the treachery and faithlessness of the white man con-


Lord Jim

finned: "He went away from me as if I had been worse than death. He fled as if driven by some accursed thing he had heard or seen in his sleep ... " (262). Jim has been torn away from her, it seems to Jewel, "by the strength of a dream" (262). Of course, she is correct. Jim is finally destroyed by the one event, cataclysmic in its intensity, that is a match for that event on the Patna that led to his first downfall. Nothing less than success in an event of such dramatic intensity can redeem Jim in his own eyes. His success on Patusan, the confidence of its inhabitants and Jewel's love, are not enough. The pursuit of the dream of heroism and greatness, the closing of the gap between what we are and what we wish to be, is in Marlow's view the force behind much of humanity's cruelty and betrayal: "She had said he had been driven away from her by a dream - and there was no answer one could make her - there seemed to be no forgiveness for such a transgression. And yet is not mankind itself, pushing on its blind way, driven by a dream of its greatness and its power upon the dark paths of excessive cruelty and of excessive devotion? And what is the pursuit of truth, after all?" (263). Marlow rejects Jewel as a source of information concerning the dreadful events on Patusan precisely because of the suspicion and jealousy underlying her love for Jim: "The girl's eyes had watched him, too, but her life is too much entwined with his: there is her passion, her wonder, her anger, and, above all, her fear and her unforgiving love" (293). He instead adopts Tamb' Itam's point of view, for with Jim's servant "it is the fidelity alone that comes into play" (293). Marlow has no source for the conversation that took place during Jim's crucial meeting with Doramin. Jim announces to the people his decision that Brown and his men should have clear passage to the sea. While Jim recognizes Brown's essential evil, he also believes of Brown and his men that "their destiny had been evil, too" (295). Brown plants the suggestion that, but for Patusan, Jim's destiny might have been the same. Jim's insistence that his decision to let Brown and his men pass is conducive to the welfare of the people is not convincing, for Brown has touched a nerve in Jim, and asserted a bond of solidarity which Jim honours by granting Brown and his men their lives, despite the risk to the community that it is Jim's duty to protect. In the disparity between the simple, unequivocal trust placed in Jim by the community and the conflict in his soul between his duty to them and his complicity in the evil represented by Brown, Marlow perceives Jim's terrible loneliness, and an insoluble mystery impenetrable even to those who love him best. Jim betrays Jewel's love and the trust of the native community because a voice has spoken resurrecting a past failure that can never be quite put to rest.

i88 Solitude versus Solidarity

Having betrayed the code of the merchant marine with his jump from the Patna, Jim's romantic quest for a new opportunity that will allow him to free himself from his past by serving to perfection a different community is shattered by the intrusion of these voices from the very world from which he has retreated. They remind him of his failure to meet community standards and of his essential isolation and solitude: In this simple form of assent to his will lies the whole gist of the situation; their creed, his truth; and the testimony to that faithfulness which made him in his own eyes the equal of the impeccable men who never fall out of the ranks. Stein's words, "Romantic! - Romantic!" seem to ring over those distances that will never give him up now to a world indifferent to his failing and his virtues, and to that ardent and clinging affection that refuses him the dole of tears in the bewilderment of a great grief and of eternal separation. From the moment the sheer truthfulness of his last three years of life carries the day against the ignorance, the fear, and the anger of men, he appears no longer to me as I saw him last - a white speck catching all the dim light upon a sombre coast and the darkened sea - but greater and more pitiful in the loneliness of his soul, that remains even for her who loved him best a cruel and insoluble mystery. (296)

That Jim's conviction of his equality with "the impeccable men who never fall out of the ranks" is shattered by his encounter with Brown is proven in Jim's apologia for Brown's deeds. In a response to Jewel's question "Are they very bad?" - a question more meaningful to Jim, Marlow, and the reader than it is to Jewel - Jim says simply: "Men act badly sometimes without being much worse than others" (297). Raval's thoughts here are interesting: "The tragic paradox of Jim's treatment of Brown ... is that his failure in Patna generates a moral insight that cannot provide him with discriminating powers to separate good from bad ... it prevents him from using moral concepts."46 Cornelius's deception in revealing to Brown the narrow channel at the back of the island not only affords Brown an escape route, but also the opportunity to ambush Dain Waris's camp, killing Doramin's son and many of his men. The embittered Brown, a failure even as a villain, is proud of this treachery. To Marlow, this act of violence reveals an aspect of human nature that the ephemeral triumph of civilization has temporarily hidden rather than permanently eradicated: It was then that Brown took his revenge upon the world which, after twenty years of contemptuous and reckless bullying refused him the tribute of a


Lord Jim

common robber's success. It was an act of cold-blooded ferocity, and it consoled him on his deathbed like a memory of an indomitable defiance ... Thus Brown balanced his account with the evil fortune. Notice that even in this awful outbreak there is a superiority as of a man who carries right - the abstract thing - within the envelope of his common desires. It was not a vulgar and treacherous massacre; it was a lesson, a retribution - a demonstration of some obscure and awful attribute of our nature which, I am afraid, is not so very far under the surface as we like to think. (303-4)

No first-hand account exists of Jim's thoughts at this most crucial juncture in the novel, when he learns from Tamb' Itam of Brown's massacre of Dain Waris and his men. Jim realizes the full extent to which the residents of Patusan hold him responsible for this tragedy with the straightforward yet devastating statement of reality by Tamb' Itam: "It is not safe for thy servant to go out amongst the people" (307): Then Jim understood. He had retreated from one world, for a small matter of an impulsive jump, and now the other, the work of his own hands, had fallen in ruins upon his head ... I believe that in that very moment he had decided to defy the disaster in the only way it occurred to him such a disaster could be defied;... The dark powers should not rob him twice of his peace ... What thoughts passed through his head - what memories? Who can tell? Everything was gone, and he who had been once unfaithful to his trust had lost again all men's confidence. It was then, I believe, he tried to write - to somebody - and gave it up. Loneliness was closing on him. People had trusted him with their lives - only for that; and yet they could never, as he had said, never be made to understand him. (307)

Marlow here pledges allegiance to the notion that each individual is absolutely alone and utterly mysterious. Isolation and loneliness are sad but irredeemable facts of the human condition. Marlow captures the sense of individual solitude and despair that Jim must experience as he grapples with the ramifications of his second failure - his failure to protect the native people of Patusan from the marauding invasion of Gentleman Brown and his men. Marlow's source of information for what transpires immediately after Jim learns of Dain Waris's murder is Jewel, yet he strangely omits this rich source from the narrative he sends to the privileged listener: "I haven't the heart to set down here such glimpses as she had given me of the hour or more she had passed in there wrestling with him for the possession of her happiness. Whether he had any hope - what he expected, what he imagined - it is impossible to say. He was inflexi-

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ble, and with the growing loneliness of his obstinacy his spirit seemed to rise above the ruins of his existence. She cried 'Fight' into his ear. She could not understand. There was nothing to fight for. He was going to prove his power in another way and conquer the fatal destiny itself" (308). Having twice betrayed the community to which he had pledged allegiance, Jim retreats into himself, and meets his destiny on romantic terms that satisfy him alone. It is the subject of controversy whether Jim's martyrdom is an act of egotism or repentance; whether in leaving Jewel to meet certain death he is false or true. In Jim's view, there is nothing to fight for, no escape. According to Jewel, he is false and can never be forgiven. From Marlow's perspective, Jim's martyrdom is at once an act of egotism and a redemption of sorts — a dramatic reversion to an adventure-story ending, the only sort that can satisfy Jim that Dain Waris's murder has been avenged. Marlow interprets as "superb egotism" (310) Jim's failure to defend himself or to flee: "They say," Marlow reports, "that the white man sent right and left at all those faces a proud and unflinching glance. Then with his hand over his lips he fell forward, dead" (312). But the judgment that Jim passes on himself is the one Marlow had earlier expressed to Jewel: "I should not be worth having" (310). Jim finally disavows the romantic illusions to which his imagination had been captive. He is, he finally admits, not good enough. Yet in Marlow's view, Jim's acceptance of responsibility for Dain Waris's death, his sacrifice of his own life to vindicate the death of a friend, is simultaneously an "extraordinary success" (313). Few people are afforded the opportunity to write the script of their death in accordance with a model they have admired in life: "For it may very well be that in the short moment of his last proud and unflinching glance, he had beheld the face of that opportunity which, like an Eastern bride, had come veiled to his side" (313). Marlow transforms the image of opportunity as an Eastern bride, veiled, mysterious but submissive, to that of a "pitiless wedding with a shadowy ideal of conduct" (313). Jim's story ends, as it had begun, with betrayal. He betrays the love of a flesh-and-blood woman so that he may be true to the shadowy ideals of retribution and personal egotism. He betrays the trust of the community that provided him the opportunity to redeem himself. This betrayal is effected in the name of a questionable sense of solidarity with a villain who gains the advantage by implying that a bond of failure exists between them. And perhaps he betrays his own ideals of steadfastness, dependability, and heroism, or perhaps he dies believing he has honoured these ideals in the only way possible. The truth behind that "proud and unflinching glance" is ultimately unknowable even to the most privileged reader.


Lord Jim


Having examined the personal implications of Jim's betrayal for Marlow as a fellow marine and a story-teller, I now investigate the social implications of Jim's betrayal of Marlow's ideal of cultural solidarity - an ideal that came to be called into doubt as the values underpinning imperialism began to crumble under more objective scrutiny. These two features of the argument are linked, moreover, inasmuch as the elusiveness of truth, manifested in the narrative structure and procedure, is paradigmatic of the doubts concerning the moral foundations of imperialism. My method is to move from an examination of what Paul Armstrong terms "acts of epistemological composition and completion"47 to a metaphysical exploration of the ontological status and foundation of social ideals and of meaning itself. The thrust of the following discussion will be to establish a link between epistemology and ontology. Colonialism or imperialism serves as a paradigm for civilization in these Conrad novels. The values - or pretences - that underpin these systems explode in an act of violence and betrayal, be it Kurtz's reversion to idolatry, Jim's breaches of faith with the communities he is sworn to protect, or Nostromo's theft of the silver. Commitment to the social contract diminishes. Mannheim's notion of the splintering of formerly cohesive humanity into atomized, isolated individuals, and Marx's perception of each person's alienation from his or her labour, and confreres, and ultimately from his or her self, are shown to be inescapably true. The blatant transgression of the social code by a member of society who is initially one of its most ideal emissaries, one who cannot be dismissed, necessitates the re-evaluation of the status and validity of the code itself. The failures of Kurtz and Jim, different though they are, reveal the fatal flaw of colonialism and imperialism - the rapacity and destructive element that lie so close beneath the veneer of idealism they present. The cultural and racial bonds underpinning these systems do not bear close scrutiny, and their unravelling is inevitable. Whereas Kurtz releases himself from all obligation to observe the civilized ideals he initially represents, Jim masters and seals his fate in total submission to the absolute sovereignty of fixed standards. In these novels, we witness the collapse of snared values. Written before Weber's treatises, which analyse the modern era as one characterized by the subservience of the individual to the community, Conrad's novels look forward to the ubiquitous concern of twentieth-century literature and social theory with

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the themes of alienation and dispossession of the individual, whose fragile relation to the social web has been severed by the very forces of egalitarianism that Marx imagined would promote the collectivist ideals of civilized solidarity. According to Terry Eagleton, in Criticism and Ideology, by the late nineteenth century, imperialism could no longer maintain its veneer as a beacon of enlightenment and progress: "Nineteenth-century imperialism demanded the production of a corporate, messianic, idealist ideology; but it demanded this at precisely the point where mid-Victorian faith in progress was being eroded into pessimism, subjectivism and irrationalism by (in the last instance) the very economic depression which catalysed the intensified exploitation of the Empire. Imperialism threw into embarrassing exposure the discrepancy between its romantic ideals and sordid material practice; it also bred an awareness of cultural relativism at precisely the point where the absolute cultural hegemony of the imperialist nations needed to be affirmed."48 Marlow struggles to explain his interest in Jim's story, "an occurrence which, after all, concerned me no more than as a member of an obscure body of men held together by a community of inglorious toil and by fidelity to a certain standard of conduct" (43-4). His interest is born of his growing scepticism concerning humanity's motives for its adhesion in communities, and his doubt concerning the validity of "the sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct" (44). Marlow repeatedly asserts that Jim is "one of us" (38): "I would have trusted the deck to that youngster on the strength of a single glance, and gone to sleep with both eyes - and, by Jove! it wouldn't have been safe" (40). "The depths of horror in that thought" (40) do not arise because the mariners' code can be and has been breached, but rather because he who is guilty of this act of betrayal remains "one of us." Hence Marlow desperately searches for "some shadow of an excuse for that young fellow" who is a stranger to him: "Perhaps, unconsciously, I hoped I would find that something, some profound and redeeming cause, some merciful explanation, some convincing shadow of an excuse. I see well enough now that I hoped for the impossible - for the laying of what is the most obstinate ghost of man's creation, of the uneasy doubt rising like a mist, secret and gnawing like a worm, and more chilling than the certitude of death - the doubt of a sovereign power enthroned in a fixed standard of conduct... I fear that such was the secret motive of my prying. I was, and no mistake, looking for a miracle ... I positively hoped to attain from that battered and shady invalid some exorcism against the ghost of doubt" (44). Marlow has already examined the implications of Kurtz's relinquishing the surface reality to which Marlow fervently clings, and Kurtz's betrayal of the civilized ideals of which he was, initially, the


Lord Jim

perfect emissary. In Lord Jim, as Rossiter eloquently points out, Marlow focuses upon the individual as a possible source of redemption from the inescapable insight of the absurdity of society, but he is once again disappointed. Marlow's narrative ultimately questions his own values as well as Jim's, the ideals of the community to which he belongs, and the very nature of community. If the code of the mariner has ultimate authority, Jim must be dismissed as a failure and an aberration because of his transgression. But he cannot be dismissed. He is one of us. That Marlow is compelled to seek an explanation reflects his need to re-evaluate his commitment to the norm of shared ideals. Marlow's scepticism concerning the ultimate authority of the code of the community over the life of the individual pre-dates his awareness of Jim's predicament. Lord Jim is in essence an exploration of the relation of the individual to the social web. The social manifestations of this political theoretical debate range from the extremes of virtually complete subservience of the individual to the social weal at the expense of personal freedom in the communist system, to the philosophy of rugged individualism that defines the American dream, with its price of appalling social inequities. Marlow's problem, if more local, nonetheless touches upon the essential issue of the necessity of social ideals as well as their inherent dangers. Lord Jim registers, in the history of one man, the collapse of communal values. The price of complete subservience of the individual to the professional code is demonstrated in the cases of the French lieutenant, whose imaginative faculty cannot transcend his limited sense of devotion to duty, and Brierly, whose fidelity to the same fragile bond is so extreme that he commits suicide rather than face the implications for the whole community of Jim's transgression. Jim, on the other hand, withdraws into self-absorption in light of his failure in the community. In the section entitled "Imperialism" in her study The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt discusses the fate of one who steps outside the bonds of the community from which he springs: "Deprived of political rights, the individual, to whom public and official life manifests itself in the guise of necessity, acquires a new and increased interest in his private life and his personal fate. Excluded from participation in the management of public affairs that involve all citizens, the individual loses his rightful place in society and his natural connection with his fellow men. He can now judge his individual private life only by comparing it with that of others."49 It is by his implicit comparison of his failure with Jim's own that Gentleman Brown is able to undo Jim. But the issue runs deeper than this. Jim's individualism, which emerges as an alternative to the doctrine of social cohesion that he has betrayed, also exacts its price. The price is Jim's second and final failure.

194 Solitude versus Solidarity

Kurtz represents the final stand of spectacular, isolated, and obsolete individualism in face of devotion to community ideals, represented by Marlow. Because of the intensity of his experience in the Congo, Marlow has begun to question the very foundation of these ideals. Hence derives his all-consuming interest in Jim's case, for Jim's failure to live up to the coinciding codes of the mariner and his own personal, adventure-novel standards results in retreat to an isolated, virtually unknown island. In the solitude of Patusan, where Jim is free to kick himself loose from all human social conventions and moral codes as Kurtz had done, he paradoxically chains his behaviour to the code of the benign and wise white ruler of a native tribe - a stereotype likely learned from the stories of colonial adventure that abounded in Victorian England. Jim's second failure occurs in this situation, which he has virtually a free hand in creating from his imagination. Its codes and rules are self-imposed. Unfortunately, the indigenous people are presented as backdrop or at most as passive players in Jim's drama of redemption. He fails to protect the Malay tribe and especially his faithful friend Dain Waris from the evil Gentleman Brown. Twice Jim has failed to adhere to the criteria of cultural solidarity; the second failure occurs despite the fact that the situation has been tailored for his success. Hence the issue of Jim's success or failure turns upon the question of the absolute or illusory nature of the code that he betrays. If Jim. is clearly a failure first in terms of the standards set by society, and secondly in his own imagination, it is up to Marlow, his listeners, and Conrad's readers to decide whether these criteria are valid, and if so, whether they are the only valid criteria upon which to base judgment. Marlow ultimately defers judgment, citing, at various stages of his narrative, three reasons. The first is the inadequacy of language to convey insight: "I can't explain to you who haven't seen him and who hear his words only at second hand the mixed nature of my feelings" (75). Or again: "The power of sentences has nothing to do with their sense or the logic of their construction" (62). The second is Marlow's conviction that the information and interpretations that Jim supplies are, through no fault of his own, suspect: "It is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge" (65). The third and most important is the necessarily fragmented nature of the views one man can have of another, or even of himself: "I don't pretend I understood him. The views he let me have of himself were like those glimpses through the shifting rents in a thick fog - bits of vivid and vanishing detail, giving no connected idea of the general aspect of a country ... Upon the whole he was misleading" (62-3). Marlow admits that, despite his

195 Lord Jim

many encounters with Jim, he remains "strangely unenlightened" (142). Jim is ultimately a mystery to Marlow, and Marlow closes the oral narrative with an image of Jim as "that white figure in the stillness of coast and sea [who] seemed to stand at the heart of a vast enigma" (253). The issue of epistemological relativism only scratches the surface of what is truly at stake here. For it is not only the bond of the sea that is called into question in this novel. Implicit in Conrad's meditation on the notion of human solidarity and its limitations, which result from the essential loneliness that Marlow increasingly recognizes as the fate of each individual, is a calling into doubt of the particular cultural and racial bonds that underpin the imperialist system. It is undeniably true that Conrad's savaging of the assumptions underlying colonialism and imperialism is more explicit in both "Heart of Darkness" and Nostromo. Jim's lapse into solipsism following his betrayal of community standards does not, however, result in Marlow's renouncing or repudiating him as a deviant. He remains "one of us." Jim's transgression - and the responses of Brierly and Marlow - reveal the fragility of the concept of social cohesion. Imperialism depends upon the arrogance of white cultural values - the conviction that the white man brings to the yellow or black a civilization that is superior to rather than merely different from theirs. When the foundations of this civilization are called into question from within, especially by one who to all appearances is its most ideal emissary, they quickly reveal their untenability. Imperialism is founded on boyhood notions of adventure and the conquest of that which is foreign and therefore frightening. It is not a mindset that can survive analytic, adult reflection, any more than can the notion of the one true religion. The ideas underlying imperialism do not withstand serious consideration. Marlow's search for "some shadow of an excuse" for Jim's betrayal is futile, for it is based on faith in human solidarity that Marlow himself comes to recognize as illusory. Transgressions committed in the name of colonial and imperial expansion are equally inexcusable for the same reason - the intellectual foundations of the system that gives rise to them are feeble. Arendt believes that the very notion of imperialism is arrested in the infancy of humankind and that of Western civilization: It was neither His Majesty's soldier nor the British higher official who could teach the natives something of the greatness of the Western world. Only those who had never been able to outgrow their boyhood ideals and therefore had enlisted in the colonial services were fit for the task. Imperialism to them was nothing but an accidental opportunity to escape a society in which

196 Solitude versus Solidarity a man had to forget his youth if he wanted to grow up. English society was only too glad to see them depart to faraway countries, a circumstance which permitted the toleration and even the furtherance of boyhood ideals in the public school system; the colonial services took them away from England and prevented, so to speak, their converting the ideals of their boyhood into the mature ideas of men. Strange and curious lands attracted the best of England's youth since the end of the nineteenth century, deprived her society of the most honest and most dangerous elements, and guaranteed, in addition to this bliss, a certain conservation, or perhaps petrification, of boyhood noblesse which preserved and infantilized Western moral standards.50

Lord Jim is the perfect representative of British imperialism. His failure reveals its fatal flaw, and foreshadows its inevitable failure. This view is anticipated by O. Mannoni in his 1950 study Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization, in which the psychological development of the colonialist is understood to be arrested in infancy: What the colonial in common with Prospero lacks is awareness of the world of Others - a world in which others have to be respected. This is the world from which the colonial has fled because he cannot accept men as they are. Rejection of the world is combined with an urge to dominate, an urge which is infantile in origin, and which social adaptation has failed to discipline. The reason the colonial himself gives for his flight - whether he says it was the desire to travel, or the desire to escape from the cradle or from the "ancient parapets," or whether he says that he simply wanted a freer life - is of no consequence, for whatever the variant offered, the real reason is still what I have called loosely the colonial vocation. It is always a question of compromising with the desire for a world without men.51

I find Mannoni's use of the expression "a world without men," which presumably means a world without adults, to be an unfortunate oversight, for no critique of racism should slide so easily into an endorsement of sexism of the type that considers "man" and "adult" interchangeable. Racism and sexism should be considered analogous and fought in tandem. Sadly, they seldom are. Jim's keen sense of his loneliness and isolation, even as he rules the native community on Patusan, results from his failure of will to embrace the community over which he achieves ascendency, through no special merit, as other than the testing ground he requires to rebuild his battered self-esteem: "The very thought of the world outside is enough to give me a fright," Jim confides to Marlow during the latter's visit to Patusan, "because I have not forgotten why I came

197 i-or^ Jim

here. Not yet!" (230). Marlow's insight concerning the isolation Jim endures on Patusan can now be understood in a new light. For Conrad has pre-empted rather than extended the debate between solitude and solidarity that infuses this novel. Jim's reign on Patusan does not correspond to the prototype of the proper relationship between ruler and subjects. For to the native community Jim remains a complete enigma. Most important is the fact that it is the mystery surrounding Jim - his otherness - rather than his merit that has become the basis for his leadership. Yet Jim feels trapped within this enigma: "If you ask them who is brave - who is true - who is just who is it they would trust with their lives? - they would say, Tuan Jim. And yet they can never know the real, real truth ... " (230). Even in this, his last interview with Marlow, the criterion of truth to which Jim refers remains, as Hunt Hawkins points out, "a European idea of honor."52 Jim's subsequent actions prove less than astute Marlow's assertion that "for him there was no refuge from that loneliness which centupled all his dangers except - in her" (226). For in the final sacrifice of his life on the altar of native justice, Jim betrays Jewel's love: "He goes away from a living woman to celebrate his pitiless wedding with a shadowy ideal of conduct" (313). Jim exalts the virtue of fidelity to the code of honour over fidelity to another human being. His sacrifice of Jewel's future is callously dismissive of her claim upon him as a member of an equal partnership. The fact that Jim's lover is a native woman and that never is there conveyed the sense of conflict between competing loyalties is further evidence that here thrives a colonialist mentality in which others are merely instruments in Jim's endeavour to prove himself. In his letter to the privileged reader, Marlow offers this very telling conjecture of Jim's frame of mind as he died: "Not in the wildest days of his boyish visions could he have seen the alluring shape of such an extraordinary success!" (313). But Jim has not redeemed himself to the satisfaction of his own, Western criteria. Mannoni claims that colonialists are dogged by a powerful inferiority complex.53 The reason they seek isolation is that they have no faith in their adequacy within the Western European context. Sadly, the reason that the colonial context meets their "desire for a world without men," to borrow Mannoni's eloquent if partial phrase, is that for the colonialists the native population exists in a subservient relation based on the master-slave model. The indigenous people are not equal; in the most extreme cases, as in "Heart of Darkness," they are not considered human. "The colonialist does not and cannot enter into community with the natives," Hawkins explains, "because they lack freedom and are unable to interact with

198 Solitude versus Solidarity

him as equals; they remain objects upon which he projects his own schemes and fantasies. The isolation of the colonist in his superior position, while gratifying certain compelling needs, ultimately leads to psychological instability and disintegration. "54 Hence Arendt's assertion that the colonial enterprise, even in its most apparently benign manifestations, is underpinned by racism is shown to be inescapably true. Racism, like sexism, depends upon the insecurity of those who discriminate. Those who believe in themselves need not rely on oppressing others. Marlow's claim that Jim had "at last mastered his fate" (244) assumes, within this context, a more profound relevance. Marlow's repeated metaphors based on the master-slave relationship lose their status as metaphor and become statements of literal truth: "In fact, Jim the leader was a captive in every sense. The land, the people, the friendship, the love, were like the jealous guardians of his body. Every day added a link to the fetters of that strange freedom... He was imprisoned within the very freedom of his power" (199, 214). The master-slave relationship is inverted, and Jim becomes dependent on the native community's absolute faith in his courage. This enables him tentatively to recapture his original romanticized conception of himself. His self-image, however, crumbles with the first challenge from the outside world from which he seeks refuge. Jim's ultimate breach of faith with the native community is born not only of a misguided sense of racial solidarity with Gentleman Brown but also of Jim's mute acceptance of Brown's insinuation that both are failures - refugees by necessity rather than choice from the white man's world. Marlow reconstructs Jim's response to Brown thus: "These were the emissaries with whom the world he had renounced was pursuing him in his retreat. White men from 'out there' where he did not think himself good enough to live" (290). Brown exploits Jim's deep-rooted sense of inferiority. It is telling that Jim readily submits to the verdict of this most debased representative of the outside world even as he discounts or fails to value the trust he has earned from the indigenous people of Patusan. This is a form of dismissiveness characteristic of colonialist mentality. The people's trust is not enough to satisfy Jim's ego, but Brown's mere whispered suggestion that he and Jim are united by failure causes Jim to betray the native community that so admires him. Marlow wonders of Kurtz: "Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried out in a whisper at some image, at some vision ... "The horror! The horror!'" ("Heart of Darkness," 111). Similarly of Jim: "One wonders whether this was perhaps that


Lord Jim

supreme opportunity, that last and satisfying test for which I had always suspected him to be waiting, before he could frame a message to the impeccable world" (255). "Is he satisfied - quite, now, I wonder? We ought to know. He is one of us" (313). Kurtz's response to his vision of the darkness is to relinquish all obligation to the bond of civilized solidarity that he initially represents. Jim's response to his initial failure is precisely the opposite. He binds himself to a code of conduct so contrived and unyielding that he is virtually trapped by his success, his ultimate failure inevitable. Jim's self-imposed code of solidarity ironically illuminates the fundamental inadequacy of all such codes, for it exerts a dictatorial, absolute power of judgment over the conduct of Jim's life. Raval writes: "[Jim] relinquishes the truth of experience, the contingency that threatened his confidence in himself on the Patna, and molds and defines his reality by an unswerving commitment to the ideal ... Jim's reality, though heart-rending, is a moral reality deriving from the code's inflexibility, a reality for which the community has its own share of responsibility. "55 In the book into which this fine article was incorporated, Raval refines his thoughts on the immunity to failure of the community, although it is quick to assign blame to the individual: "The community itself remains protected from this self-destructive consequence of Jim's attitude because it is always particular individuals who may fail and who therefore may be brought to the bar of judgment, while the community as a collectivity continues to retain its prerogative to affirm certain ideals. It is by bringing to our critical attention this aspect of the community's relation to the individual that Marlow interrogates the community and thus distances himself from it."56 Raval questions Marlow's narrative authority - a doubt Marlow himself would be first to acknowledge: "For Marlow the success of his narrative is closely interwoven with his admission of its failure clearly to grasp Jim ... Moreover, the transgressor, Jim, seeks a mode of being that, in his effort to realize it, not only brings to light the fundamental inadequacies of all modes of (human) being, but also succeeds in a way that is not separable from failure."57 The only aspect of which Marlow is certain is that Jim strives to lead an authentic life, devoid of duplicity, and accepting responsibility for his failings, even as the community denies its complicity. Conrad repeatedly emphasizes Jim's isolation - not only the terrible loneliness manifested in the futility of communication as Jim realizes his final failure at the hands of Gentleman Brown but even at the height of his success as ruler of the Camelot realm of Patusan. This is Marlow's observation: "Immense! No doubt it was immense; the seal of success upon his words, the conquered ground for the soles of his

2oo Solitude versus Solidarity

feet, the blind trust of men, the belief in himself snatched from the fire, the solitude of his achievement. All this, as I've warned you, gets dwarfed in the telling. I can't with mere words convey to you the impression of his total and utter isolation. I know, of course, he was in every sense alone of his kind there, but the unsuspected qualities of his nature had brought him in such close touch with his surroundings that this isolation seemed only the effect of his power. His loneliness added to his stature" (206). Prior to his period of isolation and power on Patusan, when he was still among men of his own kind - white, seafaring men - Jim was set apart, in his imagination superior to the others, and with his crime he was alone even in a crowd of his fellows. These thoughts are Marlow's: "I knew very well he was of those about whom there is no inquiry; I had seen better men go out, disappear, vanish utterly, without provoking a sound of curiosity or sorrow. The spirit of the land, as becomes the ruler of great enterprises, is careless of innumerable lives. Woe to the stragglers! We exist only in so far as we hang together. He had straggled in a way; he had not hung on; but he was aware of it with an intensity that made him touching, just as a man's more intense life makes his death more touching than the death of a tree" (170). Jim's isolation results from his betrayal of the ideals that bind the gentleman and the seaman. Yet the seeds of this isolation were there all along in the vivid life of the imagination that Jim has led from his early years. In his betrayal he is made to realize the discrepancy not only between reality and fantasy but between his attainment and the basic expectations of his peers. In his isolation, Jim is increasingly dispossessed from the professional honour aspired to and code of conduct adhered to by his fellow sailors. Yet even in his physical isolation on Patusan he sets for himself rigid standards and responsibilities, only to fall to a misguided sense of solidarity with an unsavoury emissary from the world that has deemed him unfit. As Marlow's scepticism concerning the validity of fixed communal standards nears solipsism and he boldly asserts they are sentimental lies, Jim twice sacrifices himself to his belief in their absolute sovereignty: first with his submission to the trial, and later as he offers his life as retribution for the loss of Dain Waris. Terry Eagleton traces the dichotomy in Conrad's work between the dangers of isolated individualism and the illusion of communal solidarity to the nationalistic struggle to free Poland from Russian imperialism. Nationalism represents the anarchic principle of which revolution is the most extreme expression, and there is a long tradition of association between this and the Romantic worship of subversive individualism. On the other hand there is the oppression of the Russ-


Lord fim

ian imperial yoke, mirrored by the hierarchical stability of the ship, which finds its equivalent in the more benign but nonetheless capitalist and imperialist motives of the English merchant marine, in which Conrad served during his own seafaring days: His positive values, incarnate above all in the virile solidarity of the ship's crew, are the reactionary Carlylean imperatives of work, duty, fidelity and stoical submission - values which bind men spontaneously to the social whole. Yet his fiction, with its recurrent motif of the divided self, is also shot through with a guilty, lawless Romantic individualism which struggles to subject itself to communal discipline. Conrad's social organicism, in other words, is united with an extreme, sometimes solipsistic individualism - a metaphysical scepticism as to the objective nature of social values, a distrust of ideals as the irrational reflexes of egoism and illusion, a view of human societies as essentially "criminal" organizations of selfish interests, a deeprooted subjectivism which sees the world as desperately enigmatic, a sense of history as cyclical or absurd.58

But if society is indeed a "criminal" arrangement driven by motives of greed and power, does it have the right to punish Jim's transgression? Marlow's sarcastic and angry denouncing of Jim's assertions of the moral relativity of his jump, combined with Marlow's acuity concerning the near-impossibility of making an accurate judgment under extenuating circumstances, imply that in his view of the moral universe no clear delineation of right and wrong exists, yet humanity must nonetheless be held responsible for mistaken judgments: "There was not the thickness of a sheet of paper between the right and wrong of this affair," Jim protests. "How much more did you want?" asks Marlow. "A hair's breadth," Jim mutters. "Not the breadth of a hair between this and that. And at the time ..." "It is difficult to see a hair at midnight," Marlow retorts (102-3). Marlow's anger is explained in his following remark that Jim's jump is a lost opportunity for himself as well: "Don't you see what I mean by the solidarity of the craft? I was aggrieved against him, as though he had cheated me - me! - of a splendid opportunity to keep up the illusion of my beginnings, as though he had robbed our common life of the last spark of its glamour" (103). Yet Marlow has long since disavowed the conviction that ideals and values are anything more than mere convention created to uphold an inherently flawed system. These are his impressions of Jim's inner struggle during the inquiry: "It was solemn, and a little ridiculous, too, as they always are, those struggles of an individual trying to save from the fire his idea of what his moral identity should

2O2 Solitude versus Solidarity

be, this precious notion of a convention, only one of the rules of the game, nothing more, but all the same so terribly effective by its assumption of unlimited power over natural instincts, by the awful penalties of its failure" (66). The criminality of society, which is, like words themselves, "as sunny an arrangement of small conveniences as the mind of man can conceive" (236), does not mitigate Jim's crime. Of his own reaction to Jim's conviction, Marlow says: "I didn't hope to be very much impressed or edified ... But neither did I expect to be so awfully depressed. The bitterness of his punishment was in its chill and mean atmosphere. The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind, and from that point of view he was no mean traitor, but his execution was a hole-and-corner affair" (121). The merchant marine that Jim betrays is a creation of British imperialism, a system that Conrad considered more benign than the crass commercialism of European and American imperialism: it is redeemed by the "idea" of social progress, the establishment of British parliamentary democratic institutions and of the Victorian concept of rational order where tribal warring had reigned. In an essay that argues for the importance of considering the imperialist social and political context to understand this novel, Michael Sprinker points out that the period of its authorship coincides with the Boer War, and that Conrad's response to this event was characteristically ambivalent. Detesting the jingoistic propaganda that it spawned, Conrad was simultaneously convinced of the "ultimate justice of the British cause."59 His stance was not anti-imperial; rather he was convinced of the greater benevolence and hence merit of the British as conquerors. Jim's success on Patusan is a microcosm of the implementation of British social order among native people, yet his achievement is undone by an embodiment of the very worst element of rapacious, pillaging buccaneering, a rough-edged aspect of colonialism that imperialism has not quite ironed out of existence. Jim's failure is nothing less than the failure of the imperialist system itself, with Gentleman Brown representing the unquestioned sense of entitlement that lurks close below its veneer of idealism and its pretence to be a civilizing force - an instrument of progress and enlightenment. Moral order is reduced to humanly fabricated convention, the transgression of which nevertheless exacts a terrible price. Jim fails both as dutiful, self-abnegating seaman and as charismatic leader able to bring reason and order to a primitive society. The "criminality" of both systems - the one imperial and the other colonial as Arendt describes them - does not mitigate Jim's guilt. Eagleton writes: "Faith, work


Lord Jim

and duty must not be allowed to yield to scepticism if the supreme fiction of social order is to be sustained ... The need for value, and the recognition of its utter vacuity: it is here that the deepest contradiction of Conrad's enterprise, one integral to the imperialist ideology he shared, stands revealed."60 Marlow's endeavour to create a narrative that seeks shared meaning in Jim's private effort to redeem himself avows that every person has a dark side and is therefore his or her own secret sharer. Simultaneously, we are interconnected to such a degree that our actions and moral choices have unforeseen consequences. Grappling with the hair's breadth that separates convention and truth, sincerity and falsehood, Marlow nonetheless acknowledges the far-reaching implications of Jim's case: I was made to look at the convention that lurks in all truth and on the essential sincerity of falsehood. He appealed to all sides at once - to the side turned perpetually to the light of day, and to that side of us which, like the other hemisphere of the moon, exists stealthily in perpetual darkness, with only a fearful ashy light falling at times on the edge. He swayed me. I own to it, I own up. The occasion was obscure, insignificant - what you will: a lost youngster, one in a million - but then he was one of us; an incident as completely devoid of importance as the flooding of an ant-heap, and yet the mystery of his attitude got hold of me as though he had been an individual in the forefront of his kind, as if the obscure truth involved were momentous enough to affect mankind's conception of itself ... (75)

Brierly's suicide alone calls into question the ability of the imperialist system to withstand just one close scrutiny. Brierly's unassailable, unexamined self-confidence is shattered by the issues raised by a transgression in which he in no way participated. The moral order of his world, that of the merchant marine, is irremediably compromised by Jim's crime and by Jim's insistence that he be judged by absolute standards no longer tenable to the inquiring, sceptical mind. The reason for the intensity of Jim's impact on those around him is that, as Marlow repeatedly insists, he is "one of us." He is to all appearances a sound and ideal representative of the British merchant marine. His transgression could easily have been Marlow's or Brierly's own. There but for the grace of God go they: "I should be drawn into a fatal admission about myself which would have had some bearing on the case," Marlow admits. "I was not disposed to take any risk of that sort. Don't forget I had him before me, and really he was too much like one of us not to be dangerous" (85). Marlow later confesses that his interest in Jim's fate is born of the fact that Jim had

204 Solitude versus Solidarity

always "appeared to [him] symbolic" (201). If this be so then his fatal flaw must be shared by the system he represents. As in "Heart of Darkness," where the foundations of Western civilization must be upheld with a lie, in Lord Jim's story the world from which he hails gives way to a world, initially beyond the reach of Western civilization, which nonetheless yields, as if by magic, to its premises, only to be destroyed by an emissary representing its most debased and depraved elements: "But do you notice how, three hundred miles beyond the end of telegraph cables and mail-boat lines, the haggard utilitarian lies of our civilization wither and die, to be replaced by pure exercises of imagination, that have the futility, often the charm, and sometimes the deep hidden truthfulness, of works of art? Romance had singled Jim for its own - and that was the true part of the story, which otherwise was all wrong" (213). Jim's defiance of his fate - "and all assertion in this world of doubt is a defiance, is an insolence" (180), Marlow believes - collapses when the world he has fled pursues him to his retreat. Human beings can never truly escape their past. Jim's desertion of the Patna when it collides with a derelict is repeated in his failure to script a successful outcome to his battle of wills and words with Gentleman Brown. Marlow utters these ominous words while Jim is at the height of his success in the island realm of Patusan: "And besides, the last word is not said - probably shall never be said. Are not our lives too short for that full utterance which through all our stammerings is of course our only and abiding intention? I have given up expecting those last words, whose ring, if they could only be pronounced, would shake both heaven and earth. There is never time to say our last word - the last word of our love, of our desire, faith, remorse, submission, revolt. The heaven and the earth must not be shaken" (171-2). He follows with a diatribe against the starved imaginations of his listeners: "I do not mean to be offensive; it is respectable to have no illusions - and safe - and profitable — and dull" (172). Marlow is indeed to have more to say in the package he sends to the privileged reader. And yet even there the final word is not said, nor ever can be, even by the oracular Stein: "Who knows? He is gone, inscrutable at heart, and the poor girl is leading a sort of soundless, inert life in Stein's house. Stein has aged greatly of late. He feels it himself, and says often that he is 'preparing to leave all this; preparing to leave ...' while he waves his hand sadly at his butterflies" (313). In Conrad's anxiety to create a philosophical meditation involving the crucial issues of human solidarity in general and its manifestations in the imperialist system in particular, it is possible that he allows Marlow to make too much of the simple but serious trans-

2O5 Lord Jim

gression of a young, frightened sailor. The ponderous reflection that depends on the mystery of Jim's person and his crime is the result of an extraordinary, complex narrative procedure. Marlow buries in layer upon layer of enigma the logical consequence of Jim's failure: that the concept of social cohesion cannot withstand the challenge of the rugged individualist. Marlow's evasion of the truth revealed by Jim's betrayal constitutes a betrayal in and of itself. Marlow simultaneously pretends to know less than he does and reveals more than he can. He makes a mystery of the obvious - and, on occasion, sets himself up as spokesman for the values and ideals of a group to which he has pledged allegiance, as well as delving into areas of Jim's psyche to which he has no access. Marlow dodges the ramifications of Jim's crime while seeking for it, by his own admission, "some shadow of an excuse" (44). Conrad, then, in this novel, is negotiating an uneasy mimesis between these two forms of betrayal, making of Marlow's narrative a form of the evasion or betrayal that inspires it. For Marlow's narrative not only explores the valid epistemological issue of the limitations of human knowledge and judgment. As in "Heart of Darkness" where he lays the ghost of Kurtz with a lie, Marlow here clutches at the saving illusion that will spare his concept of social cohesion, the very notion of community. Like Kurtz, Jim is sacrificed to preserve the illusion. Marlow weaves an enigma surrounding the issue of Jim's guilt, when it is the insight concerning the criminality of society itself that alone matters. As Conrad wrote in a letter to Cunninghame Graham: "Le crime est une condition necessaire de 1'existence organise. La societe est essentiellement criminelle - ou elle n'existerait pas."



Nostromo: Conrad and Human Alienation

Conrad mirrors the alleged goal of imperialism - to construct moral order where chaos once reigned - in his attempt to formulate a narrative which, however tentatively, inches toward the possibility of finding meaning in the experiences of Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo, even as it evades the terrible but obvious implications of their crimes. The complexity of Conrad's narrative procedure is therefore an image of the evasion and betrayal that inspire it. The criminality of the system - be it colonialism, imperialism, or any other - does not mitigate the guilt of the individual, even though his challenge has revealed the utter vacuity of its foundations. In assuming responsibility for his actions, the subversive individual must accept his fate as a "solitary outlaw."1 Nostromo is set in a more fully integrated, mature imperialist system than are Conrad's Marlow tales, a system underpinned by a firm belief in capitalism as a stabilizing force. Nostromo explores the relationship between alienation and the privileging of "material interests." Karl Marx analyses the phenomenon of alienation from the vantage point of political theory and economics rather than from the sociological perspective of Weber and Mannheim. Marx locates the source of human alienation in the structure of capitalist social organization rather than in the nature of human consciousness. He views the state as a negation of the ideal of social cohesion, an abstraction poised against the individual, the product of alienation from labour, of self-estrangement, and of inevitable alienation from our fellow human beings in the capitalist system. For Marx, the disintegration of socially designated collective human activity into acts that are individual, disconnected, and atomized results in the impoverishment of the expressive capacity of the individual, and society as a whole. The opposition of individual to society is, however, artificial and unnec-



essary, the result of our alienation from our nature as a social animal. For it is only as a social being and not as a renegade individualist that we can truly express ourselves. Humanity is torn between its individualist strain and each person's universal need to be a member of a stable social and political community, a citizen. This conflict is resolved with the realization that a person's development as an individual entails commitment to the social contract. Nostromo bears out Marx's prediction that complex alignments of power and support will resolve themselves into a society simply structured of two opposed classes, the bourgeoisie ruling class who profit from the domination of foreign capital, and the proletariat, eternally exploited, but finally class-conscious and susceptible to socialist inspiration. It is Marx's goal to help the latter group realize its potential as a revolutionary force in the fight against human alienation. Despite the relevance of this material to Nostromo, it must be pointed out that Conrad does not share Marx's optimism regarding the potential redemption of humanity and society. Nostromo's first taste of alienation comes when he realizes he has been betrayed by the owners of the silver, and plots to steal the treasure. Prior to this he had been an unreflective being, unconscious of his exploitation, the relic of a pre-monetary world of glamour, adventure, independence, and unquestioning loyalty. Conversely, following the crime, Nostromo becomes a tormented fugitive, enslaved to the silver. His theft of the silver, considered superfluous by its owners, has been all along implicit in the incongruity between his anachronistic, fiercely individualistic persona and the world he inhabits, in which the insidious oppression of material interests demands the conformity and subservience of all and excludes all definitions of success other than those validated by the profit motive. Suicide is the ultimate act of self-alienation. The deaths of Brierly and Martin Decoud and (although not technically suicides) the deaths of Nostromo himself as well as Kurtz and Lord Jim can be understood as resulting from the rending asunder of a fully integrated being. In Conrad's novels, those who question the foundations of human societal existence find them ultimately lacking, and fall into despair that often results in suicide, or at least the willing relinquishment of life. The same is true of the title characters of the three Hardy novels examined, as well as Little Father Time. Only the mute and unreflective survive to inherit the earth. So, too, do those like Marlow who have glimpsed the abyss of solipsism, but willingly embrace "the sheltering conception of light and order" that is the legacy of the structures of human consciousness and human society. Thus the evolution of the faculty of self-reflection is in Conrad, as in Hardy, a

208 Solitude versus Solidarity

source of anguish. Marx recognizes this mixed blessing in his affirmation that the human species is the only one that makes of its own life the object of its will and reflection. Therein lies freedom and the potential for progress, but also the deadening consciousness of enslavement and alienation. Thence arises awareness of the distinction between inner reality and public facade - the Weberian conflict between what one is and what one does; and finally of the ephemeral frontier between fidelity and betrayal, truth and falsehood. Marx's analysis of atomization and alienation in modern society sheds further light on Conrad's scepticism concerning the validity of the precepts upon which civilization rests. Nostromo expresses Conrad's concern with human alienation in capitalist society, the conflicts created by the privileging of "material interests," and ultimately the disintegration of our essential being. The dichotomy experienced in extreme intensity by Kurtz and Jim, between spectacular individualism and the potential for social fulfilment, does not exist for Nostromo until after his commission of the crime. The Nostromo we initially meet is a fully integrated social being, whose individuality finds full expression in what Marx would term a "confirmation of social life." With the theft of the silver Nostromo becomes a divided and tormented man, and like Conrad's earlier heroes, conscious not only of his own criminality but also that society is the secret sharer in his guilt. His prelapsarian conception of his identity and his relation to society disintegrates. The irony that permeates these novels is that he who seeks hardest to attain true integrity succeeds in shattering the illusions of the humanly fabricated codes of conduct that uphold the notion of community. So fundamental are these laws to the workings of society that in breaking them the tragic hero destroys himself. He is labelled a criminal and finds himself an outcast. The criminality of society exposed by his act of betrayal does not, however, mitigate the guilt that the solitary outlaw must bear. Marx's insistence that capitalism is a revolutionary and anarchic rather than a stabilizing force is confirmed by Gould's intention to transform the existing social and political system of Costaguana, an intention that includes his support for the separatist revolution in Sulaco, so that "material interests" can be most effectively pursued, human and natural resources exploited to the optimum. But the pursuit of material interests is not conducive to the development and maintenance of social order and justice. Instead it establishes a rapacious and dehumanizing system, be it the jagged-edged colonialism depicted in "Heart of Darkness," the mature imperialism in Nostromo, or the global market economy of the modern world. Self-motivated vocations or acts of nobility, such as those initially performed by Nostromo, are all but extinguished by the incorporation of all aspects of



human talent and natural resources into the calculated cycles of production and profit. Even interpersonal relationships are recast as functions of the hierarchy of domination and oppression that capitalism establishes and makes seem universal, as the inviolate and permanent law of nature rather than an artificial construct of society at a specific stage of historical development. The pursuit of material interests is not founded on any moral principle, and becomes an end in itself, undermining individual and social integrity. Whereas Nostromo's work was initially a creative activity that constituted true liberty and permitted him to realize his potential as a social individual, his perception that he has been betrayed by those who control the interests of the mine inspires the crime that results in his activity setting its goals in opposition to his own, and hence his fall from grace, the disintegration of his being. The victim of the destruction of the creative process of human labour is not merely the individual, but the integrity of society as a whole. Decoud takes his own life when faced with the bleakness of life without conviction, in which the essence of a man is alienated from his vocation, from others, and ultimately from himself. Gould finds himself enslaved to the material interests that he had hoped would form the foundation of a rational social order, and to the historical forces that he believes unfettered production serves. His criminality is exposed by his support of the anarchic forces of the separatist revolution so that his expansionist interests can be secured through political control. In Nostromo, the society so tenuously held together by the bond of material interests finally disintegrates as the social contract is betrayed. The notion of community is shattered; only a parade of atomized, estranged individuals remains to wander through the final pages of the novel. Conrad admired as a civilizing force the British political theory of enlightened self-interest that creates a network of links between the pursuit of material progress and the attainment of the common weal, hence confirming the validity of the social contract. Yet this force is shown in his fiction to bear a fundamental affinity to rapacious systems of self-interest that tear asunder the very bonds of community and fellowship they are meant to confirm. The veneer of social and political stability presented by the foreign domination inherent in imperialism readily disappears to reveal a network of anarchic and destructive exploits that vindicate Marx's claim that capitalism is the most revolutionary and divisive of forces. Any stability introduced by the pursuit and exploitation of material interests is fragile and illusory, soon disintegrating into further oppression and chaos. Even Conrad, a renowned political conservative, writes this of capitalism in "Autocracy and War": "Democracy, which has elected to pin its faith to the supremacy of material interests, will

2io Solitude versus Solidarity have to fight their battles to the bitter end, on a mere pittance ... The true peace of the world ... will be built on less perishable foundations than material interests."2 In Lord Jim, Stein asserts that exclusive pursuit of either the ideal or the real is potentially deadly to the human community and the human spirit. The accuracy of this view is affirmed in Nostromo. Conrad treats the idealism of old Giorgio Viola and Don Jose Avellanos with an affection tinged with sadness, for both are indeed relics. Nostromo's idealism is viewed with irony; Gould's with contempt. For like the scepticism and ultimate despair of Decoud, unanchored, naive idealism results in the destruction of the individual and the collapse of the social contract in an act of violence and betrayal. Idealism, invariably incapable of being sustained by action, is transformed into despair, and scepticism is hollow. The only alternative to the pursuit of material interests - the development of a moral principle - is undermined by the very activity through which it is sought. Action may indeed be consolatory in that it creates the illusion that humanity can control personal fate and national destiny, but it invariably entails, as the works explored here attest, "the moral degradation of the idea." The three Conrad works examined share the theme of betrayal of group solidarity by one who is originally thought to be its ideal representative. The alienation of that man from his peers who remain constrained by the bonds of society, and ultimately the unravelling of his self-conception, result from his betrayal. Nostromo's setting in a fully integrated social system revealing imperialism in a developed, mature state, underpinned by firm belief in capitalism enables it to explore the relationship between alienation and the privileging of "material interests" acutely analysed by Marx. The examination of Nostromo is preceded by a discussion of alienation and its relation to capitalist social organization based on the writings of the most famous theoretician of capitalism and his disciple George Lukacs, who was also a student of Max Weber. Weber's analysis of capitalism is to some degree dependent upon his predecessor and compatriot, Karl Marx; his conclusions confirm many of Marx's worst fears. 1 THE A L I E N A T I O N OF L A B O U R

The philosophy of historical materialism for which Marx is famous locates the source of alienation in the structure of capitalist society rather than in the nature of human consciousness. The early Marx departed from the teachings of the master of German idealist philosophy, Hegel, in his identification of the state as the product of peo-

211 Nostromo

pie's alienation from one another in society. Alex Callinicos, in his study Marxism and Philosophy, writes: "Far from reconciling the competitive strife of civil society within its harmonious, rational unity, the State is an abstraction from civil society, the product of man's selfestrangement, his division between bourgeois, self-seeking individualist, and dtoyen, member of a political community."3 Marx's emphasis on the working class as a revolutionary force in the fight against alienation begins to be apparent in the Economic and Political Manuscripts of 1844, sometimes called the Paris Manuscripts, which were not, however, published until 1932. It may well be questioned how the work of a leftist political theorist and economist can be used as foundation for discussion of a novel in which, despite its political subject matter, members of the proletariat (the miners of the silver) are conspicuous by their absence. The answer is twofold. In the first place, the concept of alienation is very clearly illustrated in the interpersonal relations, and the essential loneliness, of many of the characters who represent and profit from the forces of imperialism and capitalism, as well as in the person of Nostromo himself, the foreman of the dock workers. Furthermore, the silver miners' and dock workers' lack of individualism is as strong a statement as any concerning the alienation of the worker and his status as a nonentity in the eye of the capitalist. They lack individual identity and citizenship in any meaningful or substantive definition of these terms. They are nameless, faceless, mute pawns in a development plan that depends upon their labour, but over which they have no control. It should be pointed out from the start that while the issues of alienation and the conflict between the individual and the citizen or societal man are common to Conrad and Marx, their thinking diverges radically at a particularly crucial juncture. Not only were their political ideologies antithetical, but Conrad's profound scepticism concerning any philosophy predicated upon a past or future essential harmony between humanity and cosmos undermines the hope so omnipresent in Marx's work for the universal embracing of a redemptive ideology - in this case communism. Idealists are invariably the targets of Conrad's irony, but also the objects of his affection, witness Don Jose Avellanos; the cynical, glib Martin Decoud fares much worse. Ultimately in Conrad, happiness is possible only for the dim, who do not question the basis of social existence. The Paris Manuscript egin with a discussion entitled "Alienated Labour": s


Using the very words of political economy we have demonstrated that the worker is degraded to the most miserable sort of commodity; that the misery

212 Solitude versus Solidarity of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and size of his production; that the necessary result of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands, and thus a more terrible restoration of monopoly; and that finally the distinction between capitalist and landlord, and that between peasant and industrial worker disappears and that the whole of society must fall apart into the two classes of the property owners and the propertyless workers.4

Nostromo can be examined as a novel of class conflict, for class revolutions have occurred in the past, documented in Don Jose Avellanos's history of Fifty Years of Misrule, and they appear on the horizon again at the end of the novel. The separatist revolution that occurs during the course of the narrative is the result of the capitalists' desire to separate the province of Sulaco, which contains the silver, from political convolutions of the Republic of Costaguana. In a version of the timeless edict to divide and conquer, a smaller political entity in which the desired riches are concentrated is easier for the foreign investors to dominate and control. Also germane to a discussion of alienation in modern society is Marx's concept of humanity as a species-being. Callinicos explains: "Species-being, the human essence, flowers fully only when man comes to realize intellectually and emotionally his unity with nature and with his fellow men ... It is man who is the culmination of history, his species-being fully developed, rendered explicit as consciousness of his humanity, and of his roots in nature."' To this essentially passive concept of Feuerbach's, Marx adds the importance of human labour, freely executed in accord with the developmental needs of the individual. This ideal form of labour assists Marx by revealing, in contrast, the poverty of labour as it exists in the modern capitalist state: The worker becomes poorer the richer is his production, the more it increases in power and scope. The worker becomes a commodity that is all the cheaper the more commodities he creates. The depreciation of the human world progresses in direct proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. Labour does not only produce commodities, it produces itself and the labourer as a commodity and that to the extent to which it produces commodities in general. What this fact expresses is merely this: the object that labour produces, its product, confronts it as an alien being, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labour is labour that has solidified itself into an object, made itself into a thing, the objectification of labour. The realization of labour is its objectification. In political economy this realization of labour appears as a loss of reality for the worker, objectification as a loss of the object or slavery to it, and appropriation as alienation, as externaliza-



tion... The appropriation of the object appears as alienation to such an extent that the more objects the worker produces, the less he can possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, capital.6

The privileging of material over human interests, the degradation of labour to an externalized product one sells rather than an inherent aspect of human creativity and self-expression, dehumanizes the individual and creates a permanent rift between what one is and what one does; between a fully integrated productive human being and one who must endure work that is in no way related to talent or vocation. Nostromo is praised by Captain Mitchell as an "invaluable fellow," "absolutely above reproach,"7 and yet is upbraided by Signora Teresa for his colourful lack of materialism, effectively for living imaginatively in a pre-monetary world of adventure, in which a "good name" (216) and a dashing persona suffice: "They have been paying you with words. Your folly shall betray you into poverty, misery, starvation" (216). When Nostromo realizes he has been betrayed by the owners of the silver into risking all to rescue something they do not care for, he decides to steal the treasure. Only at this moment, his first attempt to extract monetary payment for his loyalty, does Nostromo realize the effect of alienation in his life. These words, written by Marx, describe the state of Nostromo's being after the theft, although the inevitability of his downfall is implied all along by the illusory nature of the pride and independence that sustain him: "The externalization of the worker in his product implies not only that his labour becomes an object, an exterior existence but also that it exists outside him, independent and alien, and becomes a self-sufficient power opposite him, that the life that he has lent to the object affronts him, hostile and alien."8 Nostromo becomes enslaved to the silver that he has stolen and hidden on the Great Isabel. This enslavement is indirectly responsible for his actual death, and directly responsible for his spiritual and moral death: "The more the worker externalizes himself in his work, the more powerful becomes the alien, objective world that he creates opposite himself, the poorer he becomes himself in his inner life and the less he can call his own. It is just the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains in himself."9 From this point of view, Nostromo's belated materialism and Teresa's religiosity can be seen as parallel frames of mind that rob men and women of the potential to overcome alienation, and demand that we surrender to external forces real or imagined the fruit of our labour and credit for creative thinking and altruism.

214 Solitude versus Solidarity

Marx's concept of alienated labour is threefold. The first part concerns the alienation of the worker from his product: "He does not confirm himself in his work, he denies himself, feels miserable instead of happy, deploys no free physical and intellectual energy ... It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need but only a means to satisfy needs outside itself."10 The second concerns the self-alienation of the labourer: "This relationship is the relationship of the worker to his own activity as something that is alien and does not belong to him;... his personal life ... [is] an activity directed against himself."" Suicide is the ultimate act of self-alienation. This concept will be useful in discussing Martin Decoud's suicide and Nostromo's own death, which, while not a suicide, is nonetheless the result of his plan to "grow rich slowly" from the very silver that now appears to him an alien object that wields power over him. The third characteristic of alienated labour brings into play the concept of species-being. Humanity is the only species capable of rendering its own life the object of its will and reflection. Reason enables us to modify and appropriate nature, usually with devastating consequences, and to examine our life dispassionately as an object. Progress, in the traditional sense of unlimited, unsustainable development, depends upon this ability. Animals, tied to monotonous instinct, produce only what is necessary. Human production transcends merely meeting the requirements of physical needs. The positive ramifications of human labour are that our emotional and expressive needs are met. The negative ramifications are that overproduction leads to superfluous goods, capital, and sadly, superfluous human beings as well. Marx elaborates: The animal is immediately one with its vital activity. It is not distinct from it. They are identical. Man makes his vital activity itself into an object of his will and consciousness ... He is not immediately identical to any of his characterizations. Conscious vital activity differentiates man immediately from animal vital activity. It is this and this alone that makes man a species-being. He is only a conscious being, that is, his own life is an object to him, precisely because he is a species-being. This is the only reason for his activity being free activity. Alienated labour reverses the relationship so that, just because he is a conscious being, man makes his vital activity and essence a mere means to his existence.12

Marx writes that man "relates to himself as to a universal and therefore free being ... Man produces universally," he adds; "man produces freely from physical need and only truly produces when he is thus free."13 Alienated labour then transforms humanity's advanta-

215 Nostromo

geous ability to examine its image and creations into a disadvantage in that, torn asunder from human species life, free labour is degraded into a form of externally coerced labour, inverting the ideal relationship of the sustenance of basic physical existence as a means to the development of noble species life. In effect, the full development of human species life is demoted into a means of subsistence for the individual human life. This transformation finds a parallel in the Christian myth of the Fall. Alienated labour creates a society fragmented by an economic system that pits us against each other, against nature, and finally against ourselves. Marx posits a primitive, harmonic communism from which the world has fallen into its fragmented modern state. He predicts, in Hegelian dialectical fashion, a higher communism to which we, once fallen, and precisely because we have fallen, felix culpa, will aspire. Reflective self-understanding has for Marx, as for Darwin, both positive and painful elements. It arises from progress already achieved and it both makes possible and guides further progress. It is, however, the result of the fragmented nature of the world, and the human cognitive faculty which reveals humanity and the world to be in a fallen state. Conrad too perceives the human faculty of self-consciousness as responsible for the tragedy of the human condition. In a letter to Cunninghame Graham, he writes: "What makes mankind tragic is not that they are the victims of nature, it is that they are conscious of it. To be part of the animal kingdom under the conditions of this earth is very well - but as soon as you know of your slavery the pain, the anger, the strife - the tragedy begins. We can't return to nature, since we can't change our place in it."14 "By being conscious at all," Whiteley explicates, "the mind grounds itself in the source of its destruction, and by being conscious of the threat, the mind aggravates its problem ... In Conrad's fiction, work viewed from the outside reveals a slavery that the mind caught in the task takes as freedom itself."^ Signora Teresa's diagnosis of Nostromo, the adventurer who oozes glamour from every pore, as in fact an unpaid labourer, a slave, confirms that he who considers his dedicated work a free and fulfilling expression of his personality and talent is in fact the most ruthlessly exploited. And, in another apparent paradox, no one is more enslaved than he who believes himself free of all illusions concerning engagement and commitment: Martin Decoud. His suicide will be examined from three angles, all of which ultimately support the view that scepticism is the most enslaving mentality of all. Marx's tripartite concept of alienated labour culminates in a fourth aspect that represents the cumulative effect of the first three. It is the

216 Solitude versus Solidarity

alienation of one person from another: "When a man is opposed to himself, it is another man that is opposed to him ... If he relates to his own activity as to something unfree, it is a relationship to an activity that is under the domination, oppression, and yoke of another man."16 The person who comes to dominate the labourer, product, and the act of production is precisely the one who does not produce. Marx describes the capitalist as "the master of the labour" and concludes that the possession of the capitalist, private property, "is thus the product, result, and necessary consequence of externalized labour, of the exterior relationship of the worker to nature and to himself."17 Private property is not then, in Marx's view, the basis for externalized labour, as claimed by classical political economy, but rather the consequence of it. For Marx, the disintegration of the social collectivist form of activity into acts that are individual, unconnected, and atomized is a demotion. The world becomes progressively impoverished from the expressive point of view. Alienation is produced by the movement from collective human action to individual perception of the free-enterprise market system as a means of personal survival. The environment, too, becomes an externalized entity that we can only reappropriate as an individual means of survival. What is lost is the world that humanity has created as expressive beings. It is objectified and reappropriated bit by bit as property. To understand this statement we must bear in mind, as Callinicos reminds us, that Marx rejected purely empirical epistemology in favour of the following view, associated with Hegel and Romantic idealist philosophy in general: "Even the most immediate sense-experience is mediated, is inextricably bound up with universal concepts, and therefore has arisen from an interaction of subject and object... Marx now attributed the power of activity shaping the material world [mediation] to human social practice, to labour."18 The condition for recapturing our harmony with our labour, our species life, ourselves, and our fellows is the reintroduction of socially designated action. The second of the 1.844 Manuscripts, "Private Property and Communism," focuses on overcoming self-alienation. This work advances a teleological view of history that adopts the structure of the Hegelian dialectic, as Callinicos succinctly captures: "The subject can only become conscious of itself after a period of internal division, in which its powers are developed in the form of alien objects; alienation is transcended when the subject recognizes these objects as its own and resumes them back into itself, enriched by the diversity it created when estranged from itself."19 The rebirth scene in the third section of Nostromo affords readers their final glimpse of the unreflective, instinctual man who thrives on

217 Nostromo

"splendour and publicity" (341). We witness the birth of Nostromo, following his purloining of the treasure and his swim back to Sulaco, as a man of private cares and torments, one who must for the first time differentiate between inner reality and public facade: "Nostromo woke up from a fourteen-hours' sleep, and arose full-length from his lair in the long grass. He stood knee deep amongst the whispering undulations of the green blades with the lost air of a man just born into the world. Handsome, robust, and supple, he threw back his head, flung his arms open, and stretched himself with a slow twist of the waist and a leisurely growling yawn of white teeth, as natural and free from evil in the moment of waking as a magnificent and unconscious wild beast. Then, in the suddenly steadied glance fixed upon nothing from under a thoughtful frown, appeared the man" (340). Nostromo's lack of self-reflection ends with the commission of the crime. He arises "full length from his lair," the resting place of beasts, with feline grace and suppleness. The garden into which he awakens is as yet untamed: the grass is long, unkempt, and undulates gently with the wind. This moment of birth is precisely and ironically his final moment of unreflective freedom from the knowledge of good and evil. It is also the last time that nature will appear to Nostromo in this aspect. Lurking beneath and preparing to cast aside the visage of the magnificent beast appears the self-conscious "thoughtful frown" on the face of the man. The dichotomy in Nostromo's being that this evocative passage reveals is reflected in the aspect of nature itself: "Tints of purple, gold and crimson were mirrored in the clear water of the harbour ... while beyond the Placid Gulf repeated those splendours of colouring on a greater scale and with a more sombre magnificence" (340). The colours purple, gold, and crimson, apart from the exotic splendour of this sunset sky, are associated in traditional symbolism with the sun, royalty, divinity. The crimson, however, assumes its association with blood and violence; the purple is transformed into an ominous purple-black; the gold disappears into darkness, and the calm of the Golfo Placido is lost in this passionate foreboding: "The great mass of cloud filling the head of the gulf had long red smears amongst its convoluted folds of grey and black, as of a floating mantle stained with blood ... The glossy bands of water along the horizon gave out a fiery red glow, as if fire and water had been mingled together in the vast bed of the ocean. At last the conflagration of sea and sky, lying embraced and still in a flaming contact upon the edge of the world, went out. The red sparks in the water vanished together with the stains of blood in the black mantle draping the sombre head of the Placid Gulf" (340). The natural imagery is transformed from splendid

218 Solitude versus Solidarity

and alive to black and funerary, just as the life of the self-aggrandizing Capataz of the Sulaco Cargadores undergoes a metamorphosis from the "perfectly genuine" (341) public man with nothing to hide, a fully integrated being who feels no alienation between what he is and what he does, into a man possessed by treasure, requiring a shroud of darkness to carry out his covert activities in the name of material interest. The human capacity for self-consciousness is a source of pain and unhappiness. The Nostromo before the crime exists in a state of prelapsarian harmony with his environment, in which he is, as Marx said of the animal, "immediately one with [his] vital activity," requiring no more compensation than the praise and publicity that flow freely as the result of his deeds. With the advent of the crime and the birth of the tormented, self-aware man comes a sense of lack of reality, not unlike that experienced by Decoud before his suicide, surrounding all that had constituted the meaning of Nostromo's former life: "A transgression, a crime, entering a man's existence, eats it up like a malignant growth, consumes it like a fever. Nostromo had lost his peace; the genuineness of all his qualities was destroyed. He felt it himself, and often cursed the silver of San Tome. His courage, his magnificence, his leisure, his work, everything was as before, only everything was a sham. But the treasure was real. He clung to it with a more tenacious, mental grip. But he hated the feel of the ingots" (429). Nostromo feels humiliated by the stealth that his crime has imposed upon him. This is the curse laid on Nostromo by Signora Teresa for his refusal to summon a priest to her deathbed, and also by Decoud, whose decision to weigh his sinking body down with four silver ingots makes the return of the treasure impossible for Nostromo, who must be the perfect hero. Marx's belief in the realization of the creative and expressive potential of individual and community via humanity's vital activity finds no corollary in Conrad, for whom those who question the foundations of human societal existence find them ultimately lacking, and fall into despair. It is only the inarticulate and unreflective, mute men such as Singleton and MacWhirr, who successfully inherit the earth. The human faculty of self-consciousness is singularly destructive. Conrad probably never read Marx, and what follows is not a Marxist reading of Nostromo. My point is that Marx's insight concerning alienation in modern society can be used as intellectual foundation for, a means of coming to terms with, Conrad's concern with the alienation of one man from others in society, the divisions created by "material interests," and ultimately a man's alienation from his own essential being. Hence the importance of the scene of Nostromo's



rebirth, for it is here that Conrad encapsulates in one dramatic moment the tearing asunder of a socially integrated man, however spectacular and colourful his individual persona appeared, and the emergence of a fragmented, tortured individual. It is precisely this process of disintegration that Marx breaks down into its constituent stages and proceeds to analyse. In the following paragraph Callinicos summarizes Marx's views on the ideal self-fulfilling nature of human labour, its estrangement in existing forms of society, and its potential restoration in an ideal form of communism: This conception of human nature as constituted by an active, redirective, transformative relationship to nature through the labour-process is fundamental to Marxist thought ... and [to] his vision of a society in which such self-realization would be possible. Marx discovered this striving towards an integrated, many-sided, dynamic humanity in European literature, in Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Cervantes; like Schiller, Goethe, Hegel, and Heine he attacked the sundered, split mankind of modern Western civilization. He relocated this humanist tradition within a materialist theory of history starting from the labour-process. Much of the Manuscripts is devoted to re-interpreting the notion of self-estrangement in the light of this theory.20

It is this Promethean aspect of Marxist philosophy that Conrad does not share. In the discussion of "Heart of Darkness" I proposed that Kurtz can be thought of as representing the final stand of spectacular if isolated individualism in the face of an increasing tendency toward conformity, systematization, devotion to duty, and specialization. The intellectual foundation was Weber's theory of charisma and its routinization. It is now apparent that the opposition of the individual to society is itself artificial, the result of the individual's alienation from his nature as social being: "It is above all necessary to avoid restoring society as a fixed abstraction opposed to the individual," Marx writes in the second 1844 Manuscript. "The individual is the social being. Therefore, even when the manifestation of his life does not take the form of a communal manifestation performed in the company of other men, it is still a manifestation and confirmation of social life ... However much he is a particular individual (and it is precisely his particularity that makes him an individual and a truly individual communal being) man is just as much the totality, the ideal totality, the subjective existence of society as something thought and felt."21 Thus the fact that the histories of Kurtz and Lord Jim occur in exotic but isolated obscurity, whereas Nostromo, the man of the people,

22O Solitude versus Solidarity

is an active and esteemed social being in Sulaco, does not mean that these are fundamentally opposed situations. Instead the opposite is true. The fact that Nostromo's individuality finds its full expression as a "confirmation of social life" means that the dichotomy, experienced in extreme intensity by Kurtz and Lord Jim, between personal identity and the potential for social fulfilment does not initially exist for Nostromo. In him we find an integrated being, as we do not in Conrad's two earlier heroes. The narrative structure that juxtaposes the flamboyant individualism of Kurtz and Jim to the collectivist ethic of devotion to duty espoused by Marlow is no longer required to tell Nostromo's story, for Nostromo's character initially embodies an ideal integration of individual and social development. Hence Conrad feels free to abandon the device of Marlow as embedded narrator. In Nostromo, he adopts a complex, multiple-perspective mode of narration that is equally revolutionary and modern, and allows for even greater flexibility and the potential inclusion of many points of view. Significantly, it simultaneously affords him the opportunity to be selective and to exclude certain voices. Marlow is more appropriate to deal with an individual, however divided, consciousness. His scope is not broad enough to encompass the structural and thematic transformations that occur between Lord Jim and Nostromo. Fredric Jameson describes "analogous materials" written by Conrad between 1900 and 1904 as "utterly metamorphosed when they are wrenched from the realm and categories of the individual subject to the new perspective of those of collective destiny."22 After 1844, Marx repudiated the use of relatively abstract concepts such as species-being and human essence. He does not pursue his metaphysical theory of human nature incorporated into a teleological philosophy of history to explain historical development, in which history is defined as the self-realization of humanity. Marx's philosophy of historical materialism assumes primacy over the more humanistic tendency of the 1844 Manuscripts. Notions such as human essence and alienation re-emerge in the mature economic writings, Grundrisse and Capital. But concepts of modes and relations of production now assume the burden of the historical explanatory role. Alienation is relegated to symptom rather than cause of the social ills that Marx describes in his analysis of capitalist social formations. The Grundrisse (1857-58), was, like the Paris Manuscripts, unpublished in Marx's lifetime, not appearing until 1941 and not readily available until 1953. It was to be a wide-ranging work, covering the six parts into which Marx intended to divide his study of "Economies," one of which (the only one completed) is the four-volume Capital In its broad scope, it incorporates themes from Marx's earlier works, and uses Hegel's dialectic



method to predict communism as the inevitable outcome of historical progress. My brief exploration of this work is limited to the lengthy "General Introduction," Marx's resumption of his theme of alienated labour, and the section entitled "Rise and Downfall of Capitalism." Marx remains firm in his conviction that it is only as a social being and not as a renegade individual that a person can truly express himor herself. It is in the context of our social relations that humanity must be examined. Marx pinpoints the notion of the individual, which was the subject of some nostalgia in eighteenth-century thought, most noticeably in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Contrat Social, as illusory, and nothing other than an extreme example of the very alienation that Marx has previously described as separating us from our essential being: It is only in the eighteenth century, in "civil society," that the different forms of social union confront the individual as a mere means to his private ends, as an external necessity. But the period in which this standpoint - that of the isolated individual - became prevalent is the very one in which the social relations of society (universal relations according to that standpoint) have reached the highest state of development. Man is in the most literal sense of the word a zoon politikon, not only a social animal, but an animal which can develop into an individual only in society. Production by isolated individuals outside society - something which might happen as an exception to a civilized man who by accident got into the wilderness and already potentially possessed within himself the forces of society - is as great an absurdity as the idea of the development of language without individuals living together and talking to one another.23

Production, therefore, cannot be spoken of without the implicit assumption that it is social individuals who produce within the conditions allowed by a given stage in social development: "All production is appropriation of nature by the individual within and through a definite form of society," Marx declares and continues, "every form of production creates its own legal relations, forms of government, etc."24 Charles Gould ventures into Costaguana with the intention of transforming the dormant silver mine, the possession of which has indirectly caused his father's death, into a profitable venture. Upon arrival he finds that the social conditions conducive to the mode of production he envisages are lacking. His initial insistence that the development of material interests will result in social justice is in reality merely a rationalization, or rather an inversion, of his true intention to reform the existing social order so that material interests can be most profitably pursued. This is evident in the inevitability of

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Gould's decision to band with the outlaw Hernandez against the Monterist uprising. The source of wealth in Nostromo is clearly not the mine itself but the activity of the people. This is a distinction Marx insists upon, and Gould's first task is to transform the political and social system of Costaguana to facilitate the optimal exploitation of human and natural resources. The separatist revolution, with its aim of clearing the way for the unfettered production of wealth and the domination by American foreign interests, is very much in keeping with Marx's view of modern bourgeois society as possessing power in proportion to its wealth, and aiming to produce wealth solely for the purposes of the state. "Capital itself ... is the basis of bourgeois society." This remark, from the opening of the chapter entitled "The Rise and Downfall of Capitalism" in the Grundrisse, is the prelude to a discussion of capital as a force that becomes an end in itself: "Note that money becomes an end instead of a means and that capital, as the superior form of mediation, everywhere establishes the inferior form, labour, simply as a source of surplus value."25 The history of Costaguana, with its seemingly endless upheavals and its inability to attain social order, is made to appear ridiculous in the face of Gould's introduction of capitalism as a stabilizing force. Yet Marx considered capitalism not a stabilizing force but a revolutionary one, which leaves unincorporated into its cycles no aspect of objective nature or human talent. The following passage is crucial to an understanding of Marx's insight that the apparent stabilizing or civilizing force of capitalism is illusory. The social order that it establishes is just as barbaric, and even more self-serving and dehumanizing, than any order that may have preceded it. It extinguishes any noble self-motivated acts or vocations, such as those demonstrated by Nostromo when we first meet him, by incorporating them into its "cycle of social production and exchange." It appropriates nature as a means of survival, and recasts all interpersonal relationships into a function of the relation of domination and oppression that it establishes as universal. Its "civilizing influence," if more systematically organized, is at bottom as illusory as that introduced to the Congo by Belgian colonialism, for example, and ultimately as destructive: Thus on the one hand production which is founded on capital creates universal industry - i.e. surplus labour, value-producing labour; on the other hand it creates a system of general exploitation of natural human attributes, a system of general profitability, whose vehicles seem to be just as much science as all the physical and intellectual characteristics. There is nothing which can escape, by its own elevated nature or self-justifying characteristics, from this cycle of social production and exchange. Thus capital first creates



bourgeois society and the universal appropriation of nature and of social relationships themselves by the members of society. Hence the great civilizing influence of capital, its production of a stage of society compared with which all earlier stages appear to be merely local progress and idolatry of nature. Nature becomes for the first time simply an object for mankind, purely a matter of utility; it ceases to be recognized as a power in its own right; and the theoretical knowledge of its independent laws appears only as a stratagem designed to subdue it to human requirements, whether as the object of consumption or as the means of production. Pursuing this tendency, capital has pushed beyond national boundaries and prejudices, beyond the deification of nature and the inherited self-sufficient satisfaction of existing needs confined within well-defined bounds, and the reproduction of the traditional way of life. It is destructive of all this, and permanently revolutionary, tearing down all obstacles that impede the development of productive forces, the expansion of needs, the diversity of production and the exploitation and exchange of natural and intellectual forces.26

With the theft of the silver, Nostromo adheres to Teresa's advice to procure worldly payment for his labour and sacrifice. In doing so he loses his integrity, not only his incorruptible honesty but also the integrated nature of his being. Dr Monygham, following his encounter with the furtive Nostromo, tells Mrs Gould that the moral principle, what Marlow would refer to as the redeeming idea, simply does not underlie or survive capitalism, the pursuit of material interests: "'No!' interrupted the doctor. "There is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests. They have their law, and their justice. But it is founded on expediency, and is inhuman; it is without rectitude, without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle. Mrs. Gould, the time approaches when all that the Gould Concession stands for shall weigh as heavily upon the people as the barbarism, cruelty, and misrule of a few years back'" (419). That the principles underlying the Gould Concession differ only in appearance, not in essence, from the political and moral chaos of Costaguana's history will soon be apparent to all. The material interests set themselves up as an end and not as a means to social justice. They set "their law, and their justice" in opposition to social justice, undoing in their path the individual and social integrity of human beings. There is nothing, as Marx says, that can escape, not Charles Gould with his elevated motives for reopening the mine, or Nostromo's "elevated nature of self-justifying characteristics." The "great civilizing influence of capital" creates a social order no less idolatrous than what it supersedes. This is most dramatically revealed in "Heart of Darkness" when Kurtz sets himself as an idol to be bowed down

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to and worshipped by those to whom he is supposed to represent a beacon of enlightenment and progress. In Nostromo, too, the ultimate disintegration of the most promising individuals and the social order which the influence of the mine has created verifies Dr Monygham's interpretation that "the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle" are wanting. Reacting to the moral and political implications of Dr. Monygham's words, Suresh Raval writes: "Monygham here sunders morality from politics, from the context of struggles between those who possess property and power and those who are dispossessed and strive for equality and justice ... It is not a matter, however, of the helplessness of morality as such but, rather, a matter of the helplessness of a morality that remains cut off from the nexus of economic and political forces. Monygham's remark ... represents a firm metaphysical view of history and reality, one that is characteristic of Conrad's own attitude. Monygham holds his ethical stance in the teeth of his dark metaphysics, very much as Conrad himself often appears to balance his metaphysical pessimism with a commitment to moral values."27 This is not exceptional, given that every decision we make and every action we take has inherent moral and political implications. The Sulaco around which Captain Mitchell guides us at the end of the novel is a monument to the success of American imperialist intervention, and retains nothing of its own national heritage. Self-sufficiency, however inept, has been transformed into dependence on an imperialist force that Conrad early recognized as one of the most pervasive of the twentieth century, one that would push its interests "beyond national boundaries and prejudices" and establish smaller, previously sovereign countries in a relationship to itself characterized by dependency and oppression. Capitalism is unmasked as a "permanently revolutionary" destructive force that sacrifices all to the creation of artificial needs and the implementation of the productive forces required to fulfil these needs. In this tendency lies the seed of its self-destruction. Precisely because it is a force that rides juggernaut over boundaries that should impede its development, it allows opposing forces to reassert themselves: "Since any such limitation contradicts its vocation, capitalist production moves in contradictions which are constantly overcome, only to be, again, constantly reestablished. Still more so. The universality towards which it is perpetually driving finds limitations in its own nature, which at a certain stage of its development will make it appear as itself the greatest barrier to this tendency, leading thus to its own self-destruction."28 Marx isolates the tendency to overproduction as the fundamental contra-



diction of capitalism, for capital contains an inherent limitation to production that constrains the will of the capitalist to push beyond any production barrier. The superfluity of overproduction and the resultant depreciation in value is the principle that leads to Nostromo's conviction that he has been betrayed by the interests of the mine. The most desperate venture of his life, the rescue of the silver so that it does not fall into the hands of the Monterist forces, is from the point of view of its owners an insignificant event. They do not expect a successful result: "No one waited for him; no one thought of him; no one expected or wished his return. 'Betrayed! Betrayed!' he muttered to himself. No one cared. He might have been drowned by this time. No one would have cared - unless, perhaps, the children, he thought to himself. But they were with the English signora, and not thinking of him at all" (348). It is because of the cavalier attitude of the capitalists that Nostromo undertakes to steal the silver, to grow rich deservedly and at no one's loss or expense, since the treasure for which he has sacrificed a woman's paradisiacal afterlife and a man's earthly life is in any event superfluous, neither missed nor coveted. In the Grundrisse, Marx discusses the alienation of labour as the effect rather than one of the primary conditions of capitalist modes of production. Alienated labour appears objectified not only in the form of value, but of surplus value: Labour power ... comes out of this process not only no richer but actually poorer than when it entered it. For not only do the conditions of necessary labour that it has produced belong to capital; but also the possibility of creating values which is potentially present in labour power now likewise exists as surplus value, surplus product, in a word, as capital, as dominion over living labour power, as value endowed with its own strength and will as opposed to the abstract, purposeless, purely subjective poverty of labour power. Labour power has not only produced alien wealth and its own poverty, but also the relationship of this wealth ... to itself as poverty.29

Marx reiterates the distinction, developed in the 1844 Manuscripts, between ideal work as a creative activity that constitutes liberty and individual self-realization, and imposed labour, be it slave, bond, or wage labour, which is oppressive and which sets its goals in opposition to the personal goals of the labourer. True freedom does not consist of leisure but of labour in its ideal form, that is, labour that fulfils the needs of the individual. Labour concerned with material production can only be really free, in the sense that artistic and musical composition or scientific investigation is free and rewarding, if two con-

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ditions are met: It must be of a social nature and it must be "the activity of a subject controlling all the forces of nature in the production process."30 Nostromo's labour was free in the sense that it gave him satisfaction and self-realization as a social individual. His work was undervalued, free in the exploitative sense, however, in that the capitalist understood that he only had to pay Nostromo by feeding his pride. When Nostromo feels betrayed he is moved to accept Teresa's worldly advice to amass concrete pay for his efforts. At this moment his relationship to his occupation is transformed from one positively to one negatively defined: "Labour considered purely as a sacrifice and therefore establishing a value, labour as the price to be paid for things and thus giving them a price according as they cost more or less labour, is a purely negative definition."31 But Marx immediately points out that sacrifice is demanded not only of labourer but of capitalist as well: "The capitalist too is making a sacrifice, the sacrifice of abstinence, for, instead of directly consuming his produce, he is enriching himself."32 The idea that success is indicated not by the capitalist's indulgence in material luxuries but by his acquisition and management of them figures in Weber's analysis of "Protestant Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism." In this respect Charles Gould, with his austere self-discipline and reserve, can be seen as a perfect type of Weber's concept of modern man. Marx makes clear in "The Sale of Labour Power" in volume i (1865-66) of Capital that although the social formulae of capitalist modes of production "appear to the bourgeois intellect to be as much a self-evident necessity imposed by Nature as productive labour itself,"33 they are in fact an artificial construct of society, which is itself the product of a specific historical development. In the capitalist system, the worker is afflicted with a false or alien consciousness, generated by the system itself, which perceives the laws of society, the cycle of exploitation in which he is trapped, as the inviolate and permanent laws of nature. Marx's criticism of classical economics is that it operates under the atomized perception of the world that capitalist society generates. It is myopic - blinded by the very system it struggles to describe - and hence mistakenly assumes this system is universal and unchangeable. In former social organizations wherein people were controlled by external necessity, the power was open but mysterious, justified falsely in terms of religion. Now that it is secularized and demystified, the real power relations are invisible and hence seem inexorable. A new kind of necessity is conceived; dependence on God's will is replaced by dependence on machines, which the workers serve as



fuel. Nostalgia for the loss of social organizations that could be understood, however mistily, as divinely decreed in the face of control by forces unknown is nonetheless not easily justified in Marx's view. Concurrent with the revelation of theology as a projection of human powers that results from our transformation of the natural universe, the human being is demoted from the benefactor of production to its servant. The best aphoristic summary of the concept of alienated labour in capitalist society appears in the section of that title in Marx's Theories of Surplus Value (1862-63), which was published posthumously as the fourth volume of Capital: "Already in its simple form this relation is an inversion - personification of the thing and materialization of the person."34 This dispossession is undergone during the narrative sequence of Nostromo, wherein the silver treasure assumes a life of its own and control over Nostromo, who is subsequently diminished in stature to that of slave to material interests that are in any event surplus and superfluous. A brief look at Georg Lukacs's "Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat" precedes the examination of Nostromo. It should first be noted that when Lukacs's influential History of Class Consciousness appeared in 1923, neither the 1844 Manuscripts nor the Grundrisse had yet been published. Yet it is the theme of alienation introduced in the 1844 Manuscripts that Lukacs develops, positing the proletariat as the protagonist and bourgeois society as the antagonist in the struggle of historical development that reaches its fulfilment in the emancipation of the proletariat. Lukacs eschews the simple equation of alienation with objectification, which he considers a neutral concept, pointing out in his Preface to the 1967 edition: "Only when the objectified forms in society acquire functions that bring the essence of man into conflict with his existence, only when man's nature is subjugated, deformed and crippled can we speak of an objective societal condition of alienation and, as an inexorable consequence, of all the subjective marks of an internal alienation."35 This condition is a hallmark of capitalist society. My discussion of this important essay is confined to Lukacs's conception of alienation as it applies to human beings in modern capitalism, a society structured by commodity-exchange, in which all other forms of relations are subsumed within this dominant form. In the first section, entitled "The Phenomenon of Reification," Lukacs's insight concerning the alienation of the labourer from the activity of his labour as well as its product, the description of the laws governing the movement of commodities on the market confronting us "as invisible forces that generate their own power,"36 is essentially a repetition of Marx's views. He then sketches a brief history of

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development of manufacturing from the handicraft stage to its culmination in machine industry in terms that are strictly Weberian: "We can see a continuous trend towards greater rationalization, the progressive elimination of the qualitative, human and individual attributes of the worker. On the one hand, the process of labour is progressively broken down into abstract, rational, specialised operations so that the worker loses contact with the finished product... On the other hand, the period of time necessary for the work to be accomplished ... is converted ... to an objectively calculated work-stint that confirms the worker as a fixed and established reality."37 Idiosyncrasies and other hallmarks of individuality are ironed out as error. The creative process of human labour is split into its component elements and set up before the labourer as an a priori law of production. The victim is not merely the individual worker, however, but necessarily the integrity of society as a whole: "The mechanical disintegration of the process of production into its components also destroys those bonds that had bound individuals to a community in the days when production was still 'organic'... The fate of the worker becomes the fate of society as a whole."38 Lukacs quotes Weber's views on the rise of the bureaucratic state as a precondition of, and the rational organization of work as specific to, modern capitalism. Bureaucracy involves the formal standardization of all aspects of societal life with its resulting separation of office from incumbent, of formal duties from the needs and capacities of the individual. Hence the reified consciousness is not merely the domain of the worker but of all the cogs of capitalist society, kept ever more remote from an integrated and complete process of production. Lukacs makes it clear, in the third section of his essay, that the position of the worker is unique in allowing him to penetrate the illusions of capitalism and develop a revolutionary consciousness, whereas for instance the bureaucrat "is turned into a commodity, mechanised and reified in the only faculties that might enable him to rebel against reification."3^ With the facade of mental labour, responsibility, and upward mobility that are the hallmarks of bureaucracy, the bureaucrat is unlikely to perceive the alienation which he suffers as such. "The journalist's 'lack of convictions/ the prostitution of his experiences and beliefs is comprehensible only as the apogee of capitalist reification."40 Lukacs's choice of journalism with its alleged objectivity is interesting, given Decoud's ambivalence toward his chosen profession. The cynical Costaguanian expatriate intellectual finds that the detachment he affects toward his native land is not so easy to maintain when he is confronted with the reality of revolution and his passion for Antonia: "To contemplate revolutions from the distance



of Parisian Boulevards was quite another matter. Here on the spot it was not possible to dismiss their tragic comedy with the expression, 'Quelle farce!'" (153). This young dilettante is anxious to project the image of a sophisticated and jaded cynic, but he does so at tremendous cost: "He had pushed the habit of universal raillery to a point where it blinded him to the genuine impulse of his own nature" (135). Recruited by Don Jose Avellanos to "take the direction of a newspaper that would voice the aspirations of the province" (139) and help stay the Monterist uprising, Decoud engages himself in his role as "Journalist of Sulaco" (139), yet never abandons his sceptical detachment from the events in which his life is enmeshed: "Martin Decoud ... imagined himself to derive an artistic pleasure from watching the picturesque extreme of wrong-headedness into which an honest, almost sacred, conviction may drive a man" (173). But if holding convictions is "self-destructive" (173), as Decoud maintains, it is also true that their absence leaves a man no anchor with which to sustain the illusion Nietzsche recognized as dangerous but necessary - the illusion that life has purpose. It is Marlow's devotion to duty, his work ethic, that sustains him during the journey in which he glimpses the darkness of the human heart and human civilization. But without these sustaining illusions, Decoud perishes by taking his own life when faced with a vision of the bleakness of life without conviction. This existential anguish is spared those whose intellects are not so penetrating as Decoud's, who do not perceive the modern experience of the estrangement of man from his duty: "The young apostle of Separation had died striving for his idea by an everlamented accident. But the truth was that he died from solitude, the enemy known but to few on this earth, and whom only the simplest of us are fit to withstand. The brilliant Costaguanero of the boulevards had died from solitude and want of faith in himself and others" (408). Suicide is the ultimate expression of our alienation from our work, from others, and finally from ourselves. Decoud's sharp intellect penetrates the "sustaining illusions" upon which the institutions of society and the activity they engender are founded, and he is left with nothing. Lukacs goes on to say that it is during periods of crisis that the purely formal nature of the laws which penetrate humanity's psyche and bind society together is revealed as precisely that - and hence artificial: This incoherence becomes particularly egregious in periods of crisis. At such times we can see how the immediate continuity between two partial systems is disrupted and their independence from and adventitious connection with

230 Solitude versus Solidarity each other is suddenly forced into the consciousness of everyone. It is for this reason that Engels is able to define the "natural laws" of capitalist society as the laws of chance ... So that the pretence that society is regulated by "eternal, iron" laws which branch off into the different special laws applying to particular areas is finally revealed for what it is: a pretence.41

The philosophy of Marx and Engels is noted for penetrating the illusion of the so-called "natural laws" that lie at the heart of capitalist society, and revealing them as merely the self-serving constructs of the bourgeois who control the interests of capitalist economy. Both Hardy and Conrad reveal many of the laws that govern society to be not only illusory but dangerous. Tess may not meet Angel's narrowly defined concept of purity, and he realizes too late that the innocence she embodies is of a higher order, for she retains it in her spirit despite the experiences she has undergone. Jude and Sue's experiment with a life unfettered by written contracts is destroyed by Sue's panicked and self-flagellatory reversion to those social laws she had previously scoffed. Kurtz's betrayal of the codes of Western civilization exposes their hollowness, and specifically reveals colonialism as a legalized system of theft and rapacity operating in the guise of progress and enlightenment. The pursuit of material interests that is meant to bring social order and prosperity to Sulaco must be buttressed by support for chaos and revolution. The betrayal of Nostromo by the proprietors of the silver mine reveals that the high ideals of this pursuit are readily abandoned in the interest of expediency. Both novelists reveal as arbitrary and illusory the foundations of society. The irony that runs through these novels is that he who seeks hardest to attain true integrity unwittingly succeeds in shattering some precious illusion upon which society depends. He is deemed guilty of betrayal and labelled a criminal. In section 2, "The Antinomies of Bourgeois Thought," Lukacs makes clear the irrationalism underlying the capitalist system in its entirety, despite strict adherence to laws that regulate its separate functions. He refers specifically to its dehumanizing division of labour: "On the one hand, it acquires increasing control over the details of its social existence, subjecting them to its needs. On the other hand it loses - likewise progressively - the possibility of gaining intellectual control of society as a whole and with that it loses its own qualifications for leadership."42 Hence Lukacs confirms Marx's prediction that the fall of capitalism is made inevitable by strains within the system itself. Lukacs juxtaposes the primary laws of nature to the secondary, "modern rationalist formal systems" that we have created:

231 Nostromo

The conflict between their nature as systems created by "us" and their fatalistic necessity distant from and alien to man is nothing but the logical and systematic formulation of the modern state of society. For, on the one hand, men are constantly smashing, replacing and leaving behind them the "natural," irrational and actually existing bonds, while, on the other hand, they erect around themselves in the reality they have created and "made," a kind of second nature which evolves with exactly the same inexorable necessity as was the case earlier on with the irrational forces of nature.43

Having appropriated nature to within the realm of human control, then, we eradicate the transcendent realm that had formerly given rise to faith in mythological and religious systems. It is precisely these secondary laws, governing societal development and human behaviour, that Conrad is at pains to reveal as fragile, artificial, and temporary rather than universal, necessary, and immutable. Hence the colonial system, the code of the merchant marine, and the more fully developed capitalist imperialist system come under his purview. In their act of betrayal, Conrad's heroes reveal humanly fabricated codes of conduct to be arbitrary and illusory, but also necessary for the smooth functioning of society. These acts of betrayal are committed in a world wherein human relations are increasingly subject to social laws that result in our reification or estrangement from others and from ourselves. The laws upon which society is founded appear natural only to those immersed within that society, and those who stand to benefit from the status quo. The criminality of Conrad's iconoclastic heroes results from their perception of these laws as artificial; however, they are so fundamental to the workings of society that in breaking them the heroes destroy themselves. Lukacs's analysis of the modern individual pitted against society sheds light on the Conradian hero, whether his activity manifests itself as renegade and antisocial, or whether, like Nostromo, he initially finds fulfilment functioning within society: "We observe, firstly, that following on the development of bourgeois society all social problems cease to transcend man and appear as the products of human activity ... Secondly, it becomes evident that the man who now emerges must be the individual egoistic bourgeois isolated artificially by capitalism and that his consciousness ... is an individual isolated consciousness a la Robinson Crusoe. But, thirdly, it is this that robs social action of its character as action."44 This seems to contradict the argument that Conrad's heroes appear as the final stand of spectacular isolated individualism in face of increasing bureaucracy and systematization. But Lukacs is arguing that rational systematization produces an individual divided against

232 Solitude versus Solidarity society in a different sense - in the sense that the product of his activity appears an objective entity alien to himself; that he is at the mercy of laws of production that he must exploit to fulfil his individual needs. It is within this pattern of humanity's alienation from our activity and our eventual submission, in order to survive, to laws of production that seem necessary but in fact are not that the events of Nostromo take place. Goethe writes: "Everything which man undertakes to perform, whether by word or deed, must be the product of all his abilities acting in concert; everything isolated is reprehensible."45 When Nostromo, once a contented man who knew no distinction between his individual and his social being, awakens from his sleep following the desperate affair of the silver, he discovers in himself a tormented and alienated man. Jameson is very helpful in reconciling the thought of Weber and Marx, and in establishing clearly why the notion of value becomes problematic and even paradoxical in modern capitalist society: In Weber's scheme of things, all social institutions describe a fatal trajectory from the traditional to the rationalized, passing through a crucial transitional stage which is the moment - the vanishing mediation - of so-called charisma ... For Weber, the charismatic moment amounts to a kind of myth of meaning, a myth of the value of this or that activity, which is briefly sustained by the personal power and authority of the charismatic figure, generally a prophet. But this moment tends to give way at once to a system in which all activities are ruthlessly rationalized and restructured ... The moment of rationalization, then, is Weber's equivalent of Marx's notion of the universalization of equivalent labor-power, or the commodification of all labor; yet if we see the latter subterranean infrastructural process as the objective precondition for the former developments in the relations of production and throughout the superstructure there need be no particular inconsistency between the two accounts. What we are here concerned to stress is the paradox of the very notion of value itself, which becomes visible as abstraction and as a strange afterimage on the retina, only at the moment in which it has ceased to exist as such ... Thus, the study of value, the very idea of value, comes into being at the moment of its own disappearance and of the virtual obliteration of all value by a universal process of instrumentalization: which is to say that - as again in the emblematic case of Nietzsche - the study of value is at one with nihilism, or the experience of its absence ... We must ponder the anomaly that it is only in the most completely humanized environment, the one most fully and obviously the end product of human labor, production, and transformation, that life becomes meaningless, and that existential despair first appears as such in direct proportion to the elimination of nature, the non- or antihu-



man, to the increasing rollback of everything that threatens human life and the prospect of a well-nigh limitless control over the external universe. The most interesting artists and thinkers of such a period are those who cling to the experience of meaninglessness itself as to some ultimate reality, some ultimate bedrock of existence... In Conrad ... owing to the coexistence of capitalism and precapitalist social forms on the imperialist periphery, the term value is still able to have genuine social and historical substance; it marks communities and ways of life which still, for another moment yet, exist.46

Meaninglessness is therefore, as Tillich maintains, a valid theme. This opposition between activity and value expresses, under these conditions, "a concrete social contradiction."47 Despite Decoud's protestations of utter scepticism, the juxtaposition and possibility of the ultimate synthesis of activity and value should be borne in mind while pondering his suicide, when he is faced with utter solitude against the immense undifferentiated backdrop of unappropriated nature. It should also enlighten the perplexed reader about the coexistence of cynicism and idealism in the tortured body and soul of Dr Monygham.

2 NOSTROMO: BETRAYAL OF THE IMPERIALIST IDEA ^ "The Seduction of an Idea" Throughout the first section of Nostromo, the silver of the mine is associated with the development and maintenance of social order and stability. Yet, ultimately, capitalism is unmasked as an anarchic force. The "material interests" that underlie the intrusion of imperialist forces in Sulaco, like the "idea at the back of" the colonizing enterprise unleashed in the Belgian Congo, are found not to be means to an end, as Gould and Holroyd imagine, but an end in themselves: "The material interests will not let you jeopardize their development for a mere idea of pity and justice," points out the cynical Dr Monygham near the end of the novel (418). In a passage reminiscent of the transformation of the redeeming idea behind colonialism into an idol, "something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to" ("Heart of Darkness," 32) Mrs Gould mourns the loss of her husband to his obsession with his hollow idea of progress: Incorrigible in his devotion to the great silver mine was the Senor Administrador! Incorrigible in his hard, determined service of the material interests to which he had pinned his faith in the triumph of order and justice... He was

234 Solitude versus Solidarity perfect - perfect. What more could she have expected? It was a colossal and lasting success, and love was only a short moment of forgetfulness, a short intoxication, whose delight one remembered with a sense of sadness, as if it had been a deep grief lived through. There was something inherent in the necessities of successful action which carried with it the moral degradation of the idea. (427)

Charles Gould appears, at first, the very type described by Weber in "Protestant Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism," not only in his association of the pursuit of material interests with the development of rational social order, but in his final enslavement to these very interests, which ultimately assert themselves as an end. These are Weber's words of warning at the conclusion of his essay: "For when asceticism was transferred from the monastic cell to the life of the calling and moral concern with this world began to predominate, this helped to create that powerful modern economic world, bound to the technical and economic conditions of mechanical production... Because asceticism undertook to rebuild the world and to express itself in the world, the external goods of this world have acquired an increasing and ultimately inescapable power over men, such as they have never had before in history."48 Weber's words apply equally to American imperialist and investor Holroyd, whose heredity, like Kurtz's, is a mosaic of Western European democracies. Conrad's portrait of the aptly named Holroyd captures the American ethos, which intermingles financial conquest with the propagation of the Protestant faith and work ethic. Mrs Gould grasps the underlying irrationality of Holroyd's matter-of-fact statement of American manifest destiny: "It seemed to me that he looked upon his own God as a sort of influential partner, who gets his share of profits in the endowment of churches. That's a sort of idolatry ... A poor Chulo who offers a little silver arm or leg to thank his god for a cure is as rational and more touching" (70). In his analysis of "The Fetishism of Commodities" in the first volume of Capital, Marx deconstructs the haloes constructed by the bourgeoisie to replace those ideals they have dismantled, including the notion that social relations among people in market societies are objective and static rather than intersubjective and dynamic. Conrad adopts the image of the fetish to convey how the silver appears to Mrs Gould when she realizes she has lost not only her husband but their youthful ideals of capitalism as the key to stability and social justice. This altruism has degenerated into Gould's obsession with possessing the hard, cold object for its own sake. This metamorphosis inevitably entails "the moral degradation of the idea" (427).



Mrs Gould observes a double process of reversal: the personification of the thing and the materialization of both the ideal and the man. The subsequent tyranny of capitalist modes of production ensures that the silver no longer paves the way to a Utopia destination, but becomes a fetish that is the object of her husband's obsession. She stands helplessly by as her marriage, and the shared ideals with which the young couple had set off for Sulaco, disintegrate into separate pursuits that seem a mere shadow of their original aspirations: "It had been an idea. She had watched it with misgivings turning into a fetish, and now the fetish had grown into a monstrous and crushing weight. It was as if the inspiration of their early years had left her heart to turn into a wall of silver-bricks, erected by the silent work of evil spirits, between her and her husband. He seemed to dwell alone within a circumvallation of precious metal, leaving her outside with her school, her hospital, the sick mothers, and the feeble old men, mere insignificant vestiges of the initial inspiration" (190). The initial inspiration is best expressed by Gould speaking to his wife very soon after their arrival in Costaguana: "'What is wanted here is law, good faith, order, security. Anyone can declaim about these things, but I pin my faith to material interests. Only let the material interests once get a firm footing, and they are bound to impose the conditions on which alone they can continue to exist. That's how your money-making is justified here in the face of lawlessness and disorder. It is justified because the security which it demands must be shared with an oppressed people. A better justice will come afterwards. That's your ray of hope'" (81). It is difficult to say whether this is self-deception or simply justification. It is, however, necessary for Gould to believe in its truth, not only to disobey his dead father's injunction never to return to Costaguana, but to return with the express purpose of revenging his father's death by transforming the mine from a source of moral chaos into one of moral order: "It was imperative sometimes to know how to disobey the solemn wishes of the dead. He resolved firmly to make his disobedience as thorough (by way of atonement) as it well could be. The mine had been the cause of an absurd moral disaster; its working must be made a serious and moral success" (66). This initial inspiration disintegrates into what Marx called "the fetishism of commodities"; concurrent with it is the disintegration of the unity of man and woman, as the one bows to the material interests that were meant to serve the community, while the other attends to philanthropic causes whose very urgency attests to the failure of the original plan. Conrad gives much attention to the activity that is meant to redeem the sorry state of Costaguana. The idealism of Gould's faith

236 Solitude versus Solidarity

in material interests is undercut even as it is announced, for the illusory nature of activity itself is openly acknowledged: "His [Gould's late father's] breathing image was no longer in his power. This consideration, closely affecting his own identity, filled his breast with a mournful and angry desire for action. In this his instinct was unerring. Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions. Only in the conduct of our action can we find a sense of mastery over the Fates" (66). The insight concerning the illusory nature of activity belongs to the narrator and not to Gould. In fact, Whiteley attributes to Conrad a profound pessimism concerning the mind's impotence to transform reality: "Any sense of the mind's powers in Conrad is only an illusion."& The narrator's irony is at Gould's expense, for he is motivated by an unexamined instinct and a desire to transform the meaningless death of his father into a meaningful venture: "The very prohibition imposed the necessity of success. It was as if they had been morally bound to make good their vigorous view of life against the unnatural error of weariness and despair. If the idea of wealth was present to them it was only so far as it was bound with that other success" (73). Martin Decoud, the fashionable cynic who has spent much time in continental Europe, identifies Gould's idealism as a national characteristic of the English: "He cannot act or exist without idealizing every simple feeling, desire, or achievement. He could not believe his own motives if he did not make them first a part of some fairy tale. The earth is not quite good enough for him, I fear" (184). Not only Gould's misty form of idealism but Decoud's harsh and somewhat affected scepticism is subject to the narrator's implicit and explicit criticism. Gould's intervention in the politics of Costaguana, which takes the form of his covert financial support of Ribiera and his complicity with the bandit Hernandez, affords him the illusion of being an agent of history. The narrative voice and the novel's critics have judged Hernandez very harshly. Eloise Knapp Hay is somewhat more gentle in her assessment of Hernandez as "the God-fearing Robin Hood of the campo, who has been put outside the law not by the criminality of his impulses but by the criminality of the 'legal' authorities."50 In the end Hernandez joins forces with Archbishop Corbelan, whose goal is to liberate the peasants and the proletariat from their past and future destiny of exploitation. But the mine achieves mastery over Gould, and he too blunders into slavery. Whiteley believes that Gould's faith in his efficacy, his ability to guide and control the power unleashed by the mine's development, is unfounded: "As long as the Costaguanan mining project is a means to an end, as it is viewed by its principal organizers, then



the illusion of the mind's power over matter can be sustained ... When the ideal begins fading, the mine's materiality takes over. What was the material vehicle to an ideal destination becomes an end in itself. It assumes control over everyone."51 The "ray of hope" (81) for social justice and stability that the mine is supposed to bring to this troubled country depends upon a shared ideal that cannot maintain its ascendency over the debasing contacts made necessary by the pursuit of material interests. They always assert themselves as an end rather than a means, as Marx maintains. Slavery to material interests will be transformed from the status of metaphor to a statement of reality. Peter Christinas maintains that Conrad admired the tradition of British political science, largely shaped by the thought of John Locke and Adam Smith, as a civilizing force, in that it creates a network that facilitates the pursuit of enlightened self-interest by providing a practical and theoretical link between that pursuit and the attainment of the common weal and social cohesion: [Gould] represents in this the English view that sovereignty is benign solely in proportion as it confines itself to guaranteeing contracts and to making a secularized definition of a body of law whose main purpose is the regulation of property and fair trading ... Conrad went to great lengths to take the measure of this fellowship, of whatever conduced to form a bond between the natural isolation of individuals. If self-interest united them in a collaborative effort, he would not despise it. Indeed the portrait of modern Sulaco is concerned primarily to show the beneficence of enlightened self-interest. For it does indeed work, on condition, however, that it first be called something other than self-interest... This blindness has far-reaching moral consequences, but meanwhile Conrad pays restrained tribute to a real civilizing force.52

This civilizing force, however efficacious, is built upon foundations that do not bear close scrutiny. The English social contract succeeds but is limited by its pragmatism, and by its basic affinity to a more rapacious system that lurks just beneath its refinement. The Marxist critic Terry Eagleton agrees with this assessment: Conrad's "onslaught upon nakedly exploitative Belgian or American imperialism is at root that of the traditionalist English conservative radically distrustful of bourgeois 'materialism' and 'commercialism'. It is only when such activity is graced by an organic ideal ... that the contradiction between his own Romantic nationalism, and the brutal realities of colonialism, can be 'resolved'."53 It is clear that Gould is, initially, in the same league as Kurtz and Jim, although the domain that he rules is not the colonial world of

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adventure and plunder in the Dark Continent or an exotic archipelago, but a budding nation whose troubled history convinces the white man that his intervention is required to bring peace and stability. Gould is distinguished from Kurtz by his aloofness. Kurtz loses his mind and soul when he crosses the frontier between white European "civilization" and black African "savagery." Nothing would have been lost had a substantial border existed between these two realms. Ultimately, Kurtz's derangement is inconsequential, swallowed by the wilderness and masked by Marlow's lie. Gould's disillusion and derangement are, however, of extreme consequence to the nation and the people whose salvation, he has convinced himself, lies within his power. He coldly states his "policy" to Senor Hirsch, the Jewish merchant who wishes to sell him dynamite: if his plan fails, he will destroy the mine and the community it holds together. "'I have enough dynamite stored up at the mountain to send it down crashing into the valley ... to send half Sulaco into the air if I liked ... The Gould Concession has struck such deep roots in this country, in the province, in that gorge of the mountains, that nothing but dynamite shall be allowed to dislodge it from there. It's my choice. It's my last card to play'" (176-77). He will stop at nothing to prevent the mine from falling into the hands of the Monterists, who plan to nationalize it to prevent foreign domination. Idealism has degenerated into obsession; means have become ends; possession is now its own justification. As is made clear by Decoud's experience and ultimate withdrawal, however, scepticism is no antidote to the perils of idealism. Gould's obsession renders him, like Kurtz, a being to whom no one can "appeal in the name of anything high or low" ("Heart of Darkness," 107). The chapter "The Imperialist Character," in Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, contains a description of the British imperialist ruler that is highly applicable to Gould, for it captures the conceit and aloofness that constitute the gravest danger for the subjugated race or community: Aloofness became the new attitude of all members of the British services; it was a more dangerous form of governing than despotism and arbitrariness because it did not even tolerate that last link between the despot and his subjects, which is formed by bribery and gifts. The very integrity of the British administration made despotic government more inhuman and inaccessible to its subjects than Asiatic rulers or reckless conquerors had ever been. Integrity and aloofness were symbols for an absolute division of interests to the point where they are not ever permitted to conflict. In comparison, exploitation, oppression, or corruption look like safeguards of human dignity, because exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed, corruptor and



corrupted still live in the same world, still share the same goals, fight each other for the possession of the same things; and it is this tertium comparationis which aloofness destroyed. Worst of all was the fact that the aloof administrator was hardly aware he had invented a new form of government but actually believed that his attitude was conditioned by "the forcible contact with a people living on a lower plane."54

Gould's aloofness, combined with "the misty idealism of the Northerners, who at the smallest encouragement dream of nothing less than the conquest of the earth" (278), allows him to delude himself that his activity is valuable, indispensable. This illusion is shattered when he must seal a deal with the bandit Hernandez to procure the support of the peasantry for the revolution: "They were equals before the lawlessness of the land. It was impossible to disentangle one's activity from its debasing contacts. A close-meshed net of crime and corruption lay upon the whole country" (300). Gould's criminality is exposed with his recognition of Hernandez as his double: "The perfect gentleman and the perfect scoundrel," Arendt writes, "came to know each other well in the 'great wild jungle without law/ and they found themselves 'well-matched in their enormous dissimilarity, identical souls in different disguises.'"55 Hernandez seems a scoundrel to the capitalists, but not to the exploited workers for whose well-being he joins forces with the struggle of Archbishop Corbelan. Unlike the exotic colonial backdrop of "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim, a more fully developed and systematized imperialist code provides the setting for Nostromo. Arendt characterizes imperialism as an opportunity for foreign investment that necessarily entails expansion and development of political control, if only for the protection of newly acquired property. Colonialism, conversely, is characterized by adventurism for its own sake and to facilitate the plunder of the riches of a foreign land with not even the acceptance of the highly misguided sense of responsibility felt by leaders of imperialist forces. Imperialism at the early stage in which Conrad portrays it in Nostromo consists of expansion and political intervention, and must be distinguished from its later manifestation, characterized by goals of permanent conquest and empire building. The latter annihilates all authority and pretence of local government, whereas the former allows local government to exist, although it exercises control over it, manipulating it to its own advantage. Arendt elaborates: Expansion as a permanent and supreme aim of politics is the central political idea of imperialism. Since it implies neither temporary looting nor the more

240 Solitude versus Solidarity lasting assimilation of conquest, it is an entirely new concept in the long history of political thought and action. The reason for this surprising originality ... is simply that the concept is not really political at all, but has its origin in the realm of business speculation, where expansion meant the permanent broadening of industrial production and economic transactions characteristic of the nineteenth century ... Imperialism is not empire building and expansion is not conquest... In contrast to true imperial structures, where the institutions of the mother country are in various ways integrated into the empire, it is characteristic of imperialism that national institutions remain separate from colonial administration although they are allowed to exercise control ... What imperialists actually wanted was expansion of political power without the foundation of a body politic.56

This is true of Costaguana. The imperialist forces allow the national government to exist, although they treat it with all the respect one might consider due to bit players in a comic opera. They exercise control to ensure that the faction most sympathetic to their own interests will be the ruling party. It can be shown by an error of omission that Conrad himself, consciously or not, shares these attitudes. For despite the many points of view made available to the reader by his technique of multiple narrators and chronological shifts, never are the populist Montero revolutionaries allowed to state their case. Similarly, the Ribiera government is presented strictly from the vantage point of its significance to the imperialist forces: "The Ribierist reforms meant simply the taking away of the land from the people. Some of it was to be given to foreigners who made the railway" (169). The Monterists are simply gadflies, from the perspective of the imperialist forces. They are not even afforded the courtesy of a voice of their own, despite the plentitude of narrative voices Conrad utilizes in this novel. Perhaps this reveals a blind spot of his own, but his distrust of nationalist revolutionaries should have been qualified by Poland's struggle for sovereignty after a long history of living under the yoke of Russian imperialism. The Ribiera government simply exists to rubber-stamp, instigate, and further the agenda of the Gould concession. Its policies beyond that, if it has any, are not made explicit and are most likely of no consequence. Colonialism and imperialism are ultimately founded upon a mindset of arrogance and condescension. If racism is the political device of the former and bureaucracy that of the latter, Arendt's summary assessment is most germane: "Race ... was an escape into an irresponsibility where nothing human could any longer exist, and bureaucracy was the result of a responsibility that no man can bear for his fellow man and no people for another people ... At the basis of



bureaucracy as a form of government... lies this superstition of a possible and magic identification of man with the forces of history. The ideal of such a political body will always be the man behind the scenes who pulls the string of history. "5? Gould is the very embodiment of the imperialist who is "ready to sacrifice everything and everyone to supposedly superhuman laws of history."58 His misty idealism involves not the quest for personal liberty, but the enslavement of the individual to historical forces with which he sides and which he perceives as not only beneficial but inexorable. Indeed it is precisely because in this novel people influence the course of history through their various political and economic alliances, only to witness the forces of history transcend and trivialize them, that Avrom Fleishman considers this the novel in which Conrad's political maturity, his understanding of the complex dynamic between individual will and historical forces, is the most complete: The novel marks the fulfillment of Conrad's political imagination ... Indeed, the complex narrative structure of the novel reflects this sense of history's unfolding processes. Men of varied classes and nationalities are shown caught up in a situation that their acts transform into history, that gives shape to their lives, and - what is rarer still in fiction - that is seen to continue beyond them. This personally created history gives meaning to individual destinies: it acts as a tragic nexus which ... is the only order that transcends the limits of personal life ... So, in a Latin American nation in which the forces of imperialism and capitalism, nationalism and socialism are brought into play, politics impinges on every point of individual and social life.59

In his chapter on Nostromo, entitled "Class Struggle as Tragedy," Fleishman describes how both Nostromo and Gould, initially aligned with the same but finally loyal to competing causes, are ultimately overtaken by the forces of history that they sought to control. Of Nostromo he writes: "Nostromo's career represents the history of an entire class, the proletariat - its enlistment and exploitation in the industrialization of the country, its entry into the separatist revolu-tion (fighting for class interests not directly its own), its growth of self-consciousness and discovery of an independent political role, its temptation by the materialistic drives of capitalism, and its purgation by traditional idealists in its own camp."60 His assessment of Gould's failure is even more severe. The consequence of his pact with Hernandez is "diminishing control of the course of the revolution, in which he must continue to participate even though it is inimical to his interests. The metaphor of the 'precipitous path' is a perfect fig-

242 Solitude versus Solidarity

ure for the absoluteness of the historical process. Though Gould's moral imagination is outraged by an alliance with what he considers another of the anarchic and criminal forces in the country,... he must sacrifice principle to maintain his position. Indeed, he must become a party to the future proletarian revolution in the very process of securing the capitalist-backed separatist revolution."61 This confirms Marx's theory that in the dynamism that sows the seeds of destruction of the opponents of capitalism also lurk the seeds of its own eventual dissolution. Gould's initial idealism suffers the moral degradation that Dr Monygham predicts as the fate of all ideals once subjected to and acted upon by the processes of history. The futility of the endeavour to control historical forces may affirm the meaninglessness of certain individual lives, but it is not inconsistent with Marxism, "whose affirmation is the quite different one that History is meaningful, however absurd organic life may happen to be ... The contemplation of Nostromo," Jameson believes, "is a meditation on History."62 Decoud's scepticism offers a very poor alternative to Gould's idealism: "The illusory activities of life itself are condemned, mocked, and finally rejected," writes novelist Joyce Carol Dates in an essay on Nostromo. "The idealist brings death to the human community; but so does the detached, enlightened sceptic."63 To the dilettante Decoud, it seemed "that every conviction, as soon as it became effective, turned into that form of dementia the gods send upon those they wish to destroy" (173). If convictions are self-destructive, however, so too is lack of them. Decoud denies that his motive for involvement in the revolution to separate Sulaco from the Republic is other than his love for Antonia: "I cannot part with Antonia, therefore the one and indivisible Republic of Costaguana must be made to part with its western province. Fortunately it happens to be also a sound policy" (185). Yet for all his urbane sophistication, his want of faith in activity or ideals, Decoud is unable to withstand the solitude he experiences on the Great Isabel following the desperate adventure he and Nostromo share. His scepticism is transformed into despair, which renders phantom-like and unreal all activity, virtue, and passion: Solitude from mere outward condition of existence becomes very swiftly a state of the soul in which the affections of irony and scepticism have no place. It takes possession of the mind, and drives forth the thought into the exile of utter unbelief. After three days of waiting for the sight of some human face, Decoud caught himself entertaining a doubt of his own individuality. It had merged into the world of cloud and water, of natural forms and the forces of nature. In our activity alone do we find the sustaining illusion of an inde-

243 Nostromo pendent existence as against the whole scheme of things of which we form a helpless part. Decoud lost all belief in the reality of his action past and to come. On the fifth day an immense melancholy descended upon him palpably. He resolved not to give himself up to these people in Sulaco, who had beset him, unreal and terrible, like gibbering and obscene spectres ... He had recognized no other virtue than intelligence, and had erected passions into duties. Both his intelligence and his passion were swallowed up easily in this great unbroken solitude of waiting without faith ... A victim of the disillusioned weariness which is the retribution meted out to intellectual audacity, the brilliant Don Martin Decoud, weighted by the bars of San Tome silver, disappeared without a trace, swallowed up in the immense indifference of things. (408-12)

Fleishman's view of Decoud is that, while he is indeed more sceptical in theory than in practice, and is actively involved in the founding of a nation, he is also true to the image he projects of himself. He is responsible for the founding of a community consisting of diverse groups who were previously at odds, but who are now able to align their support behind a common, mutually beneficial cause. Fleishman counts among Decoud's supporters the peasantry led by Hernandez, the proletariat loyal to Nostromo, and the military force under General Barrios: "Decoud's genius lies in discovering not only the geographical rationale for the existence of a separate nation but the political coalition that represents, at least temporarily, the genuine interests of the people."64 Yet Decoud himself never quite belongs to the community he has helped bring together. Finally, loneliness and disengagement result in his suicide. Like Nostromo and Gould, Decoud is caught in the surge of historical forces that will see the separatist revolution, which he so fervently formulated in words and ignited in deed, engender a counterrevolutionary nationalism that will rebel against the triumph of foreign imperialist interests that instigated the split between Costaguana and Sulaco. Decoud foresees the nationalist revolution, which, as we read at the end of the novel, is quelled by American battleships protecting the interests of their nation in the continued schism between the Occidental Republic and its motherland. Fleishman writes: "Despite his wish to dissociate himself from his country's history, Decoud becomes the author of his province's declaration of independence and the father of its development into a community ... If Decoud, for all his irony, does affirm his identity with the nation and with some larger community through his theory and practice of revolution, it is his separation from the revolution and from other men that brings about his suicide ... His suicide and its aftermath are

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an enactment of the philosophy which holds that man's life is social - or it is nothing ... Decoud, like Nostromo, gives direction to a whole society but resists the assimilation of his precarious identity in the community, to his ultimate downfall."65 Decoud is engaged, yet apart. If, as Dostoyevsky holds, the absolute sceptic stands on the last rung but one before the absolute believer, Decoud has ascended that rung, only willingly to descend once again, and submit to the destructive element, that of complete solitude which extinguishes his sense of self. One would suppose that the sceptical Decoud harbours no illusions whose destruction might result in suicidal despair. But it seems the activity and the passions that he had once so freely mocked constitute for him a reality solid enough, an illusion sustaining enough, that its loss is more than he can bear. This represents the antithesis of the fragile notion of constructive solidarity that Conrad explores in this and other works. In his study of chronological shifts and "delayed decoding,"66 Cedric Watts examines Conrad's intertextual character development across several fictional works published out of chronological sequence, or transtextual linkages between his fictional and ostensibly non-fictional work. He notes a discrepancy between Conrad's thematic focus on solitude and his establishment of an extensive network of textual interrelations among characters: "A vast paradox thus emerges. Conrad's literary output, which is famed for its emphasis on isolation, irvcommunication and separation, is characterized by an exceptional endeavour to interconnect texts, characters, fiction and reality. While he shows alienation, he solicits and enacts involvement."67 These intertextual connections, some of which cross the boundary separating life and art, prove more substantial in purpose than the ingenious reflexivity that often characterizes postmodern metafiction, for they ultimately evoke reflection and provide judgment on the value of human solidarity - verdicts that reinforce the insight concerning the destructiveness of solitude evident in Decoud's suicide. Graham Bradshaw posits an interesting connection between the presentation of the riot early in the novel and the reason given for Decoud's suicide: "His sadness was the sadness of a sceptical mind. He beheld the universe as a succession of incomprehensible images" (409). Decoud's mode of perception parallels the narrative strategy Conrad engages in early in the novel to portray revolutionary activity, a strategy that serves to deny that activity a rational basis and historical significance: "Bursts of great shouting rose and died away, like wild gusts of wind on the plain round [GiorgioViola's] barricaded house ... Sometimes there were intervals of unaccountable stillness



outside" (28). Bradshaw perceives here an intratextual cross-reference, involving a discreetly reflexive element: "Decoud is being condemned for attitudes which seem disturbingly close to those embodied in [passages describing the riot] ... where the human agents are seen as 'dwarfs' engaged in a violent game ... When Decoud sees Costaguanan history as a tragic farce he is the highly articulate spokesman for a view which the narrative both embodies and condemns. Indeed, condemns to death, in that Decoud's suicide becomes the culmination of the narrational paradox."68 Note the poignancy Conrad achieves and the political commentary he subtly engages in by delaying disclosure of Decoud's suicide until after Mitchell's superficial and misguided celebration of the progress wrought by the infusion of foreign capital into Costaguana, and the master-minding of the separatist scheme. The "self-important and simple" (389) Captain Mitchell gives an upbeat but historically inaccurate guided tour to a privileged visitor just arrived in Sulaco, in which Decoud figures prominently as the author of a plan that "would be a glorious success" (402). Watts comments upon the effectiveness of Conrad's unorthodox deferral of the revelation of Decoud's suicide until after Mitchell's unreliable narration of subsequent events: "The death-scene follows almost immediately after that long complacent monologue of Mitchell about the progressive evolution of Sulaco. Man has mastered nature, and civilised man has mastered society; so Mitchell thinks. And soon after these reflections, thanks to the method of chronological dislocation, Conrad can deploy the most vivid example of human littleness, of a human dwarfed and made insignificant amid the serene majesty of the natural environment."69 Decoud's suicide can be examined from a moral as well as an epistemological and an ontological perspective. Barrett Fisher's comment that Decoud's political involvement "leads to an even more destructive awareness of a hollow self for whom private values divorced from public action have no reality at all"?0 reinforces the view expressed at the outset of this chapter that true freedom requires moral commitment. Whiteley, in his epistemological study of "Mind and Matter" in Nostromo, has a different outlook on this event. Responding to Guerard's charge that Decoud is more sceptical and detached in word than in deed, Whiteley correctly points out that "thinking allows for more detachment from one's surroundings than acting does ... [Thought] invites withdrawal. The narrator can be more sceptical than Decoud in his actions because the narrator can stand apart from the characters in a way that no character within the novel can."71 Action implies engagement. The narrator's famous

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indictment of activity as providing "the sustaining illusion of an independent existence" (409) occurs in his recounting of Decoud's suicide. "Not only are [Decoud's] commitments illusions," Whiteley comments, "but so are his efforts to withdraw from them."72 Paul Armstrong's ontological interpretation of this suicide is also enlightening, for it reinforces Conrad's cautious commitment to the notion of community: "The world is social to such a radical degree that 'reality' exists only through the intersubjective recognition of objects. Things themselves become ephemeral to a single consciousness ... Decoud finds that the self loses substance when the gaze of others no longer objectifies it."73 These three perspectives converge, moreover, in support of my view that scepticism degenerates into solipsism and nihilism and meets with Conrad's most scathing irony. Father Corbelan and Decoud are paired and yet juxtaposed, the former representing passionate engagement and the latter detachment: "Those two men got on well together, as if each had felt respectively that a masterful conviction, as well as utter scepticism, may lead a man very far on the by-paths of political action" (173). Yet in the end it is Father Corbelan's fierce desire for social justice for the oppressed rather than Decoud's stance of bemused detachment that offers any glimmer of hope that the poor may break free from the shackles of Gould's cynicism and "claim their share of the wealth and their share of the power" (418). Seamus Deane links the radical detachment or withdrawal that Decoud suffers to the very nature of imperialism: The effect of the bureaucracy of imperialism... is to rob its victims of their individuality and to make them ghostlike ... In the colonial context the individual creates his own ghostliness. It is the punishment for his secret crime. In the imperial novels the ghostliness has been created by the total system in which the individual finds himself or herself. In all of them there is an impersonal agency ... which uses human beings as the secret agents of their own destruction ... [Crime is] little more than the crystallization in action of an incrimination which had been slowly steeping the consciousness of the criminal.74

Nostromo's theft of the silver has been all along implicit in the incongruity between his glamorous, adventurous personality and the world he inhabits, in which fierce individualism is as much an anachronism as the Republicanism of old Giorgio Viola. The oppressor against whom Garibaldi, Viola's hero, fought has been replaced by the more insidious, because so deceptive, oppression of material interests. When he awakens after his long sleep following the theft of the silver, Nostromo ironically experiences the feeling of destitution



for the first time. With the praise and glory that had sustained his ego and supported the cult of his personality unavailable, Nostromo finally recognizes their hollowness: "Since it was no longer possible for him to parade the streets of the town, and be hailed with respect in the usual haunts of his leisure, this sailor felt himself destitute indeed ... It may be said that Nostromo tasted the dust and ashes of the fruit of life into which he had bitten deeply in his hunger for praise" (343). Following closely upon this discovery is Nostromo's insight that the interests that employ him had all along exploited his spirit of adventure, and ultimately placed him at great risk to rescue treasure that they consider expendable, superfluous. Hence Nostromo reciprocates this betrayal with a crime which, however, backfires in three crucial ways: "First a woman, then a man, abandoned each in their last extremity, for the sake of this accursed treasure. It was paid for by a soul lost and by a vanished life ... There was no one in the world but Gian' Battista Fidanza, Capataz de Cargadores, the incorruptible and faithful Nostromo, to pay such a price" (412). These epithets are imbued with an irony they had never before known, transformed from Nostromo's sustenance into a bitter memory of the "perfectly genuine" (341) life he had led when adventure and reputation were all. Nostromo is transformed into a furtive and tormented criminal, knowing for the first time a discrepancy between appearance and reality. The third repercussion is that Nostromo becomes enslaved by the material interests he had once disdained in so typical a cavalier manner: "And the spirits of good and evil that hover about a forbidden treasure understood well that the silver of San Tome was provided now with a faithful and lifelong slave" (412). "Somehow it was not the fault of the born adventurers," Arendt writes of those stranded in an imperialist world that cannot utilize but does exploit their qualities, "of those who by their very nature dwelt outside society and outside all political bodies, that they found in imperialism a political game that was endless by definition; they were not supposed to know that in politics an endless game can end only in catastrophe.'^ The notion of identity is important in this novel. Nostromo's initial self-image is not problematic. He is a well-integrated social being, a man of the people. When we first meet him, he appears to have attained perfect equilibrium between the individual and the community. Whereas the thrust of the traditional novel is discovery of the self and its integration with the community, in Nostromo this process is reversed. We witness the disintegration of Nostromo's conception of his own identity when he awakens, both actually from his slumber and metaphorically to his betrayal, following his swim back to Sula-

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co. Despite his status as titular hero, this novel cannot be said, strictly speaking, to be about Nostromo, as Lord ]im is beyond question about Jim. Whiteley's comment is interesting, and its implications for the decentring of the hero apply equally to the evolution of the English novel in the twentieth century and to the development of this particular author: "It is as though in Nostromo Conrad had given up the project of finding his principal character's center, his final meaning."76 It is true, as Whiteiey holds, that realistic fiction assumes a stable self, even if that stable identity is not yet established. Thus traditional narration reaches a structural and thematic impasse as the notion of an immutable, coherent self is called into doubt. In Conrad, Whiteiey believes that true self-knowledge is never attained because it is unattainable.77 This applies to every key player in this novel, with the possible exception of Dr Monygham, whose cynicism about the possibility of true commitment paradoxically renders him uniquely capable of loyalty. As he transcends his moral limitations, so too does he transcend his epistemological myopia to become the most reliable of the many dramatized narrators in this novel. Despite his deep scepticism, it is finally Dr Monygham who extols moral principles rather than material interests or political strategies as the true foundation of social justice. Nostromo's private identity rests solely on his public reputation; when the value of the latter is diminished, the former crumbles. He then feels free to pin not his faith but his identity to material interests. As a man torn between two identities, it is fitting, as Whiteiey points out, "that Nostromo should die as the consequence of mistaken identity."78 The veneer of the imperialist system in Nostromo is one which, lightly scratched, disappears to reveal the world of adventurers and buccaneers that lurks so close beneath the surface. It is easy to focus on the administrative functions of Charles Gould, on his idealistic association of business interests and political stability, and ignore his underlying affinity with the buccaneer spirit that motivates an outfit such as, for instance, the Eldorado Exploring Expedition: He had gone forth into the senseless fray as his poor uncle, whose sword hung on the wall of his study, had gone forth - in defence of the commonest decencies of organized society. Only his weapon was the wealth of the mine, more far-reaching and subtle than an honest blade of steel fitted into a simple brass guard. More dangerous to the wielder, too, this weapon of wealth, double-edged with the cupidity and misery of mankind, steeped in all the voices of self-indulgence as in a concoction of poisonous roots, tainting the very cause for which it is drawn, always ready to turn awkwardly in the hand. There was nothing for it now but to go on using it. But he promised

249 Nostromo himself to see it shattered into small bits before he let it be wrenched from his grasp. After all, with his English parentage and English upbringing, he perceived that he was an adventurer in Costaguana, the descendant of adventurers enlisted in a foreign legion, of men who had sought fortune in a revolutionary war, who had planned revolutions, who had believed in revolutions. For all the uprightness of his character, he had something of an adventurer's easy morality which takes count of personal risk in the ethical appraising of his action. He was prepared, if need be, to blow up the whole San Tome mountain sky high out of the territory of the Republic. (303)

There is more of a discrepancy than Gould would initially care to admit between his means and his end. Capitalism does indeed turn out to be, as Marx had stated, a revolutionary force. In his "vain endeavour to attain an enduring solution" (302) to the problem of instability and misrule in Costaguana, Gould supports revolution, for it seems an expedient method of installing a government friendly to foreign investment. Gates considers this novel a parable of modern times: "[Nostromo] looks ahead to the mid-twentieth century, to a future in which 'material interests' have dominated world politics, and the justice of which Charles Gould so complacently speaks is nowhere to be found. Representatives of 'advanced' nations are eager to finance revolution in Costaguana, as they are always eager to finance revolutions in certain countries; imperialism is given the code-name of a 'future'... On many levels mankind is divided against itself, and what phenomenon inspires it to this self-destructive division, except the quest for material treasure?"79 Subject to some debate has been the question of whether the new Occidental Republic, founded on the pursuit and exploitation of material interests, is in reality a permanent improvement over the brutality and corruption of pre-revolutionary Costaguana, or is just as incendiary. Both views are correct but limited, for revolution does pave the way for political stability founded upon capitalist interest and foreign intervention. This foundation proves weak, however, and the stability it introduces soon disintegrates into further chaos. The intervention of American imperialism, which then as now disguises its conquering materialist spirit as the quest for democratic and religious freedom, is likely to fuel the bitterness of the Marxist, "small, frail, bloodthirsty, the hater of capitalists" (459). This will divide society into two classes and result in the bloody rebellion of the proletariat, as Marx predicted. The circular structure of the narrative in section i implies that the establishment of stability based upon capitalist enterprise will not be permanent but will lead, in its turn, to revolution against this enter-

250 Solitude versus Solidarity

prise by the workers whose labour fuels it. The focus of this section is a dinner aboard the Juno to celebrate the commencement of construction of the railway, at which the guest of honour is Don Vincente Ribiera, the president-dictator of Costaguana, a creature of the railway magnates. The narrative of the dinner is interrupted by plunges backward in time relating the toll the mine has extracted in human lives even before it was thrust upon Gould's father by the government as a means of extracting exorbitant taxes from him. The history is told of the father's obsession with the mine, "the injustice, the persecution, the outrage" (59), and the son's rather different obsession: "To be told repeatedly that one's future is blighted because of the possession of a silver mine ... is calculated to excite a certain amount of wonder and attention" (59). Following is the story of Gould's childhood, his courtship and marriage to Emilia, and his intention to introduce political stability to Costaguana through the development of the San Tome Concession with the financial backing of the American, Holroyd. The recounting of this social event is framed by that of Ribiera's flight from the Monterist revolution one and a half years hence and his rescue by Nostromo, as related by Sulaco's pompous historian, Captain Mitchell. Mitchell is unlike Marlow, whose intelligence penetrates the hypocrisy of the ideals of progress espoused by the colonizing forces in "Heart of Darkness" even while he himself offers a criterion of normality against which to measure the perversion of Kurtz. Mitchell's narration of events is structured to reveal their significance, or lack of it, despite his aggrandizement of the banal to the status of the historic or epoch-making. Also framing the dinner, which celebrates a certain kind of progress in the Occidental Province, is the history of a man, old Giorgio Viola, whose ideal of progress is, although an anachronism, yet more idealistic and selfless: The spirit of self-forgetfulness, the simple devotion to a vast humanitarian idea which inspired the thought and stress of that revolutionary time, had left its mark upon Giorgio in a sort of austere contempt for all personal advantage. This man ... had all his life despised money. The leaders of his youth had lived poor, had died poor ... It was engendered partly by an existence of excitement, adventure and wild warfare. But mostly it was a matter of principle ... This stern devotion to a cause had cast a gloom upon Giorgio's old age. It cast a gloom because the cause seemed lost. Too many kings and emperors flourished yet in the world which God had meant for the people. He was sad because of his simplicity. (39)

The concept of progressive and democratic revolution to which Viola subscribes comments upon the never-ending stream of self-serving



revolutions and counter-revolutions that tear Costaguana apart. The comment extends to the one which, backed by the interests of the Gould mine, successfully installed Ribiera in power, and which the dinner indirectly celebrates. Yet old Viola is, like Nostromo before the commission of the crime, an anachronism, a "drifting relic" (61) who comes to rely upon the compassion and protection of Mrs Gould and the custom of the railway interests. Conrad's portrait of old Viola reflects the mixed feelings of irony and profound affection that the spectacle of idealism inspires in him. Viola's "simplicity" is not the sort needed to protect him from disillusion and sadness. His frame of mind is similar to that of Don Jose Avellanos, the intelligent, idealistic, but ultimately broken and disillusioned historian of Costaguana, the patriot who adjusts his hopes for the future of his nation in the belief that the pursuit of material interests will indeed induce stability. The serious historian of the novel, Don Jose's manuscript Fifty Years of Misrule chronicles the convoluted, barbaric history of Costaguana. He pins his faith on the mine as "an institution, a rallying-point for everything in the province that needed order and stability to live" (101). The potential social order is crushed by counter-revolutionary forces, inspired by the will to preserve Costaguana's sovereignty, which is threatened by foreign control. In the interest of consistency, one would expect Don Jose to oppose foreign economic domination, for a nation that surrenders its economic sovereignty sacrifices its political sovereignty as well. However, the history in Costaguana has indeed been so plagued by misrule that Don Jose joins Gould in pinning his faith to material interests in the quest for peace and stability. This is how he dies spiritually, as narrated by Decoud in his letter to his sister: "He lives yet, it is true. I have seen him since; but it was only a senile body, lying on its back, covered to the chin, with open eyes, and so still that you might have said it was breathing no longer ... But I know that Don Jose has really died there, in the Casa Gould, with that whisper urging me to attempt what no doubt his soul, wrapped up in the sanctity of diplomatic treaties and solemn declarations, must have abhorred" (201). The final chapter of this section is structured around the dichotomy of old versus new. The narrator, a visitor to Sulaco who remembers it at a peaceful juncture following "the steadying effect of the San Tome mine" but "before the first advent of the railway" (89), juxtaposes the occasional unruly and recreational labour problems caused by the cargadores - settled by the glamorous figure of their Capataz, a "phantom-like horseman mounted on a silver-grey mare" (89) - to the modern "organized labour troubles," however justified, that loom on the horizon: "Nobody had ever heard of labour troubles

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then" (89), says the narrator, preceding his description of Nostromo's role as virtual foreman. The Aristocratic Club of Sulaco is a reminder of the struggle for the independence of Costaguana, a struggle to be repeated in the revolution to free Sulaco from its mother country, and in the ensuing revolution against the capitalist interests that supported the separatist revolution. The "extinct cause of Federation" (91) is replaced by that of separation, which will in turn be replaced by that of freedom from capitalist oppression. The narrative then veers back to the occasion of the dinner and the speeches, public and private, praising the profound change which will come. The only note of dissent is sounded by Mrs Gould, who accepts the inevitability of change but mourns what will be lost: "And yet even here there are simple and picturesque things that one would like to preserve" (109). The chapter ends, predictably, with a reference to Ribiera's flight, ironically juxtaposed to his official visit to Sulaco, which celebrates foreign investment: "Next time when the 'Hope of honest men' was to come that way, a year and a half later, it was unofficially, over the mountain tracks, fleeing after a defeat on a lame mule, to be only just saved by Nostromo from an ignominious death at the hands of a mob" (118). The complex chronological shifts or "delayed decoding" reflect and express the lack of set ideological convictions underlying the political convolutions documented in the novel. Whiteley is correct that a stable self cannot be found beneath the layers of Nostromo's identity, that he lacks a final, irreducible meaning. I.S. Talib astutely remarks that Conrad's contribution to the modern novel's emphasis on cognitive processes consists of his "showing us how our memories work, without having first told us what these memories are of."8° Narrative innovations invariably entail not only epistemological but political implications. In his examination of Nostromo, Armstrong writes that Costaguana "serves as a kind of ontological model that allows Conrad to test and explore the social implications of contingency ... The result is to make power and authority into issues in the reader's relation with the text as much as they are in the story itself."81 Hence narrative fragmentation and instability express their political counterpart. The quest to identify a single ideological position underlying this novel has led to much critical debate, the very existence of which is more telling than an enumeration of the arguments for or against any given position. My haste to clarify, in the statement of methodology that opens this chapter, that this is not a Marxist reading of the text, despite the use of Marx's writings on alienation to elucidate the human toll of capitalist imperialist expansion, reflects the fact that no single ideology consistently or thoroughly governs this text. For instance, no text written from a leftist



political stance would refuse to give voice, much less credibility, to the exploited workers who were Marx's primary concern in his later writings on capitalism. Nor would the sole depiction of a Marxist be in primarily, much less strictly, negative terms. Concomitantly, a text written from a conservative political stance would not provide such a strong indictment of capitalism as a tool of oppression, or of American economic imperialism as legalized theft. The very flexibility and fluidity of the narrative structure, the chronological shifts, the curious omission of certain key perspectives in a novel that employs so many, the delayed decoding, and the even more confusing decoding of events not yet depicted, mean that the reader faces a text that constantly fluctuates in terms of chronology, allegiance, and ideology. One example of the decoding of events not yet depicted is the narration of Ribiera's escape, aided by Nostromo, from the nationalist, anti-Ribierist forces before the reader is privy to the celebratory dinner, which occurred one and a half years earlier, marking the inauguration of Ribiera's regime and the completion of the deal to expropriate land for the railway that will serve so efficiently the interests of foreign investors. Hence the reader learns of the uprising against the loss of national control of land and resources before being familiarized with the political machinations that resulted in the surrender of sovereignty to foreign powers. Furthermore, the reader learns early in the book that the now independent Sulaco experiences labour unrest; the remainder of the narrative is dedicated to recounting the history of the separatist revolution and the consolidation of several groups of workers who were formerly at odds. The looming labour problems are not lost even to the rather dense Captain Mitchell: "There is some trouble with the workmen to be feared, it appears. A shameless people without reason and decency. And idle, senor. Idle" (454). These are the same "quite serious, organized labour troubles" (89) to which the business visitor to Sulaco, whose journey immediately follows its independence from Costaguana, alerts the reader early in the novel. Conrad engages in the process Shklovsky would later term "defamiliarisation" and "refamiliarisation," Watts points out, using complex chronological shifts. Interesting to note is that Nostromo initially claims to be a text narrated by a minor character, one of those visitors "whom business or curiosity took to Sulaco in these years before the first advent of the railway" (89). "We soon forget this identification," Watts writes, "because it doesn't fit; both before and after that passage, there have been numerous occasions when the information given is inconsistent with personal and limited reportage."82 Had Conrad not abandoned this method of narration, the novel would

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have been a more circumscribed recounting of events in Costaguana, refracted through the consciousness of one witness, or a limited number of witnesses, instead of a kaleidoscope of perspectives, the very plurality of which makes the muteness of the workers and indigenous people so conspicuous. The complexities of the narrative as it stands, however, actively involve the reader by challenging the linear, causal, analytic thought process in which most people engage. Instead, a more lateral series of connections are established, which require that the reader jump back and forth across time and space to understand events and their implications. Oblique sequences are understood only in retrospect. In Watts's words: "The celebrated time-shift method of Nostromo means that on a vast scale the reader is involved in an elaborate act of delayed decoding ... [involving the following sequence]: enigma, false solution, true solution ... Nostromo still gives the paradoxical sense of a marked discrepancy between events as they initially impinge on us and events as later rationally ordered."83 Perceptual myopia, in Conrad's view, not only expresses but helps to correct its moral and intellectual counterpart. The great degree of engagement, of assessment and reassessment, required of the reader of this novel develops a quality or ability that many of the principal characters lack. Gould, for instance, is unable to perceive the corrupting influence of the mine upon himself and others; Mitchell's notion of progress is culture-specific and ignores the enormous toll the mine takes on the native people and the injustices they endure; Don Jose" allows expediency to cloud his political vision and obscure his ideals. The examples are as plentiful as the characters. Watts describes how the process of reading this oblique novel provides an education in examining issues from many angles, a lesson certain characters might have found beneficial as "moral and political therapy": "Thus, while demonstrating the political infancy of humans, the novel embodies its own maturity in techniques which provide education for that maturity. By delaying the decoding of events, Conrad forces us to share the myopia of his characters; but, by provoking the decoding, he provides the therapy which induces multifocal vision."84 Some characters privilege the past, dedicating their lives to redressing the inequities of history, real or imagined, as Gould sets out to reverse the destruction of his father, which he attributes to the elder Gould's ownership of the mine: "For a moment he felt as if the ownership of the silver mine, which had killed his father, had decoyed him further than he meant to go; and with the roundabout logic of emotions, he felt that the worthiness of his life was bound up with success" (82). Emilia initially shares her husband's ambition and

255 Nostromo

ideals, and his blindness to the materialism of their venture: "A vague idea of rehabilitation had entered the plan of their life ... The dead man of whom she thought with tenderness (because he was Charley's father), and with some impatience (because he had been weak), must be put completely in the wrong. Nothing else would do to keep their prosperity without a stain on its only real, on its immaterial side!" (73). Viola too privileges the past, blinding himself to the ideological similarities between his nationalist Republican revolutionary fervour and the nationalist democratic revolutionary fervour of the Monterist forces. Nostromo privileges the present moment, building up no equity for the future except empty praise from his Blanco employers. Don Jose privileges the future, sacrificing his patriotic idealism to the vague and illusory promise that foreign interests will establish peace and social justice. Instead, they merely appropriate human and natural resources and the profit these resources generate under the auspices of a system more outwardly sophisticated and refined than colonial plunder, but not essentially different. This final panoramic insight, reflected in Conrad's chronologically complex narrative structure, belongs to Emilia alone: "For life to be large and full, it must contain the care of the past and of the future in every passing moment of the present" (427). Watts offers an ideological interpretation of Conrad's narrative obliqueness: "The devious techniques, with their reversals, ellipses and elisions, evoke a strong sense of the deceptiveness and even absurdity of events ... A sense of relativity (and of reality as construct) is evoked ... We have to overcome resistances by a labour which construes (and does not merely construct) a satisfactory order ... Conrad lets scepticism ambush common sense. By enabling us, eventually, to fill those gaps, clarify the opacities and order the sequences, Conrad then ambushes scepticism."85 Among the most glaring, damning elisions is Conrad's failure to allow the nationalist revolutionaries to state their case. The antiRibierist forces, far from being endorsed, are derided in terms both condescending and blatantly racist: "An outcast lot of very mixed blood, mainly Negroes, ... they embraced with delight this opportunity to settle their personal scores under such favourable auspices" (25). They are further undermined by Viola's impugning their motives: "He had an immense scorn for this outbreak of scoundrels and leperos, who did not know the meaning of the word 'liberty'" (30). Old Viola is himself depicted as an idealist, the veteran of "the old, humanitarian revolutions" (Author's Note, 12), having fought under Garibaldi to unify Italy and free it from the despotism of feuding hereditary rulers of feudal city-states. He is thus established as a

256 Solitude versus Solidarity foil to the nationalist, anti-Ribierist movement, when in fact no dichotomy exists in goal or method. Part 3, chapter 5, recounts the Monterist rally in the Campo. Thus begins the description of their entry: "And first came straggling in through the land gate the armed mob of all colours, complexions, types, and states of raggedness, calling themselves the Sulaco National Guard" (318). Montero is belittled by the narrator, who attributes his leadership to "a genius for treachery of so effective a kind that it must have appeared to those violent men but little removed from a state of utter savagery, as the perfection of sagacity and virtue" (319). Robert Helton's comments on this scene are germane: In detailing the means by which Pedro Montero has gained his following, however, Conrad omits entirely the idea that oppressed people throughout history have periodically risen up against those in power in order to change the oppressive conditions of their existence ... No political motive seems to influence them at all, living, as they appear to, below the horizon of political consciousness ... Pedro thus stands in bold contrast to those Europeans whose complex motivations and rationalizations are penetrated so subtly in the novel... This denial of rationality and sanity to Montero and his rebellion tends to ensure that any historical testimony he might present need not be seriously considered ... The power of the rhetoric used to contain the speech of the anti-imperialist revolutionaries suggests, perhaps, a great fear ... The object of this fear is not so much successful revolution perhaps but anarchy, chaos, a carnivalesque overturning of authority ... Conrad must compensate for his critique of the European power structure in Sulaco with a far more extreme and total attack on the native alternatives to it. Those associated with the owners of the mine are given the most profound insights - indeed almost the only insights - into its potential for progress and for destruction. Those innumerable crushed lives - unless they are Blancos - remain no more than abstractions whose visions of the significance of the mine are never articulated, whose political hopes and social ideals find no expression ... While there is undoubtedly some heuristic value in representing the Goulds, for example, as the real victims, the real slaves, this symbolism obscures a great deal as well ... The representation Conrad constructs clearly does differentiate between the cultural communities, privileging the complex sufferings of one group and marginalizing that of the other. The transference that occurs here allows the Goulds to be represented metaphorically as the slaves, while the vast number of African slaves imported to mine the wealth of South America, and the millions of native people who were literally enslaved and worked to death are left without a legitimate complaint, without even a voice with which to articulate a complaint... The anomaly of representing the San Tome mine as a haven of justice and stability in the eyes of the natives,

257 Nostromo ... the suggestion that the natives themselves are most directly responsible for the political chaos because of their greed and immaturity, and the ascription of real suffering and real insight into that suffering to the Blancos rather than to the natives is almost grotesque in a way that Conrad's ironic representation of the situation cannot encompass.86

The selectivity of the text ensures that the reader sympathizes with those against whom a Marxist reading militates, the very class of people assisted by the American warships that settle the revolutionary conflict. Furthermore, by allowing the Blancos to appropriate the indigenous people's claim to be the victims of capitalist imperialism, the text surreptitiously undermines the validity of the latter's revolutionary motive, which is never articulated. The long-suffering and sympathetic Mrs Gould uncharitably characterizes the recurrent cycle of anti-imperialist uprisings, from that of Guzman Bento through the Monterist revolution, as "a puerile and bloodthirsty game of murder and rapine played with terrible earnestness by depraved children" (53), denying them rationality and political legitimacy. Curiously, very shortly thereafter the brutal history of the San Tome mine is presented in a more sympathetic manner through her consciousness: Mrs. Gould knew the history of the San Tome mine. Worked in the early days mostly by means of lashes on the backs of slaves, its yield had been paid for in its own weight of human bones. Whole tribes of Indians had perished in the exploitation; and then the mine was abandoned, since with this primitive method it had ceased to make a profitable return, no matter how many corpses were thrown into its maw. Then it became forgotten. It was rediscovered after the War of Independence. An English company obtained the right to work it, and found so rich a vein that neither the exactions of successive governments, nor the periodical raids of recruiting officers upon the population of paid miners they had created, could discourage their perseverance. But in the end, during the long turmoil of pmnunciamientos that followed the death of the famous Guzman Bento, the native miners, incited to revolt by the emissaries sent out from the capital, had risen upon their English chiefs and murdered them to a man. (55)

Mrs Gould engages in a devious sleight of hand here, implying a dichotomy where none truly exists between the slave labour utilized by the Spanish conquistadors and the "paid miners" employed by the British imperialist successors to the Spanish. This gloss is not mitigated by the likelihood that it is unconscious. Rather, it supports Marx's view that capitalism disguises its exploitative nature by

258 Solitude versus Solidarity

appearing to be an inexorable and universally necessary development rather than a historically specific and flawed system. The difference Arendt insists upon between conquest and imperialism is of degree and not kind. The reason given for the abandonment of the mining enterprise is not that it is too costly in terms of human lives, but that it ceases to be a profitable venture. This motive does not appear to trouble Mrs Gould. Later, as we move into the world of wage-labour, the miners are underpaid and subject to Nostromo's harsh labour management. Furthermore, the parcelling out of labour in an enterprise in which one has no true stake is philosophically and economically indistinguishable from slavery. The British have merely adopted the methods of the Spanish, adding the veneer of fair pay, for which they reap as dividend the loyalty of the very workers whose labour they exploit. Holton correctly states: "The historical division that is suggested in this passage more or less corresponds to the coming of modern capitalism, which is seen to be completely separate from the earlier modes of production in that a concern with efficiency leads to a concern with the well-being of the miners."87 Emilia fails to recognize that the violent outbreaks of popular resistance she disdains as rapacious are sparked in reaction against the atrocities she recognizes and regrets, even as she profits from them. Conrad too engages in textual sleight of hand by making Emilia the historian of the San Tome mine. This technique once again allows for portrayal of the British and American imperialists as humanist and progressive while it denies voice to those they exploit, and finally casts the developers in the role of victim of the uprisings following Guzman Bento's death. Simultaneously, because Emilia does not make the causal connection between the anti-imperialist insurgencies she discredits as bloodthirsty games and the terrible toll she deplores that the mine visits upon the people - a toll that validates these very uprisings - the reader too is prevented from making the connection. For surely Emilia's empathy with the plight of the native people enslaved by the mine owners should result in some degree of sympathy with their periodic revolts against exploitation, unless these insurrections are indeed as puerile and illegitimate as she believes. In choosing this most sensitive member of the ruling class to acknowledge exploitation while simultaneously discrediting the political movements that arise in response to this injustice, Conrad once again circumvents the very point of view that would have the greatest credibility in relating not only the history of the mine but also the history of insurrections sparked by the sacrifice of the indigenous people to the interests of its various foreign owners. The nationalist government is thus cast in the role of villain, despite the fact that its program to nationalize the mine, cited imme-



diately following Emilia's musings on the mine's history, is both justified and perfectly reasonable: "Justly incensed at the grinding oppression of foreigners, actuated by sordid motives of gain rather than by love for a country where they come impoverished to seek their fortunes, the mining population of San Tome, etc ... The chief of the State has resolved to exercise to the full his power of clemency. The mine, which by every law, international, human, and divine, reverts now to the Government as national property, shall remain closed till the sword drawn for the sacred defence of liberal principles has accomplished its mission of securing the happiness of our beloved country" (55-6). Not unlike the famous Constitution of the nation that backs and profits from the most recent imperialist conquest of Costaguana, this document endorses liberal principles such as autonomy, liberty, sovereignty, and happiness. Two things must be noted. First, the ellipses in the above citation are not mine but Conrad's; these two brief passages are the only fragments of the document reproduced. Second, again because of Conrad's careful selection of point of view, we have only the senior Mr Gould's word that he has been destroyed by over-taxation at the hands of the nationalist government that has confiscated the mine: "The last of his fortune was passing away from him against worthless receipts, he wrote, in a rage, whilst he was being pointed out as an individual who had known how to secure enormous advantages from the necessities of his country" (60). This conviction is expressed in passionate letters imploring his teenage son never to pursue the family interest in the mine (letters which predictably have the opposite of their intended effect). Gould's father, suffering a persecution complex, is hardly an objective reporter of government policy with respect to the mine. Even he admits, however, that he is seen by the government as one who manipulates the needs of the country to his own advantage. Further undermining Mr Gould's textual and moral authority in this regard is the reality that the wealthy often protest the loudest and longest when finally asked to partake in, via taxation, the redistribution of a nation's wealth. In another instance of selective memory, Montero's victory speech is fully eclipsed by descriptive comments, the thrust of which is to melodramatize. Never is the speech reported: What he began was a speech. He began it with the shouted word "Citizens!" which reached even those in the middle of the Plaza. Afterwards the greater part of the citizens remained fascinated by the orator's action alone, his tip-toeing, the arms flung above his head with the fists clenched, a hand laid flat upon the heart, the silver gleam of rolling eyes, the sweeping, pointing, embracing gestures ... In the intervals, over the swarming Plaza brooded a heavy silence,

260 Solitude versus Solidarity in which the mouth of the orator went on opening and shouting, and detached phrases - "The happiness of the people", "Sons of the country", "The entire world, el mundo entiero" - reached even the packed steps of the cathedral with a feeble clear ring, thin as the buzzing of a mosquito. (322-3)

Lost between the descriptions of the orator's gestures and the crowd's roar of approval is the crucial content of the speech itself. Nor should the narrator's depreciatory comments be accepted as a reliable barometer against which to gauge Pedro Montero's character, or that of his brother Pedrito, the leader of the uprising, for in this novel there is no single, reliable, objective, universal omniscient perspective. With his use of multiple perspectives and biased, subjective narrators whose knowledge is at best partial, one of which is the voice recounting this scene, Conrad calls into question the untenable cognitive confidence underlying the notion of omniscient narration. Also called into doubt is the notion that one should or even can be completely consistent with respect to personal philosophy or political ideals. Conrad juxtaposes within one character competing political ideologies, often resulting in strange allegiances such as the idealistic and patriotic Don Jose Avellanos's support of foreign domination in his beloved homeland. Charles Gould's desire for social justice is simultaneously both sincere, and pragmatic and self-serving, for business interests are well served by social and political stability. His unquestioning faith in material interests as the means to this end is both naive and shrewd. And, as noted above, Conrad contributes to the lack of objectivity that he so effectively dramatizes by failing to give equal, or indeed any, time to the Monterists to state their case, despite his strategy of multiple narrative perspectives. The few detached phrases of the speech that are reported are far from damning; indeed, Pedrito's policies are democratic and his rage at imperialist forces is well founded, even if the war he would like to declare is a priori doomed: "We are not barbarians," he said ... "We shall organize a popular vote, by yes or no, confiding the destinies of our beloved country to the wisdom and valiance of my heroic brother, the invincible general. A plebiscite. Do you understand?" ... His opinion was that war should be declared at once against France, England, Germany, and the United States, who, by introducing railways, mining enterprises, colonization, and under such other shallow pretences, aimed at robbing poor people of their lands, and with the help of these Goths and paralytics, the aristocrats would convert them into toiling and miserable slaves. (324-5)



The narrator's surreptitious but unmistakable attempts to undermine the Montero brothers' credibility ultimately fail to detract from the truth of this insight. Imperialist domination inevitably entails loss of political and economic sovereignty, and reduces the citizens of the conquered land to labourers whose toil contributes to the wealth of outsiders. In fact, Pedro's use of the term "Citizen" at the opening of his speech is revolutionary in semantic significance, because people who are denied any stake in their own land and labour cannot be, in the true sense of the word, citizens. The political equivalent to the novel's structural convolutions, then, manifests itself in the analyst's inability accurately to locate this novel's ideological agenda on the right-to-left scale of conservative, liberal, and revolutionary. Nicholas Visser notes the same phenomenon, and frames as follows the questions that Nostromo raises: How do we account for the fact that this at times fiercely reactionary novel by a writer who declares repeatedly his unalterable opposition to revolution nevertheless shows the causes of revolutionary struggle in Costaguana to be, in the final analysis, the callous exploitation of a province and later country by an entrenched oligarchy in the service of foreign capital; how do we account for the fact that at the conclusion of the novel still another revolution is seen to loom on the horizon, one which suggests the inevitability, the legitimacy, even the desirability of the populace finally taking power through revolution?88

These questions are valid, and evoke many responses. First, the author's political commitments do not necessarily correspond to the ideological agenda of his fictional works. Nor can the critic ascribe authorial intention, and then proceed to judge an author's output in terms of intent, which is never, strictly speaking, available to anyone's purview, even that of the author. That Conrad was a conservative is well known. But two factors mitigate Visser's view that Nostromo betrays the ideological project that inspired it. The first is D.H. Lawrence's admonition to heed the tale and not the teller. The second is Conrad's prophetic thematic emphasis on American intervention in poor nations - intervention that masquerades as assistance in the struggle for democracy but is in fact a quest to make the world safe for the unfettered activity of American-based multinationals. Witness the true events in 1973 in Chile which inspired the book and film Missing, as well as American support of non-democratic, right-wing dictatorships friendly to U.S. market interests in El Salvador, Guatemala, and pre-Sandinista Nicaragua, among others. There is no reason to believe that a conservative from any nation other than the United States would support neo-colonial domination, especially one

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from a country suffering under the yoke of Russian imperialism, who sprang from a family with a history of nationalist opposition to this foreign domination. Furthermore, it is possible to support the goal of domestic control of resources, without which true sovereignty is impossible, even if the leaders of the nationalist movement are themselves vulnerable to criticism. The Monterist revolutionaries are presented in almost exclusively negative terms. Nevertheless, their struggle for home rule is just, and is a curious exclusion from a novel that reveals the heart of darkness lurking beneath the civilized veneer of imperialism. Therefore the conflicting ideological thrusts of Nostromo, the apparent sympathy for the underlying causes of revolution despite frequent ridicule of the revolutionaries, are in part a reflection of the imperfect world in which we live, but also mirror the unexamined racial bigotries of the time. The Blanco oligarchy, of Spanish origin, a group that includes the passionate but refined patriot Don Jose Avellanos, finds itself aligned with British imperialists such as Gould, and through Gould's association with Holroyd the aristocracy is affiliated with American commercial interests. Indeed, Visser finds Conrad's focus on the American superseding of European domination especially perspicacious, "given that 1904, the year of the novel's publication, was almost precisely the historical moment at which America overtook Britain in the accumulation and export of capital."89 Conrad foresees the power and ruthlessness of American intervention in the Third and developing World. Conrad has not yet achieved the precarious balance between individual liberty and group solidarity. Visser believes that enlisting the support of the Garibaldino "legitimates Conrad's dread of collective political action," and creates an apparent ideological contradiction: "A novel which depicts insurrection as the most unspeakably loathsome of social acts at the same time gives virtually unqualified praise to a character who fought in revolutions on two continents, particularly since Viola is valued precisely for his involvement."90 The contradiction is only apparent, according to Visser, inasmuch as Conrad distinguishes republican and hence noble revolutions from liberal, democratic, populist, and thus dangerously subversive uprisings. In my view, the contradiction is not only apparent; it is real. It may be false, but this dichotomy must be acknowledged to be operating in Nostromo. Furthermore it finds precedent in the history of political theory in Burke's conflicting stance of passionate support for the American Revolution and virulent denunciation of its French counterpart. It is undeniable that the French Revolution degenerated into a tyrannical reign of terror, whereas the American did not, yet both



initially shared the same republican ideal, and thus enjoyed the support of the same political constituency. The danger does not lie in revolution per se, but in how power is realigned in its aftermath. Crowds are inherently democratic rather than elitist, and Conrad's condemnation of the very notion of democracy, his equation of populist politics with tyranny, is complete when the quest for majority rule is the responsibility of politicians such as Guzman Bento and the Montero brothers, who have been a priori discredited as corrupt brutes, incapable of idealism. During a visit from Pedrito Montero following the Monteros' victorious ride into the Campo, Gould declares that he would see the mine destroyed before he would allow it to fall into the hands of the government of the country in which it is located: He would never let the mine pass out of his hands for the profit of a Government who had robbed him of it... He would never surrender it alive. And once dead, where was the power capable of resuscitating such an enterprise in all its vigour and wealth out of the ashes and ruin of destruction? There was no such power in the country. And where was the skill and capital abroad that would condescend to touch such an ill-omened corpse? ... "The Government can certainly bring about the destruction of the San Tome mine if it likes; but without me it can do nothing else.'... And Charles Gould said also that the destruction of the San Tome mine would cause the ruin of other undertakings, the withdrawal of European capital, the withholding, most probably, of the last instalment of the foreign loan. (332-4)

Throughout this exchange, Pedrito Montero is sarcastically referred to by the narrator as "His Excellency," but he feels diminished when Gould refuses to utter his title. Further, his ability to comprehend Gould's remarks is repeatedly questioned. His rejoinder to Gould's callous affirmation that if he goes down he will take the mine with him to ensure the government does not benefit from it may be less than politically astute, resting as it does on a misunderstanding of Roman and French history, but it indicates concern for the good of the oppressed people: "The highest expression of democracy was Caesarism: the imperial rule based upon the direct popular vote. Caesarism was conservative. It was strong. It recognized the legitimate needs of democracy which requires orders, titles, and distinctions. They would be showered on deserving men. Caesarism was peace. It was progressive. It secured the prosperity of a country" (335). Immediately following Montero's departure, Gould addresses these derisive words to Dr Monygham: "Liberals, as they call themselves. Liberals! The words one knows so well have a nightmarish meaning in

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this country. Liberty, democracy, patriotism, government - all of them have a flavour of folly and murder. Haven't they, doctor?" (337). Yet Montero's proposal of universal male suffrage and advancement according to merit, although limited by its historical context and gender-biased to the modern eye, is hardly nightmarish, especially when juxtaposed to Gould's vow to destroy the mine to prevent its being nationalized and its wealth redistributed in a truly just manner, favouring the people indigenous to Costaguana. The very notions of liberalism and democracy are undermined, without ever being acknowledged as the valid political successors to republicanism, a liberating force praised in this novel, especially in the portrayal of Giorgio Viola. It is inconsistent that Viola should scorn the populace, but he does, wholeheartedly, refusing to attribute to them genuine, justifiable political ideals and aspirations. "Republicanism," Visser writes, "is acceptable to Conrad insofar as he understands it to be idealistic and national rather than partisan and social in its politics. Republican revolutions, in this view, are wars of national liberation or unification, political rather than social revolutions, fought 'for the sake of universal love and brotherhood instead of a more or less large share of the booty'."?1 Republican revolutions are fought in the name of nationalism and nationhood, causes Conrad finds sympathetic, whereas democratic or socialist revolutions threaten the elite, such as the Blancos, whom Conrad considers most fit to rule, most likely to bring about peace and prosperity. The opposition of republican and democratic principles, unsupported by modern political theory, nonetheless must be understood as the central antithesis around which the many political and ideological conflicts in this novel revolve. It is a false polarity which nonetheless is used to discredit the democratic or socialist cause. It seems an untenable position to maintain that the desire of a nation's citizens to control its resources and redistribute its wealth is a negative development. Yet this is the position set forth in this novel, in which distrust of the liberal notion of shared responsibility and the democratic ideal of home rule is pervasive. The Spanish, British, and American imperialists are united by race. They are Blanco, white. Visser and Holton explore from two perspectives Conrad's depiction of the nationalist revolutionaries. Their combined insights shed much light on the crucial issue of why Conrad's unflattering portrayal of the anti-Ribierist forces does not mitigate a reading sympathetic to them. Holton examines the explicit racism in the depiction of the Monterists, which he links to Conrad's failure to grant them equal time to state their case: "From perverse leadership to pathetic 'rabble/ the revolution is propelled, then, by a combination of racial, cultural and psychological shortcomings on



the part of the revolutionaries rather than by any positive desire to redress the wrongs done to them or to alter the power structure that victimizes them."92 He notes that "specific inequalities [are] built into the discursive playing field," and that capitalism is favoured in Conrad's notion of Costaguanian history: "The pre-Columbian history of Sulaco is not really discussed, and the time from the 'Spanish rule' until the steam age is dismissed quickly... The fall into history begins with the arrival of commerce, of industrial capitalism ... Any other historical discourse pre-dating or extraneous to these interests is consigned to the margins of the narrative ... Conrad, in opening both of the first two chapters uses European commerce as a means of orientation, as an apparent limit to what can 'reasonably' be thought in historical terms."93 Visser examines the sociology of the crowd in British fiction, noting that Conrad adapts without question the conservative notion that the political crowd is justifiably considered an object of fear: "The political crowd has long operated as a crucial ideological signifier in bourgeois thought, particularly since i848."94 He notes that the issues of crowd and race in fact overlap, and that the effect of two superimposed negative portrayals is cumulative: "The racial myth operates in the novel to supplement and reinforce the ideological myth of the crowd. Frequently the two are thoroughly fused ... Nowhere are the racial and ideological myths more tightly or more dubiously conjoined than in the repeated phrase, 'Negro liberalism.'"95 Political legitimacy is denied the crowd on two bases. Aspirations are considered neither justified nor truly political.95 Conservative discourses on political crowds attribute their assembly to a tendency to violence rather than to a genuine desire for change, and in their denial of justifiable grievances, hold the leaders or agitators exclusively responsible for the formation of the crowd. In Nostromo, Conrad is guilty of this myopia, which is reinforced by characters who are reliable on other matters, such as Martin Decoud, Dr Monygham, Emilia Gould, and, above all, Giorgio Viola: "The old man, full of scorn for the populace, as your austere republican so often is ... [mutters] angrily to himself his contempt of the non-political nature of the riot" (26-7). His past as a republican revolutionary is handsomely praised: "He had lived amongst men who had declaimed about liberty, suffered for liberty, died for liberty, with a desperate exaltation, and with their eyes turned toward an oppressed Italy" (37). Yet contemporary revolutionaries in Costaguana, in Viola's view, "were not a people striving for justice, but thieves" (30). Despite his misgivings about this particular revolution, Viola retains his solidarity with the oppressed poor. In a conversation with

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Martin Decoud, Don Jose Avellanos, and Emilia Gould, he reveals that he perceives the Blancos' treatment of the people they pretend to champion as exploitative and worthy of the tradition of slavery, which is not so far in the past: "'For the people/ declared old Viola, sternly. 'We are all for the people - in the end' [Decoud replies]. 'Yes,' muttered old Viola, savagely. 'And meantime they fight for you. Blind. Esdavosl'" (147). Similarly, Emilia views the endlessly repeating, inconclusive cycle of popular uprisings as "a puerile and bloodthirsty game of murder and rapine" (53). No ammunition is spared in discrediting the revolutionaries. Yet Visser feels that "for all the invective Conrad heaps on the insurrectionists, both leaders and followers, he exerts the pressure of his irony nowhere more strongly than on those figures and institutions who strive for order, strive, that is, to forestall revolution." Charles Gould is the most obvious representative of unflagging belief in the power of material interests to introduce and maintain social justice and stability, a position "ironically rejected within the structure of values of the novel."97 This category also includes the most prominent members of Gould's network of support, among them Don Jose Avellanos, the patriot who betrays his original ideal of a united republic of Costaguana in his willingness to surrender native control of his country and its resources, and in his acceptance of Decoud's separatist plan and Gould's installation of the puppet dictator Ribiera in the name of defeating the revolutionaries. Also subject to Conrad's irony are Giorgio Viola, who betrays his populist impulse in his stubborn refusal to see the underlying kinship between his republican ideals and the struggle of the Monterists for national autonomy; Decoud, whose plan for the succession of the Occidental Province is largely inspired by personal concerns; Nostromo, who purloins the silver following his betrayal by the Blancos so that he may grow rich slowly, rather than donating it to the poor and oppressed, whose cause he repeatedly claims to support; Dr Monygham, whose memories of his past at the hands of Guzman Bento result in his alignment with the apparent refinement and civility of the European oligarchy; Captain Mitchell, although he is never taken seriously in the first place; and, last but not least, the corrupt, dictatorial Ribierist government, including Ribiera himself as well as Don Juste Lopez. The irony directed against the revolutionary forces may be the most corrosive and strident, but ultimately that directed against the oligarchy and its puppet government of choice reveals their motives as mercenary rather than republican, their ideals as control of national resources rather than the promotion of social justice. Finally, the invective directed against the revolutionaries does not undermine the more subtle irony aimed at the Blancos, for the



novel's "political momentum," in Visser's words, "leads to the inescapable recognition, first, of the revolutionary conditions these forces [the oligarchy] have brought about in Sulaco, and second, of the legitimacy of popular revolutionary struggle against economic and social oppression."98 Just as celebrations of the quincentenary of Columbus's discovery of the Americas conveniently ignored, until reminded by indigenous peoples, the fact that the Americas had long been inhabited at the time of Columbus's arrival and were not in need of discovery, it is true that most histories are written as if they commence at the moment when the interests of the conquering people begin to be established. The historical narratives of so-called "New World" countries open with their conquest by Europeans. Conrad's narrative is no different. The splendid and sophisticated Mayan and Incan civilizations, the latter destroyed in a campaign of cultural and actual genocide by the Spanish conquistador predecessors of the gentle and refined Don Jose Avellanos, are the ancestral sources of the Indians who work the mine. They are not even included in the margins of this novel's definition of civilization. Conrad clearly privileges the agendas of the late-arriving white European (Spanish and British) elite, and later the American. As Holton points out, Conrad could at least have acknowledged the historical past of pre-Columbian cultures, without making the colonized people his central theme.^ Interesting to note is that the legend of the gringos that opens the novel is the only dignified portrayal of the indigenous peoples' response to European values, and even then it is demoted in stature, marginalized to the status of legend in a text that privileges the Western empirical notion of history to the extent that it claims to be based upon historical fact - a claim that is itself one of many layers of fiction. Decoud too casts the history of Spanish conquest in Latin America in terms of popular legend. "There is a curse of futility upon our character: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, chivalry and materialism, high-sounding sentiments and a supine morality, violent efforts for an idea and a sullen acquiescence in every form of corruption" (149). This is one of few references to the Spanish conquistadors, whose plundering of Latin American resources Mrs Gould endeavours to distance from the activities of modern European and American capitalist imperialists. Yet she herself reiterates this painful insight with her final realization: "There was something inherent in the necessities of successful action which carried with it the moral degradation of the idea" (427). Captain Mitchell is the first character introduced whose narrative discredits the upheavals so common in Costaguana as the work of "a revolutionary rabble" (23). While Mitchell's grasp of history is under-

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mined throughout the novel, the dichotomy he establishes between the European residents and their Basque and Italian workers, who save the property of the company and the railway, on the one hand, and the revolutionary rabble, on the other, is never fundamentally challenged. Mitchell's view is immediately endorsed by characters of greater credibility, including Giorgio Viola; the anonymous business visitor who briefly narrates; Martin Decoud, another of the novel's historians, who comes, however indirectly, to support the separatist cause that advances the interests of the American investors; and even Don Jose, the patriot who comes to believe in the necessity of imperial domination and the influx of foreign capital for the survival of smaller nations. Mitchell's reduction of the revolutionists, Holton writes, "is further accentuated by pejorative references to race, resulting in a sense of genetic deficiency that denies rationality to them and precludes the necessity of any rational consideration of their claims to discursive or narrative authority."100 They bear the brunt of blame for the political chaos that is made to seem endemic to their homeland. The interminable cycles of revolutions, coups d'etat, and counter-revolutions in Costaguana are explicitly ascribed to race. This thought belongs to Decoud: "After one Montero there would be another, the lawlessness of a populace of all colours and races, barbarism, irremediable tyranny" (161). Most damaging is the fact that the natives remain without a voice "to articulate a political position or to narrate a version of historical events." Holton continues: "The very existence of their independent historical past has, in fact, been undermined, and their humanity metaphorically reduced to the level of bestiality. Denied a voice, such groups remain, in historian Eric Wolf's phrase, people without history ... The struggle of the two language groups to be heard takes place on a far from neutral ground. The uneven nature of the discursive field is established early on and continues throughout the novel."101 The dominant economic power base in Sulaco corresponds to the exclusive narrative point of view. The ideals to which each Blanco character pledges allegiance, the commitments to which each one is devoted, reveal a network of values necessarily in conflict among themselves. Don Jose, for instance, pins his nationalist hopes to liberal parliamentary democracy; his daughter, Antonia, is a passionate patriot, as is, despite his protests to the contrary, her lover, Martin Decoud. Viola is committed republican who has fought at Garibaldi's side to unify Italy, yet he refuses to acknowledge his kinship with those who fight to keep Costaguana from capitulating to American economic imperialism. Emilia Gould believes in compassion and shares the wealth, to a limited degree, through philanthropy. Dr



Monygham, who retains little faith in his capacity for commitment, is nonetheless fiercely loyal to Emilia and consistently cynical concerning the potential of material interests to bequeath a legacy of stability and social justice, an ideal to which Charles Gould remains committed until finally forced to acknowledge the implications of the debasing contacts he has expediently agreed to make. Holroyd believes in the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism; Mitchell's judgments are based on a similar barometer of progress. Father Corbelan anticipates liberation theology in his belief that the Church is a potentially powerful ally of the exploited peasantry and workers. The Blanco community is fiercely divided. Armstrong writes: "Nostromo alternates between endorsing and demystifying the ideal of community - between advocating social oneness and demonstrating its impossibility."102 Indeed the conflict between solitude and solidarity pervades Conrad's work. But excluded from even the most basic consideration in this novel are the ideals to which the revolutionaries subscribe. None of its many perspectives even suggests that their ideals may be valid, or of any importance at all except inasmuch as they conflict with those values enumerated above. The notion of community is not elastic enough to embrace the disenfranchised, indigenous people; they are marginalized. Most critics, perhaps unwittingly, endorse Conrad's Eurocentric perspective in their failure to notice this significant exclusion in the narrative. The rare positive descriptions of the revolutionaries' motives, cited above, have been ignored. Although they are portrayed throughout most of the novel as debased and self-serving, the Monteros' thoughts following the censored speeches in the Campo (part 3, chapter 5) reveal motives as idealistic and patriotic as Viola's commitment to unite Italy and free it from despotism. The difference is that the shackles that enslaved Italy originated internally; their limitations were easy to perceive by the mid nineteenth century, with democracy ascending in Europe and North America. The shackles that threaten to enslave Sulaco, however, are inextricably bound to misguided belief in the power of capitalism to provide not only economic but social stability. Faith in this notion was so strong that, as Marx said, capitalism came to be seen as a universally necessary and desirable social system toward which human history had been striving, rather than a system determined by and reflecting a set of historical values and contingencies subject to change. Hence in opposing the advancement of capitalist interests, the Monterists seemed, even to Conrad, to be opposing the march of history itself. Holton couches a similar insight in different terms: "If the idealism of the Blancos appears finally as hollowness, even this is on balance

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much more than can be said for the Monteros. Consequently, serious opposition to the established hegemonic power structure never for a moment becomes in any way thinkable in the narrative ... The Monteros are presented as grotesque, bestial, semi-lunatics, a depiction that indicates, perhaps, a profound anxiety concerning the political possibilities that they represent ... The alternative [to the Blancos] is unthinkable, literally incomprehensible."103 If the values held dear by the Blancos are presented only to be robbed of their authority and demystified, as Armstrong holds, Helton's contribution is the realization that the ideals of the revolutionaries are not even taken seriously enough to be depicted and then undermined. While it is true that Conrad's devastating critique of capitalism and imperialism is especially surprising, given the cultural context from which it springs, one of expansion and implicit unquestioned faith in a neverending upward spiral of progress, it is equally true that he does not carry his interrogation to its logical conclusion and explore the reactions and revolutionary motives of the conquered and hence dispossessed indigenous people. Irony may be directed against the oligarchy, and imperialism may be shown to lack the underpinning of social justice and stability it claims to be founded upon and to which its activities ostensibly lead, but the alternatives are systematically undermined without even the benefit of a critique, relegated to the fringes of the narrative discourse. In Helton's succinct phrasing: "That irony at no point impels the reader beyond the space of its object... that critique is in the end contained within its own discursive space ... internalized within the circle bounded by European characters, and the natives[']... claims for justice or an end to oppression can be largely dismissed."104 The narrative discourse implicitly favours the community it most cogently criticizes, for in denying serious consideration to nationalist ideologies, Nostmmo erodes their claim to validity and legitimacy more surely than it would have done had it offered a close analytic critique of their case. Furthermore, the negative impact of imperialist domination is held to injure its instigators more than their minions and labourers, the most rational of whom see it as a benign force in their lives. The Europeans are portrayed as complex, multidimensional individuals functioning within an intricate social network, whereas the indigenous and black labourers are presented as a monolithic, undifferentiated, unindividuated, and ultimately incomprehensible crowd, a rabble that remains relatively similar and predictable from one revolution to the next. They are denied introversion, rational complex thought, and the faculty of self-reflection. "Given possession of those same critical insights and that same inte-



riority, granted equal status as dialogic interlocutors," Holton conjectures, the natives "might potentially be able to contest the legitimacy of their exclusion from possession of the three related things: the silver, complex subjectivity, and discursive authority."105 This is not to criticize Conrad for failing to write a novel that was inconceivable, given the spirit of the times; for not having instigated the field of postcolonial literature. However, the structure and thematic concerns of this novel cry out for the inclusion of the very element that has been excluded. Thematically, a novel that explores the negative implications of capitalist imperialist expansion should investigate the victims of this expansion, and take seriously their acts of resistance, their attempts to reverse a procedure that denies them their birthright, even if their leaders are not unblemished in terms of character and motivation. Structurally, a novel constructed with a multiplicity of perspectives presented separately should be inclusive. The shifting and overlapping chronological arrangements that allow for the portrayal of many points of view concerning events and the motives that instigate them, the consistent omission of the perspective of the anti-Ribierist revolutionaries, except in terms of the reactions of the Blancos, who feel the most threatened by their agenda and who in any event view them as their moral and racial inferiors, is a glaring exclusion that invites commentary. Thematically and structurally, this novel is the perfect vehicle to explore all possible points of view, including those of the native population. The exclusion of even a single aspect of the potentially pluralistic perspectives this final group may engender, the refusal to give voice to the conquered people, is all the more glaring than it would be in a traditional novel structured around one consistent vantage point. Conrad misses the opportunity he creates for himself, by the very nature of his narrative innovations, to move beyond orthodoxy and portray the disenfranchisement of those victimized by foreign domination. Conrad's experiments with representation do indeed have highly charged political as well as epistemological implications. Holton discusses the two "modes of existence" the natives are granted in this novel: as quaint and picturesque, or as irrational and destructive.106 At issue is Conrad's failure to provide at least a balanced if not a sympathetic depiction of the revolutionaries' aspirations and motives, so that the reader can formulate a reasonable response to the option they represent. Their point of view is conspicuous by its absence. This has not been noted in criticism until recently when the issue of Eurocentricity entered the political and academic agenda. Conrad's dismissal of political resistance to the tyranny of

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imperialism is at least as telling as his incisive critique of that social arrangement. While this particular manifestation of imperialism is shown to be oppressive and driven by material interests that do not honour their promise of social stability but instead impose their own agenda, nonetheless the condescension and derision aimed at the very notion of autonomy and home-rule for Latin American nations tacitly endorse the justification upon which imperialism as a policy and an ideology rests. It is not until Nostromo, following his betrayal, assumes a more radical stance with respect to the aristocratic Blancos whose interests he has so faithfully served that narrative voice is afforded to the disenfranchised. Significantly, it is only when a member of the rank of the ruling class, even though he is a servant, is alienated from them and realigns his allegiances that the text becomes even minimally subversive with respect to the power structure. "Toward the end of the book," Holton writes, "we find that discursive space rather ambiguously occupied by Nostromo who, since the events of the rebellion, has developed a radical social conscience. Ironically, the founding of the new regime owes a great deal to his heroic acts."107 Acts that appear heroic from Mitchell's perspective may seem bullying and coercive to the cargadores Nostromo so effectively controls. Holton too questions his "approach to labour relations."108 Nostromo's disdain for the elite in whose service he once harnessed the entire might of his energy is the result of bitterness at his betrayal during the revolution, despite his life-endangering adventure safeguarding the silver from falling into the hands of the Monterist forces. He finally achieves a clear picture of the interests he has so faithfully served: "His mind, floating in irresolution and discontent, recognized it with bitterness. He understood well that the doctor was anxious to save the San Tome mine from annihilation. He would be nothing without it. It was his interest. Just as it had been the interest of Senor Decoud, of the Blancos, and of the Europeans, to get his Cargadores on their side" (375). His awareness is born of the bitterness fuelled by his betrayal. His political insight does not engender altruistic notions of social justice developed independently of personal feelings of resentment. It triggers not social activism on Nostromo's part to redistribute the wealth or at least to employ it in the fight for social justice, but the purloining of the treasure. Finally the mine becomes the focal point in Nostromo's mind as it does in Emilia's - the crystallization of all that is exploitative and immoral in this enterprise and, by extension, in economic imperialism exercised by developed countries in developing ones: "He had defeated the spell of poverty and starvation. He had

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done it all alone - or perhaps helped by the devil. Who cared? He had done it, betrayed as he was, and saving by the same stroke the San Tome mine, which appeared to him hateful and immense, lording it by its vast wealth over the valour, the toil, the fidelity of the poor, over war and peace, over the labours of the town, the sea, and the Campo" (413). Interestingly, Nostromo perceives the San Tome mine as "hateful and immense" immediately following Decoud's surrender to "the immense indifference of things" (412). The individual agent is equally powerless against the unlimited power of material wealth as he is against the merciless force of scepticism and solitude. Potential political and even textual subversion is again discredited. Of Nostromo, it is written: "The popular mind is incapable of scepticism; and that incapacity delivers their helpless strength to the wiles of swindlers and to the pitiless enthusiasms of leaders inspired by visions of a high destiny" (346-7). This evaluation is curious in both content and placement. It contradicts Nostromo's own assessment, in the preceding paragraph, that "a man betrayed is a man destroyed" (346). And it privileges Decoud's paralysing scepticism over Nostromo's initial idealism, which, however misplaced, at least results in action rather than the pretence of superior detachment. This hierarchy is not supported in Conrad's canon of work, where the cynic fares worse than even the most misguided idealist. Nostromo is mistaken in believing that his prized personality is "the only thing lost in that desperate affair" (358), for so too are his freedom and integrity. 2 "The Fatal Spell of Their Success" Conrad's use of the framing device is not confined to the first section. The novel opens with the legend of the gringos who inhabit the Azuera. The insight of the poor, "associating by an obscure instinct of consolation the idea of evil and wealth" (17), turns out to be overlooked and undervalued. For the legend of the gringos reverberates throughout the novel, associated with each main character and present at every moment of defeat. The Azuera "is deadly because of its forbidden treasure" (17). The treasure is gold rather than silver: "The two gringos, spectral and alive, are believed to be dwelling to this day amongst the rocks, under the fatal spell of their success. Their souls cannot tear themselves away from their bodies mounting guard over the discovered treasure. They are now rich and hungry and thirsty a strange theory of tenacious gringo ghosts suffering in their starved and parched flesh of defiant heretics, where a Christian would have renounced and been released" (18).

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As J.H. Stape points out, however, the novel opens with a double perspective: "The first chapter emphasizes folk myth and legend while the second is dominated by commerce, the great shaping force of the present." The paradox that the gringos cannot be free from hunger and thirst or from spiritual bondage precisely because of their wealth incorporates both elements of Conrad's double framing device, and is repeated in the fate of Nostromo following his theft of the silver. Nostromo himself offers this comparison between his fate and theirs: "There is something in a treasure that fastens upon a man's mind. He will pray and blaspheme and still persevere, and will curse the day he ever heard of it, and will let his last hour come upon him unawares, still believing that he missed it only by a foot. He will see it every time he closes his eyes. He will never forget it till he is dead - and even then - Doctor, did you ever hear of the miserable gringos on Azuera, that cannot die? Ha! ha! Sailors like myself. There is no getting away from a treasure that once fastens on your mind" (379). Nostromo, once shamelessly exploited by the Blancos, graduates here to the status of slavery to the very product they held would create the prosperity needed to make all free. As his wealth grows, so does the intensity and inescapability of his enslavement. Conrad employs yet a third framing device, whereby the supposedly expository "Author's Note," which offers an explanation of the historical inspiration for this novel, is itself part of an elaborate fiction: My principal authority for the history of Costaguana is, of course, my venerated friend, the late Don Jose Avellanos, Minister to the Courts of England and Spain, etc., etc., in his impartial and eloquent History of Fifty Years of Misrule. That work was never published - the reader will discover why - and I am in fact the only person in the world possessed of its contents ... I beg to point out that the few historical allusions are never dragged in for the sake of parading my unique erudition, but that each of them is closely related to actuality; either throwing a light on the nature of current events or affecting directly the fortunes of the people of whom I speak. (11)

He goes on to enumerate Emilia and Charles Gould, Dr Monygham, and Antonia Avellanos, modelled, he claims, on his own first love, as acquaintances whose hospitality in Sulaco he fondly remembers. He admits that Nostromo's character is partly his own fictional creation, freely revised from an American sailor's account of an unmitigated scoundrel who steals a lighterful of silver. This endeavour to anchor fiction in ostensibly historical sources that later re-emerge as part of

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the fiction, and are hardly impartial, has been related by Armstrong to notions of power, both political and semantic: Conrad employs a contradictory narrative strategy whereby he introduces a claim of authority only to call attention to its limits and cast doubts on its pretensions. This double movement suggests that an act of power is necessary to make meaning but that any assertion of ascendency - even mastery over the elements of a story - is possibly suspect and vain. In the semantic realm as in the world of politics, Conrad acknowledges the usefulness of power to establish structures and pursue productive ends - at the same time as he warns against egotistical self-assertion and deceptive manipulation.110

Formal experimentation and epistemological exploration inevitably entail political and social implications. Early in the same essay, Armstrong states: "The literary impressionists' experiments with representation raise important political questions about the novel's shift away from realism: As the novel becomes increasingly epistemological and hermeneutic in focus, what happens to its power as a political instrument?"111 Reflexivity does not imply that art is devoid of social and political implications. Instead the opposite is true, for semiotic self-scrutiny both reflects and expresses what Armstrong calls "the problematics of power.""2 A link is established between the epistemological implications of Conrad's narrative innovation and the political implications of his exploration of revolution and democracy. Touted as stabilizing forces, democracy and capitalism are "constantly accompanied by the threat of an eruption of violence itself sparked by differences ... Nostromo suggests, furthermore, that justice is not a univocal category but a variable notion that can be construed in different ways.""3 Fredric Jameson outlines a family tree for the characters consisting of two principal genetic lineages: These two great lines of the book's character-groupings, that which descends from the mine owner Charles Gould and that which descends from the Italian immigrant and Garabaldino Viola, sort themselves out into an immediately identifiable opposition: they correspond to the two great forces of nineteenth-century history - industrial capitalism, expanding into its imperialist stage, and "popular" (that is, in the strictest sense, neither peasant nor proletarian) revolution of the classic 1848 type, of which the heroic figure of Garibaldi is both the Lenin and the Che, and the only leader of a successful revolution which founds an independent state. That the framed portrait of Garibaldi should preside over the founding of an independent Sulaco clearly opens up a basic space for the political meditation of this novel;... while to

276 Solitude versus Solidarity Garibaldi's legendary patronage of the Viola plot, Holroyd, Charles Gould's even more shadowy San Francisco benefactor and capitalist underwriter, stands as a structural opposite and counterweight."4

Anticipating and perhaps influencing the insights of the two scholars cited above, Jameson notes that Conrad approves of one revolutionary quest but not the other: "Conrad never went further politically than in this sympathetic portrayal of the nationalist-populist ideal; at the same time, it must be said that he contains and carefully qualifies this pole of his new historical vision, primarily by separating off one genuine Latin (but European) revolutionary impulse - the Italian, which is here exotic and foreign - from the indigenous Monterista variety ... The valorization of the positive term Viola/Garibaldi is in other words permitted only at the price of splitting off the bad double, the Montero brothers, with their 'Caesarism/ which itself becomes a bad mirror image of Garibaldian populist leadership.""5 In Jameson's view, Holroyd and Garibaldi are ideological and structural antitheses, which are synthesized in the person of Decoud, "driven by an idee fixe and a political vision.""6 Nostromo is in turn established in opposition to Decoud, as the Self is in opposition to the Ideal (the capitals are Jameson's), cynicism in opposition to devotion. This in turn engenders a second dialectic: "The generation by the system of the new term of cynicism helps to account for the otherwise inexplicable emergence of a new character - Dr Monygham - after the Decoud-Nostromo expedition.""7 Jameson considers this fateful expedition to be the fundamental, central event of the novel, for it results in the founding of the Republic of Sulaco, but its repercussions include Decoud's suicide and the instigation of Nostromo's criminality. Yet their heroism, Jameson feels, is appropriated from these individuals by the collectivity. He further develops Fleishman's insight that Decoud and Nostromo make possible the creation of a whole new society but resist final commitment to and integration within the community, whose birth they have sacrificed greatly to attain. Combined, Jameson interprets them as Weberian charismatic hero on the cusp of routinization: Here the central act, the heroic expedition of Decoud and Nostromo, which ought to have grounded their status as heroes, as ultimate legendary forms of the individual subject, is appropriated by collective history, in which it also exists, but in a very different way, as the founding of institutions ... They stand indeed in the Weberian place of the "vanishing mediator," of the prophetic or charismatic individual term whose historical but transindividual function, according to the "ruse of history," is merely to enable the com-

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ing into being after him of a new type of collectivity. Decoud's and Nostromo's is the moment of the action of the individual subject, but one which is at once reabsorbed by the very stability and transindividuality of the institutions it is necessary to found. History uses their individual passions and values as its unwitting instruments for the construction of a new institutional space in which they fail to recognize themselves or their actions and from which they can only, either slowly or violently, be effaced, remnants of another age - ... the moment of the mediatory transition to another social form, a form as degraded, as transindividual, as non-narratable, as the one which preceded it, although in it[s] own quite different way. So this great historical novel finally achieves its end by unravelling its own means of expression, "rendering" History by its thoroughgoing demonstration of the impossibility of narrating this unthinkable dimension of collective reality, systematically undermining the individual categories of storytelling in order to project, beyond the stories it must continue to tell, the concept of a process beyond storytelling.118

This is a reiteration, in terms of this novel, of Marx's view that capitalism is at least as unstable and incendiary as any system, however fallen, that precedes it. Capitalism is transindividual both in that it appropriates and redirects individual passions and vocations for its own ends and, once established, subsumes all human relations and interactions within its principal model of domination and oppression, whether this paradigm manifests itself as proprietor and labourer, or producer and consumer. Of the two options Jameson lists for the effacement of the individual, Nostromo's fate is the former, as his bitterness inspires him to "grow rich slowly," while Decoud's death is perhaps the most violent of all, as despair permeates his consciousness so completely that he takes his own life. The man of action and the man of thought are both destroyed by a system which, while historically claiming to respect individual rights, in fact crushes them by invariably making the individual subservient to the goals of the system. The antithesis of Nostromo and Decoud is synthesized in the person of Dr Monygham, who only appears, Jameson argues, when resolution to this crippling dialectic becomes a necessity generated by the logic of the narrative. Jameson completes his abstract system of grouping the characters in terms of Hegelian dialectic by asserting that Dr Monygham's synthesis of Decoud's characteristic cynicism and wisdom with Nostromo's loyalty and experience is the "place of the Witness""9 - that textual location occupied by Marlow when Conrad employed the technique of a single dramatized narrator, but held here, in Jameson's view, by a narrative voice that is not omni-

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scient but sufficiently detached to make this pattern observable. I refer the reader to Jameson's discussion of Nostromo, in which he establishes the characters in dialectic relation to each other, to the central act of the novel, as well as to the Witness who enables the narration to occur. The schematic diagram on page 277 is especially helpful. However, assertions such Jameson's which claim that the generation of Dr Monygham as a character is strictly the result of the necessity of the textual system, including the Idealism-Cynicism dichotomy in which he understands Nostromo and Decoud to be locked, seem to me overly reductive, abstract, and systematized, and do not take into account the role of imagination in the creative process. Further, Dr Monygham's blend of acute cynicism and undying loyalty can be explained in more philosophic terms, especially bearing in mind Dostoyevsky's dictum that absolute scepticism stands on the last rung but one before absolute faith. Cynicism is therefore not incompatible with loyalty, for one who has suffered the betrayal that Dr Monygham has known is uniquely placed to judge where loyalty, so precious a gift, is truly deserved. A dialectical approach to character and event is wholly appropriate to a Marxist critical-theoretical reading, however, and Jameson's analyses of Conrad's novels in this vein are very enlightening, especially taken in tandem with a study of Marx himself. Jameson admits that his system "explains everything but the essential, namely the dynamics of the ideal act itself, of the impossible synthesis or complex term, that foundation or new inauguration of society which will lift us out of fallen history ... Nostromo will keep faith with this impossibility and insist to the end on everything problematical about the act that makes for genuine historical change." He concludes by expressing "the impossibility of envisioning such change, on the nature of genuine History, the historical Event which marks a decisive shift from one state of things (fallen nature) to another (genuine society), not as an event that can be narrated, but rather as an aporia around which the narrative must turn, never fully incorporating it into its own structure."120 This agrees with my conclusion that Utopia does not loom on the horizon at the end of the novel, but rather further revolution based on class consciousness fuelled by capitalist exploitation. In Jameson's view, however, the novel ultimately "finds itself deflected into autoreferentiality," and his view of reflexivity in Conrad is similar to mine in that, as opposed to the virtuoso pyrotechnics of much postmodern literature, the evaluation of the nature of language and narrative in Conrad is a natural offshoot of his exploration of the possibility and nature of individual and national identity. Of Nostromo, Jameson writes: "The resonance of

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his book springs from a kind of unplanned harmony between this textual dynamic and its specific historical content... Nostromo is thus ultimately ... no longer a political or historical novel, no longer a realistic representation of history; yet in the very movement in which it represses such content and seeks to demonstrate the impossibility of such representation, by a wondrous dialectical transfer the historical 'object' itself becomes inscribed in the very form."121 The notion that capitalism is in fact a destabilizing force is derived from the Communist Manifesto,in which Marx holds that the alleged solidity of capitalist social structure depends upon constant disruption and disintegration. The multiple perspectives of Conrad's complex narrative technique expose competing perceptions of what is just, and the conflicting and changing political allegiances of the ruling elite. Establishing that the novel "depicts a web of relations extending from Sulaco to San Francisco, Paris, Italy, and England," Armstrong writes: "To the extent that these connections are the product of imperial expansion, Nostromo demonstrates Marx's point that the march of capitalism paradoxically solidifies and extends our social being even as it proliferates areas of conflict - creating closer and wider ties throughout the world community even as it expands and exacerbates exploitation."122 In the act of reading this complex narrative of multiple perspectives, he continues, the reader "must emulate Conrad's own work of constructing an entire society ... [only to] discover in the process that the social whole is an irreducible multiplicity ... This uncertainty re-creates in the temporality of reading the unpredictability that is for Conrad an essential feature of historical time."123 Although Nostromo and Gould seem opposite types, the one an obsolete relic, a colonial-era adventurer thriving on glamour and publicity, the other an austere, aloof administrator of a fully fledged imperialist system, the two are united in that both are slaves of the treasure. At the end of the novel, in her solitude, Mrs Gould mourns the fate of her husband: "She saw the San Tome mountain hanging over the Campo, over the whole land, feared, hated, wealthy; more soulless than any tyrant, more pitiless and autocratic than the worst Government; ready to crush innumerable lives in the expansion of its greatness. He did not see it. He could not see it. It was not his fault. He was perfect, perfect; but she would never have him to herself" (427-8). Presenting this as the ultimate in a series of realizations by members of the Blanco oligarchy that the interests of the mine are ruthless and destructive to their ostensible goal of stability and social justice, Visser writes: "Mrs. Gould's moment of epiphany is what finally validates them within the novel's structure of values ... The

280 Solitude versus Solidarity

overall effect is to suggest the extent to which political and social authority in Sulaco is experiencing a serious crisis of legitimation."124 These acknowledgments of oppression by the oppressors not only portend future populist insurrectionary action, they implicitly endorse the charges of exploitation that will lie at the core of future revolutions. The attempts by the people to seize political power and to restructure society by any means necessary, including revolution, are not only justified; they are implicitly granted the rationality of motive that the narrative voices have so stridently denied them. Action invariably causes "the moral degradation of the idea" (427) in Conrad's novels. In this, Don Jose's quest for "national selfrespect" (122) and Gould's faith in the mutual compatibility of prosperity and stability reach their ironic fruition in a Sulaco that is nothing more than an American outpost, with a labour-backed revolution imminent. Conrad underlines the gap between the ideals that motivate the action of the novel and the outcome of that action in the discrepancy between Mitchell's understanding of events and their true significance. Don Jose's hopes for the future of his country are betrayed by the presence of a bust of him on the tour conducted by Mitchell for his privileged visitors: "A fair likeness," Mitchell judges the bust, appreciating neither how disillusioned its model would be with the hollowness of post-revolutionary Sulaco nor the bitterness of Don Jose's death, a death not attributable to his being "worn out with his life-long struggle for Right and Justice at the dawn of a New Era" (393), as Mitchell thinks, but to his recognition that this new era is not new but tainted with the fear and oppression of the past. Concepts of change and progress in this novel are illusions, the destruction of which kills the more sensitive, perspicacious characters even if the illusions do sustain the rather dense Captain Mitchell. The spiritual death of Don Jose is related in Decoud's letter to his sister: Only Don Jose hid his face in his hands, muttering "Never, never!" But as I looked at him, it seemed to me that I could have blown him away with my breath, he looked so frail, so weak, so worn out. Whatever happens, he will not survive. The deception is too great for a man of his age; and hasn't he seen the sheets of Fifty Years of Misrule, which we have begun printing on the presses of the Porvenir, littering the Plaza, floating in the gutters, fired out as wads for trabucos loaded with handfuls of type, blown in the wind, trampled in the mud. I have seen pages floating upon the very waters of the harbour. It would be unreasonable to expect him to survive. It would be cruel. (200) Idealism, however admirable Conrad finds it, is invariably incapable of being sustained by action. The fate of idealists of sensitivity and



intelligence, such as Don Jose, Giorgio Viola, and even Martin Decoud, whose mask of cynicism is ultimately an ineffective defence, is inevitably despair or spiritual death, and often actual death. The masses who inherit the earth are those who do not question the foundations of social existence. If the history Mitchell composes represents "the allied and anxious good will of all the material interests of civilization" (131), Don Jose's history is above all a passionate plea for "peace, prosperity, and (as the end of the preface to Fifty Years of Misrule has it) 'an honourable place in the comity of civilized nations'" (125). Don Jose's mind is open enough, his soul elevated enough, to write, in the History of Misrule, a generous eulogy for dictator Guzman Bento, at whose hand he has suffered degradation and torture. Don Jose's fierce nationalism is somewhat at odds with his support of Ribiera, who solicits foreign investment as the key to prosperity, and with his support of the separatist revolution, which is grounded in the great power of the San Tome mine as the agent of Sulaco's freedom and stability. "Perhaps, my dear Carlos," says Don Jose, "I shall not have believed in vain" (128). It seems ironic that the myopic Captain Mitchell and the intellectual Don Jose support the same cause. However, Arendt describes imperialism's hold on such a man as Don Jose to be precisely the essence of the tragedy of imperialist domination: "The only grandeur of imperialism lies in the nation's losing battle against it. The tragedy of this half-hearted opposition was not that many national representatives could be bought by the new imperialist businessmen; worse than corruption was the fact that the incorruptible were convinced that imperialism was the only way to conduct world politics."125 It is expected and perhaps just as well that Don Jose does not survive to see the Sulaco that is the subject of Captain Mitchell's guided tour. He is torn apart by and surrenders to mutually contradictory forces that Mitchell can never understand. The same is true of Martin Decoud, who is, in fact, the third historian of the novel. In his "barren indifferentism" (134) and mockery of Spanish-American governments he is diametrically opposed to Don Jose's passionate involvement and hope for the future. Despite this, Don Jose enlists Decoud's help in the coming revolution. Decoud finds, to his own surprise, that "he was moved in spite of himself by that note of passion and sorrow unknown on the more refined stage of European politics" (138). It is difficult to believe his recurring protests to the effect that "No occupation is serious, not even when a bullet through the heart is the penalty of failure" (154), or his attempts to convince himself and others that he undertakes to act on behalf of the revolution not because he is a patriot, but because of his

282 Solitude versus Solidarity

love for Antonia, Don Jose's daughter. Love is clearly a form of engagement and not indifference. The loneliness he experiences at the Casa Viola, when he writes the long letter to his sister that narrates the Monterist uprising, is caused not by his want of faith or resolve, but precisely because he feels unique in his possession of these qualities: "I have the feeling of a great solitude around me. Is it, perhaps, because I am the only man with a definite idea in his head, in the complete collapse of every resolve, intention, and hope about me? But the solitude is also very real" (196). The solitude to which Decoud surrenders his life following the adventure he shares with Nostromo is not confined to the Golfo Placido but has its roots in Decoud's musing on a riotous uprising which he likens to those of the past, "when the persistent barbarism of our native continent did not wear the black coats of politicians, but went about yelling, halfnaked, with bows and arrows in its hands" (197). He closes the letter with this assertion: "All this is life, must be life, since it is so much like a dream" (210). For the success of his secessionist plan, Decoud relies upon the "sentimentalism of the people" (203) of the Blanco party, which enables them simultaneously to sustain a strong tradition of nationalism and to open the province of Sulaco, once independent, to untrammelled foreign investment. It is this contradiction that tears apart Don Jose Avellanos, who with his dying breath tells Decoud "to go on in God's name" (202). Decoud's most venomous judgment is directed against Gould and Holroyd, Gould as one of "those Englishmen [who] live on illusions which somehow or other help them to get a firm hold of the substance" (203), and Holroyd as an utter sentimentalist who "would not drop his idea of introducing, not only justice, industry, peace, to the benighted continents, but also that pet dream of his of a purer form of Christianity" (203). The engineer-inchief of the railway who joins Decoud, the Goulds, and Antonia in the Goulds' boudoir during the uprising is later judged by Dr Monygham as self-flattering when he inflates the value of activity: "I begin to believe that the only solid thing about them is the spiritual value which everyone discovers in his own form of activity" (266). All along, the tendency of the novel has been to reveal as illusory the idea that with purposeful activity one can control personal and national destinies. Gareth Jenkins expresses the same concept somewhat differently when he remarks Conrad's "commitment to the basic identity of apparently opposed forms of action."126 The novel bears out Marx's prediction that complex alignments of power and networks of support will resolve themselves into a society simply structured of two

283 Nostromo

opposed classes, the bourgeoisie who profit from the domination of foreign capital, and the proletariat, eternally exploited, but now classconscious and susceptible to socialist inspiration. The narrative transcends concern with imperialism to give a glimpse of the social dynamic that will develop as a reaction against the inequalities of a social order founded on material interests. The indigenous Indians who work the mine initially support the Ribierist cause to protect their livelihood, as do the cargadores, hand-picked and controlled by Nostromo. Dr Monygham, at the end of the novel, asks Mrs Gould if she thinks the Indian workers of the mine "would [now] march upon the town to save their Sefior Administrador?" (419). Mitchell refers with disapproval to the same labourers who supported the separatist revolution as the future socialist opposition. Although he does not approve of their solidarity, Mitchell confirms that the disenfranchised groups have united to form a force to be reckoned with on the labour front: "I saw the last of the fighting, the Uaneros flying, the Nationals throwing their arms down, and the miners of San Tome, all Indians from the Sierra ... The Democratic party in opposition rests mostly, I am sorry to say, on these socialistic Italians, sir, with their secret societies ... There are whole villages of Indians on the Campo. And the natives, too, are being drawn into these ways" (392-3). This movement also gains the support of the urban work force and the small traders who had backed the defeated Montero, and the peasants who had banded under Hernandez. Jenkins writes: "Politically, we follow the tumultuous evolution of Sulacan society both to the cynical wisdom of Dr. Monygham's anti-progressivism and to the portentous platitudes of Captain Mitchell's imperialist faith. In one account, Sulaco is mere phenomenon, annihilated by the meaninglessness of Decoud's death; simultaneously, Sulaco is the substantial creation of the community's collective action, Decoud's death being the unhappy result of failing to believe in oneself and others."12? The final allegiance of Nostromo, the man of the people, to the silver that represents the interest of the bourgeois ruling class is emblematic of the fate of a society divided against itself, a society that rejects because of its abstraction the only alternative offered to the development of material interests. This is the force Dr Monygham speaks of "that can be found only in a moral principle" (419). Nostromo's sympathy with the revolutionary forces seeking to overthrow the oligarchy who had betrayed his loyal service is confirmed in the bitterness of the denunciation of class oppression and manipulation that he addresses to Mrs Gould as he lies on his deathbed: "Marvellous! - that one of you should hate the wealth that you know so well how to take from the hands of the poor. The world rests on

284 Solitude versus Solidarity

the poor, as old Giorgio says" (458). Viola's insight into the machinations of the rich and powerful stays with Nostromo until the bitter end: "As to the rest, they neither knew nor cared. What he had heard Giorgio Viola say once was very true. Kings, ministers, aristocrats, the rich in general, kept the people in poverty and subjection; they kept them as they keep dogs, to fight and hunt for their service" (342). He remains faithful to the ideas of his slayer, but refuses to condone the argument of the Marxist, that "the rich must be fought with their own weapons" (460). The idealism of the left exemplified by Garibaldi, this novel would have us believe, has degenerated into the bloodthirsty hatred of the communist, whose materialist philosophy the "venerable Garibaldino" could never countenance. Here again, Conrad's depiction of the socialist leader in post-revolutionary Sulaco undermines any claim of leftist politics to be a viable, legitimate alternative to the politics of imperialist capitalism. He is "an indigent, sickly, somewhat hunchbacked little photographer, with a white face and a magnanimous soul dyed crimson by a bloodthirsty hate of all capitalists, oppressors of the two hemispheres" (432), who endeavours to extract money from Nostromo even as he lies on his deathbed. He hovers over Nostromo "huddled up on the stool, shock-headed, wildly hairy, like a hunchbacked monkey" (460). The socialist revolutionary is dehumanized, made to seem bestial, obsessive, and irrational, as the Monteros and their followers had been. Yet embedded in this unflattering portrait is the suggestion that this man is essentially magnanimous, but embittered by the legacy of imperial domination and the property owners' exploitation of the peasantry and indigenous workers. He is white, and therefore emerges from the European population, but his soul is dyed crimson by his rage. Unlike Nostromo's, however, his bitterness channels his energy toward political involvement, however radical and doomed to violent overthrow backed by those who benefit from foreign domination. Nostromo's bitterness, on the other hand, manifests itself in vengeful and selfish purloining of the superfluous silver he had risked all to save. Raval agrees that Nostromo's awareness of his exploitation does not translate into activism, as it might in a more altruistic individual: "Nostromo's thieving and illicit passion dramatize the helplessness of a man whose consciousness of his own former exploitation by others has no liberating consequences for him and for his community."128 The association of altruism and liberating consequences is consistent with my conviction that true freedom inheres in and is made possible only by commitment, be it to another person,

285 Nostromo

one or many causes, or political cohesion of the community. Nostromo's corruption ensures that he never fully identifies with the innocent oppressed, or openly supports their battle against exploitation by those who wield power. He surreptitiously attends clandestine gatherings of workers involved in the process of unionizing, and covertly assists them financially, all the while never making an open, public declaration of his new-found radicalism, his support of the revolution that looms on the political horizon. Decoud and Nostromo exist in a kind of dialectical relation with respect to each other and society. The man who places himself above the people fully engages himself in their political revolutionary cause, only to retreat once again and succumb to utter, vacuous scepticism. The man of the people, on the other hand, initially a fully integrated social being, retreats from his role in society as his consciousness of exploitation grows. Yet he never fully commits himself to the counterrevolutionary socialist cause, and dies alone, hoarding the treasure, a burden that he stole from the capitalists but would not commit to their opponents. Decoud and Nostromo begin in antithetical relations to society, but meet the strikingly similar fate of a lonely death brought about by withdrawal from the community. Involvement is necessary, even if the illusion of personal impact is penetrated. Fleishman's interpretation of Nostromo's refusal to contribute his wealth to the revolutionary cause is the opposite of mine, but worthy of consideration. Citing Nostromo's "knowledge of his moral ruin locked up in his breast" (Author's Note, 13), Fleishman declares: "It is, then, a mark of his dedication to the revolution that Nostromo does not answer, does not allow the curse to be passed on to the people."129 Not wishing the people to suffer the moral ruin he experiences, Nostromo does not bequeath them the prize of his corruption, the silver, even though it will be used to fight the oppressors with their own weapon. This altruistic explanation of Nostromo's denial to the revolutionaries of what can no longer be of use to him seems somewhat contrived. Yet Nostromo's support of the revolution is compromised by his decision to purloin the silver, neither returning it to its official owners nor donating it to the revolutionary cause. Elaborating his view of Nostromo as tragic hero, "destroyed by the contradictions between self-seeking and class consciousness," Fleishman writes: [Nostromo's] social integration is eroded by personal preoccupations. This ironic relationship of communal identity and inveterate isolation is what gives Nostromo's career, like the larger historical action of the novel, its tragic character. Community and individual are found to be both interdependent and mutually exclusive: they create and they destroy each other - at least at

286 Solitude versus Solidarity this imperfect level of social development... There is in Nostromo a residual resistance to complete assimilation with the people, and this heroic individualism accounts both for the hero's demise and for his stature ... [Nostromo] points the way toward an ideal social hero who achieves full integration with his nation or his class. But he himself does not fulfill that ideal.130

Whichever interpretation of Nostromo's final refusal of support for the socialist cause is accepted, it is clear that Conrad's final attempt to portray a revolutionary in negative terms does not fully impose closure or unravel the cumulative impact of the insights from the camps of labourers and the oligarchy concerning the inevitable working out of the interests of the mine. A devastating critique of capitalist imperialism, this book is ahead of its time. However, it not only fails to endorse any "alternative discourse of liberation,"131 but systematically discredits any option that represents the goal of political and hence economic autonomy for this developing country, and any leader who proposes to give the people a stake in their own nation, hence citizenship in the meaningful sense of the word. The apparently conservative Padre Corbelan, now cardinal-archbishop of Sulaco, who has all along nurtured a deep compassion for the people, offers this ominous warning: "Let them beware, then, lest the people, prevented from their aspirations, should rise and claim their share of the wealth and their share of the power" (418). This is a precursor of contemporary Latin American liberation theology, a unique blend of Christianity and Marxism in which the Church aligns itself with the peasantry and the working class in the name of social justice and, specifically, land reform. "He is a fierce sort of priest," Mitchell tells his captive audience, "everlastingly worrying the Government about the old Church lands and convents" (393). The secret societies promoted by Padre Corbelan win the support not only of the bandit Hernandez, who had once made a pact with Gould, but of Nostromo himself as well as the united force of the workers. These are Dr Monygham's words: "The last of the Avellanos [he refers to Antonia] and the last of the Corbelans are conspiring with the refugees from Sta Marta that flock here after every revolution ... They are conspiring for the invasion of Costaguana. And do you know where they go for strength, for the necessary force? To the secret societies amongst immigrants and natives, where Nostromo - I should say Captain Fidanza - is the great man ... But for a military head they have the pious Hernandez. And they may raise the country with the new cry of wealth for the people" (419). Nostromo finally earns the term of endearment that is no longer used of him when he switches allegiance from the oli-



garchy to the oppressed, although curiously he does not complement his personal support with financial donations from funds at his disposal since his purloining of the silver. The strong potential for revolution arising from the class consciousness of the proletariat indicates that Sulaco will remain locked in a cycle of revolution and counter-revolution. The once-divided workers of the railway and the mine, and the cargadores of the dock, have come to share the consciousness of victimization and exploitation. They will unite to form the proletariat that will ignite yet another in the endless cycle of revolutions foreseen at the close of the novel. This insurrection will be structured as a class conflict, based upon alignments corresponding to Marx's famous division of humanity functioning within capitalist social structure into worker and property owner, proletariat and bourgeoisie. The proletariat's grasp of common interest will ensure that the forces of the railway, mine, and dock workers, and the peasantry, are not split among conflicting loyalties. Rather than assuring peace and prosperity, the interests of the mine have merely embittered and hence hardened the resolve of their workers, transforming passive victims into fierce opponents of oppression. In his influential book All That Is Solid Melts into Air, the title of which is drawn from the heart of the Communist Manifesto,Marshall Berman encapsulates the central drama of Marx's Manifesto: the conflict between the modern bourgeoisie and proletariat. This succinct paragraph reads like a condensation not only of Nostromo but of the globalization of modern markets and the resultant increasing gaps between rich and poor in this era of free trade. The centralization of modern modes of production, consumption, and bureaucratic authority is required for the infrastructure of gloablization: Marx describes the solid institutional core of modernity. First of all, there is the emergence of a world market. As it spreads, it absorbs and destroys whatever local and regional markets it touches. Production and consumption - and human needs - become increasingly international and cosmopolitan ... Capital is concentrated increasingly in a few hands ... Vast numbers of the uprooted poor pour into cities - which grow almost magically - and cataclysmically - overnight. In order for these great changes to go on with relative smoothness, some legal, fiscal and administrative centralization must take place;... National states arise and accumulate great power, although that power is continually undermined by capital's international scope. Meanwhile, industrial workers gradually awaken to some sort of class consciousness and activate themselves against the acute misery and chronic oppression in which they live.'32

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The thrust of the argument, imagery, and momentum of the Communist Manifestois to unmask capitalism as a revolutionary rather than a stable and solid force. "All that is solid melts into air." Capitalism implants within the social structure it engenders the seeds of its own downfall. It sets the stage not for stability but for social meltdown and revolution. Marx admires the drive of the bourgeoisie. However, the processes unleashed by their energy and activity combined with their exclusive interest in the bottom line which consists of accumulating capital and surplus value - mean that they do not treasure the activity they induce for its own sake: "The irony of bourgeois activism, as Marx sees it, is that the bourgeoisie is forced to close itself off from its richest possibilities, possibilities that can be realized only by those who break its power ... They can go on playing their revolutionary role only by denying its full extent and depth."133 Witness how the mine becomes for Gould an end in its own right, and how all the ideals of social progress formerly associated with its development evaporate, melt into air, when he is faced with the possibility that it might be confiscated and nationalized by the Monterist forces. Yet should they assume power and do so, the mine might indeed be conducive to advancements in social justice. The drive to reform and restructure society, inaugurated and proven viable by the bourgeoisie, if taken to its logical conclusion, suggests to the worker that he too can radically reorganize the social structure, as those above him in the hierarchy capitalism produces have successfully done. The liberation of human capacity achieved by the bourgeoisie means that the stability they supposedly seek is a priori illusory, made impossible by the fluid nature of capitalism. In addition to unleashing human energy, the bourgeoisie is able to harness and exploit to promote its own ends forces that arise in opposition to it. Berman notes: The second great bourgeois achievement has been to liberate the human capacity and drive for development: for permanent change, for perpetual upheaval and renewal in every mode of personal and social life ... Our lives are controlled by a ruling class with vested interests not merely in change but in crisis and chaos. "Uninterrupted disturbance, everlasting uncertainty and agitation," instead of subverting this society, actually serve to strengthen it. Catastrophes are transformed into lucrative opportunities for redevelopment and renewal; disintegration works as a mobilizing and hence an integrating force. The one spectre that really haunts the modern ruling class ... is the one thing that traditional elites (and, for that matter, traditional masses) have always yearned for: prolonged solid stability. In this world, stability can only



mean entropy, slow death ... This system requires constant revolutionizing, disturbance, agitation; it needs to be perpetually pushed and pressed in order to maintain its elasticity and resilience ... This means, however, that men and movements that proclaim their enmity to capitalism may be just the sort of stimulants capitalism needs ... to become stronger amid pressure and crisis than it could ever be in peace, to transform enmity into intimacy and attackers into inadvertent allies.134

Hence Gould's insistence that the mine will bring about "law, good faith, order, security"; his belief that material interests "are bound to impose the conditions [listed above] on which alone they can continue to exist" (81) is shown to be either a blatant lie, or at the very least self-deception, from the start. Gould's pact with Hernandez and his vow to dynamite the mine to prevent its falling into the hands of the populist revolutionaries represents a change neither of heart nor of political philosophy. Rather it is all along implicit in the dynamics of the situation, and is the capitalist's only possible response to the threat that his property may be confiscated and used to ameliorate the living conditions of the proletariat. The permanent revolutionary conditions under which capitalism thrives may well be appropriated by anti-capitalist revolutionary forces, a process we witness in Nostromo. Marx understands "that the humanist ideal of self-development grows out of the emerging reality of bourgeois economic development."135 The restricted notion of economic progress inherent in capitalism can be transcended; nonmarketable ideals such as vocation and philanthropy can be reintroduced, and human development rerouted in such a way that it undermines the interests of its original inspiration. Witness the bandit Hernandez, who had initially formed a pact with Gould to deliver the support of the peasantry to the interests of the mine. At the novel's end he is "the friend and humble servant of Bishop Corbelan" (395)' wno represents the interests of the labour force he has orga-

nized into a cohesive group consisting of the same people whose support he had formerly pledged to the Blancos' secessionist plan. This assemblage is a precursor of modern labour unions. Hernandez's organization is known as the "Carabineers of the Campo"' (395). This united front will be the source of the labour troubles that Mitchell fears, loom on the horizon. Given the never-ending dynamic of capitalism, a system perpetually in flux, it follows that the desires and ambitions of those who control the system as well as those who are the cogs in its wheels will soon be transformed by the very energies they engender. The bourgeois trend toward upheaval could result in its own overthrow.

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"Thus capitalism will be melted by the heat of its own incandescent energies." Berman feels that the reason apologists of capitalism remain humble about "its infinite horizons, its revolutionary energy and audacity, its dynamic creativity, its adventurousness and romance, its capacity to make men not merely more comfortable but more alive"136 is their fear that the carefully constructed fiction (in which most sincerely believe) that capitalism engenders stability will be unmasked as an elaborate pretence. If so, those it exploits will recognize that the transformative potential of the energy and creativity it unleashes is equally available to them to pursue their own agendas. These agendas may include social programs, such as universal access to education and health care, aimed at the redistribution of wealth, which are subversive to the capitalist, for higher taxation means lower profits. The tool created by the explosive, revolutionary energy that fuels capitalism must be kept under wraps, secret. If capitalism is indeed a revolutionary force, its supporters wish to prevent the final revolution, that directed by the proletariat against the property owners, which looms on the horizon as Nostromo ends. The bourgeoisie, Berman believes, plans obsolescence even into the very monuments with which it celebrates itself; it is "the most violently destructive ruling class in history": All the anarchic, measureless, explosive drives that a later generation will baptize by the name of "nihilism" - drives that Nietzsche and his followers will ascribe to such cosmic traumas as the Death of God - are located by Marx in the seemingly banal everyday working of the market economy... For this miraculous and magical world is also demonic and terrifying, swinging wildly out of control, menacing and destroying blindly as it moves. The members of the bourgeoisie repress both wonder and dread at what they have made: these possessors don't want to know how deeply they are possessed. They learn only at moments of personal and general ruin - only, that is, when it is too late.137

Mrs Gould's epiphanic insight that her husband is possessed and finally consumed by the mine remains private, for Charles refuses to acknowledge that his control of the mine has metamorphosed itself into the mine's control over him: "She saw clearly the San Tome mine possessing, consuming, burning up the life of the last of the Costaguana Goulds, mastering the energetic spirit of the son as it had mastered the lamentable weakness of the father" (428). Just as Conrad's political novel is framed with the supernatural legend of the gringos, which casts in mythic terms Gould's infatuation with and Nostromo's ultimate enslavement to material treasure, so too does



Marx's Communist Manifestodraw on myth and legend to convey the underlying horrors of an apparently rational political and economic system. His "bourgeois sorcerer" descends from Goethe's Faust and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and capitalism is "the consummate underworld power": "These mythical figures, striving to expand human powers through science and rationality, unleash demonic powers that erupt irrationally, beyond human control, with horrifying results."138 The novel ends on an apocalyptic note, not only because of the inevitability of further and perhaps definitive revolution, in which the dialectic of historical materialism may be permanently transcended by a system committed to social justice for its own sake, but also because of the repeated emphases that the characters who emerge from the oligarchy are the last of their respective lines: the last of the Avellanos, the last of the Corbelans, the last of the Goulds. The same is true of Decoud and Nostromo, who die without heirs. Nostromo swings between the same polarities that theManifesto claims "will shape and animate the culture of modernism in the century to come: the theme of insatiable desires and drives, permanent revolution, infinite development, perpetual creation and renewal in every sphere of life; and its radical antithesis, the theme of nihilism, insatiable destruction, the shattering and swallowing up of life, the heart of darkness, the horror."13? Berman's use of Conradian metaphors is entirely appropriate. The two texts differ, however, for in Marx's view, "the sorcerer's apprentices, the members of the revolutionary proletariat,... will transform these volatile, explosive social forces into sources of beauty and joy for all, and bring the tragic history of modernity to a happy end."1'*0 Conrad does not share this Utopian optimism. While it is possible, it is by no means certain that the revolution that looms at the end of Nostromo will lead to social justice and political stability. It may engender yet another cycle of revolutionary and counter-revolutionary terror. For if capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction, so too may socialism. Further, the capitalist system, which by Marx's own admission thrives on chaos and crisis, may find itself strengthened rather than extinguished by further revolutionary activity. It is itself responsible for the promotion of militant proletariat insurrection, for it thrusts together large numbers of frequently disaffected workers, creating conditions ripe for collectivist action, namely unionization, the precursor of which we witness at the end of Nostromo, when the secret societies nurtured by Bishop Corbelan and Hernandez promise to be the inspiration for future labour unrest. Berman underlines the logical inconsistency in Marx's thought, the assumption that the social

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order brought about by proletariat revolution will be permanent, when one of the principal attributes of capitalism is its ability to thrive on upheaval even as it claims to be a force creating conditions conducive to order and stability. If all capitalist products and forms of community are temporary and provisional, why should the workers' revolution it catalyses be the sole exception? The solidarity of workers we witness at the end of the novel may yet unravel. Berman asks: "How can communism entrench itself in the modern world without suppressing those very modern energies that it promises to set free? On the other hand, if it gave these energies free rein, mightn't the spontaneous flow of popular energy sweep away the new social formation itself?"141 The bonds uniting the members of the European oligarchy - be they the bonds of race, marriage, betrothal, political commitment, or personal loyalty - disintegrate, and the union of the workers, brought together by outrage over exploitation, may also fail to withstand a variety of challenges. Communist societies, which find it necessary to repress the very energies they promise to set free, have recently been rent asunder by the forces of individualism just as surely as "the private, atomistic framework of capitalist social relations" is threatened by collectivist reaction against its engrained injustices. Human relations, be they among members of the same group, or between the two classes into which society is finally resolved, cast themselves exclusively in terms of domination and oppression. Describing this phenomenon in the Communist Manifesto, Marx writes: The bourgeoisie ... has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value ... For exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe ... Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.'42

People whose values and motivations are vocational or idealistic, people whose occupations were formerly accorded "reverent awe,"



like Nostromo's, are subsumed into the marketplace, their motives evaluated in terms of profit margin, their services measured in terms of exchange value. All people, not only workers forced to parcel out their labour for wages, become commodities. Talent and the desire for expressive fulfilment are devalued. "Old modes of honor and dignity do not die," Berman writes; "instead, they get incorporated into the market, take on price tags, gain a new life as commodities. Thus, any imaginable mode of human conduct becomes morally permissible the moment it becomes economically possible."143 This is reminiscent of Teresa's warning to Nostromo to extract concrete payment from the Blanco oligarchy in return for his services, for the words of flattery that are his lifeline cost them nothing and provide him no bulwark against future misfortune. In Nostromo's view, monetary payment diminishes the glamour, adventure, and personal prestige he seeks. Yet the alternative amounts to theft of his time and labour. Services that come free to the capitalist are not valued. Nostromo's realization that he is taken for granted leads to his purloining the treasure, and indirectly to his death at the hands of his former mentor, Viola, in a case of mistaken identity. This cause of death is especially ironic, given that when Nostromo realizes he has been betrayed he loses the persona he has so carefully cultivated, and the reader realizes there has been all along no stable core to his identity. In a world in which human value is equated with market price, Nostromo is a relic whose sense of his own worth is not shared by the community he so faithfully serves. But Marx's admonition against the loss of a halo, an idea Weber later transmuted into his famous expression mourning the disenchantment of the world, applies not only to the likes of Nostromo, who are nurtured exclusively on glamour. Marx's epilogue reads in full: "The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science into its paid wage-labourers."144 This category of people includes idealists, intellectuals, those who follow their heart and whose occupations should inspire respect and reverence. Hence it embraces characters as diverse as the disillusioned and embittered Dr Monygham; Padre Corbelan, friend of the people and future reformer; and Don Jose Avellanos, passionate patriot who comes to support the claims of capitalist imperialism to be a civilizing force. Even those people such as intellectuals and artists, fortunate or talented enough to escape the fate of alienation from their labour described so eloquently by Marx in the 1844 Manuscripts, are incorporated into and subsumed by market forces if they function within a capitalist social structure. "All that is holy is profaned," sec-

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ularized, desanctified, commercialized. Yet Herman holds that Marx perceives a positive, democratic aspect in this process: "It brings about a condition of spiritual equality. Thus the modern bourgeoisie may hold vast material power over the workers and everybody else, but it will never achieve the spiritual ascendency that earlier ruling classes could take for granted."145 This explains the equality of treatment accorded the people of various backgrounds and vocations who assemble at the Casa Gould. However, those beyond the pale of the racial bonds that bind the white imperialists, be they Spanish, British, or American, remain excluded, both physically and textually. Marx strives to bring to light one of the paradoxes of the historical role of professionals and intellectuals in capitalist societies. As Berman says: "Even though they tend to pride themselves on their emancipated and thoroughly secular minds, they turn out to be just about the only moderns who really believe that they are called to their vocations and that their work is holy."146 Understood in these terms, Decoud's spiritual kinship with Padre Corbelan, the sceptic's empathy with the priest, is not as paradoxical as it seems: "Those two men got on well together, as if each had felt respectively that a masterful conviction, as well as utter scepticism, may lead a man very far on the by-paths of political action" (173). The intellectuals and professionals in this novel truly become, as Marx says, "paid wagelabourers" of the bourgeoisie. As such they are by definition members of the "modern working class, the proletariat." Don Jose's sacrifice of his patriotic ideals in the face of Gould's cynical and calculating faith in material interests is evidence of the subordination to the ubiquitous domination of capital of values that were formerly independent of monetary equivalence. Don Jose's book Fifty Years of Misrule, upon which Conrad ostensibly bases Nostromo, is suppressed because it documents a history of barbarism that Dr Monygham predicts will be repeated in the name of material interests: "Mrs. Gould, the time approaches when all that the Gould Concession stands for shall weigh as heavily upon the people as the barbarism, cruelty, and misrule of a few years back" (419). Marx is emphatic that like all workers, society's artists, intellectuals, scientists, and philosophers, once appropriated into the proletariat, are subject to market forces. Their work must generate capital or it will not be funded. "Once the work is done they are," Berman adds, "like all other workers, separated from the products of their labour." Don Jose is separated intellectually, spiritually, and finally physically from the book into which he has poured so much of himself. In Marx's view, however, this is not the usual fate of products of the intellect and imagination in market societies, for the bourgeoisie



is too shrewd to allow potentially profitable material to go to waste. Berman says: "What will happen instead is that creative processes and products will be used and transformed in ways that will dumbfound or horrify their creators."147 This is a perfect description of the fate of Marx's legacy of social theory, most alleged experiments in which he would fail to recognize as such. Intellectuals are commodities in capitalist society. Their sole distinction from the rest of the proletariat is that they are personally, often passionately, involved in their labour, and thus escape the fate of alienation from and indifference to their creation experienced by other members of the working class. Sensitivity can prove painful and even destructive, for it is difficult to resign control of one's work if it comes straight from the heart. As Decoud says of the dying Don Jose, who has seen his manuscript float away on the tides of revolution: "It would be unreasonable to expect him to survive. It would be cruel" (200). "His chronicle is destroyed," Raval eloquently writes, "by the rioting mob that scatters its pages in the street - disclosing, as it were, the futility not merely of the record but of the moral passion behind the record. And, though Don Jose dies of old age, his death is connected to his apprehension that the brutal and tragic events of the past are now repeating themselves as farce. The scattering of his pages is emblematic of history's indifference to his judgment, albeit in a way which would have pained him."148 "It is easy to see why modern intellectuals," Berman writes, "trapped in these ambiguities, would imagine radical ways out: in their situation, revolutionary ideas would spring from the most direct and intense personal needs. But the social conditions that inspire their radicalism also serve to frustrate it... The networks and ambiguities of the market are such that everybody is caught up and entangled in them."14^ Finally convinced of the need for foreign capital, Don Jose endorses the five-year dictatorial reign of Don Vincente Ribiera, who is given "a specific mandate to establish the prosperity of the people on the basis of firm peace at home, and to redeem the national credit by the satisfaction of all just claims abroad" (126). That the claim of foreign creditors to the resources of the land is considered more just than that of indigenous people is a curious position for a patriot to hold. Both Don Jose and Giorgio Viola perceive distinction, when there is none, between the revolutionary fervour of which they approve and that which they witness. Viola's republicanism and Don Jose's patriotism are both endeavours to overcome the same sort of oppression and exploitation that the workers suffer in Costaguana. Eagleton, in an essay on "History, Narrative, and Marxism," points out that where the intellectual perceives difference, the oppressed

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perceive repetition: "Hegel thought that every event repeated itself (Marx added, "first as tragedy, then as farce");... As Marx put it, "history is a nightmare weighing on the brains of the living" ... History may be 'difference' for the intellectuals, but it is most certainly identity and repetition for the oppressed."150 Marx's description of conditions that will prevail after the classbased revolution assumes that when the "unaccommodated" men (Berman borrows this epithet from King Lear) of the proletariat band together, they will act solely for the common weal. Marx's vision of workers' revolution does, however, correspond to the conditions Conrad hints are inevitable following the revolution that lurks at the end of Nostromo, beyond the margins of his fiction: When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of associated individuals, the public power will lose its political character. Political power, properly so-called, is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another. If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these other conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.1'1

Marx advocates a balance between collective responsibility and individual expression; the former is not only conducive but necessary to the latter. Personal liberty entails passionate commitment. Marx retains the bourgeoise emphasis on development and growth as positive values, but differs in his priority for their direction and goals. Exclusive adherence to social values or individual liberty is destructive, however, both philosophically and politically, as Stein teaches. The balance between communal bonds and personal freedom has yet to be attained at the social level. Unfettered individualism holds sway as the supreme ideology in the American tradition, and this priority will be transplanted to the newly independent Sulaco, where conflict between capitalists and class-conscious, newly united workers is assured. Communist societies have shown themselves intransigent, repressive of the very expressive powers they promised to set free, and have collapsed. The Occidental Province through which



Mitchell guides us at the end of Nostromo is independent in name only. An American outpost, established solely to serve the interests of budding U.S. multinational corporations, it foreshadows the fate of many Latin American countries in the twentieth century. The proletariat revolution promised at the end of the novel will likely be crushed by American military intervention, and Marx's workers' paradise will not come to pass. Only the modern welfare state, a capitalist society underpinned by a far-reaching and universally accessible network of social programs, approaches the successful synthesis of ideals of individual selfexpression, by freeing the people from the bondage of poverty, and collective values, by ensuring that wealth is redistributed and opportunities are equal. A mixed economy such as Canada's, in which the potential inequities of free-market enterprise are buffered by a high degree of government intervention, offers the best balance between justice and freedom yet attained. In the conclusion of his book The Needs of Strangers, Michael Ignatieff expresses a belief in the benefits of this equilibrium that is very close to my own. Discussing the modern political Utopias of Rousseau and Marx as "resolutionfs] of the alienation between self and society" that entailed "a leap out of politics into metaphysics" and placed too much emphasis on certainty, Ignatieff asks: "Is there a form of society which could reconcile freedom and solidarity? Is there a society which would allow each of us to choose our needs as we see fit, while providing us with the necessary means to make these choices?"152 He responds thus to his own questions: Freedom is empty as long as we are trapped in physical necessity. Freedom is also empty if we lack a language in which we can choose the good. For all its many shortcomings the modern welfare state can be understood as an attempt to reconcile these antinomies: to create a society in which individuals would be given what they need so that they would be free to choose the good. For all the apparent relativism of liberal society - our interminable debate about what the good in politics consists in - in practice a shared good is administered in our name by the welfare bureaucracies of the modern state ... The paradox is that this continuous intrusion into the logic of our own choosing has been legitimized by our public commitment to freedom of choice. It has been in order to equalize everyone's chances at a free life that the state now meets needs for food, shelter, clothing, education, transport and health care (at least in some countries). It is in the name of freedom that experts in need now pronounce on the needs of strangers. Apparently, societies that seek to give everyone the same chance at freedom can only do so at some cost to freedom itself.153

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Touching upon the issue of the inadequacy of language to express the notion of belonging in the modern world, Ignatieff concludes: "We need justice, we need liberty, and we need as much solidarity as can be reconciled with justice and liberty. But we also need, as much as anything else, language adequate to the times we live in."154 Gregory Baum in Compassion and Solidarity distinguishes between two conceptions of democracy: "Sometimes democracy is understood as a political system that seeks to maximize personal freedom ... From this point of view, democracy encourages individualism and is in perfect harmony with the capitalist system."155 However, the second conception, which he prefers, is defined thus: "Yet democracy can also be understood as a political system that seeks to maximize not personal freedom but personal participation ... Democracy interpreted in this manner engenders a strong sense of solidarity. If democracy is seen as maximizing participation, it is at odds with a capitalist system that allows only the owners or directors, but never the workers, to share in the decision-making process."'56 Democracy in this context counters the cult of individualism, for it promotes social solidarity via "the institutional defense of human rights"157 rather than building hope for social justice on the ever-shifting sands of material interests. Berman ponders two factors Marx failed to consider in the Communist Manifesto. The first pertains to the difficulty of balancing individual and collective values. "Indeed, the sort of individualism that scorns and fears connections with other people as threats to the self's integrity, and the sort of collectivism that seeks to submerge the self in a social role, may be more appealing than the Marxian synthesis, because they are intellectually and emotionally so much easier."158 Despite her criticisms of Marx, Berman notes, Arendt avoids the erroneous view that Marx privileges collectivist over individualist values: "Arendt understands the depth of the individualism that underlies Marx's communism, and understands, too, the nihilistic directions in which that individualism may lead. In a communist society where the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all, what is going to hold these freely developing individuals together?"159 The second and related question considers whether doubt concerning the notion of individualism, which assumes a stable core of selfhood, may not be the ultimate price of modernity. That Nostromo lacks a stable centre to his being has been noted. His ultimate lack of identity may be a hallmark of the modern experience. Berman suggests: "The nature of the newly naked modern man may turn out to be just as elusive and mysterious as that of the old, clothed one, maybe even more elusive, because there will no longer



be any illusion of a real self underneath the masks. Thus, along with community and society, individuality itself may be melting into the modern air."T6° Eagleton takes this notion one step farther: "The absent centre of Nostromo is in part Nostromo himself, but also the silver of which he is the agent - the inert, opaque matter around which the human activity frenetically swirls ... The silver is the unifying principle of the entire action; but since that action has for Conrad no coherent historical intelligibility, it is a principle which must of necessity be dramatically absent."161 Another interesting insight is that the bourgeois social policy of free trade not only of commodities but of people and ideas as well will allow revolutionary ideals to take seed. Because the bourgeois economy thrives on crisis and chaos, a downward spiral immediately sets in once stability seems to have been established, resulting in the crumbling of previous accomplishments so that new undertakings may begin. If revolutionary ideals are indeed welcome in bourgeois society (rather than repressed, which is usually the case, although it violates the principle of free trade of ideas), they too will be subject to "the moral degradation of the idea." Berman writes: "Propelled by its nihilistic drives and energies, the bourgeoisie will open the political and cultural floodgates through which its revolutionary nemesis will flow ... A century later, we can see how the business of promoting revolution is open to the same abuses and temptations, manipulative frauds and wishful self-deceptions, as any other promotional line."162 Although the narrative strategies of Nostromo are manipulated so that the Monterist revolutionaries are not given the opportunity to defend or even speak for themselves, they are obviously a compromised lot. Mid-nineteenth-century Russian populists believed that the modern experience of fragmentation and alienation may be peculiar to Western culture, and need not accompany all social experiments in modernism.163 In their quest to leap from feudalism to socialism, bypassing the bourgeois stage of development, they advocated a successful fusion of traditional customs with modern energy and potential. It is this leap that the members of the Blanco oligarchy pre-empt. But developing nations do not escape the simultaneously creative and disintegrative dynamic of modernity. Indeed, the greatest thinkers and writers of the Third World argue that this is just what it needs. Octavio Paz believes that it is "condemned to modernity"; furthermore, that without the imaginative and critical energy of modernism, "the revolt of the Third World ... has degenerated into different varieties of frenzied Caesarism, or languishes beneath the stranglehold of bureaucracies that are both cynical and fuzzy-minded."164

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One is reminded of Pedrito Montero's well-meaning but unsophisticated faith in Caesarism. Arendt's analyses of race as the cornerstone of colonialism, and of bureaucracy's role to provide imperialism, as rapacious an endeavour as colonialism, the veneer of dedication to peaceful progress, are useful in this context. Imperialism truly produces, as Arendt writes, "a world of hollow pretence, [in which] its stability was the greatest pretence of all."165 This proves false the faith of the progressives, such as Gould, the engineer-in-chief, and even Don Jose, in the spiritual value to be found in activity and in faith pinned to material interests as the key to progress.


Playing devil's advocate in her essay "Joseph Conrad," Virginia Woolf imagines Marlow, in the early years of the twentieth century, offering his creator the following advice: "If as novelist you wish to test man in all his relationships, the proper antagonist is man; his ordeal is in society, not solitude."1 Woolf was more intrigued with Conrad's earlier work, that set against the backdrop of the sea. She believed Marlow's flashes of insight, his epiphanies and subsequent soliloquies, to be better suited to Conrad's vision, his intuitive understanding, of the unheralded and unmourned men whose lives were passed in utter isolation, rather than to his later portrayal of those men and women who functioned within communities, setting themselves against the forces of history rather than against the forces of nature. Marlow's '"moments of vision' flashing and fading," she writes, "do not serve as well as steady lamplight to illumine the ripple of life and its long, gradual years."2 The conflict between solitude and solidarity, I believe, is not so much a conflict between Conrad's early and his later, more explicitly political work as it is one that rages in the heart of each individual and every community. Adherence to either exclusively has repeatedly been shown to result in personal and social extinction, as Stein in his wisdom knew all along. I have explored the impact of the works of Darwin, Weber, Mannheim, Arendt, Lukacs, and Marx upon humanity's perception of its status as part of nature and as citizens subject to the social contract. Implicit in and common to all thinkers is a radical re-evaluation of the concept of individuality, its status and value in society. All inherit the Romantic notion of the sacrosanct individual: Darwin from the English Romantic poets; Marx, Lukacs, Weber, Mannheim, and Arendt from German idealist philosophy, culminating in the work of Hegel. The ancestor common to all life forms posited by Dar-

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win undermines not only the notion of individual and collective human identity, but also faith in the special status of the human race. The decline of the individual is the subject of Weber's ponderings on charisma and its routinization, and on the rise of the modern bureaucratic society. Marx's hope for the redemption of humankind, atomized in modern capitalist society into individuals alienated from others and from their essential selves, lies in an ideal form of communism in which individuality finds full expression as a "confirmation of social life." Underlying Mannheim's analysis of the subjectivity and fragmentation reflected in modern sociology and epistemology is the assumption of a "unitary world view," a previous coherence that suffers a sudden disintegration or "breakdown." Arendt's analysis of race and bureaucracy as the justifications for colonialism and imperialism respectively is influenced by Weber's analysis of bureaucracy in modern society, and argues that neither provides the justification for incursion into an alien land and culture, for the appropriation of governing responsibility from the subjected to the conquering race, or for the cultural and actual genocide that is sadly all too often the legacy of colonial and imperial domination. The thrust of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century thought deemphasizes individuality, instead examining humanity as functioning within a collectivity - be it the "tangled bank" that conveys Darwin's view of the community of all life forms, the society characterized by conformity and systematization that Weber foresaw, or Marx's ideal view of communal co-operation, in which individual fulfilment and the attainment of society's productive and expressive potential are one and indivisible, mutually complementary. The role of the work of contemporary theoretician Charles Taylor is twofold. Sources of the Self is a powerful defence of modernity from its detractors who claim it has descended into an abyss of moral and epistemological relativism. In tracing the development of the notion of inwardness and of moral imperatives that we today accept as axiomatic, Taylor argues that the human moral framework, on both the personal and political fronts, is not compromised by the move toward subjectivity, and need not be anchored in objective criteria, be their origin religious or secular. The implications for the novel of this shift in values are both formal and political. Traditionally, the novel charts the development of the renegade or Romantic hero as he or she matures through experience and adopts a compatible, conciliatory relationship with society. This study has endeavoured to establish the political and epistemological implications of new forms of narrative. It may be useful to recall the view expressed by Conrad in an 1898 letter to Cunninghame Gra-

303 Conclusion

ham: "We, living, are out of life - utterly out of it. The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of a humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence." As the biological, geological, and astronomical sciences demystify the universe, and humanity comes to be viewed as rather less than the sum of its physical attributes and chemical make-up, concern with fate, be it as individual or citoyen, becomes an existential absurdity. Instead of striving to discern the harmony among the natural world, the human world, and the divine, as the imagination at its most creative, or as Northrop Frye would say, re-creative, has done in previous eras, our modern imagination, faced with such a bleak view of the cosmos and of humanity's insignificance, turns inward, becoming self-absorbed and introverted. This is especially true of Conrad's heroes, Kurtz and Lord Jim above all. Since the imagination cannot recreate a harmonic existence with society, nature, or God - with anything outside itself - only two options remain. One is willingly to accept death, as Hardy's and Conrad's heroes do. The other is to immerse oneself in the routine of organizational society, in which individuality is sacrificed in favour of group survival. Those who choose the second option do not realize, however, that not only radical individualism but also stifling conformity constitute what Stein calls "the destructive element." They do survive, but the society in which they function is one that has repudiated its best element, the creative principle, the key to insight and progress. The potential for meaningful change to be brought about by human endeavour is eradicated. Humanity becomes trapped in a cycle of repetition, conveyed in Hardy's work, and witnesses the victory of mediocrity and conformity over integrity and individual identity. Or we find ourselves alienated from the society that nurtured us, and are attracted to the exotic realm of Africa or the Malay Archipelago, like Kurtz and Jim. After initially discovering there an alternate society to which we can maintain allegiance, we soon find ourselves moving away from fidelity to any notion of community whatsoever. Simultaneously, the very nature of community is undermined by our actions, by our overwhelming need to be true to ourselves alone. Nostromo, betrayed by the society he has faithfully served, finds himself enslaved to the material interests that uphold imperialist domination at precisely the moment he severs his ties with the community to become self-serving. In all cases, reintegration of the individual with

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society is impossible, for society increasingly demands conformity with and subservience to the group. The strong-willed individual is forced to choose between asphyxiation within an increasingly routinized society, the unfolding of which reveals a fatalistic pattern of repetition that abrogates the potential for meaningful progress, and solipsistic obsession with individual freedom made impossible and private meaning rendered incommunicable by society's validation of the group ethic alone. The individual chooses the latter, thereby rendering inevitable his own destruction as he descends into an abyss of scepticism and despair. Decoud's death results from "solitude and want of faith in himself and others." However, the exotic backdrops against which Kurtz, Jim, and Nostromo lead their lives do not afford them the potential for integration within a different sort of community, but instead throw into dramatic and tragic relief their solitude and isolation, and underline the meaninglessness of the human enterprise, the invalidity of the cherished "idea at the back of it" ("Heart of Darkness," 32). The formal problem faced by both Hardy and Conrad involves the juxtaposition of humanity's increasingly circumscribed potential whether we exist within a society too constrictive for us as in Hardy, or move outside of the confines and ethics of society itself as in Conrad - with the backdrop of rural countryside or the even more expansive setting of exotic lands. Both promise but ultimately cannot deliver the freedom from social constraint that the individualist demands. Specific to the Conrad novels, because of their colonial and imperial setting, is the issue of racism and the fragility and ultimate untenability of European notions of racial and cultural solidarity. The problem is one of content, or politics, as well as form. Notions of racial supremacy or the superiority of a specific cultural conception of community cannot be justified. Even Marlow, who embodies the tradition of British political theory that places priority upon attainment of the common weal and devotion to duty, comes to question these values as he witnesses their betrayal by Kurtz and Jim. Furthermore, he experiences the malleability and deceptiveness of the language in which they are couched. The code that is Marlow's cultural legacy is upheld by historic precedent rather than philosophical soundness or scientific viability. The foundation upon which imperialism rests, that Western civilization is a beacon of enlightened progress, is simply without justification. The notion of individualism is a double-edged sword when considered in the light of the implications of Darwinian theory. The power of Darwin's thought, which entails a view of a single progenitor common not only to all races but to all species or life forms,

305 Conclusion

lies in its role as the ultimate equalizer. Its democratic thrust devalues individualism. Beer explains: "In any transferred reading of evolutionary theory in human terms individualism is set under a new and almost intolerable tension by Darwin's emphasis on variability. All deviation, each individual, is potentially valuable as bearing the possibility of mutation and change. Yet many must founder and be squandered, leaving no mark nor consequence."3 This is the destiny of Hardy's and Conrad's heroes. Tragically, oblivion is the fate that they prefer, and upon which the continued functioning of society depends. Society can no longer be viewed as a realm of freedom wherein the individual can achieve fulfilment in activity that is, as Marx expresses it, a "confirmation of social life." The notion of universal human destiny is discredited, and the deception underlying the Western code of cultural solidarity is unmasked when the implications of Darwinian theory are honestly faced. The opposition of the individual to society, a conflict mourned by Marx, Lukacs, Weber, Arendt, and Mannheim, is manifested in the novels of Hardy and Conrad in the failure of the tragic hero's efforts to achieve the integrity that is only possible when human labour exists, as Marx describes it, in its ideal form as the creative expression of human essence. The hero's entrapment is conveyed by Hardy's depiction of historical repetition or Conrad's vision of the solipsism and despair that result from the disintegration of the community. Betrayal of the code of cultural solidarity is inevitable for the sensitive and perspicacious individual faced with the realization that social forces are necessarily in opposition to the attainment of personal potential. Although Marlow is forced to recognize that the foundations of social cohesion shatter the integrity of the individual, acknowledgment of the crime and violence of which Kurtz and Jim are guilty forms the basis of his argument for maintaining the values underpinning the notion of community, however illusory, since the alternative is further disintegration and violence. Solipsism may be the most honest response to the human condition, but it is an insight that cannot be borne by the majority, for it results in nihilism. This is confirmed by the deaths of the tragic heroes in these novels. They remain true to themselves, but at the cost of their lives and the impoverishment of the creative potential of society, since they represent its best element. Death and heroism are inexorably intertwined. The integrity of the hero is not only self-destructive but also futile: the meaning of his death is masked by the lie of one like Marlow who comes to recognize the value of "that great and saving illusion" ("Heart of Darkness," 119), be it the myth of racial superiority, cul-

306 Solitude versus Solidarity

tural solidarity, political stability underpinned by material interests, or a myriad of other possibilities. Except for Darwin and Taylor, the work of the theorists examined in this study is tinged with a profound sadness at the vision of human alienation in modern society and the atomization of a previously coherent world view into isolated, incoherent fragments. The novels of Hardy and Conrad bear witness to a complex set of historical phenomena expressed poignantly by Weber as "the disenchantment of the world." Similarly, Mannheim mourns the "breakdown of the unitary world view with which the modern era was ushered in," while Marx yearns to harmonize individual fulfilment and social justice. The disturbing elements introduced by the negative implications of Darwinian theory and by the inescapable insight of alienation, atomization, and systematization articulated by Marx, Mannheim, and Weber are dramatized in Conrad and Hardy by a common pattern of experience. Both novelists show the tragic hero moving outside of society and into exile. Unable to meet its overriding demand for conformity, and guilty of an act of betrayal that brings to light society's own guilt and criminality, the tragic hero willingly relinquishes life rather than living with pretence or a lie. What Hardy and Conrad also share, while incorporating in their work the vocabularies and distressing world views of nineteenthcentury physical and social sciences, is a failure to synthesize this modern element with what they retain of the familiar form of the novel to achieve a modern idiom appropriate to twentieth-century fiction. Traditional material, in Hardy's case the pastoral setting and folk ballad and in Conrad's case the exotic, faraway locales of colonial adventure tales, is juxtaposed to, rather than integrated with, the modern world view fleshed out in the writings of Darwin, Marx, Weber, and Mannheim. Thus Hardy and Conrad also avow the nostalgia for what is lost, evident in the work of all these thinkers except Darwin, as witnessed in their retention of seemingly incongruous archaic form and content in novels that expound an essentially modern theme - the decline of stability and the loss of absolute standards of morality and unquestioning faith in traditional institutions and values. That the element of contradiction between form and theme is resolved in neither Hardy nor Conrad suggests that these early modern novels stand at a critical juncture between the old and the new, before meaningful synthesis was possible. Indeed, because the novels cling so tenaciously to archaic forms, the contradictions that they so eloquently embody remain insoluble. It was not until 1922, with the publication in Paris of Joyce's Ulysses, that a narrative form was

307 Conclusion

born that presented the relationship between archaic and modern elements as one of coexistence rather than conflict. The troubled cohabitation of disturbingly incongruent elements is a hallmark of the modern experience, and not simply a temporary clash to be ironed out. Joyce's choice of a modern urban rather than a rural or an exotic setting better allows him to integrate these conflicting elements, refusing privilege to the traditional material and thereby beginning the crucial process of dissociating the modern and what Stein calls "the destructive element." In Hardy and Conrad, the modern element impinges upon the traditional order, and is implicitly responsible for the ensuing moral and epistemological chaos. Failure to synthesize invocations of the past with the reality of the present implies that the past is inoperative, and has no contribution to make to life in the modern era. The successful blending of the traditional and the modern element proves that this is not so; that the vision of Hardy and Conrad in this respect is indeed too bleak; that the old need not be sacrificed and expunged to make way for the new. The two exist concurrently in both theme and structure of the truly modern novel. Joyce's abandonment of the chronological progression of time, for instance, is more daring than the chronological shifts with which Conrad introduces multiple perspectives upon his subject. Joyce's purpose is to blur the very distinction between past and present that requires that the former yield to the latter. In Joyce the traditional material does not compete with the modern, but its presence does assert that there is a continuity between past and present, a pattern of repetition between Homer's hero and the modern inhabitants of Dublin. This does not, however, asphyxiate Joyce's Leopold Bloom or his young hero Stephen Dedalus in a cycle of events that forever determines the pattern of human existence. Stephen chooses the path of self-discovery and creative expression through poetry, whereas the heroes in Hardy's and Conrad's novels remain caught, like Matthew Arnold's pilgrim, "between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born." Faced with the stark vision of nihilism that the severing of the past and the present entails, they choose death.

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1 I highly recommend this book, which traces the development of modern notions of selfhood and identity through Western philosophy beginning with Plato, through Augustine, Aquinas, the latter Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation, Enlightenment figures such as Descartes, the Romantic revolution and its profound connections with the modern era. But I also recommend it for another reason - as a learning experience in itself, for in his painstaking reconstruction of the notion of identity, Taylor takes us on an expertly guided tour of Western philosophy in which the legacy of one movement or era to the next is acknowledged, and the interwoven threads of the tradition are unwound and analysed. His goal is to create a portrait of the modern identity by mapping the sources of the moral imperatives felt so strongly by the twentieth-century individual: notions of self-responsible freedom and self-rule, universal justice and benevolence, equality, and the ethic of ordinary life that originate in the Enlightenment and are given a deeper, richer, and more resonant expression in the Romantic era, which focuses on human powers of creative imagination. Taylor succinctly defines the modern identity: "A sense of self defined by the powers of disengaged reason as well as of the creative imagination, in the characteristically modern understandings of freedom and dignity and rights, in the ideals of self-fulfilment and expression and in the demands of universal benevolence and justice" (503). 2 3 4 5 6

Taylor, Sources of the Self, 446. Ibid., 447. Conrad, Preface to The Nigger of the "Narcissus", xl. Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 135. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 480-1.

310 Notes to pages 7-18 7 Armstrong, "The Ontology of Society in Nostromo," in The Challenge of Bewilderment, 149. 8 Taylor, Sources of the Self, 490. 9 Kemp, "Amid the Rocks and Fog," 3. CHAPTER ONE

1 2 3 4

5 6 7 8 9 10

11 12

F. Hardy, Life, 111. Ibid., 202. Beer, Darwin's Plots, 19-22. "The similar framework of bones in the hand of a man, wing of a bat, fin of the porpoise, and leg of the horse, - the same number of vertebrae forming the neck of the giraffe and of the elephant, - and innumerable other facts, at once explain themselves on the theory of descent with slow and slight successive modifications ... On the principle of successive variations not always supervening at an early age, and being inherited at a corresponding not early period of life, we clearly see why the embryos of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes should be so closely similar, and so unlike the adult forms." Darwin, Origin, 123. Beer, Darwin's Plots, 60. Ibid., 13. Ibid., 5-8. Ibid., 50-1. S.E. Hyman, The Tangled Bank, 41-2. Beer, Darwin's Plots, 38-41. "[Darwin tends to] interpret the order of things as benign, though not designed specifically for man. Throughout his struggle with the language he had inherited Darwin strove to renew the fullness of things in themselves and to avoid the platonic scheme which makes of things insufficient substitutes for their own idea" (40-1). Ibid., 80. Darwin, Origin, 87: "The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth. The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during former years may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as species and groups of species have at all times overmastered other species in the great battle for life. The limbs divided into great branches, and these into lesser and lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was young, budding twigs, and this connection of the former and present buds by ramifying branches may well represent the classifi-

3ii Notes to pages 18-31

13 14 15 16 17


19 20 21 22 23 24 25

cation of all extinct and living species in groups subordinate to groups. Of the many twigs which flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and bear the other branches; so with the species which lived during long-past geological periods, very few have left living and modified descendants. From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favoured and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorhynchus or Lepidosiren, which in some small degree connects by its affinities to large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigourous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications." Darwin, Origin, 131. S.E. Hyman, The Tangled Bank, 33. Darwin, Origin, 131. Beer, Darwin's Plots, 76. Darwin, Origin, 208: "Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the distant future ... We must, however, acknowledge ... [that] man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." Darwin, Descent, 202: "The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture." F. Hardy, Life, 163. Conrad, Victory, 167. T. Hardy, Jude the Obscure, 398. All further references to this work appear in the text. F. Hardy, Life, 218. King James Version of the Bible, 1858. Cooke, Received Melodies, 1987. See the chapter appropriately entitled "Living Fossils," 146-84. T. Hardy, The Return of the Native, 396.

312 Notes to pages 32-43 26 "Hardy's novels dramatize the movement of the speaking voice from the perspective of the rural world to one located within the intellectual crosswinds of the nineteenth-century crisis of values ... The Mayor of Casterbridge is a novel that tests and probes the values that the narrator espouses at the outset. Yet because the narrator develops as a character, it is really a novel that shows the narrator's search for standards that will replace the absolutes that become not so much discredited as irrelevant to the late nineteenth century." Schwarz, "The Narrator as Character," 160-3. 27 Lawrence, "The Real Tragedy" (1914), 64-5, from Study of Thomas Hardy (Phoenix, 1936), rpt. in Draper, ed., Hardy: The Tragic Novels, 64-72. 28 Ibid., 71-2. 29 Woolf, "The Novels of Thomas Hardy," (1928), 75-6, from The Common Reader: Second Series, rpt. in Draper, ed., Hardy: The Tragic Novels, 73-9. 30 Ibid., 76. 31 Ibid., 77. 32 Ibid. 33 Miller, Distance and Desire, xi: "The significance of any particular event lies not in its particularity but in the way it doubles in essential outlines other examples of the same pattern of experience ... in an endless interpretive process of deferred meaning." 34 Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, 306. All further references to this work appear in the text. 35 V. Hyman, Ethical Perspectives, 21. 36 F. Hardy, Life, 215. 37 Taylor, Sources of the Self, 402: "Belief either gave way before scientific rationality, or else it fell victim to industrialization and the development of our mobile, technological society ... Leslie Stephen, one of the great pioneers of Victorian unbelief, held something like this view. He thought that a kind of scientific rationality must eventually win out... Religion must ultimately wither." 38 F. Hardy, Life, 179. 39 Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, 180. All further references to this work appear in the text. 40 Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 89. 41 Patterson, "The Mayor of Casterbridge as Tragedy," 92-3: "Hardy here assumes what the literature of tragedy after Shakespeare has not found it easy or possible to assume: the existence of a moral order, an ethical substance, a standard of justice and rectitude, in terms of which man's experience can be rendered as the drama of his salvation as well as the drama of his damnation ... Henchard's act of violence ... [arouses] such forces of retribution as will not be satisfied with less than the total

313 Notes to pages 43-52

42 43

44 45 46

47 48 49 50 51

humiliation of the offender and the ultimate restoration of the order offended; it will come to represent, like its counterpart in Lear and Oedipus, the violation of a moral scheme more than human in its implications ... The series of fatal reappearances that challenges and undermines Henchard's illegitimate power ... schematizes the determined revenge of a supernatural authority for which a wrong left uncorrected and unpunished is intolerable." Yeats, "The Second Coming," in Selected Poetry, 100. Schwarz, "Beginnings and Endings," 25-6: "The alternative to Henchard's violation of social and moral norms need not be the passive submission to whatever life brings and adoption of conventional morality. Elizabeth-Jane's final values are not those of Hardy. While Elizabeth-Jane's perspective parallels the narrator's for a time, she lacks the breadth of feeling, passionate intensity and imaginative energy that are implied as alternates to her final position." F. Hardy, Life, 171. Ibid., 218. De Laura, "The Ache of Modernism/" 381. Angel embodies aspects of three themes that De Laura considers crucial to Hardy's later novels: "There are, first, Hardy's fumbling attempts to define and endorse a 'Greek' or 'Hellenic' view of life, which is also somehow 'natural'... Second, there is the theme of 'modernism' itself, the insistence on the distress and rootlessness of those whose intellectual honesty forces them to live without a sense of Providence ... And there is, finally, the unrelenting attack on Christianity, the Churches, and their 'redemptive theolatry' enforced by the scientific and rationalist assumptions of the modern temper ... The attack is in a special sense directed against 'neo-Christianity/ a compromising position with regard to the old theology, associated in England above all with Matthew Arnold." Arnold, "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse," 288. Lawrence, "The Real Tragedy," 69. F. Hardy, Life, 224. Ibid. Schwarz, "Beginnings and Endings," 17-18: "By 'fulfilling' the promise of the beginnings, the endings imply that the world in which men live is closed and invulnerable to essential change ... Hardy's endings perpetuate conditions that have prevailed before his specific narrative has begun and will prevail as given conditions of the imagined world in which these events take place. Turning away from a traditional benevolent resolution, Hardy's endings confirm rather than transfigure what precedes and reject the notion that experience brings wisdom and maturity."

314 Notes to pages 52-70 52 53 54 55 56

57 58


Miller, Distance and Desire, 105. Friedman, The Turn of the Novel. See 62-5 for his discussion of closure. Thompson, "Language and the Shape of Reality," 731. Ibid., 730.1 do not undertake a full study of the web of adumbration and realization of visual and verbal symbols and myth and legend, for it is done so thoroughly here and in Miller's work. Ibid., 729-32. She acknowledges a second, unfortunately less potent, role of language in the novel: "Conversely, language innovatively used in fresh, creative imagining has the power to reorganize those mental structures and to reform the realities they induce" (729). I am indebted to Thompson for this discussion of the relation of the symbol to its fulfilment. Many critics and philosophers say no. For example, Robert Pippin writes: "Modernity is sometimes understood as most importantly a rejection of antiquity." Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 5. See chapter i, "Introduction: The Modernity Problem," for his argument: "The same kind of doubts [cited as the reason for the demise of pre-modern civilizations and the birth of modernity] about the legitimacy and authority of many modern presuppositions about humanism, consciousness, rationality, subjectivity, national identity, the Western European canon of great texts, gender, or even being itself, are often involved in contemporary questions about the 'end of modernity'" (2). He cites, as specific example, "the historical horrors of the twentieth century" as having undermined the credibility of "the great self-confidence and progressivism characteristic of the modern enterprise" as it appeared from the vantage point of "its nineteenth-century fruition" (7). Taylor, Sources of the Self, 287. CHAPTER TWO

1 Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 191. 2 Cited by Cox, "Question of Suicide," 292-3. 3 Conrad, "Heart of Darkness," 44-5. All further references to this work appear in the text. In the interest of clarity, indented citations which quote Marlow's oral narration are not set off with single quote marks. 4 Taylor, Sources of the Self, 111. 5 Ibid., 132,131. 6 Ibid., 143-55.

7 Ibid., 158. 8 Ibid., 159. 9 Ibid., 174.

315 Notes to pages 70-6 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24

Ibid., 181-5. Ibid., 196. Ibid. Ibid., 305. Ibid., 214. Ibid., 313. J&ui, 314. Jfezrf., 319. Ibid., 356. /bid., 357. IbzW. "The original impulse of nature is right, but the effect of a depraved culture is that we lose contact with it... We are separated from nature by the dense web of opinion which is woven between us in society and can no longer recover contact with it." Ibid., 359. Ibid.,360. Ibid.,363. Ibid., 363-4.

25 Ibid.,374. 26 Ibid., 367. 27 Ibid.,397.

28 Ibid., 368. 29 Ibz'd, 386-9. 30 Ibid., 389-93. He elaborates: "This concept of an inexhaustible inner domain is the correlative of the power of expressive self-articulation ... Depth lies in there being always, inescapably, something beyond our articulative power. This notion of inner depths is therefore intrinsically linked to our understanding of ourselves as expressive, as articulating an inner source. The subject with depth is therefore a subject with this expressive power. Something fundamental changes in the late eighteenth century. The modern subject is no longer defined just by the power of disengaged rational control but by this new power of expressive self-articulation as well - the power which has been ascribed since the Romantic period to the creative imagination. This works in some ways in the same direction as the earlier power: it intensifies the sense of inwardness and leads to an even more radical subjectivism and an internalization of moral sources. But in other respects these powers are in tension. To follow the first all the way is to adopt a stance of disengagement from one's own nature and feelings, which renders impossible the exercise of the second" (390). 31 Ibid., 410-11. 32 Ibid., 413-14.

316 Notes to pages 76-87 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Ibid., 414-15. Ibid., 416. Ibid., 417. Jfez'd., 426. /bz'rf., 456. Ibid., 441-2. Ibid., 445. I&z'rf., 446,445. Ibid., 447-8. Ibid., 449. See ibid., 449-55 for his discussion of these three nineteenth-century writers. 44 Ibid., 451-2. 45 Ibid., 518. 46 Cited by ibid., 452. 47 Ibid., 453. 48ftrVz1.,454. 49 Z&z'd., 456. 50 Ibid., 462-3. 51 Cited by ibid., 463. 52 Ibid., 464. 53 Jb/'d., 520, 519. 54 Ibid., 500-2. 55 Pavel, "The Literary Self/' 3. 56 MacRae, Weber, 12. 57 Weber, Selections in Translation, 210. 58 Weber, "The Nature of Charismatic Domination," in Selections in Translation, 226. 59 Ibid., 246-8. 60 Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, 329. 61 Weber, "The Nature of Charismatic Domination," 231-2. Weber elaborates his distinction: "First it [bureaucracy] revolutionises things and organisations, and then, in consequence, it changes people, in the sense that it alters the conditions to which they must adapt and in some cases increases their chances of adapting to the external world by rational determination of means and ends. The power of charisma, by contrast, depends on beliefs in revelation and heroism, on emotional convictions about the importance and value of a religious, ethical, artistic, scientific, political or other manifestation, on heroism, whether ascetic or military, or judicial wisdom or magical or other favours" (231). 62 Weber, "The Development of Bureaucracy and Its Relation to Law," in Selections in Translation, 345.

317 Notes to pages 87-98 63 Bendix, Max Weber, 384,425. 64 Weber, "Protestant Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism," in Selections in Translation, 158. 65 Ibid., 161. 66 Ibid., 145-7. 67 Weber, Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 5. 68 Weber, "Protestant Asceticism," 149-50. 69 Ibid., 166. 70 Cited by Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, 455-6. 71 Cited by Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 89. 72 Ibid., go. 73 Cited by ibid., 91. 74 Ibid., 82-7. 75 Ibid., 108. 76 Ibid., 92. 77 Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 111. 78 Giddens, Introduction to The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 5. 79 Conrad, The Nigger of the "Narcissus", 130. All further references to this work appear in the text. 80 Bendix, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, 81-2. 81 MacRae, Weber, 54-5. 82 Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, 83. 83 MacRae, Weber, 71. 84 Gerth and Mills, eds., From Max Weber, 51. 85 MacRae, Weber, 87. 86 Wasserman, "Narrative Presence/' 328. 87 Miller, "Joseph Conrad: The Darkness," in Poets of Reality, 14. 88 Berger, "Telling Darkness," 201. 89 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 17. 90 Wirth, preface to Ideology and Utopia, xxiv. 91 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 13. 92 Ibid., 81. 93 Ibid., 283. 94 Hynes, Edwardian Occasions, 51: "The authorial voice, for example, must go,... because it implies assumptions about the nature of truth that are invalid; similarly, a chronological ordering of events is wrong because it is untrue to the realities of perception ... Conrad has set out to render experience as he perceived it, with all the limitations and difficulties of perception built into it." 95 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, i. His discussion revolves around the following questions: "To what extent do Conrad, Lawrence,

318 Notes to pages 98-9

96 97 98

99 100

and Woolf broaden our notion of literary realism? In what specific ways do they rely on or modify its norms? At what point in their experimentation do we discover literary realism's vanishing point?" (2). Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 206. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 2-3. See Whiteley 12-26 for a more detailed examination of these issues and their manifestations in the modern novel. For instance, he writes: "In Conrad, the doubt about the conceivability of overlapping minds creates chasms between self and other, within the self, and between the mind and externality, impelling him to erect extremely tenuous bridges" (19). An accurate but schematic overview of Whiteley's position is that while the embedded narrative voice enables Conrad to dramatize the conflict between "the view that human values are reasonable and the rival view the darkness embodies" (21), the narrative voices in the fiction of Lawrence and Woolf drop their "alliance with the social conscience" (22) and align themselves with, respectively, "the individual trapped in a morally corrupt society" (22) and the collective consciousness of humanity. All three, therefore, are experimental novelists who developed techniques in harmony with their unconventional themes, although Lawrence is not always accredited with narrative innovation. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 6-7. Ibid., 9.1 refer the reader to his chapter on Conrad, 27-76, which includes the three novels examined here as well as Under Western Eyes and the famous statement of Conrad's aesthetic intent in the Preface to The Nigger of the "Narcissus"', with its focus on sense perception and the underlying dichotomy this implies between visible appearance and invisible truth. In his examination of the Marlow tales, Whiteley focuses on the distance between appearance and underlying reality, posited by Cartesian scepticism, and the fundamentally distinct goals of perception in "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim. While the struggle in the former is "to meet the ground of experience" (40), in the latter it is "to order the impressions given through perception" (40). The notion of possible disclosure of a core or kernel of meaning that enhances the comprehension of reality has been abandoned: "When the power to doubt external reality becomes the predicate for self-verification, both identity and ontology become problematic" (27). The invisibility of the boundary between truth and fiction "is a realistic depiction of knowledge's limits" (33). Conrad despaired that knowledge of the core of reality was attainable, for perception "does not penetrate the facade of appearances" (40). Ultimately, with the death of omniscience, "perception itself collapses into imagina-

319 Notes to pages 99-110 tion" (40), to the point that Whiteley considers these categories to be interchangeable in Lord Jim. Whiteley's conclusion is similar to mine: "The truth that lies behind appearances comes to reside mainly in the perceiver" (30). The thrust of his book is "to examine those aspects of [Conrad's] experimental contributions to the novel that modify philosophical and literary realism's dualistic model of knowledge and imagination" (28), and Whiteley concludes that Conrad "subverts the ordinary model of appearance and reality" (38). The thrust of my book is to examine Conrad's interrelated thematic concerns and structural innovations in terms of political, social, and cognitive theory. Thus the two studies may profitably be read in tandem. I recommend Whiteley's study of the epistemology of scepticism and the problem of knowledge in Conrad's fiction over the more recent but less cogent and concise study by Mark Wollaeger entitled Joseph Conrad and the Fictions of Scepticism. 101 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 10. 102 Ibid., 14. 103 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 14. 104 Wirth, preface to Ideology and Utopia, x. 105 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 14-15. 106 Perry, "Action, Vision, or Voice," 8-11. 107 Guetti, The Limits of Metaphor, 120. 108 Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, 205. 109 Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, 169-70. no Ibid., 180. He continues, citing Carlyle: "The outer sphere of larger meaning, then, is presumably infinite, since, unlike the husk of a nut, the haze lacks any ascertainable circumference; but to be visible the haze needs the finite glow; and so the two together constitute a symbol in Carlyle's view of it: "the Infinite is made to blend itself with the Finite, to stand visible, and as it were, attainable there" (180). in Woolf, "Modern Fiction," in The Common Reader, 189,194-5. 112 Ibid., 188. 113 Ibid., 190. 114 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 22. 115 Cited by Miller, Poets of Reality, 18. 116 Garrett, "Lying as Dying," 329. 117 Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 20-1. 118 Wasserman, "Narrative Presence," 329. 119 Guetti, The Limits of Metaphor, 46: "A reader expects that such a story will follow certain rules: the journey will be difficult, but at its end will be a meaningful disclosure in which the 'degeneration' will be placed in a moral framework ... 'Heart of Darkness' may be seen to

320 Notes to pages 110-14

120 121 122


124 125 126

127 128 129


deny, particularly, the relevance of such a moral framework and to question, generally, the possibilities of meaning for the journey itself that as the narrative develops it is redefined so as to deny the basic assumptions upon which it appears to be constructed." Wasserman, "Narrative Presence," 331. Guetti, The Limits of Metaphor, 61-2. Although he only briefly mentions it, Coppola's film is the launching point of Miller's 1983 essay "Heart of Darkness Revisited," in Murfin, ed., Conrad Revisited. Examining "Heart of Darkness" as an apocalyptic text, Miller points to the Book of Revelation as a structural as well as a thematic paradigm: "The novel is a sequence of episodes, each structured according to the model of appearances, signs, which are also obstacles or veils ... The relay of witness behind witness behind witness, voice behind voice behind voice, each speaking in ventriloquism through the next one farther out, is a genre of the apocalypse ... The word apocalypse means 'unveiling/ 'revelation,' but what the apocalypse unveils is not the truth of the end of the world which it announces, but the act of unveiling ... The book's claim to give the reader access to the dark truth behind appearance is withdrawn by the terms in which it is proffered" (42-4). Watts, A Critical and Contextual Discussion, 26: "The initial impression of contrast is disturbed by the implication that there may be some complicity between the apparently respectable 'outer' group and the brutalities of the inner narrative." Josipovici, The World and the Book, 296. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 467. Ibid., 469. Impressionism, for instance, "began an exploration of the power of painting which was itself a signal exercise of this power ... What Impressionism made thematic was the power of art to transfigure ordinary reality" (468). Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 230, 239. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 472. Johnson, "Conrad's Impressionism and Watt's 'Delayed Decoding,'" in Murfin, ed., Conrad Revisited, 51-70. Johnson continues: "Marlow begins to see in this pristine way only when the steamer has very symbolically entered fog and seems about to lose all moorings, all sense of direction; Marlow himself by this time has come to suspect the conventional moorings of 'civilization' (particularly as to language) in precisely the sense that he has seen these nets used with the utmost violence to define the 'enemies' of 'progress' and of 'civilization.' He is prepared for the risk of seeing in this naive way" (67). Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, 175-7.1 refer the reader to Watt's analysis, 177-8, of the passage culminating in Marlow's deci-

321 Notes to pages 114-16 pherment of his "initially inexplicable visual impression" of sticks as arrows, and his realization that he and his company are under attack. Still referring to the attack on the steamboat, Watt enumerates three factors that distort human perception and delay interpretation or recognition of the significance of events: "First of all, our minds are usually busy with other things - Marlow has a lot to do just then, and it is only natural that he should be annoyed by being faced with these three new interferences with his task of keeping the boat from disaster. Secondly, our interpretations of impressions are normally distorted by habitual expectations - Marlow perceives the unfamiliar arrows as familiar sticks. Lastly, we always have many more things in our range of vision than we can pay attention to, so that in a crisis we may miss the most important ones - in this case that the helmsman has been killed. Conrad's method reflects all these difficulties in translating perceptions into causal or conceptual terms" (178).

131 Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, 178-9. 132 Ibid., 195. Watt cites Marvin Mudrick: "After Heart of Darkness, the recorded moment - the word - was irrecoverably symbol" (196). 133 Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, 181. He adds: "In this they are essentially reflections of much vaster changes, which ... took more urgent forms during the intellectual crisis of the late nineteenth century, a crisis by now familiar to literary history in its twin manifestations of the death of God and the disappearance of the omniscient author ... Many of their ideas and methods were common property; they agreed in rejecting intellectual conceptualisation and traditional assumptions in the name of a directly apprehended personal and subjective vision; and it was only in their views of what that subjective vision should look for that there was an important theoretical divergence" (181-3). I refer the reader to Watt's detailed analysis in his chapter on Symbolism of Marlow's eerie and highly impersonal, bureaucratic, and demoralizing appointment at the office of the trading company. Women whom Watt considers physically and spiritually deformed and complacent, and reminiscent of the classical Fates, are not as out of place as one would suppose in this atomized, automatized civilization, in which "the lack of any genuinely reciprocal dialogue" (194), "the ramifying absences of human communion" (195), prefigure the distortions between language and reality that Marlow experiences in the deepest, darkest jungles of Africa. For instance, arguing against interpretations that assume this scene is the key that unlocks the hidden meaning of the tale as Marlow's descent into Hades, Watt cautions: "It is not that the knitter reminds us of the classical Fates which really matters, but that she is herself a fate - a dehumanised death in life to herself and to others, and thus a prefig-

322 Notes to pages 116-27


135 136 137 138 139

140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148

149 150 151 152 153 154

uring symbol of what the trading company does to its creatures" (192). See 189-96. Ambrosini, Conrad's Fiction as Critical Discourse, 106. Ambrosini's study highlights the coherence and importance of Conrad's theoretical writing about the nature of discourse and proceeds to examine "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim in this light. It "concentrates on the five major critical terms which Conrad uses to synthesize the aesthetic and moral implications of his artistic intention: the tropes of WORK, IDEALISM, FIDELITY, EFFECT and PRECISION" (13). Ambrosini, Critical Discourse, 106. Raval, The Art of Failure, 32,42. Wasserman, "Narrative Presence," 333. Ibid., 332. Ambrosini, Critical Discourse, 2. He continues: "Conrad's narrative and linguistic choices ... were designed to reach the source of an emotional response the existence of which was, for him, a moral postulate. He strove after a synthesis of abstract principles and life experience. Consequently, he did not separate the theoretical issues raised by writing from the language he employed to tell stories about living and suffering men and women" (8). Cited by Hynes, Edwardian Occasions, 8. Guetti, The Limits of Metaphor, 126-7. Perry, "Action, Vision, or Voice," 3-4. Tillich, "The Meaning of Meaninglessness," in Ellmann and Feidelson, eds., The Modern Tradition, 946. Ibid., 944. Miller, Poets of Reality, 18-19. Ibid., 34. Tillich, "The Meaning of Meaninglessness," 947. Miller, Poets of Reality, 36-8: "This detachment of words from their utilitarian function as signs puts language in touch with the unworded darkness ... By expressing the experience of someone who has been swallowed up in the darkness, the writer creates a fragile web of narrative between himself and the horror ... This momentary glimpse of truth is the highest human accomplishment, and it is the aim of all authentic writing." Ibid., 37. Bendix, Max Weber, 74. MacRae, Weber, 77. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, preface to part 2: "Imperialism," xxii-xxiii. Ibid., 215. Ibid., 186.

323 Notes to pages 127-36 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162

163 164 165 166 167 168

Ibid., 189. Ibid. Weber, Selections in Translation, 171. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 188-9. Ibid., 199. Ibid., 185. Ibid., 192. "Perhaps such meticulous care for the historical moment," Hynes suggests, "is only possible in a time that is conscious of its uncertain continuation; if self-consciousness is a product of anxiety, there is ample evidence that a good many Edwardians brooded gloomily over England's (or civilization's) future" (7). Miller, Poets of Reality, 14. Ibid. Ibid., 17. Deane, "Conrad: The Criminal Interval," 596. Raval, The Art of Failure, 30. I owe this sentence and the subsequent formulation to a former student, Aram Zadow, who wrote a fine paper under my direction entitled "The Perils of Epistemological Relativism," 8.1 cite this work because it successfully encapsulates much of what is discussed at length throughout this chapter: "Contemporary reliance upon investigation and analysis based upon personal experience has cast into doubt many of those practices which for centuries have been validated by 'religious and metaphysical dogma'(xiii). Where the critical distance required for objective examination becomes too great, sacrosanct 'ideologies' - complexes of ideas which assist in the legitimization of an existing social order - are often undermined. The implications of the fate of the critical, sceptical observer are far-reaching ... Apart from effecting his self-imposed exile, Marlow's scepticism has more resonant effects. His divergent interpretation of the ideologies which legitimate European society entails the derision of the method of communication which binds that society. Like moral principles, words become fragile to our narrator, and he soon finds himself plagued by the inadequacy of the language at his disposal. Throughout his narrative, Marlow attempts to convey the meaning of personal experience despite the limitations of vocabulary ... In exploding the unquestioned values associated with the African experiment, Conrad's Marlow implicitly destroys the unilateral, biased perception with which the vast majority of society regards colonialism. This disruption of the unilateral perception seems well in keeping with Mannheim's conception of relativism which pervades post-enlightenment epistemology ... Our narrator's refusal to bow down upon the altar of unquestioned

324 Notes to pages 136-50

169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186


ideology marks the beginning of a tale whose aim is to illuminate these contradictions between colonialism's romanticized intention and destructive reality ... [Kurtz] has become the subject of a grotesque apotheosis, a macabre saturnalia which revolves about the pillaging of a continent and the plunder of its precious resources" (1-4). Wirth, preface to Ideology and Utopia, xxiii. Durkheim, Suicide, 246. Ibid., 247. Ibid., 255. Ibid., 271. Ibid., 258. Ibid., 257. Ibid. Raval, The Art of Failure, 29-31. Miller, Poets of Reality, 13-15. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 190,194. Ibid., 197. Weber, "The Development of Bureaucracy and Its Relation to Law," in Selections in Translation, 349. MacRae, Weber, 87. Weber, "The Nature of Charismatic Domination," in Selections in Translation, 229. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 190. Deane, "Conrad: The Criminal Interval," 594-5. Hardy too uses this powerful image at the point in his last novel when Jude decides that "In his passion for Sue he could now stand as an ordinary sinner, and not as a whited sepulchre" (280). A universally accepted symbol for hypocrisy in the Western tradition, the whited sepulchre is an especially appropriate emblem for the discovery of the wide chasm between the ideologies professed by a given society and its failure truly to legitimize the existing social order by remaining faithful to its ideals. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 56. CHAPTER THREE

1 2 3 4 5

Cited by Cox, "Question of Suicide," 292-3. Cited by Cox, "Question of Suicide," 294. Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 257. Taylor, Sources of the Self, 47-52. I owe this formulation to a former student, Michael Rossiter, in a term paper entitled "Moral Relativity and the 'Knowing Subject,'" 3. 6 Suresh Raval, The Art of Failure, 45.

325 Notes to pages 151-75 7 Conrad, Lord Jim, 11. All further references to this work appear in the text. Indented citations that quote Marlow's oral narration are not set off with single quotation marks. 8 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 51. 9 Craig, "Swapping Yarns," 181. 10 Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 219-24. See 223, where Jameson, using a photographic metaphor, elaborates his analysis of the granular aspect of the first section of Lord Jim. 11 Cited by Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century, 186. 12 Barnard, ed., John Keats, 346. 13 Benson, "Constructing an Ethereal Cosmos," 138-42. 14 Ambrosini, Critical Discourse, 138. 15 "Richard Cory," in Introduction to Literature, 633. 16 Ambrosini, Critical Discourse, 140. 17 Raval, "Narrative and Authority in Lord Jim," 392-3. 18 Marshall, "The Trials of Narrative Authority," 8. 19 Rossiter, "Moral Relativity and the 'Knowing Subject/" 5, 9. 20 Ambrosini, Critical Discourse, 14. 21 Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 208-9. 22 Ibid., 219. 23 Ibid., 263. 24 Stevenson, "Stein's Prescription for 'How to Be/" 236-7. Stevenson adds that, unlike Jim, "Stein, with the aid of his butterflies as mementos of past ideal beauty, is able to survive the mutability of his dreams" (237)25 Durkheim, Suicide, 256-7. 26 Armstrong, "Contingency, Interpretation and Belief in Lord Jim," in The Challenge of Bewilderment, 118. 27 Durkheim, Suicide, 248. 28 Stevenson, "Stein's Prescription for 'How to Be/" 235. 29 Ross, "Saving Illusion," 45. Indeed, Ross points out that "the novel offers no example except Jim of one who commits a serious moral error and then seeks atonement rather than a life of continued transgressions" (60). 30 Ibid., 52. 31 Ibid., 51. He cites Michael Seidel: "Marlow works to change the focus of his perspective on Jim from the sovereign standards of his occupation to the sovereign possibilities of his imagination." In "Isolation and Narrative Power: A Meditation on Conrad at the Boundaries," Criticism, 27 (1985) 80. 32 Artists now use antiquated forms "as a means of demonstrating the abolition of ideas and values that used to be associated with these forms." Bonney, Thorns and Arabesques, 55.

326 Notes to pages 175-91 33 34 35 36

Ross, "Saving Illusion," 54-5. Cox, "The Metamorphoses of Lord Jim," 13. Wollaeger, Fictions of Scepticism, 33. Heisenberg, "Non-Objective Science and Uncertainty," in Ellmann and Feidelson, eds., The Modern Tradition, 444-50. 37 Raval, The Art of Failure, 45. 38 Ross, "Saving Illusion," 57-8. 39 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 39. 40 Raval, The Art of Failure, 57. 41 Wollaeger, Fictions of Skepticism, xiv. "This tradition has shown sustained interest in, among other things, the relation of sensory impressions to knowledge, the problem of other minds, definitions of the self, problems of individual agency, and the persistence of the sacred" (xv). 42 Shires, "The 'Privileged' Reader," 21. 43 Ibid., 23-4. 44 Humphries, "The Discourse of Colonialism," 113. He also calls attention to Frances B. Singh's interpretation of "the horror" as the degradation that Kurtz has wrought on the black natives of the Congo, and her view that "the brutes" to be exterminated are the colonizers. While he disagrees with her interpretation, he does find valuable her exposition of the fact that Eurocentric criticism of this work has always unconsciously assumed that the horror refers to Kurtz's existential state and that the brutes are necessarily the Africans. He writes: "She has introduced a radical heterogeneity that deconstructs the unconscious racial and colonial pre-suppositions of Conrad's time and of ours ... The great service Frances Singh has rendered us is to have displaced the dominant discourse on Conrad in such a way as to allow us to construct alternate frames of reference" (113). The article he refers to is "The Colonialist Bias of Heart of Darkness," Conradiana, 10 (1978). 45 Rossiter, "Moral Relativity and the 'Knowing Subject,'" 9. 46 Raval, The Art of Failure, 62-3. 47 Armstrong, "Contingency, Interpretation and Belief in Lord Jim," no. "Agreeing with James that interpretations are acts of epistemological composition and completion," Armstrong writes, "Conrad then goes on to ask ontological questions about their status and their foundation. He reveals that their being is nothingness because they are made up of beliefs. Absence is for Conrad not only a basic characteristic of meaning; it is also, for that very reason, a fundamental condition of existence" (no). The thrust of Armstrong's essay, however, qualifies the apparent solipsism of this statement, for he concludes by acknowledging the fundamental discrepancy at the heart of Conrad's fiction and his thought: "Conrad's depiction of the ubiquity of contingency and

327 Notes to pages 191-202

48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

the elusiveness of truth suggests the temperament of a nihilist. But this contradictory novelist is not that simple. Conrad responds to his negative discoveries with an affirmation of absolutes which he proclaims all the more resolutely because they are nothing more than beliefs ... The relation between scepticism and affirmation in Conrad is not a process of mutual correction. Conrad's beliefs and doubts are radically opposed, not susceptible to dialectical meditation ... This novel asserts his three major values [mastery, honor, and fidelity] as absolutes even as it exposes their flaws and unmasks their fragility. They emerge from the inquiry not strengthened by the chastening fires of scepticism but made more urgent in spite of - or because of - their very weakness ... Lord Jim demonstrates the contingency of Conrad's absolutes even as it insists on their necessity ... This contradiction transfers Conrad's dilemma to the reader by setting up an unstoppable alternation between belief and doubt in our response to the novel's assertion of value" (140-1). Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 134-5. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 141. Ibid., 211. Cited in Hawkins, "Conrad and the Psychology of Colonialism," in Murfin, ed., Conrad Revisited, 72. Hawkins, "Conrad and the Psychology of Colonialism," 78. See ibid., 84. Ibid., 72-3. Raval, "Narrative and Authority in Lord Jim," 406. Raval, The Art of Failure, 61. Ibid., 47-9. Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 134. Sprinker, "Fiction and Ideology: Lord Jim and the Problem of Literary History," 245, in Phelan, ed., Reading Narrative, 236-49. Sprinker's essay is in turn a response to and refutation of the one that immediately precedes it in the same collection, Ralph W. Rader's "Lord Jim and the Formal Development of the English Novel," 220-35. In Rader's essay, formal problems are examined independently of contextual consideration. This is not an approach I find to be fruitful. Sprinker's essay is premised on the notion that formal development cannot be examined independently of the historical and/or political ideological context of its composition. He asserts that Rader's reading represses the dynamic of European imperialism to make its case that Lord Jim is concerned with universal ethical issues. It fails to see the code of honour as "itself a historical product with quite specific determinations and serving quite particular class and national interests" (242). In seeing Lord Jim as an

328 Notes to pages 202-26 ideological fiction about a code of honour necessary to underpin British imperialism, Sprinker is in agreement with Fredric Jameson, whose book The Political Unconscious he acknowledges throughout his work. These two essays form an intercritical debate and are meant to be read in tandem. 60 Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 139-40. 61 Watts, ed., Joseph Conrad's Letters to R.B. Cunninghame Graham, 117. CHAPTER FOUR

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

I borrow the title of B.W. Powe's The Solitary Outlaw. Cited by Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 174. Callinicos, Marxism and Philosophy, 33. Marx, Selected Writings, 77. Callinicos, Marxism and Philosophy, 37-8. Marx, The 1844 Manuscripts, 78. Conrad, Nostromo, 23-4. All further references to this work appear in the text. Marx, The 184.4 Manuscripts, 79. Ibid., 78-9. Ibid., 80. Ibid., 81. Ibid., 82.

13 Ibid., 81-2. 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Cited by Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 54. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 54-5. Marx, The 1844 Manuscripts, 83-4. Ibid., 84. Callinicos, Marxism and Philosophy, 39-40. Ibid., 42. Ibid., 40. Marx, The 1844 Manuscripts, 91. Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 269.

23 24 25 26

Marx, Grundrisse, 346. Ibid., 349. Ibid., 362-3. Ibid., 363-4.

27 28 29 30 31 32

Raval, The Art of Failure, 95-6. Marx, Grundrisse, 364. Ibid., 367. Ibid., 368. /bzd. Ibid.

329 Notes to pages 226-36 33 34 35 36 37 38

39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49

Ibid., 442. Marx, Tlieories of Surplus Value, 393. Lukacs, History and Class Consciousness, xxiv. Ibid., 87. Ibid., 88. Ibid., 90-3: "On the one hand, the objectification of their labour-power into something opposed to their total personality (a process already accomplished with the sale of that labour-power as a commodity) is now made into the permanent ineluctable reality of their daily life. Here, too, the personality can do no more than look on helplessly while its own existence is reduced to an isolated particle and fed into an alien system. On the other hand, the mechanical disintegration of the process of production into its components also destroys those bonds that had bound individuals to a community in the days when production was still 'organic/ In this respect, too, mechanisation makes of them isolated abstract atoms whose work no longer brings them together directly and organically; it becomes mediated to an increasing extent exclusively by the abstract laws of the mechanism which imprisons them ... The fate of the worker becomes the fate of society as a whole; indeed, this fate must become universal as otherwise industrialization could not develop in this direction. For it depends on the emergence of the 'free' worker who is freely able to take his labour-power to market and offer it for sale as a commodity 'belonging' to him, a thing that he 'possesses'... Reification requires that a society should learn to satisfy all its needs in terms of commodity exchange ... Just as the capitalist system continuously produces and reproduces itself economically on higher and higher levels, the structure of reification progressively sinks more deeply, more fatefully and more definitely into the consciousness of man." Ibid., 172. Ibid., 100. Ibid., 101. Ibid., 121. Ibid., 128. Ibid., 135. Cited by ibid., 141. Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 249-54. Ibid., 254. Weber, Selections in Translation, 170. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 53. He continues: "Conrad certainly doubted that human action could affect the world, but he intensely hoped that it would, and his hope underwrites his artistry: to create a fictional world in which he could honestly believe was to lay out before him the grounds for that hope" (53).

330 Notes to pages 236-46 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

67 68 69 70 71

72 73 74

Hay, Political Novels of Joseph Conrad, 188. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 56-9. Christmas, "A Tale of Europe," 61-2. Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 135. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 212. Ibid., 190. Ibid., 125-35. /Wd., 207, 216. Ibid., 143. Fleishman, Conrad's Politics, 161. IWd., 163-4. Jfa'd., 167. Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 261-4. Dates, "The Immense Indifference of Things/" 6. Fleishman, Conrad's Politics, 183. Ibrd., 177-9. This is the term coined by Ian Watt and further elaborated by Cedric Watts in The Deceptive Text, to refer to the narrative technique of part of a novel, an entire novel, or even a sequence of novels. The complex narrative structure and chronological shifts have, however, been examined by many critics, among them Patrick Whiteley, Paul Armstrong, Mark Wollaeger, and I.S. Talib. These remarks are from Cedric Watts, "Nostromo and the Unitary Theory of Conradian Narrative Verve," Joseph Conrad Society, MLA Convention, San Francisco, 28 December 1991. Watts, "Unitary Theory," 9. Bradshaw, "Mythos, Ethos," 162. Watts, "Unitary Theory/' 7. Fisher, "Narrative Form and Historical Understanding," 20. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 62. The remarks by Guerard that Whiteley here repudiates occur in Guerard's 1958 book Conrad the Novelist, 199-202. Most pointedly, Guerard emphasizes (the italics are his): "there is, generally, a marked discrepancy between what Decoud does and says and is, and what the narrator or omniscient author says about him ... Conrad may be condemning Decoud for a withdrawal and skepticism more radical than Decoud ever shows; which are, in fact, Conrad's own" (199). The reason I do not engage with Guerard's book is that I find notions such as authorial intention, which is never available to anyone's purview, dated and misguided, and the assertion that there exists in this novel a single "narrator or omniscient author" is demonstrably mistaken. Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 63. Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 165-6. Deane, "Conrad: The Criminal Interval," 606-7.

331 Notes to pages 247-57 75 Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 218. 76 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 66. 77 Whiteley modifies this view in the conclusion to his discussion of Conrad: "Self-knowledge holds Conrad's interest because he suspects that beneath the surface of disjunctive self-images lies a coherent self in the depths of each individual... If the self had no irreducible concrete referent, then there would be no dramatic interest in the attempt to penetrate the surface identities that hide it. Even though Conrad intuits this concrete referent, he still loses hope that it can ever be comprehended ... [The] discovery of shared identities does not appear in Conrad's fiction explicitly; it is just beyond his narratives' margins. Such a discovery does appear in the fiction of Lawrence and Woolf, and it appears as the consequence of their realizing, as Conrad does, that knowing oneself is no less problematic than knowing external reality. Lawrence and Woolf bring directly into their fiction the solutions that in Conrad are just beyond the world he represents when he brings cognition, and realistic narrative with it, to an impasse" (75-6). 78 Whiteley, Knowledge and Experimental Realism, 69. 79 Gates, "The Immense Indifference of Things/" 16-17. 80 Talib, "Anachronic Narratives," 16. 81 Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 151-62. 82 Watts, "Unitary Theory," 3. 83 Ibid., 4-6. 84 Ibid., 8. 85 Ibid., 10-11. 86 Robert Hoi ton, "Jarring Witnesses", 83-100. He enumerates three ways in which the discourse of the oppressed group is displaced onto the privileged group. First, native discourse is jammed or blocked. Second, care for native well-being is appropriated by the Blancos, most notably by Mrs Gould, whose dispassionate philanthropy and profound understanding of the peasantry, the latter founded on the rather dubious ground of a brief visit to southern Italy, suggest in a patronizing manner that the natives are not the best judges of their own needs. Third, the Blancos lay claim to the most profound suffering as they discover themselves to be "hollow and enslaved, and ... confront a meaningless world as a result of their relation to wealth and power" (90). Referring specifically to the virtually unanimous critical view, expressed here by Ressler, that "Mrs. Gould endures the fullest burden of tragedy in the novel," Holton adds: "The suffering and grim realities faced by the native people seem to be wholly occluded from such a formulation, which focuses instead on the suffering of a person whose relative comfort stems from their oppression"(92n). I refer the reader to Helton's discussion of this issue, now dubbed cultural appropriation. It is the

332 Notes to pages 257-65

87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94



focus of his chapter appropriately entitled "Nostromo and the 'Torrent of Rubbish/" and is more detailed than mine. Ibid., 101. Visser, "Crowds and Politics," 2. Ibid. Ibid., 4. Ibid. Holton, "Jarring Witnesses", 84. Ibid., 69-71. Visser, "Crowds and Politics," 3.1848 was the year of the Paris Commune, and the publication date of Marx's Communist Manifesto. Visser cites the work of historians and philosophers reacting against the French Revolution such as Burke and Paine, Conrad's contemporary Gustave le Bon, and recent writers such as E.P. Thompson and George Rude as contributing to what he terms "the ideological myth of the political crowd" (3). Only the last two works cited are reasonably objective, not having been written from an exclusively conservative and hence fearful point of view. Visser points out that Le Bon contributed the phrase "mob psychology" to the popular lexicon, with its connotation of crowds as "fickle, anarchic, irrational, given to random violence" (3). Visser, "Crowds and Politics," 5-6. He continues: "Together the myths are used to undercut any claim to legitimacy made by the insurrectionists. On closer inspection, however, the two myths are not logically consistent. If race is what simultaneously causes and discredits the Sulacan insurrection, then presumably other 'democratic' initiatives in which race did not figure would be acceptable, which is clearly not what Conrad is suggesting. Conversely, if revolution itself is the problem, then race has no explanatory force, since ... all 'democratic' revolutionary efforts are wrong. Strictly speaking, then, race cannot be complementary to 'democratic' politics; as a category of explanation it is an excess, operating rhetorically rather than logically" (6). See Visser's article for further examples of Conrad's tendency to discredit characters via racist depiction, including not only the Monteros but Sotillo, as well as civilian "agitators" Gamacho and Fuentes, and the communist photographer only introduced as Nostromo lies dying. Curiously, Conrad exempts the somewhat heterogenous Blancos from similar treatment. Visser pointedly adds: "Why the diverse origins of the Blanco aristocracy and the European expatriates should not contribute to lawlessness or barbarism is left conveniently unclear" (5). Ibid. "One way the myth denies justification for revolutionary action is through recourse to something that purports to have the force of an iron-clad law of history, the only such law granted in conservative historiography: that revolutions inevitably lead to conditions far worse

333 Notes to pages 265-70


98 99

100 101 102 103 104

than the state of affairs that gave rise to them ... Yet even that does not go far enough, since there remains the assumption that the initial state of affairs was genuinely intolerable. That in turn would imply that the people engaged in revolution had genuine grievances, and therefore their actions would have to be seen as rational responses to such grievances. Rationality is precisely what the ideological myth of the crowd must deny to those engaged in revolution. The iron-clad law, then, must be supplemented with another axiom: that the actions of crowds are not in fact genuinely political. The discourse of the crowd requires this axiom because political intent would itself imply at least a modicum of conscious effort and purposeful pursuit of goals, a method behind the madness" (7-8). Visser cites Le Bon's denial of "genuine political motivation" to the "ringleader or agitator" of a crowd, who offers as motives for their involvement in political struggle "a personal grudge, a desire for power, mental instability, or, usually, a combination of the three" (8-9), attributing their success to their inflammatory rhetoric and their followers' ignorance and greed. Ibid., 9-10. See Visser 10-11 for a more detailed examination of the irony Conrad directs at the Ribierist government, endowed as it is with arbitrary dictatorial power, which nonetheless owes its existence to the Blanco "republicans." Ibid., 12. Holton, "Jarring Witnesses," 7on: "The establishment of the existence of that reality as a point of reference need not necessitate adopting it as a point of view." He refers the reader to Johannes Fabian for a full discussion of Western marginalization of dominated cultures. Ibid., 73. Ibid., 73-4. Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 163. Holton, "Jarring Witnesses", 75-8. Ibid., 103-4. He continues: "The natives are significantly denied the capacity to construct a coherent narrative at all... As jarring historical witnesses, their testimony may be disallowed and their actions judged to be narratively incoherent... If it is true to say that final narrative historical authority is not granted to the Sulaco Europeans, it is equally true that not a shred of authority - narrative or otherwise - is granted to the natives ... Their attempt to seize power is granted none of the rationality that is a pre-requisite of narrative logic in history, none of the radical political analysis that has been a factor in many anti-imperialist movements in the third world ... [They are denied] any place in the category of history except as its other, that category of people without history (Wolf), without culture, whose defeat continues to be a constitutive factor in the relative stability of orthodox narrative history" (107-8).

334 Notes to page 271 105 Ibid., 106. 106 Ibid., 79-81: "Criticism of imperialism was not so widespread at the time, and Conrad's achievement is, perhaps, to move such a critical discourse onto the agenda, into the realm of the thinkable (orthodoxy). But he is clearly not concerned with pushing a step further into a vision of social heterodoxy that would give a voice to disruptive heteroglot elements ... The natives are granted two basic modes of existence in Nostromo. First, they are represented as existing anonymously, timelessly, as picturesque scenery, elements of the exotic background setting of the novel... In such cases there is no real penetration into the interior space of the natives, indeed little suggestion that such a space exists. The reader is allowed no direct access to the natives and their point of view - all representations of them emerge through the perspectives of the Europeans. The other mode of native existence has two aspects, both of which center on the perceived absurdity or irrationality of their lifestyles. Often, this too is presented through the eyes of Europeans in order to foreground the incomprehensibility of the people under scrutiny" (79-80). Holton goes on to cite descriptions of "the bestial and irrational Montero ... [who is] utterly differentiated from the 'civilized' Europeans" (81), and poses a threat to their political stability. He concludes: "The problem, then, is not that the European aristocrats and capitalists are presented as stable and good while the natives are presented as evil. Such a simple opposition entirely misses the complexity of Conrad's understanding of at least one half of the balance ... If the Blancos are presented as possessing a range of moral strengths and weaknesses, ideals and the betrayal of those ideals, the natives are granted no such depth or complexity. That strategic historiographic denial constitutes the basis of their political and discursive marginalization ... To the degree that their experience not to mention their appearance - is foreign to us, their testimony can be refused" (81-2). He later points out that the natives who support Gould's endeavour, believing that the mine brings them prosperity, security, and justice, fare only marginally better at the hands of Conrad's descriptive powers, and that there yet remains a "condescending irony ... [that] allows the reader a superior vision, a knowledge that the mine is not so benign as these naive workers believe" (97). It is significant that even those natives who ally themselves with the mine are not allowed to express their appreciation in their own voice, and apparently need "institutional structure imposed from the outside to tame them" (97-8). The white man's burden is thus fulfilled. This category of natives receives, however, some small degree of sympathy from Conrad, which "is quite the opposite of the antipathy, revulsion, and scorn expressed toward those who, allied with the Monteros,

335 Notes to pages 271-5

107 108 109 no in 112

oppose the established structure of 'material interests'" (97). They thus become the scapegoat for the failure of the mine as an instrument of social stability and justice. See Holton for analysis of specific passages. Ibid., 92. Ibid. Stape, "Conrad's Classic Line," 59. Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 163. Ibid., 149. Ibid., 150.1 highly recommend Armstrong's excellent essay "The Ontology of Society in Nostromo." In it, he holds that "Conrad's politics are essentially contradictory because they reflect the opposition between his desire to overcome contingency and his recognition that it is ineradicable. Conrad is a political conservative in his belief in the need to preserve institutions in order to sustain the illusions of stability and community. But he is radical and even anarchistic in his scepticism about the justification any social constitution can claim ... He may seem revolutionary in his devastating critiques of imperialism and capitalism, but he has the doubts of a reactionary about the efficacy of revolutions and the motives of their advocates. His attack on autocracy suggests a democratic, egalitarian temperament, but his contempt for the complacency and gullibility of humankind shows little faith in the ability of the community to govern itself wisely ... Conrad's contradictions reveal a distinctly comprehensible logic when we uncover the ontological dilemmas responsible for them. His seemingly inconsistent political attitudes express once again a fundamental metaphysical conflict between suspicion and faith - suspicion about the continency of the codes and interpretations we live by, but faith in them nonetheless because we cannot do without them. Conrad demystifies the absolutist claims of any particular ideology, but his quest for affirmation often makes him sympathetic to those who show an unwavering commitment to a political ideal... Nostromo is not so much a realistic representation of a given historical situation as a paradigm of political processes - a model through which Conrad explores the ontology of the social world" (151-5). His essay goes on to explore Costaguana as a paradigm of these basic political processes: power, community, and change. Of the first, Armstrong asserts that Nostromo raises the question of "whether justice and power are compatible" (161), and later states: "Power tends toward instability whenever it seems to have stabilized" (173). He argues that community is artificial but necessary: "Any alignment of members in a group is provisional and contingent, subject to sudden and violent change ... [however], the social dimension of our being is inescapable and fundamental" (165). Of change, he writes: "It is not surprising ... that the contradic-

336 Notes to pages 275-6 tions in Conrad's understanding of power and community are paralleled by contradictions in his interpretation of the causes and consequences of social change. Conrad describes himself as a determinist, but his political fictions deny that there is any inevitability to historical developments. He is an advocate of incisive human action, but he has no faith in the ability of the will to control the destiny of either the individual or the group" (168). Armstrong concludes with an examination of the human need for ideals, despite the failure of any given ideology to assert itself as an absolute, immutable value as opposed to a contingent, semiotic one. Among the convictions he explores are patriotism, mastery, honour, and fidelity. "In each case, the belief in one of Conrad's absolutes ... only reveals its inadequacies and its dangers ... The suspicious movement of Conradian irony teaches the reader to unmask the pretences and limitations of any creed. But Conrad's relentless quest for values - his almost strident affirmation of fidelity, honour, and mastery - insist nonetheless on the need to believe" (176-84). Other critics, including Fisher, also read Nostromo as "both an account of, and an accounting for, historical process" (15), in which history is "a complex system of individual narratives" (26). Meaning and order inhere in the "narrative construct," and are not "intrinsic properties of historical process" (26). Fisher argues that "repetition in the novel forms an epistemological framework ... rather than a metaphysical proposition" (15). 113 Ibid., 160-2. He cites as example of this fluctuating notion of justice: "The interests of the foreign elements no longer seem as conducive to the welfare of the native population at the end of the novel as they did at the outset... The justice of restitution which Father Corbelan seeks seems unjust, for example, to the owners of former church property. The justice of repaid debts which the foreign interests desire seems unfair to much of the native population. The justice Nostromo feels he never received seems amply paid to him in the opinion of his employers. And so on ad infinitum. Instead of providing an unequivocal norm to restrain the abuse of power, the idea of justice is an essentially contested category. It can itself spawn battles for ascendency when competing interests struggle to make their interpretation of its meaning prevail. Demonstrating the importance of justice but at the same time demystifying its claims, Conrad once again adopts contradictory political attitudes for internally coherent reasons. He casts doubt on the utility and univocity of justice as a political norm precisely because of his awareness that power resists restraints like justice as much as it requires them" (160-2). 114 Jameson, The Political Unconscious, 273-4. 115 Ibid., 274.

337 Notes to pages 276-95 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132

133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148

Ibid., 275. Ibid., 276. Ibid., 278-9. Ibid., 276. Ibid., 277-8. Ibid., 280. Armstrong, The Challenge of Bewilderment, 165. Ibid., 166-71. Visser, "Crowds and Politics," 13-14. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 132. Jenkins, "Conrad's Nostromo and History," 158. Ibid., 174. Raval, The Art of Failure, 86. Fleishman, Conrad's Politics, 174. Ibid., 175-6. The phrase is Helton's, "Jarring Witnesses", 95. Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 90-1.1 recommend part 2, subtitled "Marx, Modernism and Modernization" for a close reading of both the content and style of the Communist Manifesto. An example of Herman's stylistic analysis: "Marx is not only describing but evoking and enacting the desperate pace and frantic rhythm that capitalism imparts to every facet of modern life. He makes us feel that we are part of the action, drawn into the stream, hurtled along, out of control, at once dazzled and menaced by the onward rush" (91). This type of analysis is rare in dealing with a document belonging to the realm of political theory; it is usually reserved for poetry. But then Marx's Manifesto is no dry, discursive tract. /Wrf.,93-4. Ibid., 94-5,118-19. Ibid., 96. Ibid., 97-8. Ibid., 100-1. Ibid., 101. Ibid., 102. Ibid., 101. Ibid., 104-5. Marx, Communist Manifesto, 223-4. Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 111. Marx, Communist Manifesto, 223-4. Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 115-16. Ibid., 116. Ibid., 117. Raval, The Art of Failure, 99.

338 Notes to pages 295-305 149 Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 118-19. 150 Eagleton, "History, Narrative and Marxism," 274, in Phelan, ed., Reading Narrative, 272-81. 151 Marx, Communist Manifesto, 237-8. 152 Ignatieff, The Needs of Strangers, 136. 153 Ibid., 136-7. 154 Ibid., 141. 155 Baum, Compassion and Solidarity, 96. 156 Ibid., 96-7. 157 Ibid., 97. 158 Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, no. 159 Ibid., 128. 160 Ibid., no. 161 Eagleton, Criticism and Ideology, 138. 162 Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, 112-14. 163 Ibid., 124: "They argued that the explosive atmosphere of modernization in the West - the breakdown of communities and the psychic isolation of the individual, mass impoverishment and class polarization, a cultural creativity that sprang from desperate moral and spiritual anarchy - might be a cultural peculiarity rather than an iron necessity inexorably awaiting the whole of mankind ... Revolutionary regimes [that] have come to power all over the underdeveloped world ... have all tried, in many different ways,... to attain the heights of modern community without ever going through the depths of modern fragmentation and disunity." 164 From Alternating Current, cited by ibid., 125, i26n. 165 Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 147. CONCLUSION 1 Woolf, "Joseph Conrad," in The Common Reader, 289. 2 Ibid., 290. 3 Beer, Darwin's Plots, 127.

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ambiguity, 4,9,115,136,146,148-9,151, absolutes, 31,41, 64, 97,100,154,160, 162-4, 173' 176~7/186, 202-3, 272,295; 163-5, 179< 184, 191-2, 194' 199-200, enigma, mystery, 5,148,154,156-7, 203, 242, 244, 306,312, 327, 335; episte162,165-6,168,172-3,176,179,181, mological, 31, 64, 154; moral, 31,41, 183-4,187-8,189-90,195,197,201, 57, 64, 97,154,163-4, *79' 184, 203, 306 203-5, 254' 298 Ambrosini, Richard, 118,120, 123,157, accountant ("Heart of Darkness"), 89, 159,166, 322; discourse, 6,120-1,166, 116,127-8,139-40 177-8, 322; creative discourse, 6, 77, activities, 9,124-5,J29' J34~5/ *37' 139' 150,153,157,166,177-8; critical dis174, 203, 210, 214, 216, 218-19, 222, course (aesthetic concerns), 6,123, 224-5, 227, 229, 231-6, 239-46, 249, 150, 166, 177-8, 332; fictional dis259, 262, 267, 270, 272-3, 276-8, 280-4, course (moral concerns), 6, 31,123, 288, 291, 294, 299-300, 303, 305, 329, 157, 166,177-8, 265, 268,270-2, 286, 332, 333; illusory, 66,124-5,129' 322 *33~5'137' !39r 210, 229,236, 242; puranalysis, 3,145, 254, 323, 333, 337 poseful, 124—5,129' 134' a74' 214' 216' 225, 239, 282, 335 ancestral determinism, 16, 21, 23, 38, 45, Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound, 52, 219 5i' 5> 55-8 Arendt, Hannah: The Origins of Totalitariaesthetic, 5-6, 8,11, 31, 63, 77-8, 120-1, 123, 166 anism, 60,126,193, 238; aloofness, 238-9; bureaucracy, 5, 61, 83,127, Africa, 61, 65-6, 83, 93, 106, 116, 118-19, 120, 121,123, 127-9, 131-2,134, 138, 240-1, 246, 300, 302; colonialism, 4-5, 140, 141, 194, 222, 233, 238, 303, 321, 59-62, 65-7, 74, 83, 93,108-9,111-12, 323; native Africans, 65, 107,112, 118, 121-4,126-8,131-5,138-41,143,183, 191, 194-8, 202, 206, 208, 222, 230-1, 128-30,132,134-5,139~42< 183, 256, 326 233, 237, 239-40, 246, 250, 255, 260-1, 267, 279, 300, 302, 304, 306, 323, 326; agency, 14, 24, 69, 71, 73, 76, 150, 245-6, conquest/exploitation, 60-1,127, 273/ 299' 326 132-4, 176, 192, 195, 202, 207, 212, alienation, 6, 31-2, 43-4, 48, 56, 59, 63, 65, 75-6, 82, 91, 95-6, no, 125,134, 222-3, 230, 234, 236-41, 247, 249, 163,184-5, 206-8, 210-16, 218-21, 257-9, 261, 266-7, 269-72, 274, 278-80, 283-5, 287-8, 290, 292, 295, 302; for227-9, 232, 244, 249, 272, 329; integrateign investment and domination, 76, ed being or integrity, 8,31, 50, 63, 111, 127, 129, 2O7, 2O9, 212, 222, 238-9, 72-3, 83, 88, 207-9, 212-13, 216, 218-20, 223, 228, 230, 232, 238, 247, 243' 245. 249, 251-3, 255, 258-63, 266, 273, 276, 285-6, 288, 298, 303-5 268, 270-1, 281-4, 295' 302-3, 336;

346 Index imperialism, 4-5, 59-62, 74, 76, 83, 93, 126-7, 129' 131-2,135, 139/ 143,146-7, 191-3,195-6, 201-4, 206, 208-11, 224, 231, 233-4, 237-41, 243, 246-9, 252-3, 255-64, 268, 270-2, 275, 279, 281, 283-4, 286, 293-4, 300, 302-4, 327-8, 333' 334' 335' political domination, 60-1,126-7,196, 333; race, 5, 61,127, 129-31,140, 196, 198, 240, 255, 262, 264-5, 268' 271, 300, 302, 304, 326, 332; superfluous capital, 129, 214; superfluous men, 128-9, 214; superfluous raw material, 129, 207, 214, 225, 227, 2 47' 284 Armstrong, Paul B., 7,171, 191, 246, 252, 269-70, 275, 326, 330, 335-6 Arnold, Matthew, 40,48, 307, 313; "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse" (1852), 48,307 Aquinas, Si Thomas, 85, 309 artist and artistic transformation, 3, 6-7, 30-1, 35,67,74, 84,102,104,106,113, 116,122-4, *49' 169-7°, 174,183, 225-6, 229, 233, 293-4 atheism, 39-40,50, 71, 75, 78-9, 81, 90, 92 atomism or atomistic social theory, 70, 76, 82, 91, 95-6,109,135-6,142,153, 191, 206, 208-9, 216, 226, 292, 302, 306, 321 Augustine, St, 68-70, 309 authority, 21, 30, 38, 55, 70,137,147-8, 150, 160,175,179-80,182, 193,199, 232, 252, 256, 259, 270-1, 274-5, 280, 333; in narrative voice, 97-8; versus freedom, 21, 30-1, 90, 106,112, 134, 141, 143,147-8,175,179,199, 203, 218, 229, 247' 252, 269, 327, 334-5 Avellanos, Don Jose (Nostromo), 210-12, 229, 251, 254-5, 260, 262, 266-8, 274, 280-2, 293-5,300; History of Fifty Years of Misrule, 251, 274, 280-1, 294-5 Avellanos, Antonia (Nostromo), 228, 242, 268, 274,282, 286, 291 Baum, Gregory, 298 Beer, Gillian, 12-15, *7/ X9' 3°5' 310 Bendix, Reinhard, 85, 87, 91, 126 benevolence, 72—3, 75-9, 81 Benson, Donald, 156 Bento, Guzman (Nostromo), 257-8, 263, 266, 281

Berger, Marjorie, 94 Berman, Marshall, 90, 287-96, 298-9, 337' 338 betrayal, 3, 9,29-30,33,39,43,50,59, 60-1, 63, 67, 83-4, 88,95,121,138,140, 142,147-8,150-1,158-61,168,174, 176,179,184,186-93, X95' 197-205, 206-10, 213, 218, 225-6, 230-1, 247, 261, 266, 272-3,278, 280, 283, 293, 3°3-6' 334 Bible, 27, 29,35, 38,55; Corinthians, 26, 29,101; Genesis, 12, 29, 38, 39,55; Job, 29, 38; Matthew, 143; Revelation, 320 Bonney, William, 175, 325 Bradshaw, Graham, 244-5 brickmaker ("Heart of Darkness") 89, 116,128,131 Bridehead, Sue (Jude), 23, 25-7, 29, 34, 36-7, 230, 324 Brierly (Lord Jim), 147,153,158-64,169, 174,176,184,193,195, 203, 207 Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights (1847), 64 Burke, Edmund, 262,332 Callinicos, Alex, 211-12, 216, 219 Calvin, John, 91 Chaucer, Geoffrey, 103 Christmas, Peter, 237 chronology, 97-8,146, 244, 253-4, 307; chronological development of plot, 97, 254, 317; chronological shifts, 4,98, 146,156,160,185, 240, 244-5, 250, 252-5, 271,307, 330 citizenship, 72, 76,149, 207, 211, 259, 261, 264, 286, 301,303 civic humanism, 70-3; American Revolution, 70; French Revolution, 70, 73, 75-6, 332 civilization, 5,10-11,19-23, 26, 33, 43, 55-6, 60-2, 66-7, 69, 73-4, 77, 79-80, 86, 93-5,101,106-7, iog-ii, 113-14, 116,120-5,127' i3°-4' 14:1-3' !5°' i8o/ 188,191,195, 204, 208, 219, 221, 229-30, 238, 267, 281, 304, 320, 321, 323, 334; based on lies, 67, 77,101, 109,116,150,180, 206, 229-30; and savagery, 5, 21, 61, 73-4, in, 114, 120-2,131,133,140,142,182, 222-3, 238, 251, 256, 260, 268, 282, 294, 332; and wilderness, 62,67, 80, 93-4, 96,

347 Index 106-7,1O8< 114,119—20,125,129, 130-1,134, 221, 238, 321 civilized ideals or human world, 61—3, 65, 67, 71, 83-4,93,107,110-12,122, 129,130-1,137-40,142,191-2,199, 202, 209,222-3, 23J' 237/ 245' 2f>2' 266, 281,293; enlightenment, progress, 5, 61,111,122,125,130-1,138-40,192, 202,224, 230, 233, 245, 250, 254, 256, 258, 263, 269-70, 280, 288, 300, 303-4, 314, 320 Clare, Angel (Tess), 25, 30,41,47-56, 230, 313 closure, 43, 52-3, 286; Friedman, Alan Warren, 52 cognitive activity, 4, 54, 64, 69, 96-102, 106-7, 112-16,121, 136,140,144-6, 148-9, 151, 154-5,157, 162-5, t/6-8/ 194, 199, 201, 205, 215, 226, 244, 252, 254, 260, 279-80, 282, 295, 301, 317, 318, 321, 323, 331; cognitive limitations, 97,116,136,144,154-5,165, 317, 318; perception and imagination in Conrad, 99-100,113,115,151,160, 164, 318; perception as object of scrutiny, 100,113,116,145,165,177-8 coherence, 109,142,146, 248, 299,302, 306 collectivism, 62,137, 220, 276-7, 292, 296-8, 302,318; collective activity, 136, 138, 216, 262, 283, 291 collective responsibility, 3-4, 59, 62, 76, 82, 91, 143, 149, 163-4,182, 192, 262, 264, 296-7 commodification, 124, 227-8, 232, 234-5, 293, 299, 329; of humanity, 90,124, 211-12, 228, 293, 295; of labour, 232, 329; of time (Lukacs), 81, 228 common weal, 41, 70-2,82,143,187, 193, 209, 237, 263,287, 296, 304 communication, 67, 93, 95-6,101, no, 112,115-16,119,123-5,136,165-7, 178, 323; failure of, no, 119,144,165, 182,184,199, 244; meaning as incommunicable, 107,115,119,132,184,190, 304 consciousness, human, 4, 7,20-8,33-4, 36,51-2, 57, 62-4, 76, 83-4, 91, 96, 99, 101-2,105-7,114~15/ ]I 7> I23< 125, 137,142,145, 148,152-3,162,169, 174-5,180-1, 203, 206-8, 210, 212, 214-18, 220, 226, 228-31, 241, 245-6,

270-1, 277-8,284-5,28/< 303, 3°5, 323/ 329; animal mental faculties, 21, 24-5, 214-15, 218; human mental faculties, 21-2, 24, 33, 40, 64, 93-4,97,149, 176-7, 202, 207; self-doubt, 158-62; unreflective, unselfconscious, 47,91, 107,158,161,168,203,207, 216-18,229 conformity, 4, 6, 8, n, 27, 33, 36-7,40-4, 58, 62-3, 84, 87-9,128,141,143,164, 181, 207, 219, 303-4, 306; subjugation to the group ethic, 4, 6,8, 33, 41-2, 62-3, 83, 90, 302,304 Conrad, Joseph (outside of Conrad chapters), 3-9, 31, 33-4, 36, 53, 56-9, 301-7 consequences, 4, 62-3,80,90,109,141, 168, 214, 216, 238, 240, 284,335-6 conviction, 228-9, 242' 24^/ 294/ 335~6; lack of, 228-9, 242' 252 Copernicus, n, 51 Coppola, Francis Ford: Apocalypse Now (film), in, 320 Corbelan, Archbishop (Nostromo), 236, 239, 246, 286, 289, 291, 293-4, 336 Costaguana (Nostromo), 208, 212, 221-3, 228-9, 235-6, 240,242~3,245, 249-54, 259, 261, 264-8, 274, 286, 290, 295, 335; Sulaco, 208, 212, 217, 220, 224, 229-30, 233, 235, 237-8, 242-3,245, 247-53, 256, 265-9, 274~6' 280-4, 2&7> 296~7, 332, 333 courage or honour, 149, 151,159, 161, 167-8, 178-9, 197-8, 200, 218, 293, 327-8, 336 cowardice, 147, 159,161-2, 167, 174,185 Cox, C.B., 177 Craig, Randall, 154 creative imagination or strength, 5,14, 36,44,56, 74, 77-8, 80, 86,135,149, 174-5, 213' 225/ 22&> 278, 285, 290-1, 2 95, 299, 303, 3°7' 309,315- 338 crime/criminal, 47, 54, 56, 61-3, 65-6, 133,136,138, 140, i42~3, 147-8,159, 162-4, !74< i86, 200-3, 2O5/ 2o6-9, 217-18, 230-1, 239, 242, 246-7, 251, 276, 305; criminality of society, 148, 201-2, 205-6, 208, 236, 306 crowd, 256, 263-5, 27°' 295' 332~3 Cubism, 80 Dain Waris (Lord Jim), 151,174,183, 188-90,194, 200

348 Index darkness, chaos, unformed, unworded, 93, 96,101,108,110-11,121,124-5, 128,131-2,136,140,142,149,152,156, 172-3, 176-9,185-9, X99> 2O3/ 224/ 229/ 255-7,268, 288,291, 299, 302, 322 Darwin, Charles, 3, 6-7,10,49, 310-11; Descent of Man, 20-2, 56, 311; Origin of Species, 12-20, 310-11 Darwinian evolutionary theory, 7, 10-22, 24-7, 29-30, 32, 36,38,42,44-5,49, 51, 56, 62, 76, 80-1,170, 215, 301-2,304-6; and Conrad, 62,145,170; consanguinity of species, 6,13,15-16, 20, 24; its formulation into language, 7, 12-15, 17, 310; its formulation as narrative, 12-14,17-20; and Hardy 11, 25, 36-8, 44, 56-7; natural selection, 14, 16-17, 21, 56; as progressive principle, 30,45, 170; as unconscious process, 29, 44, M5 Deane, Seamus, 133,142-3, 246 death: and Conrad (individual tragedy), 145,149,151,153,160,169-71, 173-4, 176,185,190,192, 213, 236, 251, 274, 277, 280-1, 283, 285, 293, 295, 305, 307; and Darwin (cycle of life), 16, 21-2, 25,39; and Hardy (individual tragedy) 16, 21-2,25, 35, 39-40,44, 56, 305, 307 Decoud, Martin (Nostromo), 34,63,79, 138,147, 207, 209-11, 214-15, 218, 225, 228-9, 233, 236, 238, 242-6, 251, 265-8, 272-3, 276-8, 280-3, 2§5' 291/ 294~5r 304, 330 DeLaura, David, 41, 48, 313 delayed decoding, 66,113-15,117, 244-5, 252-4, 320-1,330 democracy, 16,18, 41, 73, 82,111, 202, 209, 249-50, 255, 260-4,268-9, 275, 283, 294, 298, 305, 332, 335; egalitarian, 70-1, 73, 89,192,197, 294, 335; hierarchy, 16, 87,140, 201, 209, 288; self-rule, 73, 76, 82, 237, 240, 251, 253, 259; sovereignty, 261-2, 264,266, 272, 286, 297 Descartes, Rene, 68-70, 72-3,98,181, 309, 318; Cartesian dualism, 68-9, 98-9, 181 destabilizing force, 61, 208-9, 222~4/ 233/ 277, 279,288 destiny. See fate determinism of (or entrapment in) the

past, 10, 21, 23,28, 37-8, 39, 45-6, 48-54, 56 destruction, 44,63, 78, 81,123,135,167, 171-2,174-5, 215' 2I8, 222-4,229, 242, 244-6,249, 254, 256, 259, 263, 271, 273, 277, 279-80, 285, 287, 290-1, 295-6, 304 devotion to duty, 97,109, 116,120, 126-7, 133,139-40,147, 151,160-1, 181, 185, 187, 193, 201-3, 219-2o, 228-9, 234, 243, 304 dignity, 7, 69, 73, 77-8 disruption of dramatic illusion, 31,103, 118,122,156 dispossession, 23, 26, 31, 36, 43, 58 Doramin (Lord Jim), 174,187-8 Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 78-9, 90, 92, 244, 278 d'Urberville, Alec (Tess), 45,47, 52-6 Durbeyfield, John (Tess), 47, 53,54 Durbeyfield, Tess (character), 22-3, 25-8, 32, 34, 36-7,41,45-55, 57, 86, 88, 207, 230 Durkheim, Emile, 5,136-8,170-1; anomic suicide, 137-8,170-1; egoistic suicide, 138 Eagleton, Terry, 6,192, 200, 202, 237, 295, 299 economy, 71, 85-6, 88,126,129,133,137, 192, 212, 215-16,220, 224, 226, 230, 234, 240-1, 251, 253,258, 261, 267-9, 272, 286, 289-91, 293, 297, 299, 329 Einstein, Albert, 81, 97 Eliot, T.S., 142 Elizabeth Jane (Mayor of Casterbridge), 39-40, 42-5, 313 embedded narrative, 4, 7, 63-4, 67-8, 92, 101; Conrad's pondering, 180,184, 199-200, 277-8; dramatized, 3-4, 7, 9, 31, 38, 63-4, 67, 84; framework structure, 4, 67,111-12,116-17, H6,153-7/ 175; foregrounded narrator, 123-5, 153-5,166, 177,180-1,184,191, 220, 245, 248, 253, 260, 267, 277, 318, 323; story-telling as dramatized event, 101, 103-4,111-12,135,154-5, J^3' *8i; story-telling as subject of, 67,103-4, 135,149,157,177; unreliable, immediate, 93, 95-7,100-2,106, 111-12, 115-17 engagement, 3, 9, 79, 125, 148, 154, 215,

349 Index 229,242-6, 254,262, 273,281-2,284-5, 295; and detachment, 3, 9, 81,145, 157, 228-9, 238, 242-3, 245-6, 273, 278, 285, 330 enlightenment, 71-6, 309; disengaged reason, 69-72, 76, 80, 309, 315 epiphanic art, 112-13,116,119-20,156, 161-2,180, 279, 290, 301 epistemology, 4-5, 7, 9, 63-4, 68, 71, 82, 95-9,101,106-7, II3~19' 121' I23' 13^/ 146,151,154-8,162,164,177-9,191, 195, 205, 216, 244-5, 248, 271, 275, 302, 307, 319, 323, 326, 336; epistemological crisis, 12, 20,31, 56,95,100,102,107, 144; epistemological limitations, 64, 113,119,154-6,178, 248, 275; modes of perception (fresh, unveiled), 51, 112-13,114,116; (reactionary), 51, 53; objective, 164, 216; epistemological revolution, 15, 51; subjective, 38,46, 64, 68,80, 95-9,115,118,136,146,151, 154-6,162,177,195, 205, 244, 302, 307, 323 expansion, 61-2, 67, 126-7, 239~4°' 252' 270-1, 275, 279; trade, 126-7,139, 237, 287, 299 expediency, commerce, 8, 33,37,40-3, 56, 62, 71,83-4,86-8,127, 223,230, 237, 249, 254, 258, 262, 265, 269, 274, 294, 303 exile, 91,124-5,14°' 323 evil, 72, 74, 77, 79, 95, 97,106,108,120, 143-167. 184-5' 187-9, 217, 235' 273 facts, 146,149,152-3,155,157,166-7, 174' 177' 183-4; deceptiveness of, 149, 153, 155, 183; inadequacy of, 146, i52-3- 155' 157' 184 Farfrae, Donald (Mayor of Casterbridge), 8, 32, 41-5, 86 fate, fatalism, 33-5,37, 42,52,54,59,62, 145,149,157,163-5,167-8,179,184-5, 190-1,193,195, 203-4, 206, 210, 231, 236, 242, 273-4, 276-7,279-80, 283, 285, 295, 297, 302-5, 321, 329; destiny, 56,167-8,173,175,187,190, 210, 236, 273, 282, 305, 311, 336; mastery of, 149, 176, 178, 181,191, 198, 327, 336 fidelity, 63, 95, 109,122,139, 147, 158-61, 165-6, 178-9, 181, 187-8,190,192, 197-8, 201-2, 207-8, 213, 241, 247-8,

258, 269, 272-3, 277-8, 282-4, 287, 289, 292-3, 300, 303, 306, 322, 324, 327, 335 Fisher, Barrett, 245, 336 Fleishman, Avrom, 241-2, 243-4, 27*>> 285 Ford, Ford Madox: "progress d'effet," 185 Fowles, John: French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), 30 frame narrator: "Heart of Darkness," 101,103-5,111-12,117-18,120,122, 132, 320; Lord Jim, 146,154 frame story, characters, 111-12,117-18, 120-2,133,136,140 frames, filters, 4, 6-8, 51, 54,64, 67-8, 95-6, 99-103,111-13, n6-i7,122,140, 146,154-5,163,175/182-3,199, 216, 250, 267, 273-4, 290 freedom, 21, 37-8, 70, 72-4, 79, 82, 88, 145, 149,160, 176, 196-8, 208-9, 214-16, 225-6, 241, 245, 249, 255, 259, 264-5, 273-4, 281, 284, 286, 288, 292, 296-8, 304-5, 309 French lieutenant (Lord Jim), 150,159-63, 174,181,193 Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 8, 246, 255, 268, 275-6, 284 Garrett, Stewart, 109 Gentleman Brown (Lord Jim), 149,167, 185-9, !93"4' !98~9' 202, 204 Giddens, Anthony, 88 Goethe, J.W. von, 129, 219, 232, 291 Gould, Charles (Nostromo), 62, 72, 95, 208-10, 221-3, 226, 233-9, 24i~3' 246' 248-51, 254, 256, 260, 262-4, 266, 269, 274-6, 279-82, 286, 288-91, 294, 300, 334 Gould, Emilia (Nostromo), 223, 233-5, 250-2, 254-9, 265-9, 272, 274, 279, 282-3, 29°' 294, 331 government, 137, 221, 238-41, 249-50, 257-9, 263-4/ 266, 279, 281, 286, 297, 302, 333, 335 grace, 72, 85,87-8, 91,141 Graham, Cunninghame, 62,107,144-5, 205, 215, 302-3 Guerard, Albert, 245, 330 Guetti, James, 102, 110-11,123-4, X35' 319-20 guilt, 3,147-8,159-60,163-5,176,186, 192, 2O1-2, 205, 2O8, 230, 305-6

350 Index Hardy, Florence, 10-11, 22, 25, 40, 45-6, 5° Hardy, Thomas: conventional narrative structure, 7-8,11, 21, 30-1, 33, 38, 57-9, 64, 306-7; modernity or subversion of themes, 7, 57-9, 64,306-7 Hawkins, Hunt, 197-8 Hay, Eloise Knapp, 236 "Heart of Darkness," 8, 31,43,53, 60-143, 146-7,149-50,174,180,182, 195,197-8, 204-5, 208, 219, 223, 239, 250, 318, 319-20,321, 322 Hegel, G.W.F., 40, 73-5, 79, 85, 210, 215-16, 219-20, 296,301; dialectic, 75, 79, 215-16,220, 276-9, 285, 291 Heisenberg uncertainty principle, 178 helmsman ("Heart of Darkness") 117, 119-20, 122,321 Henchard, Michael (Mayor of Casterbridge), 8, 22-3, 27-9- 32, 35-45' 57- 86, 88, 207,312-13 Hernandez (Nostromo), 222, 236, 239, 241, 243, 283, 286, 289, 291 heroism, 60, 63-4,81-4, 88, 92, 106,136; tragic or dispossessed hero, 7, 36, 91, 95,142,147-8,150-2,161,167,169-70, 174,187,190, 200, 208, 218, 231, 248, 272, 276, 285-6, 302-3, 305-6, 316 history, 5,10,12,14,16, 20, 28, 31,37-9, 42, 45-6, 49, 53-4, 56, 58, 68, 73, 74, 81, 84-6, 98, 145, 168, 182, 193, 2O1, 212, 22 2

216,219-20, 222-4, 7' 34/ 236, 238, 240-5, 250-1, 253-4, 256-9,262-5, 267-9, 274~9, 281, 285, 290-1, 294-6, 299, 301, 304-6, 323, 327,332-3,334, 336 Holroyd (Nostromo), 8, 233-4, 250, 262, 269, 276, 282 Holton, Robert, 256-8,264-5, 267-72, 331-4 Homer, 179 Humphries, Reynold, 183,326 Hyman, Stanley Edgar, 16,18 Hyman, Virginia, 39 Hynes, Samuel, 131, 317, 323 ideals. See values identity, 3, 68, 70-1, 80, 93, 134, 167, 175, 182, 208, 211, 219, 236, 243-4, 247-8, 252, 278, 285, 293, 298, 302-3, 309, 331 Ignatieff, Michael, 297-8 illusion, 3, 9, 125, 138, 142-3, 145, 148-9,

151-2, 157, 160, 174-5, 177, 180-1,187, 190,194, 200-1, 205, 208-9, 213, 221-2, 229-31, 236-7, 239, 244, 246, 255,280, 282, 285, 288, 292, 299; freedom from, 79,107,112,145,165,170,204, 215, 228, 230, 238, 243, 251, 293; saving illusions, 9, 64, 67, 84, 92,101-2, 108-10,139,149,153,174-5, 177' 179' 186, 205, 229-31, 242, 244, 246, 280, 305, 325, 335 imagination, 67-8, 74, 77-8, 80, 99,100, 105-6, no, 123-4, 136' i5i'160-1,164, 172-5,186,189-90,193-4, 200, 204, 213, 241-2, 278, 294, 299, 303, 309, 313, 318-19, 325 Impressionism, 7,104,113-16,146, 275, 320; Monet, Claude, 104; subjective and reflexive, 104,113-15, 320 indifference, 44,63, 75-6,125,145,175, 188, 243, 273, 281-2, 295 indigenous people, 254,256-8,264, 267-71, 276, 282-4, 286, 295, 331, 333-4- 336 individualism, 3-6, 8,11,19-20, 22, 27, 36-7, 40-1, 43, 47,49-52, 55-8, 62-3, 68, 70-2, 74, 76, 78,80-3, 86-97, i°9' 120,127-8, 136-7,141,143,145, 148-50,153,162-6,169,180-2,184-5, 189,191-5,199-201, 205, 206-13, 216, 219-21, 223-6,228, 231-2, 237, 241-2, 246-7, 259, 262, 270,273, 276-8, 284-6, 292, 296-99, 301-5, 309, 318,326, 329, 331, 335-6, 338; brevity of life span, 7, 19-20, 21, 23, 45, 81; fulfilment, 82, 162-3, 225-6, 231, 296-7, 305-6, 309; glory, 63, 80, 84, 92,194, 219, 231; liberty, 4,57,59,62,83,88,141,145,193, 241, 262, 296, 298, 304; radical or renegade, 3-4, 6,8, 33, 36, 43, 46, 63,143, 148-9, 163, l8l-2, 184, 194, 201, 2O5, 207-8, 219-21, 231, 286, 296, 302-3;

responsibility, 78-9,199; rights, 62-3, 70, 72, 76, 82,88,149, 277, 309 Industrial Revolution, 32, 36, 56-7; industrial or technological society, 4, 8, 76, 78, 80-2,126,131,137,139, 228, 234, 240-1, 265, 275, 282, 287, 312, 329 innocence, 120,147-8,164,185, 230, 285 instinct, 12, 16, 19, 24, 26-7, 91, 214, 216, 236 institutions, 56, 97,128,133, 202, 229,



232, 240,251,266,276-7,287, 298,306, 334, 335; church, 23, 46-51, 313; higher learning, 23, 26, 28,31,49, 50; marriage, 23 instrumentalism, 4, 6-7, 36, 70-1, 76, 79, 81-2, 88,112-13,127,141,143,197, 219, 228, 230-2,277, 302-4,306 integrity. See alienation Intended, Kurtz's ("Heart of Darkness"), 67,101-2,108-10,116,122,133,139, 178-9 Jameson, Fredric, 98,113,145,154-5, 166,168, 220,232,242, 275-9, 325, 328 lenkins, Gareth, 282-3 Jewel (Lord Jim), 149-51,176,178-81, 185-90,197, 204 Johnson, Bruce, 113-14, 320 Josipovici, Gabriel, 112 journey, 101,110-11,114,117-19,122, 146,150, 229, 253,319-20 Joyce, James: Ulysses (1922), 58, 98, 306-7 Jude the Obscure (1895), 11,22-32, 37; Jude (character), 22-32, 36-7, 57, 86, 88, 207, 230, 324 justice, 73, 75-6, 79, 81,109,197, 275, 279-80, 282, 295, 297-8, 309,312,334, 335-6 Kant, Emmanuel, 73, 74, 76; rational will as moral source, 73, 74, 76 Keats, John, 156 Kemp, Peter, 8-9 Kierkegaard, S0ren, 78 knowledge as problematic, 99-100,119, 124,144,146,148-50,154,156-7,165, 169,178-9,194, 205, 248, 260, 318-19, 326, 331; of external reality, 99-100, 331; of others, 99-100,148-50,162, 165,194, 326; of self, 99-100,150, 165, 194,198, 248,326, 331 Kurtz ("Heart of Darkness"), 4-5, 28, 60-3,65-7, 79,84,86,88,90,95,97, 101-2,107-11, 116-25,127-8,131-4, 136-43,146-7,149,154,160,163,177, 179-183-4,191-2, 194,198-9- 205, 206-8, 219-20, 223-4, 230, 234, 237-8, 250, 303-5, 324, 326 labour. See workers language, 7,12-15, *7/ 53-5* 61, 64-7, 77,

82-4,93-6,100-3, i°6,108-10,114, 119-25,128,135-6,139,146,148-9, 152, 155, 165-7, 177-8O, 184, 194, 221, 268, 275, 278, 297-8, 304, 314, 320, 322,

323; arbitrary, conventional, 64—7, 93-5,108,120-4; bankruptcy of in colonial context, 93-5,106,108-10, 114,120-3,128,135- 139,180; distortions of, 65-7, 93-4, 96,108,120-1, 123-4,135-6,139, 304, 321; inherent, unambiguous, 64—7, 94, 108, no, 121-2,128; materiality of, 155,165, 179; opacity and reflexivity, no, 116, 178; power of, 6, 53-4, 121, 125, 135, 149, 165, 167, 177,179, 180, 206, 314; scrutiny of, 4, 6,84,100,135-6,149, 165,167,177-9, !84/ 275, 278; transparency and referentiality, too, 102, 108, no, 116 Lawrence, D.H., 33-6, 49, 80, 98-9, 261, 318, 331 laws of nature: Conrad, 209, 226, 230; Darwin, 22, 25, 27,46; Hardy, 22, 25; Lukacs, 230-1 laws of society: Conrad, 86,109,122, 133,143,194, 201-3, 209, 226, 229-31; Hardy, 26-7, 29-30, 33-6, 43-4, 46-8, 50-2,57-9,230,313 liberalism, 48,259, 261-5, 2^8, 297 lie, 62, 67, 94,101,108-9,116,118,122, 125,133,139,142-3,174,178-80, 200, 203-5, 238, 289, 305-6 light, order, form, 93-4, 97, no, 117,121, 123, 125,132,140,149,156-7,167, 172-3,176-7,182-5,188,202-3,2O7' 255, 274, 306 Little Father Time (Jude), 27-30, 207 Locke, John, 70, 237 Lord Jim, 8, 31, 43, 60, 63-4, 68, 81, 83, 95, 144-205, 210, 220, 239, 248,318, 322, 325, 326-8; Lord Jim (character), 4-5, 43,61, 63, 69, 84, 88, 90, 95,97,101, 123,137,138,146-54,156-65,167-76, 178-205,206-8, 219-20,237, 248, 303-5,325 Lukacs, Georg, 3, 6,80-2, 210,227-31, 301, 305, 329; reification, 76, 80-2, 227-31, 329 MacRae, Donald, 85, 92,141 manager ("Heart of Darkness"), 86, 89, 116,128,138-9,142

352 Index Mannheim, Karl, 3-4, 61, 63-4, 84, 93-8, 100-2,107-9, J15' 13f'~7' 142' 146, M9/ 153-4,191' 2°6/ 301-2, 3°5~6, 323; and atomism, 136, 142,191, 206, 306; and cognitive functions of perceiving subject, 4,63-4,95-6,98-9,100-2,115,1456,149,153,177; and mental fictions, 93-5,108-9, d unitary 93-5,108-9, !54'!54' ar|dar| unitary world world view, 4,96-7,100,115-16,153, 302, 306 Mannoni, O., 196-7 Marlow (Conrad's character), 4—5, 7-8, 31, 38, 61-8, 77, 84, 86, 90-7, 100-4, 106-26,128,130-6,139-43,145-7°' 172-205, 206-7, 220' 223' 229' 23$/ 25Q, 2 77< 30i, 304-5- 3*8, 320-2, 323, 325; audience of (Lord Jim), 146-7, 156-8, 160,163,180-2, 194; as divided spirit, 3-4,109,150,162-6, 201; and Romantic individualism, 4,109,150,162-6, 189; and Western values, 4, 63, 65, 84, 90,109,122,125,147,150,162-6,182, 205, 220, 229 Marshall, Kirk, 163 Marx, Karl: - alienation, 4, 8, 81-2, 93, 191-2, 206-16, 218, 220-1, 227-9, 232/ 244, 249, 252, 272, 306; from labour, 4, 8, 96,191, 206, 209, 211-16, 218-19, 221—2, 225-30, 232, 293-5; from oneself, 4, 6, 8, 96,191, 206-7, 2°9* 211/ 214-16, 218-19, 22i/ 227, 229, 231, 249, 302; from others, 4, 6, 8,96,191, 206, 209-11, 215-16, 218, 222, 227, 229, 231, 249, 302; from society, 4, 96,154, 219, 227, 231-2, 297, 303, 305 - bourgeoisie ruling class, 207, 211-12, 222-7, 230-1, 234, 237, 249, 258, 265, 272, 279, 282-4, 286-94, 296, 298~9, 331, 332, 333,334 - capitalism, 4, 8, 32, 76, 81-2, 86-8, 90, 93, 206, 208-13, 216, 220-8, 230-5, 237, 2 39, 24i~2, 249-5°, 252-3, 257~8, 261-3, 265, 267-71, 275-9, 283-98, 302, 329, 334, 335, 337; as revolutionary force, 4, 207-9, 211-12, 222-4, 233, 242, 249, 277, 279, 288-90 - class conflict, 212, 241, 249, 278, 283, 285-7, 292/ 296, 338 - communism, 193, 211, 215-16, 219-21, 265, 284, 292, 296, 298, 302 - exchange value, 292-3 - expressive potential (individual and

communal), 4, 6, 8, 40, 206, 209, 213-16, 218-21, 225-6, 293, 296, 298, 301-2, 305-6 - historical materialism, 210, 219-20, 291 - oppression, 209, 216, 222, 224-5, 238, 246, 252-3, 256, 259, 263, 265-7, 27°/ 272, 277, 280, 283-5, 287, 292' 295~6, 331 - production, 81, 87, 209, 212-14, 216, 220-8, 232,234-5, 258, 274, 277, 287, 292, 295-6, 302, 329 - proletariat, 207, 211-12, 224, 227, 236, 239, 24i~3, 249, 269, 275, 282-4, 286-92, 294-7, 331 - self-reflection, 137, 208, 214-17 - social life, 208, 220, 302, 305 - species-being, 212, 214-16, 220 - state, 206, 210-11, 219, 221-2 - surplus: production, 224-5; value, 222, 225, 227, 288 — works: Capital, 220, 226-7, 234; Communist Manifesto, 4, 8, 279, 287-8, 291-2, 296, 298,332, 337; 1844 (Paris) Manuscripts, 4, 8, 211-12, 216, 219-20, 225, 227, 293; Grundrisse (1857-8), 220-2, 225, 227 Masterman, The Condition of England (1909), 123 material interests, 4, 61, 71-2, 206-10, 213, 218, 221, 223, 225, 227, 230, 233-7, 246-9, 251, 255, 260, 266, 269, 272-3, 279-81, 283, 289, 294, 298, 300, 303, 306, 334 The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), 11, 35, 38-45, 52, 3i2-i3 meaning, 29, 36-7,44,54, 56, 59, 61-2, 64-5, 67-9,82, 89, 92-4, 96, 98,100-10, 112-25,129~3o, 132,134-6,138,140, 147,150-1,157,161-2,175,177, 179-80,188,191, 203, 206, 218, 229, 232, 236, 241-2, 248, 252, 263, 275, 286, 303-6, 312, 318-20,321, 323, 326-7, 335-6; absence of, 82,106-7,109-10, 123-4,I29,135-144-l62, !75> !79, l85, 232-3, 236, 242, 283, 304, 331; disclosure of, 67,101,146, 318-20; quest for, 62, 65, 67, 92, 96, 98,100,102-3, H9/ 123-5,136,146,149- *54,157,175,177203, 206, 275 memory, 31, 35, 41,122-3,144,149,180, 188-9, 247, 252, 259, 266

353 Index metafiction, 3-4, 30, 77,166, 178, 244, 278; postmodern fiction, 157, 166, 244, 278 metaphor, 5, 17-18, 55, 60, 68, 71-2, 262, 291 Miller, J. Hillis, 10, 37-8, 52, 94,124-5, 131-3, 139-40, 312, 320, 322 mimesis, 30, 59, 74, 99,105, 205 Missing (film), 261 Mitchell, Captain (Nostromo), 213, 224, 245, 250, 253-4, 266-9,272< 280-1, 283, 286, 289, 297 modern component, 32-3, 36-7, 40-1, 43, 56-9,137,140-1, 288, 299, 306-7,312, 313; and traditional order, 31-3,41,43, 56-8,155,175, 223, 232, 288, 299, 306-7 modern art and literature, 6-7, 77, 80, 83, 90, 96, 98-9,106,112-13,1X6, 125, 164,178,191, 220, 252; subjectivism and anti-subjectivism, 77,104,113,116 modernism, 4-7, 61, 64, 68, 71, 73-8, 80-2,86-7,89-92, 96-7,109,134,137, 142,148,154-5, lf>3/ !75,180,191, 208, 212, 215, 218-20, 228-32, 234, 249, 251-2, 258, 267, 287-9, 291-2, 294-5, 2 97~9' 302-3, 306-7, 309, 313, 314, 315, 337, 338; alienation and fragmentation, 7, 64, 76, 80, 82, 91,109, 134-6, 142-3,154-5, T63,180, 192, 208, 215, 218-19, 299/ 3°2/ 3°6, 338; moral imperatives, 3, 68, 73, 75, 302, 309; and secularism, 71-2, 81, 87, 141; synthesis of Enlightenment humanism and Romantic expressivism, 72, 75-6, 315 Montaigne, Michel de: originality of individual, 70 Monterist forces or uprising (Nostromo), 222, 225, 229, 238, 240, 244, 250, 253, 255-8, 260, 262-4, 266, 268-72, 276, 282, 284, 288, 299 Montero, Pedro (Nostromo), 256, 259-61, 263, 268-70, 276, 284, 332, 334 Montero, Pedrito (Nostromo), 260-1, 263-4, 268-70, 276, 284, 300, 332, 334 Monygham, Dr (Nostromo), 223-4, 233, 242,248, 263-6, 268-9, 272/ 274' 276-8, 282-3, 286, 293-4 moral order, 3-5, 9, 24-5, 30, 40, 42-3, 49-51, 58, 62, 90, 93, 95, 97,102, 108-11,114,127-8,136-7,139,141, 145,150,157-8,160, 162-4, 174-5,178,

182-5, *88,191,194, 196,199, 201-3, 206, 209-10, 223-4, 234-7, 242, 245, 248,250, 254, 259, 283, 293, 295, 302, 306-7, 312-13, 319-20, 323,334; disintegration, 254, 267, 271-2, 285,307, 334, 338; disorder, 93,110-11,116,124, 126,136,139; failure, 201, 213, 223, 234-5, 242' 248~9; fictions, 143,149, 160,162-3, *77/ X84/186 multiple-perspective narrative, 4, 7, 9, 97-8,146-7,153-5,157,175,179, 220, 240, 244, 253-4, 26°> 2^5/ 269, 271, 273, 279, 307; multiple endings, 30-1; narrative authority, 180,199, 268, 271, 333; selectivity of perspective, 255-60, 268-9, 271' 294> 299 mythology, archetype, 7,10,12-13, 21' 43- 49-52< 55- 57-8 name, 12, 49, 54, 65, 93-4, 102, 106—7, 114,132-3,135,158-9,182, 213; naming as achieving order and control, 65, 93, 114,132, 158; nominal, 53-4, 61, 93, 133,135,158-9; substantive or essential, 61, 65, 93,106,133, 135,158 narrative authority. See authority narrative, embedded. See embedded narrative narrative innovation, 3-5, 7-8,12,31-2, 38, 59, 63-4, 83-4, 95-6, 98-102, 114-15, 220,146-7,153-7, 220, 252, 271, 275, 302, 306-7, 317-19, 327-8; epistemological implications of, 5, 7, 63-4, 99,101-2,115, 146-7,153-7, 252, 271, 275, 302; impasse of traditional narrative, 7-8, 21, 23, 28-31, 33, 37-8, 59, 64, 166, 248 narrative structure, 3-4, 7-9,11-12, 21, 23, 29-31, 33, 38, 57, 61, 63-4, 80, 84, 92-3, 95-102, 106, 112, 114-15, 146-7, 152-7, l66, 175, l8l, 191, 205-6, 22O, 241, 244, 249-55, 26O-1, 271, 273-6, 278-9, 299, 302, 304, 306-7, 327-8, 330;

epistemological relativism, 7, 30-1,33, 38, 63-4, 97,101-2,106,112,114-15, 146-7,153-7,191' 252' 275; fictional form, 23, 31-2,177-8,184, 267, 274-5, 277, 296, 318-19, 325; and quest for meaning, 62, 64-5, 67, 102-3,110-11, 122-6,135,149-50, 166,177-80,183, 185,199, 203, 205-6, 278; sequence, 21, 65, 67,101-4,110' 227/ 245/ 255/ 323/

354 Index 335-6; voice, 7, 31, 33, 36-8, 41-2, 44-5. 47- 52-5,64, 98, 3" nation-state, 76,87,126, 243,275, 281, 286-7, 297, 299 nature: and Arendt, 62, 130, 301; and Conrad, 34, 77, 131,169, 215, 217, 233, 242, 245, 255, 301, 303; and Darwin, 6, 22, 24, 25, 76, 301; elimination of, 232-3; and Hardy, 26, 27, 34, 35,46, 48; indigenous notion of, 130, 134; and Lawrence, 34; and Lukacs, 230-1, 301; and Marx, 4, 212, 214-16, 219, 221-3, 226-8, 301; Romantic, 5, 11, 72, 74, 76-80; and Schopenhauer, 5, 77-80 Newton, Isaac, 19, 104-5 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 5, 42, 77-81, 89-92, 113,174-5, 229, 232, 290; Beyond Good and Evil, 89; Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-5), 42, 79; The Twilight of the Idols, 92; The Will to Power, 89 The Nigger of the "Narcissus", 65,91; preface, 5-6, 318; Singleton (character), 65, 91, 218 nihilistic despair, 67, 74, 79, 89-90, 92, 95,109-11,119,123-6,136,144-5, 160, 189, 207, 210, 218, 232, 236, 242, 244, 246, 277, 281, 290-1, 298-9, 304-5, 307, 326—7; Marx and, 90, 290 Nostromo, 4, 7-8, 34, 60-3, 71-2, 76, 80-1, 93, 95, 98,147,195, 206-99, 33°, 334, 335-6; moral degradation of the idea, 81, 143, 210, 234, 239, 242, 267, 280, 299; narrative voice, 236, 245-6, 251-3, 256, 260-1, 263, 268,272, 277-8, 280, 330; Nostromo (character), 4,8, 61, 63, 84, 88,138,147,191,206-11, 213-14, 216-20,222-3, 225-7, 23°-2, 241, 243-4, 246-8, 250-3, 255, 258, 266, 272-4, 276-9, 282-6, 290-1, 293, 298-9, 303-4' 332, 336 Gates, Joyce Carol, 242, 249

Ockham, William of, 135

omniscience: in cognitive faculties, 28, 84, 260; death of, 116, 318-19, 321; in epistemological assumptions, 15, 30, 38, 64, 97, 260; in narrative, 30, 38, 64, 97-8, 146, 150-3,181, 184, 260, 277-8, 318-19, 321, 330 "one of us," 61, 84,147,159-61,164,176, 181-2,192-3,195,199, 203 ontology, 64, 84, 95-6,109,133,139,147,

156,180-1,191, 245-6,252, 318, 326, 335 orality (Marlow tales), 103,106,146, 149, 154-5,175-6,179,181-3,185,195 others, 60-1, 76, ill, 163,167,177,183, 193,196-8, 200, 246, 283, 304, 333; self-other, 91,163, 183,193,196; self-society, 91,163,193 overreacher, 23-5, 43, 55, 63 paganism, 47-8,54 Pascal, Blaise, 72 Patna (ship, Lord Jim), 152,158-61, 167-8,184,187-8,199, 204 Patusan (Lord Jim), 149-51,164,167, 174-6,180,182-4, ^87,189,194,196—7, 199-200, 202, 204; native community, 168,182-3,1^7~9°i *94,196-8 Paul, St, 16, 26, 29, 64, 104 Pavel, Thomas, 82-3 passion, 30,33, 35-6,40-1,43-5, 81,138, 242-4, 246, 262, 277, 281, 284, 293, 295-6, 313 Patterson, John, 43, 312 Paz, Octavio, 299 Perry, John Oliver, 102,124 pilgrims ("Heart of Darkness"), 89, 94, 108, 113, 129, 143 Pippin, Robert, 89-90, 92, 314 Plato, 68, 309 politics, 3-5, 7, 9, 70, 72, 76, 89, 97, 139-40,163,178, 193, 202, 208-9, 211-12, 216, 222-4, 237, 239-41, 243, 245-9, 25i-4, 256-8, 260-8, 270-3, 275-6, 279-86, 289-92, 294, 296-7, 298-9, 301-2, 304, 327-8, 332-6; contracts, 70, 72; stability, 5, 71, 209, 222, 233-4, 237"~8, 248-51, 256, 260, 266, 269-70, 272, 275, 277, 279-81, 288, 290-2, 299-300, 306, 334-6 primitive, 93-4,114,118,125,140,142, 163, 202, 257 private meaning, 4, 67,108,116,134, 136, 144,146-7,149-50,174,183-4, 193, 203, 217, 245, 248, 290, 292, 304 privileged reader (Lord Jim), 156,181-2, 184-5,189-90,197, 204 privileged visitor (Nostromo), 245, 251-3, 268, 280 Raval, Suresh, 120, 134-5,162, 178-9,



188,199, 224, 284, 295; on exploitation and idealism, 139,150 realism, 7, 98-9, 275, 279,334; fictional convention, 52, 58, 98,105-6; literary, 7, 97-9,105, 275, 279, 317-18, 319,331; philosophical, 98, 168, 175, 319 reality. See truth reason, 11-12,15,19, 25,43, 69-75, 77, 79, 82, 94,134,144, 202, 214, 244, 253-4, 256-7, 259,265, 268,270-1, 280, 291, 3°9,3*4, 333 redemption, 44, 74,77, 95,148-51,158, 164,167-9, a74"5,183-4,187,190, 192-4,197, 202-3, 207, 211, 223, 233, 235,295, 302,312-13, 325 reflexivity, autoreferentialiry, 3, 6, 7, 30, 63, 68-9, 157, 166, 178, 275, 278; intratextual references, 244-5; linguistic, 4, 7,83,135,179, 275, 278; opacity and, 100; textual, 3, 7, 30, 83, 99-100,135, 166,178, 275, 278; transparency and, 100 relativism, 4,31-2, 38, 40, 42, 61, 64, 68, 97-8,101,115,118,136,139,146-7, 154-7,162,177-9, *92, 195, 201,205, 252, 255, 297,302, 307, 323; epistemological, 4, 32-3, 38,42, 58, 61,63-4, 68, 97-8,101,115,118,136,139,146-7, 154-7,162,177-9, *95, 205, 252, 302, 307, 323; moral, 38, 40, 42, 51, 58, 61, 64, 68, 73,97-8,101,136,139,147,154, 157,162,177-9, 201, 302, 307 religion, 20, 24, 40-1, 50, 56, 75, 79, 81, 85, 88, 90,137,141,144-5,184,195, 213, 226-7, 231, 234, 249, 292, 302-3, 311, 312, 313, 321 restraint, 94,126,137-41,143,162 Return of the Native (1878), 30-1,49

revolution, 3-4,11, 70, 73, 75-6,85-6,92, 98, 200, 207-9, 211-12, 220, 222-4, 228, 230, 239-44,249-53, 255-8,261-72, 275-6, 278, 280-1, 283-92,295-7, 299, 332-3, 335-6, 338 Ribiera, Don Vincente (Nostromo), 236, 240, 250-3, 266, 281-3, 295, 3°°, 333 Robinson, Edwin Arlington: "Richard Cory," 158 reader, 9, 97,100,102,104-5,111-12, 114-15,117,120-1,125,147,152,154, 156-8,179,184,188,190,194, 233, 240, 252-4, 257, 271, 274, 279, 293, 319-20, 327, 334

Romantic movement: and history, 74; poetry, philosophy (see creative imagination), 5, 56, 70-81,83-4, 91, 95,109, 168,170,172, 188,190, 200-1, 204, 216, 237, 302, 309, 315; political implications (nationalism), 73, 76, 200, 237, 240-1, 243,253, 255-6, 258-9, 262, 264, 268, 270, 276, 278,280-2,288; and uniqueness, 5, 62-3, 72-4, 84,95,109, 143,148,150,163,170,172, 200, 301 Rome or Roman history of Britain, 39, 132,263 Ross, Daniel, 174-5,179, 325 Rossiter, Michael, 150, 163,185, 193,324 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 72-3, 75, 77, 221, 297 Runciman, W.G., 85 Russian harlequin ("Heart of Darkness") 107,117,120 scepticism, 3, 6, 9, 31-4, 38,42, 47, 64-7, 91-3, 95, 97-8,102,116,119,124-5, 131,144-7,150,164,178,181-2,184-5, 192-3,195, 200-1, 203, 207-8, 210-11, 215, 224, 228-9, 233, 236, 238, 242-6, 248, 255, 269, 273, 276-8, 281, 283, 285, 294, 299, 304-5, 319,323, 327, 330, 335 Schiller, Friedrich, 92, 219 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 5-6,14, 34, 77-80, 113,178 Schwarz, Daniel, 32-3, 37,44-5, 52, 312, 313; convergence of consciousness of narrator and character, 31, 37-8, 42, 44-5, 47, 64, 3^3 separatist revolution, 208-9, 212, 220, 222, 228-30, 239, 241-3, 245, 252-3, 268, 271, 281, 283, 289 Shakespeare, William, 27,34, 38, 219, 312; King Lear, 43,142, 296,313 shared meaning, 4, 67,115-16,136,139, 148,162,180-1,186,191,193, 203; collapse of, 181,191,193 Shires, Linda, 181-2 signs/symbols, 65, 77, 93-4, 96,101-2, 106-7,116-17,135, !5$, 204,320, 321-2, 324; conventionally related to signified, 135,158; inherently related to signified, 94,135,158; inscrutable, illegible, 96,101-2,116, 320 Singh, Frances B., 326 Smith, Adam, 237

356 Index social evolution, 39-40,42, 49-50, 71, 79, 90,92 social justice, 5, 71-3,137, 208-10, 221, 223-4, 234-5, 237- 246, 248-9, 255-6, 260, 266, 269-70, 272, 279-81, 286, 288, 290-1, 298, 300, 306, 335 socialism, 111, 207, 241, 264, 283-6, 291, 299 society, 3, 6-8, 22, 26-7, 30, 33-7, 39-40, 42-4,46-7, 50, 52-4, 56-9, 63, 70-1, 75-6, 80-2, 83-92, 95-7,109-11,112, 121,127,129,133,136-8,140-3,147, 150,154,162-3, J79< *85,191-6, 201-2, 205, 206-12, 215-16, 218-23, 225~32' 244-9, 2^4, 270, 275-83, 285-6, 288, 291—99,301-6, 323, 324, 329,335; foundations of, 207, 218, 230, 281, 335-6; social order, 149, 202-3, 2°8~9, 221-4, 230, 233-5, 25I- 260' a66' 269, 277/ 283, 289, 292, 313, 323, 324, 335-6 solidarity, 3-4, 6, 9, 56, 60-2, 77, 80, 83-4, 88,109-10, 145, 147-50,153, 158-66, 169, 176, 178-9, 181-2, 184, 186-8, 190-205, 210, 244, 262, 265, 269, 283, 292, 294, 297-8, 301, 304-5; cultural, 3, 60, 63, 116, 136, 146, 166, 176, 181-2, 191,194-5, 3°4~6; group, 62, 88,136, 142-43,147,164-5, J69, 176,181,195, 199, 205, 210, 262, 304; professional code, 3, 60, 65, 83, 91, 116, 147-8, 153, 158-65, 169, 176, 184, 188, 191-5, 199-200, 202-3, 205, 231; racial, 146, 182, 186, 191, 195, 198, 200, 294, 304; social code, values, 6, 8,16, 23, 43, 56, 58, 61, 63, 65, 67-8, 70-1, 74, 76, 80, 82-4, 93, 97,109—10,116,120,147—50, 161-4,166,178-9,181,184,187-8, 190-7,199-202, 205, 207-11, 219, 228, 233, 235, 238, 242-4, 246-7, 269-70, 276, 279, 283-5, 292-3, 296, 299, 301-5, 327-8, 329, 335-6, 338; social cohesion, 3, 59, 63, 76, 91, 96,148-9,162,166, 184, 191-3,195, 205-6, 237, 269, 285, 289, 305; social contract, 142-3,191, 207, 209-10, 237, 301 solitary outlaw, 61-3,148, 206, 208 solitude, 3-4, 59, 62-4, 77, 83-4, 90-1, 109,123-4,136,140-1,148-9,153, 162-3,165-6,169,180-1,184,188-9, 194,196-7, 199-200, 229, 233, 242-4, 269, 273, 279, 282, 301, 304; isolation, 4, 9, 59, 62-4, 67, 83-4, 90-2, 101,109,

123,142,148,153,165,180,184,188-9, 191,194,196-200,219, 221, 231-2, 237, 244, 285, 301, 304, 306, 329, 338; loneliness, 6, 64, 90-1, 95,148-9, 165-7, 187-90,195-7,199-200, 211,243, 282, 285 Sophocles, 27, 34, 38, 42, 313 schism, 47-8 Sprinker, Michael, 202, 327-8 Stape, J.H., 274 Stein (Lord Jim), 81, .148-50,156,163-5, 168-75, l&2' 185-6,188, 204, 210, 296, 301, 303, 307, 325; butterfly, 169-71, 173, 204, 325; destructive element, 81, 148-9,170-5, 244, 303, 307; dream, 169-74, 187, 325 Stephen, Leslie, 30, 39-40, 312; abstract systems, 30, 35, 48-9 Stevenson, Richard, 170, 173, 325 subjectivity, 3, 64, 70, 82, 116, 124, 135, 157, 162, 192, 219, 234, 246, 260, 271, 302, 314, 315, 321 subversion, 4,13, 30, 61, 121,175, 206, 262, 272-3, 288, 290 suicide, 5, 27-8,30, 34, 79,138,142,147, 153,157- i59-6o, 184,193, 207, 214-15, 218, 229, 233, 243-6, 276, 277, 303, 306 Symbolism, 104, 116, 321 synthesis, 168, 277-8, 298, 306 Talib, I.S., 252, 330 Tamb' Itam (Lord Jim), 187, 189 Taylor, Charles, 3-7, 58, 67-83, 112-13, 116, 150, 302, 306, 309, 312, 315, 320; genuine experience, 112-13, I16, 315; inner depths as impenetrable mystery, 4-6, 67-8, 71-2, 75, 97, 148, 154, 162, 315, 331; inwardness, 3, 5-6, 67-8, 71, 73, 82, 302, 315; moral sources, 69, 7i-3' 75"7/ 79' 31?; se'f ar>d society, 3, 167,183, 247, 298; selfhood, 3, 5, 67, 70, 82,134,150, 244-8, 252, 276, 298-9, 309; unified self, 6, 68, 70-1, 80-1,150, 33i teleological design, 6,10,14,16-17, 19-20, 25, 42,92, 96,145,168,175,184, 216, 220, 227 Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), n, 25, 36, 45-57 Thompson, Charlotte, 53-4, 314 Tillich, Paul, 124-6, 233 time, 7, 10-11, 21-2, 29, 35, 45, 62, 80-1,

357 Index 145,150,161,167,169,178, 279-80, 293, 307; cyclical, oppressive, 10, 21, 23, 28, 37-9, 45-6,48-54, 56, 58, 81, 85, 280, 303-5, 307, 312, 313; linear, progressive, 7,11, 21, 23, 26, 28-30, 37-9, 42,44-5, 56, 62, 76, 80-1, 85,161,169, 178, 280, 307 trade. See expansion trading company ("Heart of Darkness"), 108,116,126-7,129< X33> M3, 321-2 tragedy (see also Lawrence, Woolf): in Conrad, 60, 63, 83, 91, 111,144-5, 172, 178,181,183,188-9, 215, 229' 241,245, 281, 285, 291, 295-6, 303-6,331; in Hardy, 36-8, 41-3, 45-6, 49, 52-3, 305-6, 312-13 transitional era, 3, 31-2,58, 73, 131,137, 232,277 truth or reality, 62, 64-8, 90, 95,100, 108-10,118-20,125,128,146-9,152-7, 166-7, 174' 177-80,184, 186-91,197, 199-200, 203-5, 208, 217, 224, 233, 236, 244-7, 254-5' 259, 261 / 282, 289, 291, 307, 317, 318-19, 320, 321, 322, 329; as communal project, 147,154,157; elusiveness of, 146-9,152-7,165,191, 255, 318, 320,327; ethic, language, civilized values, 118,120,128-9,132~4/ 139,141,152,158,164,180-1, 192,231; hidden, 65-7,106-10,118-19,125, 318, 320; as horror, 152-3, 161,176-7,179, 183,189,192,198, 291, 318, 320, 322, 326; silence of the wilderness, 130, 132, 134,139-40, 142; surface, 62, 64-7, 90,102, 109-10, 120, 132 Typhoon, 161, 218

values, ideals, 3, 8, 64, 68, 81-3, 89-97, 100-2,107-10,116,118,120-5,128~9, 131.133' 135-6' 139-40, 142-3, H5-50, 154-5,159-62,166-8,170-5,177, 179-86, 190-7, 199-203, 2O5, 210-11,

216, 225-6, 229-39, 241~2, 245, 248, 250-6, 258, 260-70, 272-3, 276-80, 282, 284, 286, 288-9, 292~4, 296-8, 301-2, 304-6, 312, 318, 322, 323, 324, 325, 327, 334, 336; absolute, 68, 89,100,102, 107,109,120-1, 123,129,135-6,147-8, 150,154-5,184,186,194, 216, 226, 231, 258, 260, 269, 282, 306, 312, 327,336; disintegration of, 61, 88, 90, 93,102, 121-22,126,129,133,138-9,140-1,

191, 223, 233-4; dissolution into doubt, 84, 89-91, 95,101,109,145, 147-8,154-5,160-1,191-5, 204, 326-7; "fixed standards of conduct," 84,97, 102, 109, 133, 142, 145, 147-8, 150,

158-65,176,190-2,194,197,199-200, 208, 231, 325; insubstantial or illusory, 68, 93-5,102,108-10,118,120-3,125, 131, 133,135-6, *42-3, *44'147, i5°> 154-5,162,179,194, 201, 203, 231, 255, 336 Victory (1915), 23 Viola, Giorgio (Nostromo), 8, 93, 210, 244, 246, 250,255, 262, 264-6, 268-9, 275-6, 281, 284, 293, 295; republicanism, 8, 246, 255, 262-6, 268, 295 Viola, Signora Teresa (Nostromo), 213, 215, 218, 223, 225-6, 293 violence, 32, 44, 54, 62, 65, 78,114,123, 135-6,142,185,188,191, 210, 217, 245, 256, 258, 265, 267, 275, 277, 284,290, 305, 312, 320, 332, 335 vision-understanding, visibilitycomprehension, 102-5,112,114~15, 118-19, i22, i52,156,162,167,172, 183, 301, 320; incomprehension, opacity, 103, 107, 112, 118-19, 122, 152, 156, 167,172,183-4, T94 Visser, Nicholas, 261-2, 264-7, 279-80, 332-3 vita activa, 5,173; adventurer, 148,168-9, J 73 vita contemplativa, 5, 173; philosopher, 148, 168-9, 173 vocation, 8, 88, 91, 196, 208-09, 213' 222, 224, 234, 277, 289, 292, 294 Wessex, 23, 32, 36, 41, 58 will to live, 21, 25, 27-8, 30-1, 42,44, 57, 58 Woolf, Virginia, 30, 34, 35, 37, 80, 98-9, 100,105-6, 301,318, 331 Wasserman, Jerry, 93,109-10, 120-1,123 Watt, Ian, 104-5,114-16,155,319, 320-2, 330; literary impressionism, 114-16; symbolism in literature, 116, 321-2 Watts, Cedric, 142, 244-5, 253~4, 320, 330 Weber, Max, 3-6, 8,44, 56-7, 62-3, 67-71, 81-2, 84-93, 95, 97,126-9, 140-1,143, 154-5,191, 226, 228, 232, 234, 276, 293, 301, 305-6, 316 - abrogation of individuality, 4, 8, 56,

358 Index 112, 127-8, 133, 143, 191, 193, 228, 302-3, 305

- bureaucratic authority, 4, 32,40-1, 43-4, 62-3, 70-1, 75-6, 81, 84-9, 92, 127-9,131,133,140-1, 228, 231, 287, 297- 299- 3°2- 3i6 - capitalism: colonialist, 60,126-7,129' 248; imperialist, 62, 71,126,155, 201, 210, 228, 230-3, 248,267, 270-1, 284, 286, 293; spirit of, 62, 71,84,87,90-1, 269 - charismatic domination, 32, 62, 85-6, 92,141, 202, 232, 316 - "disenchantment of the world," 4,6, 69, 78-9,81-2,92,127,141, 293, 306 - modern humanity: company man, specialism, division of labour, objectivity, detachment, 4, 63, 85-8, 91-3, 95,127-9,133-4,143,154, 219, 226, 228 - modern market economies, 111,137, 155, 208,216, 234,287, 290,293-5, 297 --ProtProtestant estant asceticism, 71, 84, 87-8, asceticism, 91, 71, 84, 87-8, 91, 226, 269 -rational systems, standardization, 4, 63, 71, 80-2, 92,126-9 • routinization of charisma, 4, 56-8, 62-3, 84-7, 89-90, 92,147, 219, 232, 276, 302 -separation of office and incumbent, depersonalization and professionalism, 44, 87, 127-8, 208, 213, 217, 219, 228,230 - • work ethic, 63, 67, 84, 88, 90-1, 95, 234 • works: "The Development of Bureaucracy and Its Relation to Law," 86-7; Economy and Society: modes of political domination (charisma, patriarchal,

bureaucratic), 84-9,90, 92,127,141, 143,228, 232, 255, 276, 299; "Protestant Asceticism," 129, 226, 234; "The Nature of Charismatic Domination," 85, 316 Whiteley, Patrick, 98-9,143,151,164, 179, 215, 236-7, 245-6,248, 252, 317-19, 330,331 Wirth, Louis, 96,100,136-7 witnesses, 97,116,146-7,154-5,157> 160,162-4,168-9, *74/181, 254, 277-8, 295, 303-4, 306, 320, 333 Wollaeger, Mark, 178,181, 319, 326, 33° words and referents, 61, 65-6,68,93-6, 101-3,11°'ll8' 120-2,124-6,133, 135-6,139,144,149,155,165-7,176-9/ 181,183,199-200, 202, 204, 213, 232, 243, 245, 259, 261, 263, 286, 293, 321, 322, 323; arbitrary, 61, 64, 67, 94, 102, no, 120-2, 133,135-6, 139, 144, 323; unambiguous, 66,124,135-6,139,155, 165,179 work, 64-6, 71, 88, 90-1, 94,109-10, 117-18,120,126,128-9,132~5/ !66, 189, 201-3, 209, 213-15, 218,225-6, 228, 256-7, 267, 283, 294-5, 322, 329 workers, 61, 65-6, 94, 209, 212-16, 218-19, 223, 225-8, 230, 232, 250-1, 253-5, 257-8, 261, 270, 272-4, 277, 283, 285-9, 291-8, 305, 329, 334; labour unrest, 251, 253, 280, 283, 285-7, 2^9' 291-2, 296 Yeats, William Butler, 44 Zadow, Aram, 136, 323