This is an absorbing read with a writer who is prepared to perform mental autopsies on his characters; just as Leonardo taught us what made up our phys This is an absorbing read with a writer who is prepared to perform mental autopsies on his characters; just as Leonardo taught us what made up our physical world and its workings so Lawrence does exactly the same about our inner mental workings which also includes our passions and sexual worlds.Happily he is not embarrassed or ashamed of sexual feelings or lusts or tendernesses and in this his first novel we are in on the beginnings of this openness. There would be much more to come with "The Rainbow","Women in Love" and the notorious and infamous "Lady Chatterley's Lover". No one has surpassed Lawrence in his celebratory writing of our sexual lives and its emotional aspects.The English magazine "The Literary Review" hosts annual awards for the most cringe worthy attempts from modern novelists in dealing with Lawrence's Territory.They are often appalling and hilarious in their awkwardness. The Sexual Revolution still has a long way to go in the Descriptive Domain. Happily it can be performed with gay abandon and relaxed freedom behind closed doors.
When one reads "based on a true story", one can usually conclude that the original inspiration will be sullied and crushed and leave one wondering why When one reads "based on a true story", one can usually conclude that the original inspiration will be sullied and crushed and leave one wondering why one was ever informed in the first place that a "true story" ever existed, unless it is to add some depth, too often missing, that this latest tale is to be one of substance.
Conrad took his tone of black humour for "The Secret Agent" from one of his own short stories, which also happens to be my favourite Conrad short story, if not my favourite short story, and which made my reading of the novel an Absolute Must!! His, "An Outpost of Progress", holds a sting in its very title, a grim irony and a dark humour are almost tangible when we first meet the two Representatives of the European World now running a remote River Station in darkest(metaphor or mere adjective?) Africa. And the downward spiral they take is equally not surprising,almost pitiful with a touch of scorn, and humorously dark. Their employers speak of them contemptuously as 'imbeciles' and any veneer of civilisation they have is insufficent to support them in a solitude where inner resources are vital. Indeed "The Secret Agent" is called a Dark Comedy although I am not sure which parts!!! The inability of many characters to fail to really communicate or see no necessity or have no inclination to try leads to barren and often tragic lives.Too often words hide rather than reveal. The Tortuous and sometimes Torturous Conversations are certainly scenes where black humour is to be found.
My first inspiration to read this novel however was not Conrad's own short story but the early Alfred Hitchcock b/w film of the novel but now renamed "Sabotage". (His 1936 b/w film titled "The Secret Agent"is definitely NOT Conrad's) However "Sabotage" has the obligatory romance to sweeten things for the unhappy female lead; but Hitch had the guts not to omit the tragic death that causes her unhappiness...but adds that of a cute puppy, which caused much upset to cinema crowds who in no way wanted Reality ' to disturb their Cinema Fantasies. Conrad has no puppy and spares the female lead nothing. She suffers Life's Woes to the Full.)
Neither can many Young Americans swallow Conrad's shorter, easier and more famous novel "The Heart of Darkness". Which says a lot about: how Literature is NOT taught in American schools; how Novelistic Narrators can be confused with the Author; and how amusing readers become when they gang up against a literary device, here it is The Metaphor,with Fervent Rage and finally VOTE Conrad's Classic, on a Goodreads Distraction to be The Most Difficult Novel In World History...or something equally excessive!!!)
This novel can be heavy going, being a product of 19th Century style, where sentences are long and complex with clauses and vocabulary equally long and complex. Some sentences can come near to containing 100 words!!! Modern readers unsurprisingly have to readapt or drown.
There is much characterisation which is delicious; and many chapters record a Conversation between two characters involved in tracking down the Terrorist/s and assorted foreign suspects which is always a Journey of Consequence ,at least for One and maybe for the Two partaking in said Conversation.
I didn't find it as delicious as "An Outpost of Progress" but a Second Reading, if I am able to live that long, would put paid to THAT, I'm sure.
Here is an unexpected and gory death, dire consequences, a neat murder, the destruction of a family, an unsurprising revenge, a suicide, treachery, two failed romances - one by desertion, the other by death, ...but not a single doomed puppy in sight !!! The Young Americans can breathe a sigh of relief for that?! Let's hope so ! ...more
These could be called short stories or novellas, which are short novels or long short stories. Mmmmmm!!!...categories !!!???
I have seen Conrad called These could be called short stories or novellas, which are short novels or long short stories. Mmmmmm!!!...categories !!!???
I have seen Conrad called a racist on Goodreads.
Here again, Conrad distances himself from the Omniscient Narrator position, and hands the reins over to a fallible character within the tale to retell the tale. Often this storyteller is liable to alter during the story as any other character may since they are part of the story.Perhaps this has been Conrad's own experience.Perhaps not.But one cannot necessarily identify the storyteller of the tale with the author Joseph Conrad. It somehow reminds of the critic taking the artist Matisse to task because the reclining woman of his drawing had arms that seemed unrealistically too lengthy."This is NOT a woman",Matisse informed his critic,"It is a drawing of a woman." Is this relevant ??? Don't ask me, I'm just repeating a story !!!!!
Marlow is retelling the story "Youth". General Santierra narrates the story of Gaspar Ruiz 40 years down the track,in his retirement.Marlow does not begin his story..."We were sitting round a mahogany table...Thee was a director of companies, an accountant, a lawyer, Marlow, and myself". 'Myself' it is who repeats Marlow's story. It is twenty-two years since Marlow's story. ...more
Not always easy reading a 'Virginia Woolf'. To The Lighthouse, Orlando and A Room of One's Own I ate up. Mr I'd read the book..."Mrs Dalloway" that is!!
Not always easy reading a 'Virginia Woolf'. To The Lighthouse, Orlando and A Room of One's Own I ate up. Mrs Dalloway, Between the Acts and Jacob's Room not so digestible.
It so happened that Michael Cunningham's 'take' on "Mrs Dalloway" was more accessible than his book in terms of proximity and time, so I nicked into the movie theatre and was...BOWLED OVER !!!
I saw the film again a couple of days later and was amazed how much I'd missed the first time. A few weeks later I took my Mum and a friend to see it, prepared to be bored,and again was riveted...acting, story ,music... it was always a deeply moving experience. I reread Mrs Dalloway and saw its film starring a favourite Vanessa Redgrave.
AND THEN...the BIG MISTAKE!!!...I read Michael Cunningham's "The Hours"
I could not even RECOGNISE the film. It was lame. No PUNCH at all!!! That was years ago and I'm still PUZZLED!!!
So someday soon, I hope, I will be able to reread "The Hours" and hopefully be able to alter the present Star Rating.
"A DELIGHTFUL SERIOUS POET"...now THAT grabs me!!! It insinuates that Both Sides of the Coin are being acknowledged.
Also brings to mind a birthday card "A DELIGHTFUL SERIOUS POET"...now THAT grabs me!!! It insinuates that Both Sides of the Coin are being acknowledged.
Also brings to mind a birthday card my Mum's older sister,Rosie, once sent me which carried the line: "He Who Laughs, Lasts."
In the introduction penned by the Earl of Birkenhead, he writes of "the abysmal depression sometimes apparent in" ...his verse "and his avowed terror of death." The use of humour might signify an avoidance of a reality, or a refusal to avoid reality. Dorothy Parker's crisp last lines come to mind. Sentimental War Poems of horrendous deaths and slaughters make me suspicious of the poet.Or people who think the Holocaust need only concern the Jews(the Victims); or only says something negative about the German perpetrators. To ask whether it might be saying something about the nature of every Human Being, that we all might be capable given certain conditions, extends rather than closes the evidence.
My only worry is that 292 pages of such poetry might wear thin. I will have to get an Anthology of varied topics and poets to ward off an over-exposure of what could very well be an excessive talent !!? to be continued... ...more