Chapter

The World of Yesterday: Conrad, European History, and Napoleonic Legend

Richard Niland

in Conrad and History

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580347
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722738 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580347.003.0005

Series: Oxford English Monographs

The World of Yesterday: Conrad, European History, and Napoleonic Legend

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This chapter looks at Conrad's writing during the Great War as his response to the conflict. It then turns its attention to Conrad's lifelong obsession with Napoleon Bonaparte, exploring Conrad's representations of Napoleon throughout his career and culminating with his sustained effort to represent the Napoleonic era in his final works. The chapter places Conrad's interest in Napoleon in a French Romantic literary tradition, drawing comparisons between Conrad's work and that of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. The chapter argues that Conrad's view of Napoleon shifts in response to the First World War. The critical attitude to the French Emperor and his complex position in European and Polish culture seen in A Personal Record and ‘Autocracy and War’ is replaced with a more accepting view of Napoleonic greatness in The Rover and Suspense, one still treated, of course, with Conrad's characteristic scepticism.

Keywords: Great War; Napoleon Bonaparte; Napoleonic Era; French romantic tradition; Victor Hugo; Alexandre Dumas; Polish culture; A Personal Record; Autocracy and War; The Rover; suspense; scepticism

Chapter.  18025 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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