JOSEPH CONRAD (1857-1924)
The Victorian age
- Britain reaches heights of wealth and power during Queen Victoria’s reign;
- Colonial expansion continues in Asia and Africa; India is the most valuable of all British colonies.
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
- Education becomes a universal right;
- Improvement of health services;
- The number of people who can vote doubles;
- The cheap postal system is introduced.
Industrialisation continues and more factories are built;
England becomes the world’s workshop, and London becomes the world’s banker.
The 20th century
- At the beginning of the First World War I (1914), Great Britain was the greatest colonial power in the world;
- During the First World War (1914-1918) 1 million Britons died and 2 million were wounded;
- After the First World War, the colonies increased their demands for independence. The British Commonwealth of Nations was set up in 1926.
- The first half of the 20th century marked the end of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution.
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
Britain’s economic and military position was weakened by the wars;
After World War I, debt and unemployment led to The World Economic Depression (1930);
Women started to take on new roles:
- The Suffragette movement led to women being granted the right to vote;
- Women enjoyed more freedom, unlike in the Victorian era, when they were generally housebound.
The start of the 20th century marked a dramatic rise in the number of writers and readers.
IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:
Literary trend: REALISM
Principles of Realism:
- normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings;
- attention to detail;
- description based on experience, not imagination;
- lower strata of society are emphasized;
- very little use of metaphors.
Realistic novel traits (the novel is the best form of expression for realism, as it describes the world faithfully and doesn’t idealize it):
- Major theme: the place of the individual in society;
- Long, dense, with complicated plots;
- Physical descriptions of characters are realistic;
Literary trend: MODERNISM
- Focus on the inner world of the character: literary devices ̶ memory, perception.
- The plot is replaced by specific modernist patterns: time, place, character, leitmotifs, symbols, mythic patterns, and cinematic devices (space and time montage).
- Theme: atemporal, eternal conflicts of the soul, philosophy;
- Non-chronological, it experiments with the representation of time (temporal juxtapositions, sudden jumps);
- The modernist narration moves from one level of narration to another without warning; thus, it breaks narrative frames.
- The modernist narration focuses on the inner world. The plot of events becomes less important than the character’s consciousness, unconsciousness, memory, and perception.
- Experiments with form and style.
THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK
Born in Ukraine, in a Polish family;
Did not speak English fluently until his twenties;
Worked in the merchant marine and became a captain;
Published his first novel in his 40s;
Moderately successful during his lifetime;
Came to be regarded as one of the most representative writers depicting the change of mentalities from realism to modernism.
- “Heart of Darkness”
- “Lord Jim”
- “The Arrow of Gold”
- “The Rover”