History and Nation: <i>Nostromo, The Secret Agent</i>, and <i>Under Western Eyes</i>

Richard Niland

in Conrad and History

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580347
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722738 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

History and Nation: Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes

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This chapter focuses on Conrad's major political novels, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes, examining Conrad's politics in the context of nineteenth century philosophies of nationalism and nationhood. It first outlines Conrad's dialogue with the thought of Rousseau and Herder and the importance of these philosophers' work in a Polish Romantic context. Conrad's essay ‘Autocracy and War’ has a prominent role in this chapter as it represents Conrad's most political piece of writing on European politics and history, and the essay outlines Conrad's position regarding Polish and Russian identity, something treated somewhat more subtly in Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes. In addition to European politics, this chapter uncovers a crucially important context for Nostromo in Argentine writer Domingo F. Sarmiento's Facundo (1845), a work that Conrad borrowed from to authentically recreate the complex world of Latin American politics in Nostromo.

Keywords: politics; nationalism; Nostromo; The Secret Agent; Under Western Eyes; Autocracy and War; nationhood; Rousseau; Herder; Polish; Russian; Sarmiento; Facundo

Chapter.  20016 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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