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THEEDWARDIANERA

GENERALINTRODUCTION
TheEdwardianperiodorEdwardianeraintheUnitedKingdomistheperiodcoveringthereignof
KingEdwardVII,1901to1910.
Theerawasmarkedbysignificantshiftsinpoliticsassectionsofsocietywhichhadbeenlargely
excludedfrompowerinthepast,suchascommonlabourersandwomen,becameincreasingly
politicised.
Socially,theEdwardianerawasaperiodduringwhichtheBritishclasssystemwasveryrigid.
Economicandsocialchangescreatedanenvironmentinwhichtherewasmoresocialmobility.These
changesweretobehastenedintheaftermathoftheFirstWorldWar.
Britainseconomicandmilitarysuccesswasnowrelative.Itsrateofeconomicgrowthwasstagnating,
anditsnavalsupremacywasbeingactivelychallengedbytherapidexpansionoftheImperialGerman
Navy.Britainwasfarfromconsolidatedandatpeacewithitself.Standardsoflivingmighthave
risenforemployedworkingpeoplesincethe1880s,butasignificantproportionofthepopulationwas
showntoliveinpoverty.Thatwasshocking,butitalsomeantthat70percentwerelivinginrelative
affluence.TheLiberalgovernmentsof190514madeaconsiderableattempttobegintocometo
termswiththesequestions.Thereformsacceptedthatcapitalismwaswasteful,inefficient,and
punishingtoindividualsregardlessofpersonalmerit.
Themovementforwomenssuffragebecamestrongerandevenviolent.TheEdwardianyearsalso
sawaveryconsiderableexpansionofthetradeunionmovement,andtheLabourpartygrew
considerablyinstrength.
WheneventsintheBalkansandCentralEuropeinJuneandJuly1914ledrapidlytowar,theBritish
couldbringlittleinfluencetobear.Britainhadlesstogainfromwarthananyoftheothermajor
Europeanpowers.Britainwasremarkablyunpreparedpsychologicallyandphysicallyfora
Continentallandwar.Thefirstindustrialnationhadofferedtheworldaremarkablepublicexperiment
inliberal,capitalistdemocracywhosesuccesswasbasedonfreetradeandworldpeace.4August
1914broughtthatexperimenttoanabrupthalt.
Poetry:ThomasHardy(18401928)
In1898Hardypublishedhisfirstvolumeofpoetry,WessexPoems,acollectionofpoemswritten
over30years.Hardyclaimedpoetryashisfirstlove,andpublishedcollectionsuntilhisdeathin
1928.Althoughnotaswellreceivedbyhiscontemporariesashisnovels,Hardy'spoetryhasbeen
applaudedconsiderablyinrecentyears.
Mostofhispoemsdealwiththemesofdisappointmentinloveandlife,andmankind'slongstruggle
againstindifferencetohumansuffering.
Hardyresentedthelabelofpessimist.Heprofessedrathertobeameliorist,onewhothinksthat
thehumanrace,hasthecapacitytoimproveitslot.Butinhisversethereistoomuchemphasisonthe
decayofbeauty,thelikelihoodofmischanceandthecertaintyofdeath.

Hehadapeculiarsensitivitytodisplaythevividnessofaparticularmoment.
Muchofhispoetryrecallsimages,scenesorincidentsfromapersonalpastandanimmediatehistory
whichtouchesotherhistories.Loverecalledislovelost,sometimesperversely,andperceptionis
frequentlyaccompaniedbyaprocessofdisillusion.
[WarPoems:TheManHeKilled(1902)
Thisisaveryskilfulpoemheavilyladenwithironyandmakinginterestinguseofcolloquialism.The
titleisslightlyodd,asHardyusesthethird[#?]personpronounHe,thoughthepoemisnarratedin
thefirstperson.TheHeofthetitle(theIofthepoem)isevidentlyasoldierattemptingtoexplain
andperhapsjustifyhiskillingofanothermaninbattle.
[#?]
Inthefirststanzathenarratorestablishesthecommongroundbetweenhimselfandhisvictim:in
morefavourablecircumstancestheycouldhavesharedhospitalitytogether.Thisideaisinstriking
contrasttothatinthesecondstanza:thecircumstancesinwhichthemendidmeet.Rangedas
infantrysuggeststhatthemenarenotnaturalfoesbuthavebeenranged,thatissetagainst
eachother(bysomeoneelse'sdecision).Thephraseasheatmeindicatesthesimilarityoftheir
situations.
Inthethirdstanzathenarratorgiveshisreasonforshootingthesupposedenemy.Theconversational
styleofthepoemenablesHardytorepeatthewordbecause,implyinghesitation,andtherefore
doubt,onthepartofthenarrator.Hecannotatfirsteasilythinkofareason.Whenhedoesso,the
assertion(becausehewasmyfoe)isutterlyunconvincing.Thespeakerhasalreadymadeclearthe
senseinwhichthemenwerefoes:anartificialenmitycreatedbyothers.OfcourseandThat's
clearenoughareblatantlyironic:theenmityisnotamatterofcourse,theclaimisfarfromclearto
thereader,andthepretenceofassuranceonthenarrator'spartisdestroyedbyhisadmission
beginningalthough
Therealreasonforthevictim'senlistmentinthearmy,likethenarrator's,isfarfrombeingconnected
withpatrioticidealismandbeliefinhiscountry'scause.Economicnecessity:hewasunemployedand
hadalreadysoldoffhispossessions.Hedidnotenlistforanyotherreason.
Thenarratorconcludeswitharepetitionofthecontrastbetweenhistreatmentofthemanhekilled
andhowhemighthavesharedhospitalitywithhiminothercircumstances.Heprefacesthiswith
thestatementthatwaris(quaintandcurious(,asiftosay,afunnyoldthing.Thistendstoshow
warasinnocuousandacceptable,buttheeventsnarratedinthepoem,aswellasthereader's
generalknowledgeofwar,makeitclearthatconflictisfarfromquaintandcurious.
Thisisaratherbitterpoemshowingthestupidityofwar,anddemolishingbeliefinthepatriotic
motivesofthosewhoconfrontoneanotherinbattle.Thenarratorfindsnogoodreasonforhisaction;
Hardyimpliesthatthereisnogoodreason.Theshortlines,simplerhymescheme,andeveryday
languagemakethepiecealmostnurseryrhymelikeinsimplicity,againinironiccontrasttoitsless
thanpleasantsubject.]

[Ah,AreYouDiggingonMyGrave?(1913)
InAh,AreYouDiggingonMyGrave?Hardynotonlysurprisesthereaderastocontent,butalso
form.Histechniqueinvolvesaconsistentemploymentofcunningirregularityapplicabletowhat
heoncelearnedasanarchitectandwhathelaterappliedtohispoetry.Hardysinterestisin(the
principleofspontaneity,foundinmouldings,tracery,andsuchlike(resultingintheunforeseen(as
ithasbeencalled)characterofhismetresandstanzas,thatofstressratherthanofsyllable,poetic
textureratherthanpoeticveneer;thelatterkindofthing,underthenameofconstructedornament,
beingwhathehadbeentaughttoavoidastheplague.
[#?]
ThisstatementcertainlyappliestoAh,AreYouDiggingonMyGrave?whichhasregularstanzas
ofsixlinesand,generally,aconsistentnumberofsyllablesperlineeightexceptforthesecondand
lastlinesofeachstanzawhichusuallyhavesixsyllables.Therhymeschemeisalsoregular:abcccb.
Yetmetreandaccentareirregular,withaccentsfallingondifferentsyllablesthroughoutthepoemas
canbeheardifonereadsthefirstlinesofeachstanzatogetherandthenthesecondlines,andsoon.
Thisisthepoemscunningirregularity(thatofrhythm(andaninstanceofapoetwhoknowsthe
artofconcealingart.
Isasatire,averseorproseforminwhichprevailingvicesorfolliesarehelduptoridicule.What
thenistheprevailingviceorfollyhelduptoridiculeinHardyspoem?ItisWesternidealism
orsentimentalismassociatedwithcontinualdevotiontothedead.Theburiedwomanimaginesshe
ismissedbythosewhowereclosetoher,orisstillhatedbyherformerenemy.Sheismistaken.
Thelivingshavemovedontootherpreoccupations.]

Symbolism
Symbolismwasalatenineteenthcenturypoeticmovement,startedbyanumberofFrenchwriters.
Itmaybeseenasareactionagainstdominantrealistandnaturalisttendenciesinliteraturegenerally
and,inthecaseofpoetry,againstthedescriptiveprecisionandobjectivityofParnassianism.The
symbolistsstressedthepriorityofsuggestionandevocationoverdirectdescriptionandexplicit
analogy,andtothesymbolwasascribedapreeminentfunctionintheefforttodistilaprivatemood
ortoevokethesubtleaffinitieswhichwereheldtoexistbetweenthematerialandspiritualworlds.
Symbolistwriterswereparticularlyconcernedtoexplorethemusicalpropertiesoflanguage.
Thesymbolistpoetswishedtoliberatetechniquesofversification,andassuchwerealignedwith
themovementtowardsfreeverse.Symbolistpoemssoughttoevoke,symbolicimagerywasused
tosignifythestateofthepoet'ssoul.Synesthesiawasaprizedexperience;poetssoughttoidentify
andconfoundtheseparatesensesofscent,sound,andcolour.Symbolistsymbolsarenotallegories,
intendedtorepresent;theyareinsteadintendedtoevokeparticularstatesofmind.
SymboliststendedtolooktoArtasacontemplativerefugefromtheworldofstrifeandWill.The
symboliststookcharacteristicthemesofmysticismandotherworldliness,akeensenseofmortality,
andasenseofthemalignpowerofsexuality.

Bythelate1880s,thelabels"symbolism"and"decadence"wereunderstoodalmostsynonymously.
Thetworemaindistinct.Thesymbolistswerethoseparticipantsintheculturalcurrentwholaid
emphasisondreamsandideals;theDecadentscultivatedprcieux,ornamented,orhermeticstyles,
anddarkormorbidsubjectmatters.
IntheEnglishspeakingworld,theclosestcounterparttosymbolismwasaestheticism.Symbolismhad
asignificantinfluenceonmodernism,anditstracescanbeseenintheworkofmanymodernistartists,
includingWilliamButlerYeatsintheanglophonetraditionandRubnDaroinHispanicletters.

ThepoetryofWilliamButlerYeats(18651939)

ThecareerofYeatsepitomizesthehistoryofEnglishpoetryinhislifetime.Heattemptstoassert
thepowerofamysticalvisionandanoftenpassionatesexualityandsensuality.Heisaseekerof
redefinitions,verbalasmuchasintellectual.Inhispoetry,hepressesforcommitment,political
andspiritual.Yeatscontinuedtofindafreshvitalityandvarietyinthepotentialexploredbyearlier
generationsofRomantics.
HebeganundertheinfluenceofSpenser,Shelley,RossettiandtheAestheticmovementofthelate
nineteenthcentury.ButYeatswasIrish,andIrishinfluenceswerealsoworkingonhim.Dublin
introducedhimtoIrishliterarynationalism.YeatshatedVictorianscience,andhefeltithadmade
beliefinorthodoxChristianityimpossible,sohecontinuallysoughtforanewreligion,atfirstan
aestheticone.
HisearlypoetrymixespostPaterianaestheticismwithaCelticismwhichisbothnationalisticand
escapist.ItwasnotlongbeforetheexoticismofYeatssearliestpoetrygavewaytoaquieterhandling
offolkandfairythemesderivingfromhisdeepsenseofabasicdichotomyintheuniverse.The
imageryinthesepoemsisarrangedinpairsofcontrasts:manandNature,thehumanworldandthe
fairyworld,thedomesticandtheadventurous,thetransientandtheeternal,arepairedagainsteach
other.
Yeatsisgenerallyconsideredtobeoneofthetwentiethcentury'skeyEnglishlanguagepoets.Hecan
beconsideredaSymbolistpoetinthatheusedallusiveimageryandsymbolicstructuresthroughout
hiscareer.Yeatschosewordsandassembledthemsothatinadditiontoaparticularmeaningthey
suggestotherabstractthoughtsthatmayseemmoresignificantandresonant.
Yeatswasamasterofthetraditionalpoeticalforms.Theimpactofmodernismonhisworkcanbe
seenintheincreasingabandonmentofthemoreconventionallypoeticdictionofhisearlyworkin
favourofthemoreausterelanguageandmoredirectapproachtohisthemesthatincreasingly
characterisesthepoetryandplaysofhismiddleperiod.
Hislaterpoetryandplaysarewritteninamorepersonalvein,andtheworkswritteninthelast
twentyyearsofhislifeincludemeditationsontheexperienceofgrowingold.Hisworkcanbe
dividedintothreegeneralperiods.TheearlypoemsarelushlypreRaphaeliteintone.Yeats'middle
periodsawhimabandonthepreRaphaelitecharacterofhisearly.Yeats'laterworkfoundnew

imaginativeinspirationinthemysticalsystemhebegantoworkoutforhimselfundertheinfluenceof
spiritualism.
Yeatssprogressasapoetcanbecomparedtothatofamanspeakinginasuccessionofvoices;his
stylesredefinehispreoccupationsandhisimagesandtheyvariouslyexpresshissystemofartand
symbols.Hislaterpoetryproclaimstheindependenceoftheartistwhocreatesandexpoundsanew
spirituality.
SomeexamplesofsymbolsinYeatssverse
Water:thesignatureofthefruitfulnessofthebodyandofthefruitfulnessofdreams.
TheSea:lifeitself,butoftenasymbolofthedriftingindefinitebitternessoflife.
TheWind:asymbolofvaguedesiresandhopes.
TheNorth:nightandsleep.
TheEast:hope.
TheSouth:passionanddesire.
TheWest:fadinganddreamingthings.
TheRose:synthesisofallthingsintoperfectorder.

[TheSongofWanderingAengus(1897)

TheSongofWanderingAengusreiteratestherecurrentmotifinYeatssearlyworkthatthe
beckoningofthefairyworldafflictsthehumanheartwithunappeasableselfdestructivelonging.
thepoemarticulatesaversionofthetranscendentalaspirationandfrustrationthatistheconceptual
tensionofromanticism.
ThepoemistheselftoldstoryofAengus,hereapparentlyameremortalhimwithhisnamesake,the
oldIrishGodofloveandpoetryandecstasy.Havingbeentroubledbyafireinhishead,Aengus
tookhimselfofftothehazelwoodtodosomefishing.Hedangledaberryfromahazelwandand
snaredalittlesilvertrout.Whilehetendedtothefire,thefishtransformedintoaglimmering
girlwhocalledhisnameandranaway,fadingintothebrighteningair.Eversince,hehasbeen
wanderinginsearchofthegirl.
YeatsidentifiesthegirlasoneoftheSidhe,thegodsofancientIreland,headdsthattheSidhecantake
allshapes,andthosethatareinthewaterstakeoftentheshapeoffish.Theallusiontothefirein
Aengussheadisbothcrucialandambiguous.Itconceivablysuggestsatranscendentalpropensity,
restlessness,orreadiness.Inthesecondstanza,Aengusgoestoblowthefireaflame,anostensible
referencetoacampfirefortheroastingofthefish,but,byaninevitableslippage,equallyareferencetothe
fireinthehead.Theveiledsuggestionseemstobethatthecallofthefairiesallegorizesorreifiesthefirein
thehead,thatitistheheartcallingtoitselfoutofitsownyearningandaspiration.Theclimacticimageof
Aenguspluckingthesilverapplesofthemoonandthegoldenapplesofthesunislessanimageofsexual

consummationthanofachievedtranscendentalaspiration.TheimageisEdenic,butitresolvesthebiblical
oppositionbetweenthegardenandtheapple.Thesilverandgoldof

theapplesisanimportantdetail,for,asF.A.C.Wilsonwrites,fusedgoldandsilver,thesolar
andlunarprinciplesindissolublyknit,isanalchemicalemblemofperfection.
ManycommentatorsassociatetheappleblossominthefairygirlshairwithMaudGonne.
InTheSongofWanderingAengus,however,thefairygirlisfey,slight,andretreating,noneof
whichsuggeststheintensityandmajestyofGonne]

[AWomanHomerSung(1910)
InthispoemYeatsexaltsMaudGonne,hislover,intoHelenofTroy,thewoman"Homersung"about
inhisepicthe"Iliad."ThemythbecomesmoreimportanttoYeatsthanthephysicalbodyofMaud
Gonne.ThispoemdescribesvividlyhisfeelingsforMaudGonne.Thethemeofthepoemrevealshow
hesublimateshisphysicaldesireforherbodyintoaspiritualandmysticalstatebytheprocessof
mythologizing.
Yeatsopensthe21linepoembywrylyrecallingthetormentingjealousyofhisyouth:ifanyman
approachedGonne,Yeatsshookwithhateandfear,butifanymanfailedtoacknowledgeher
beauty,itwasbitterwrong.Inthelastofthepoemsthreestanzas,YeatsrecallsGonneinthe
splendourofheryouth.LikeawomanHomersungshewasfulloffire,sweetness,andpride.The
womanHomersungisHelenofTroy,whosebeauty,likethatofGonne,wasatoncemiraculous
anddooming.]
TheWarPoets.
1)RupertBrooke,TheSoldier(1915).
In1915,DeanIngeofSt.Paul'sCathedralreadasonnetfromthepulpitaspartofhisEaster
Sundaysermon.ThesermonwaspublishedinTheTimesthenextdayasGeorgeParfittdescribes,
"animportantdocumentofnationalpreparationforwar."Originallyentitled'TheRecruit',Rupert
Brooke'ssonnet'TheSoldier'wasthelastinasonnetsequenceentitled'1914'.
Brookeobservesthesonnetform(14linesofiambicpentameter,dividedintoanoctaveandsestet),
howevertheoctaveisrhymedaftertheShakespearean/Elizabethan(ababcdcd)rhymescheme,
whilethesestetfollowsthePetrarchan/Italian(efgefg).Brookehasalsodeviatedsomewhatfrom
thetraditionalthematicdivisionsassociatedwiththeoctaveandsestet:question/predicamentand
resolution/solution,respectively.
In'TheSoldier'Brookeinvokestheideasofspiritualcleansing,inviolablememoriesofthedead,a
hero'simmortallegacy,andhecombinesallthesespecificallyundertheoverarchingframeworkof
Englishheritageandpersonalloyaltytoit.
RupertBrooke's"TheSoldier,"servesasanexampleofGeorgianpoetryinitsglorificationofwar.
Brookedoesnotdescribethetorturousnatureofdeathinwarandonlyacknowledgeshowthesoldier
honorsEnglandbydyingintheprocessofdefendingthenation.

2)WilfredOwen,Exposure(1918).
'Exposure'givesaworm'seyeviewofthefrontline,basedonOwen'sexperiencesinthewinterof
1917,andpassivesufferingiswhatitisallabout.'Nothinghappens',ashesaysfourtimes
nothingexcepttinychangesinthetimeofday,theweatherandtheprogressofthewar.Themen
appeartrappedinaNoMan'sLandbetweenlifeanddeath,andthepoem'smovementiscircular.
Whenitends,theyareexactlywheretheywereinthefirstverse.
'Whatarewedoinghere?'thepoetasksinverse2.Therealcauseoftheirsufferingisthattheyare
lyingintheopenunderfreezingconditions,withsomepsychologicalforceforbiddingthemtogetup
andwalkaway.
Twoliteraryinfluencesarepresent.'Ourbrainsache'echoes'Myheartaches',thefirstwordsof'Ode
toaNightingale',byOwen'sbelovedKeats.HealsohasinmindIvorNovello'ssong,'Keepthehome
firesburning....thoughyourladsarefarawaytheydreamofhome'.Thefiresarebeautifulbut,like
jewels,offernowarmthorcomfort.Thehousehasbeendesertedbyitshumaninhabitantsandverse
6suggeststhatiftheyoungmenwenthometheywouldnotbewelcomed.Thepoemlaments,with
theemphasisonus.Theyarecompelledandexpectedtostaywheretheyare.
Verse7appearstosuggestthatthemenareChristfigures,dyingwillinglyforthesakeofothers.
'LoveofGodseemsdying';thesimpleChristianitywhichhehadoncebelievedseems
inappropriate.Thelastversesuggeststhatonemorenightintheopenwillfinishthemoff.
ThefinalversionofthispoembelongstoSeptember1918,afewweeksbeforeOwenwaskilled,and
itismatureandbrilliantwork.Therearesomedaringhalfrhymes'kniveus/nervous',whichcome
off,asdoestheshort,simple,hanginglineattheendofeachverse.

TheEdwardianNovel:H.G.WellsandE.M.Forster
TheworkofH.G.Wells(18661946)hasanevidentpoliticaledgeandasometimesperversely
"scientific"programme.WellsisoneofthefewEnglishwriterstobewellreadinmodernscience
andinthescientificmethod;hewasalsoambiguouslypersuadedbothoftheadvantagesofa
socialisticallyandscientificallyplannedfutureandoftheinherentlyantihumanistbentofcertain
aspectsofscientificprogress.Hissciencefictionnovels,TheTimeMachine(1895),TheIslandofDr
Moreau(1896),andTheWaroftheWorlds(1898),arealarmistprophecies.
Wells'sEnglishsocialfictioncontrastsstarklywithsuchfantasies.Thisgroupofnovelsevokesin
comicandrealisticstylethelowermiddleclassworldofhisyouth.InKipps(1905),thestoryofan
aspiringdraper'sassistantundonebyanunexpectedinheritanceanditsconsequences,thecritiqueof
capitalisveryemphatic,andthesocialistcharactersarerathersympatheticandinfluential,butthe
nationandthesocietyobservedinthebookareseenasruledbyStupidity.TonoBungay(1909)and
TheNewMachiavelli(1911).LikeAnnVeronica(1909),thebookisforthrightinitsdiscussionof
marriageandofwomen'srights.

E.M.Forster(18791970)wrotesixnovels.Heintermixesasharp,observant,andsometimesbitter
socialcomedywithdidacticnarrativeinsistenceonthevirtuesoftoleranceandhumandecency.His
concernwiththeawakeningofrepressedsexuality,whichwaslookedatfromaheterosexual
viewpointinhisfirstthreenovelsWhereAngelsFeartoTread(1905),TheLongestJourney(1907),
andARoomwithaView(1908)wasalsotreatedinForster'shomosexualnovel,Maurice(1914,
published1971).ARoomwithaViewitisessentiallyalovestory,butoneshapedaroundreiterated
contrastsbetweenEnglishemotionalrepressionandthefreedomsallowedtothepassionsbythefar
more"civilized"Italians.HowardsEnd(1910).
Forster'smostambitiousandpersuasivenovel,APassagetoIndia,waspublishedin1924.Thenovel
offersadistinctlylessgenerousandcomplacentpictureoftheBritishthanhadKipling.Thisisnot
anovelthatpreachesintegrationoreventoleration.Thekindsofcontactwhicharemadebetween
EnglishandIndianareoddandinexplicable.

Forsterhadonethemehumanrelationshipsandwhenhehadexhausteditonfictionhewroteno
morenovels.AllhisnovelsillustratetheEnglishliberalimaginationatitsbesthumane,intellectually
honest,andmodest.

Theearlytwentiethcentury(Edwardian)novel.
AttitudestowardsImperialism:KiplingandConrad:
RudyardKipling(18651936)HisstoriesoftheBritishinIndiainPlainTalesfromtheHills(1888)
andothercollectionshaveabrillianceofoutlinebecausetheyalldealwithaworldonwhichKipling
hasimposedhisorder.Kim(1901).Kiplinginhisnovelsandstoriescanbepreposterouslyinadequate
ornarroworoffensiveinhispoliticalandmoralviews;hewasnotathinker,andneverclarifiedto
himselfhisownviewofsociety,ormorality,orevenofempire;butthesamequalitiesthatproduced
hisfaultsalsoproducedhisvirtues,andmadehimathisbestthestorytellerofanepoch.
Hewasinmanywaysanoutsider,acolonialarticulatorofacommonsensical,philosophyanda
conservativeupholderofthepowersthatbe,butnotacultivatorofthestylesandcodesoftheLondon
literaryscene.Hisvaluesmaywellbethoseofaworldofmasculineaction,butheisalsoawriter
who,isalwaysalerttosubtleties,tohumanweakness,tomanipulation,vulnerability,andfailure.His
largescaleattemptatmultifocusing,thenovelKim,allowsformanyvoicesandconflictingtraditions,
exploringafictionalIndiathroughtheculturalandgeographicalwanderingofitsboyhero,theorphan
sonofanIrishsergeant.
JosephConrad(18571924)wasanoutsiderinsearchofintegrity.Conrad,borninPoland,was
naturalizedasaBritishcitizenin1886.Conrad'scareerhadbegunanddevelopedasamerchant
seamananditwasasawriterofseastoriessetintheEastIndiesandthePacific.Itwasonlywiththe
appearanceofhismoreobviouslypoliticalfictionintheearlyyearsofthetwentiethcenturythatthe
truebentofhisartbecameclear.
ConraddealswiththeintrusionandinterferenceofEuropeansinthePacific,intheEastIndies,in
SouthAmerica,andinAfrica.InConrad'swork,colonialismgenerallyemergesasbothbrutaland

brutalizing,alienatingnativeandsettleralike.ThisideareachesitsapogeeinHeartofDarkness

(1902).Societyisnecessary,yetinevitablycorrupting:thisisathemewhichConradexploresagain
andagain.Nostromo(1904)isconcernedwithsilver,insurrection,andexternalinterferenceinan
unstableSouthAmericanrepublic.Init,Conradshowshow"materialinterests"corrupthuman
relationsyetatthesametimetheattempttoescapefromsuchinterestsintosolituderesultsin
destruction.Whenallthethreadsofthiscomplexnovelcometogetherandweseethetotalpattern,it
becomesclearthatConradisnotprotestingagainstanything,butonlyillustratingapermanentaspect
ofthehumancondition.TheSecretAgent(1907)isconcernedwithrevolution,observedinaseedy,
untidyLondon.
JosephConrad:HeartofDarkness(1902)