Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad and the Imperial Romance
Linda Dryden

The birth of an intellectual offspring by our National Editor for the United Kingdom, Linda J. Dryden. Her first book has appeared at the beginning of the new century and millenium and is undoubtedly the harbinger of many more to come. In her treatise Dryden maintains that Joseph Conrad's early Malay fiction reflects his seafaring experiences in the East and expresses his misgivings about the assumptions of "white superiority," of imperial power and of the possibilities for romantic heroism which characterize the late nineteenth-century imperial romance. In fact, Conrad was deeply sceptical about its promises of wealth, glory and heroic reputation.

The new author goes on to explore how Conrad used and subverted these tales of Empire to offer an unsettling vision of the imperial experience in Malaya. In Almayer's Folly and An Outcast of the Islands Conrad challenges the romantic aspirations of his characters; in "Karain" he deliberately exploits the formula of imperial romance; and in Lord Jim he exposes the fragility of the notion of romantic heroism and gentlemanly conduct. Using illustrations from and references to many well-known novels of Empire, such as Haggard's Allan Quatermain, Dryden demonstrates how Conrad's early Malay fiction alludes to the conventions and stereotypes of popular imperial fiction.

CONRAD CONCEPTS expects to publish a full review of the book in the very near future.

Linda Dryden, Joseph Conrad and the Imperial Romance, (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2000) (New York, St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000). 228 pp. ISBN 0-333-74715-1

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