Saturday, August 3, 2019

Illusion and Delusion in Conrad’s Lord Jim : A Tale Essay -- Joseph Co

Don Quixote Rides Again: Illusion and Delusion in Conrad’s Lord Jim: A Tale â€Å"‘You are an incorrigible, hopeless Don Quixote. That’s what you are.’† (Conrad 1946b, 44) Fifteen-year-old Konrad Korzeniowski (Joseph Conrad) heard these admonitory words from the lips of his tutor, a Krakowian college student instructed by his maternal uncle (Tadeusz Bobrowski) to talk his nephew out of his eccentric desire to become a seaman. The link between young Conrad’s desire to become a sailor and the renowned knight of La Mancha is not a casual one. In his writings, Conrad generalises the particular case of his vocation for the sea by pointing to the reading of romances of adventure as the cause prompting young men to join the maritime profession. Thus, for instance, in the autobiographical work in which the words of dear tutor are quoted (A Personal Record) Conrad refers to Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea as his â€Å"first introduction to the sea in literature.† (1946b, 72) In â€Å"Tales of the Sea† (1898) ––an earlier piece written at a period in which he was already engaged in the composition of Lord Jim: A Tale–– Conrad speaks of how Frederick Marryat and James Fenimore Cooper, the creators of sea fiction, â€Å"influenced so many lives and gave to so many the initial impulse towards a glorious or a useful career†. (1949, 56) Later essays like â€Å"Well Done† (1918) or â€Å"Geography and Some Explorers† (1924) highlight the role played by romances and books of exploration in triggering young men’s desire for a life of adventure at sea, Conrad’s included. In the latter he calls Nà ºÃƒ ±ez de Balboa, Tasman, Torres, Cook or Franklin â€Å"the first grown-up friends of my early boyhood† and states that their nautical feats were an inspiration for him. ... ...Facts! They demanded facts for him [Jim], as if facts could explain anything!† (Conrad 1946c, 29) This disavowal of the value of facts sounds is an anomalous one to hear coming from a third-person narrator which, traditionally, was supposed to occupy the objective position of a view from nowhere specifically. It is important to add that such a statement is made in Chapter 4, at the end of which the third-person narrator gives the floor to Marlow, a first-person narrator subjectively involved in the story he is telling. 11 Needless to comment on the connection between hepatic diseases and alcoholism. 12 It may be argued that the doctor’s irony and laughter are a sign of nervousness and a symptom of the loss of consistency of his self-representation as derived from a scientific practice whose solidity is equally eroded by the engineer’s atypical hallucinations.

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