scispace - formally typeset

Showing papers in "Novel: A Forum on Fiction in 1974"



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The irony of Conrad's writing is that the chasm between words saying and words meaning was widened, not lessened, by his talent for words written as discussed by the authors, which made him interesting as the case of a writer whose working reality, his practical and even theoretical competence as a writer, was far in advance of what he was saying.
Abstract: In this essay I hope to be able to show that both in his fiction and in his autobiographical writing Conrad was trying to do something that his experience as a writer everywhere revealed to be impossible. This makes him interesting as the case of a writer whose working reality, his practical and even theoretical competence as a writer, was far in advance of what he was saying. Occurring at the time at which he lived and wrote, this irony of Conrad's writing therefore has a critical place in the history of the duplicity of language, which since Nietzsche, Marx and Freud has made the study of the orders of language so focal for the contemporary understanding. Conrad's fate was to have written fiction great for its presentation, and not only for what it was representing. He was misled by language even as he led language into a dramatization no other author really approached. For what Conrad discovered was that the chasm between words saying and words meaning was widened, not lessened, by his talent for words written. To have chosen to write then is to have chosen in a particular way neither to say directly nor to mean exactly in the way he had hoped to say or to mean. No wonder that Conrad returned to this problematic concern repeatedly, a problematic concern that his writing dramatized continuously and imaginatively.

35 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Conrad's Preface to The Nigger of the "Narcissus" as discussed by the authors is one of the most famous preface to a novel and has been criticised for its lack of coherence and its reliance on a credo of impressionistic realism.
Abstract: Scores of anthologists and critics have given it their most bated breath, or intoned "To make you see" as a sovereign charm against blindness. Sacred cows invite bull, but are not served; at least until some contumelious infidel arrives. As he now has in the apologetic person of David Goldknopf, who, after a couple of pages of shrewd thrusts, despatches Conrad's Preface as a whole with: "I cannot make coherent sense of it. I do find repeated statements of faith in visualization, embodied in a hodgepodge of platonic, positivistic, and romantic sentiments. And when those are shaken out, there remains, I suppose, a credo of impressionistic realism-in Henry James's phrase, solidity of specification-qualified by the somewhat obsessive emphasis on the optical process."'1 Doubts about the Preface actually began very early; indeed, with Conrad himself. The first reference occurs in a letter which he wrote to Edward Garnett on August 24, 1897. Conrad enclosed "a short preface to the Nigger," and begged Garnett, with more than usual trepidation, "not to be impatient with it and if you think it at all possible to give it a chance to get printed. That rests entirely with you... you knew very well I daren't make any move without your leave. I've no more judgment of what is fitting in the way of literature than a cow."2 Another letter from Conrad, written four days later, shows that Garnett had suggested the deletion of one paragraph.3 Garnett does not seem to have been enthusiastic about the Preface; and later Conrad's editor at Heinemann's, Sidney Pawling, rejected it for the book form of The Nigger of the "Narcissus." W. E. Henley, however, who had accepted the novel for serialisation in The New Review, published the Preface as an "Afterword" to the last instalment, in December 1897. The Preface did not appear again with the novel until the 1914 Doubleday,

18 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Wright's Native Son as discussed by the authors is widely regarded as the most important work of fiction by an Afro-American since Native Son and has been widely cited as one of the key American novels of the 20th century.
Abstract: Ezra Pound's well known definition, "Literature is news that STAYS news," applies well to Richard Wright's Native Son. Thirty years after the novel first created a sensation, readers are still impressed by the tremendous revelatory power with which it portrays the situation of the black man in the American ghetto. During the fifties, the reputation of Native Son suffered an eclipse as James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and others attacked the book for its grim pessimism, its negative view of black culture, and its seeming obsession with violence. But with the social upheaval of the late sixties and the tendency away from moderate attitudes and toward confrontation and "telling it like it is" among blacks, the terrible, unsparing view of Wright's novel has been vindicated. Eldridge Cleaver led the way, in Soul on Ice (1967), to a reaffirmation of the absolute position of Wright's novel. Wright, he said, "reigns supreme for his profound political, economic, and social reference." 1 Until 1968, there were no books on Wright; by 1970, there were six books and two pamphlets. In a 1971 New York Times review of an impressive novel, Addison Gayle refers to the new work as "the most important work of fiction by an AfroAmerican since Native Son," 2 and other references could be produced to show that Wright's book is now generally held to be the foremost work of Afro-American fiction and one of the key American novels of the century. Strangely, however, even while virtually unanimous agreement exists as to the extraordinary merit of Wright's book, critics have generally agreed that there is something significantly faulty about Native Son, and that the book's faults spring from Wright's inadequate control of the ideology behind his novel. Robert Bone is expressing critical consensus when he says, "As a work of art Native Son is seriously flawed" and speaks of "philosophical confusion at the heart of" the novel.3 Dan McCall, in his excellent study, The Example of Richard Wright, says that Wright's book and its protagonist fall "out of focus" during the latter section of the work because of the imposition of massive doses of communist propaganda on Bigger Thomas' world.4 Edward Margolies

15 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Romantic love has been one of our most effective myths for making sense out of our sensations as discussed by the authors, and it is also a cosa mentale; like art, it systematizes, communicates and dilutes the fragmented intensities of our senses.
Abstract: Romantic love has been one of our most effective myths for making sense out of our sensations. It organizes bodily intensities around a single object of desire and it provides a more or less public theater for the enactment of the body's most private life. In love, desires and sensations are both structured and socialized. The loved one invests the world with a hierarchy of desirability. At last we have a measure of value, and even the unhappiest lover can enjoy the luxury of judging (and controlling) his experience according to the distance at which it places him from the loved one's image or presence. Passion also makes us intelligible to others. Observers may be baffled as to why we love this person rather than that one, but such mysteries are perhaps more than compensated for by the exceptional visibility in which the passionate pursuit of another person places the otherwise secret "formulas" of individual desire. Love is desire made visible, but it is also desire made somewhat abstract. We do not yearn merely for sensations in romantic desire; we seek the more complex satisfaction of another desiring presence. To desire persons rather than sensations is to indicate a certain predominance of mind over body. The sublime-sublimating nature of love is clearly enough pointed to by the notable fact that, as we see in Racine, even the most obsessive sexual passion can be adequately described with practically no references to the body. Indeed, the more obsessive the passion, the more insignificant the body may become; sexual fascination steals some of the body's vitality, and therefore partly dissipates physical energies. Love, like art, is a cosa mentale; like art, it systematizes, communicates and dilutes the fragmented intensities of our senses. But this is of course too one-sided. Even in passions as diagrammatic as those of Racine's protagonists, the diagram itself is initiated by a traumatic encounter with another body ("Je le vis, je rougis, je palis a' sa vue," Phedre says of her first meeting with Hippolyte). And, even more decisively, the rich verbal designs which express the Racinian lover's passion never divert him from the single purpose of possessing another body. An abstract psychology of mental states constantly refers to an impossible and indescribable meeting of bodies. The dream of certain happy sensations sustains all speech, while the realization of that dream would be the end of speech. In its continuous allusiveness to both sensation and thought, love once again reminds us of art. They are both pursuits of sensual intensities through activities of sublimation. Love, then, can be considered as an ideal subject for literature; it is the

10 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For contemporary feminist critics reading a novel may arouse more pain than pleasure as discussed by the authors, and the feminist critic frequently responds by rejecting the problem altogether-or, even more seriously, by rejecting a novel itself.
Abstract: For contemporary feminist critics reading a novel may arouse more pain than pleasure. Paradoxically, the literary form which has been in the last two hundred years the chief source of entertainment and escape-especially for women readers-has also been the literary form most closely tied to actual social conditions. We have learned that the rise of the novel coincided with the triumph of philosophical realism,' but not so commonly understood are the consequences of this fact for novel-readers who happen also to be in revolt against the very social conditions which those novels reflect. Torn between her potential delight in a novel and her newly awakened sense of the restrictive world which it mirrors, the feminist critic frequently responds by rejecting the problem altogether-or, even more seriously, by rejecting the novel itself. Feminist literary criticism has yet to teach us how to read the fiction of the past with pleasure, or to offer us an account of why, whatever our ideological leanings, we nevertheless catch ourselves doing so. Although recent critics have understandably hesitated to define what woman "really" is, they have been eager and willing to confront the issue of what she is not. One of the favorite activities of contemporary feminist criticism has been to uncover the pervasive feminine stereotypes with which novelists have populated their fictional worlds. American novels prove especially rich in this connection-offering us some distinctively national variations on the perennial Fair and Dark Ladies: both the virginal and eager American Girl, for example, and the American Girl grown up, deflowered, and turned nastythe Great American Bitch. Of course as the counterpoint between Fair and Dark, innocent girl and castrating bitch, makes quite clear, such stereotypes are not noted for their consistency. Critics discover new types these days with some of the zeal old-fashioned biologists must have exhibited upon isolating a new species or phylum; but the more new categories appear, the more bewilderingly various and self-contradictory becomes the composite picture of Woman. After the Sentimental and the Gothic heroines, the Dewdrops, the Galateas, the sensuous women and the liberated ones have all been identified and described,2 the only consistent pattern which emerges is the act of stereotyping itself. Novels have tended, the feminists argue, to identify the fully human with the male-to see women as flat embodiments of a particular force or theme, to see them mythically, allegorically, symbolically, but never realistically -as fully rounded, complex human beings. Sometimes idealized, sometimes denigrated, woman is repeatedly the Other-her personality and her life's plot

6 citations


Journal ArticleDOI

5 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The situation of the narrator in Robert Coover's first volume of short fiction, Pricksongs & Descants, is as comically dire as that of L. Frank Baum's defrocked wizard in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: The situation of the narrator in Robert Coover's first volume of short fiction, Pricksongs & Descants, is as comically dire as that of L. Frank Baum's defrocked wizard in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Near the end of Baum's book the wizard is caught backstage in the act of operating the devices that make him so falsely awesome, a rude unveiling that forces him to explain to a chagrined Dorothy that he is not the expected deus ex machina. He is instead a mere ventriloquist from prosaic Omaha whose self-created legends and myths are little more than defensive strategies, barriers of artifice set forth to confound the real terrors of his existence. Coover similarly strips away the surface of character and event in his stories to reveal the generative discourse of harried narrators, the writer as wizard pumping away on his pedals, pulling switches, turning words into symbols; but in Coover's fiction there is no genial restoration of the wizard/writer's raison d'etre, no subsequent conferral of the real thing, veritable hearts and brains. The narrator is relentlessly manifest. His voice, throwing other voices, even the wind in the trees, is all that remains, and what he stresses in his narrative is primarily its contrivance. "I wander the island, inventing it," the narrator of "The Magic Poker" begins. "I make a sun for it, and trees-pines and birch and dogwood and firs-and cause the water to lap the pebbles of its abandoned shores" (p. 20).1 There is no exit from the world he predicates. The island becomes a metaphor that envelops him: he is that surrounded self, this nature in which Caliban (the Caretaker's Son) lurks and a pipe-smoking Prince Prospero meditates. For Coover the presence of this demystified narrator (I invent, I make, I cause) is invariably comic; he is Prospero in a blazer and ascot, a fumbling magician, the tyrannical moderator of a TV panel show. He is also Coover's fate and that recognition often makes the comedy desperate. In Pricksongs & Descants, his most representative work to date, he writes variously in both moods and reveals at every turn the paradoxical nature of this particular approach to fiction. In such metafictive art, Fredric Jameson notes, "it is wrong to want to decide, to want to resolve a difficulty." What is exhibited is not objective content but a "mental procedure which suddenly shifts gears, which throws everything in an inextricable tangle one floor higher, and turns the very problem itself (the obscurity of this sentence) into its own solution (the

4 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors make a few tentative suggestions as to why George Eliot created Deronda the way she did, and they suggest that Kierkegaard can help us understand Deronda.
Abstract: Henry James asked rhetorically of Middlemarch: "If we write novels so, how shall we write History?"1 In her last novel, George Eliot took the historical model of Middlemarch one step further into the vatic or prophetic. Middlemarch had reached beyond "realism" into a highly articulated symbolic structure of what U. C. Knoepflmacher terms a "new reality" "fusing fact and myth."2 In Daniel Deronda George Eliot extended the meaning of myth into "Utopian pictures." In a sense, attempting to summarize the history of the Western world and adumbrate its future, showing how "processes . . . have been repeated again and again," she had reverted to the rather abstract formulation of her first novel, Scenes of Clerical Life.3 Deronda, to be sure, is no Amos Barton or Mr. Gilfil, but, as each of these characters had been created from a dogmatic standpoint, so also Deronda (as critics never tire of telling us) is as much a mouthpiece as dramatic character. James again observed acutely that George Eliot proceeds "from the abstract to the concrete," 4 and most critics agree that Deronda is inconcrete to the point of vapidity. Few of these critics have come up with suggestions as to why Eliot created Deronda the way she did.5 I would like to make a few tentative suggestions, and I'd like to begin with the idea that in Daniel Deronda Eliot's emotional life comes full circle. Its Evangelical origins are transformed into an attempted affirmative consummation of all her aspirations and hopes for mankind. In Daniel Deronda she tried to pull together the parts of a world that had been shattered when she lost her faith in transcendentalism, a loss that forced the burden of meaning on the individual mundane consciousness. George Eliot had never really reconciled herself to that loss, any more than she had reconciled herself to her original sin of disobeying her father and alienating her brother. Kierkegaard's roughly contemporary solution to the same problem of alienation was to elevate the absurd and the paradox against despair. Feuerbach's new form of secular religion, however, was more congenial to George Eliot's conservative-reforming intellect. And yet Kierkegaard can help us understand Deronda. In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard says that "the ethical as such is

4 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Spielman as mentioned in this paper argues that the evolution of the modernist or symbolist novel can be traced back to the development of the cinematographic form, and argues that Hardy is a more cinematic novelist than any of the writers discussed in detail by Spiegel, though this judgment entails taking a slightly different view of "cinematographic" form from his.
Abstract: Alan Spiegel's article "Flaubert to Joyce: Evolution of a Cinematographic Form" (NOVEL, vi, 1973, pp. 229-43) is interesting and instructive, but I should like to suggest that Thomas Hardy deserves a more prominent place in this context than Mr. Spiegel accords him. Indeed I would argue that Hardy is a more cinematic novelist than any of the writers discussed in detail by Spiegel, though this judgment entails taking a slightly different view of "cinematographic form" from his. Spiegel tends to identify the evolution of that form with the evolution of the modernist or symbolist novel. Thus Flaubert only shows the way: essentially he is a "scenographic" novelist, handling visual space in terms comparable with those of the proscenium-arch theater. James and Conrad mark a later stage in the evolution of cinematographic form, but it is Joyce who emerges from Spiegel's discussion as its fully-fledged exponent. There seems to be a problem, or at least a paradox, here, for in most respects film, as a narrative medium, has more in common with the traditional realistic novel than with the modernist or symbolist novel. In his distinction between metaphor and metonymy, as the two poles towards one of which all forms of communication and representation tend, Roman Jakobson classes prose, realism, and film as metonymic, as against poetry, romanticism/symbolism, and drama, which are metaphoric.1 It is true that in this scheme the film technique of montage is metaphoric (as against the metonymic, or rather synecdochic technique of close-up), but a film that was all montage, like a novel that was all metaphor (Finnegans Wake?) would be highly unrepresentative and probably incomprehensible as narrative. Film, like prose fiction, is essentially a metonymic form, connecting items that are contiguous rather than similar, and making much more use of match cuts and close-ups than of jump cuts and montage. Hence the traditional realistic novel is more easily adapted to film than works of modernist, symbolist fiction in which prose is always threatening to turn into poetry, and sequentiality dissolving under the pressure of consciousness. Which could be more easily translated into film-the passage from Ulysses quoted by Spiegal, or this passage


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Paule Marshall's major works include Brown Girl Brownstones (1959), The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969), and a quartet of novellas, Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961).
Abstract: Apart from the usual review notices in the usual periodicals, there has been no noteworthy discussion of Paule Marshall's major works-the novels, Brown Girl Brownstones (1959) and The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969), and a quartet of novellas, Soul Clap Hands and Sing (1961). This neglect is unfortunate, because Paule Marshall's major themes are both significant and timely. Her West Indian background (Barbadian parentage) enables Paule Marshall to invest her North American materials with a Caribbean perspective, and in the process she invokes that Pan-African sensibility which has become so important in contemporary definitions of Black identity. Secondly, her treatment of the Black woman links her ethnic themes with the current feminist revolt. Finally, the ethnic and sexual themes are integrated with the novelist's interest in the subject of power. This interest is the logical outcome of her preoccupation with groups-women and Blacks-whose roles have been defined by powerlessness. But her treatment of this subject is complex and innovative because she analyses power not only as the political goal of ethnic and feminist movements, but also as social and psychological phenomena which simultaneously affect racial and sexual roles, shape cultural traditions, and mould the individual psyche. Indeed, Paule Marshall's style invariably includes images of power-asexperience. She is a good example, in this regard, of those novelists in whom the recurrence of major themes imposes a distinctive iconography on their narrative forms. We can trace throughout her fiction rhythms of movement and sound which symbolically dramatize the dynamics of power in several forms-physical force, will power, political and sexual power, and so on. This power symbolism imparts a distinctive rhythm to her fictional forms as a whole: the narrative opens and closes with identical or similar symbols of power; or her themes present certain forms of power, such as death and the life-force, as alternating cycles in the cosmos. Paule Marshall's style therefore defines her themes. It fulfils the concept of fictional style not merely as a "mode of dramatic delimitation, but more precisely, of thematic definition."' One of her short-stories, "To Da-duh, In Memoriam," is typical of her rhythmic use of symbols for "thematic definition." Briefly, this is the auto-biographical story of a young girl from Brooklyn on her first visit to her parents' family in Barbados. During the visit her spirited clashes with her grandmother, Da-duh, dramatize the conflict of two life-styles: the rural traditions of the old woman's pre-technological society versus the young Brooklynite's machine culture. After

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In our literary era of anti-heroes we may yearn for the days before Portnoy, when men were men, when Tom Jones grandly conceals the fact that he's broken an arm in rescuing his beloved Sophia, whom he treats with flawless respect until it becomes legal, thus moral, to take her to bed.
Abstract: In our literary era of anti-heroes we may yearn for the days before Portnoy, when men were men, when Tom Jones grandly conceals the fact that he's broken an arm in rescuing his beloved Sophia, whom he treats with flawless respect until it becomes legal, thus moral, to take her to bed. How clear it all is as we recall it, this classic fiction: Squire Allworthy can't tell the good people from the bad, but the reader has no trouble at all. Sometimes a hero (Peregrine Pickle, for example) or a heroine's consort (say Squire B. in Pamela) requires educating before he earns his happiness, but happiness is a foregone conclusion. The hero suffers his conflicts, internal and external, without agonies of introversion; moreover, we can expect him to end up with the money and the girl. Do money and girl satisfy his needs, is that what the heroes (and for that matter the villains) of eighteenth-century novels truly want? In fact a certain murk lies beneath the clarity of many early English novels, buried in each hero the shadow, the anti-hero, within many a villain the hidden sufferer. There are surprising ambivalences in this fiction, ambivalences particularly of sexual feeling, partly concealed, structurally important in the shaping of story tensions. Eighteenth-century fiction appears to work with simple dichotomiesseducer versus upright citizen, good woman versus bad-and to find infinite excitement in the movement between opposite poles: will Lovelace reform before it's too late? will Tom be ruined by his lustfulness? But what exactly it means to be a seducer or a man of feeling is often strikingly complicated. The complications most often derive from the diverse meanings of sexual interchange, which usually involves money (elaborate financial settlements sometimes seem the real substance of eighteenth-century marriage) and which always demands physicality (even the supernaturally chaste Clarissa comments often on the superiority of Lovelace's "person" to that of her other suitor). In an era when sex led almost inevitably to procreation, it is emphatically a social as well as an individual concern, containing dynastic possibilities or threatening the destruction of family stability. Sexual relationship implies emotion and raises loudly the century's question of how emotion should properly be expressed and controlled. Novels deal with all these matters-money, bodies, families, feelings. They also reveal the problem of power which underlies them. "Both sexes," Clarissa's cousin Morden observes, "too much love to have each other in their power: yet he hardly ever knew man or woman who was very fond of power make a right use of it." Power is-as Chaucer and Boccaccio


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952, Jorge Luis Borges affectionately mentions G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories and hints that along with Poe's they are influences on his own stories of mystery, crime, and detection as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: In Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952, Jorge Luis Borges affectionately mentions G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories and hints that along with Poe's they are influences on his own stories of mystery, crime, and detection. Borges' stories may be understood better by looking at Chesterton's priest, and at the way both authors experiment with conventions of the mystery genre to examine the supernatural and the nature of evil. Because of the enigmas and paradoxes of his character, the unprepossessing Father Brown, a small man with a dough-face and sea-flat eyes, has a distinct personality which especially appeals to Borges and affects his own detective fiction: the perfect figure for the butt of a joke, Borges sees, Father Brown is also the perfect figure for getting in the way and solving metaphysical jokes. Out of place in the physical world, Father Brown is always in the right place for the supernatural. His "mind was all of a piece, and he was unconscious of many incongruities" ("The Crime of the Communist").' As a priest he is a believer in magic and mystery who consistently produces the most mundane and naturalistic solutions. He works by reason and faith both, and the two are never at odds owing to a middle sense, intuition, which keeps him from acting mistakenly even if truth is not revealed to his intellect: he has a mystic's cloud on him when evil is near. When he doubts, he doubts only because he is not certain whether a case calls for a policeman, a doctor, or a priest. But if Father Brown, as a professional celibate, has a sexlessness about him which puts him further outside the human ordinary (unresponsive to the power of sex, he is not corruptible like ordinary men), nevertheless he is thoroughly a gentleman. The traditionally distinguishing features of the gentleman-power, rationality, and responsibility-mingle in Father Brown with the spy's invisibility and unreality, although in the priest these last two are treated as virtues, not as defects of character. Invisibility comes from his being so unobtrusively in the middle of things (he is, after all, a good priest doing his job), and his unreality is a supremely other-worldly quality. Detachment is his superiority. It fits him for super-impressions and mystical illuminations as well as reasoned solutions. The priest's sense of environment and his comfortable fondness for obscure, unique oddities and trinkets make him a perfect Borgesian character. Mysteries of Good and Evil, God and Devil, Body and Soul, Reason and Faith, Innocence and Guilt, Truth and Falsehood, Appearance and Reality, Time and Eternity, come up continually in the "fantastic" Father Brown tales.


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The place of modernist literature in the sense of negation and anti-nihilism can be traced back to the work of Joseph Conrad as mentioned in this paper, who was simultaneously one of the most nihilistic artists of all time.
Abstract: Much of the effect of "modernist culture," including what we now recognize as the major literature between, say, the mid-nineteenth century and World War II, was in the undercutting of the accepted moral and social order. Inherited hierarchies and pieties lost their sanctity under the disenchanted probings of our literature and art and critical intelligence. Moral and political and religious authority were inexorably separated not only from claims to immutable truth but to any lesser legitimacy. Part of this was due to the double-edged equalities of modernist sensibility-its intellectual anti-intellectualism, its radicalness even when conservative in cast, its stern fidelity to the heterodox and subterranean and subversive. Thus much of our authentic interest in modernism is in the sensibility of negation. More emphatically put, much of the glory of modernist literature rests on its nihilism. The place of Joseph Conrad in that modernism may rightly be viewed as a perplexing one. He was simultaneously one of the most nihilistic and anti-nihilistic of artists, deploring while yet demanding the negative, homeopathically countering alienation and destruction and despair with doses of the same. He arrives at this from drastic doubt-"like most men of little faith," as he described himself in one of his letters, and with "scepticism. . . the agent of truth," as he insisted in another. It is a cosmic doubt frequently shading over into cosmic malevolence, or, as that striking phrase from The Heart of Darkness puts it, our world is "that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose." This skepticism is more than temperament and avowal; it is the very manner of Conrad's art with its circling forms, its labyrinthine narrative removals, its self-conscious countering of realistic and romantic polarities, its peculiar exaltation of evil chance, and its frequently riddling and contradictory rhetoric. Yet such drastic doubt is put at the service of simple conservative moral claims. The art must often make the morality pyrrhic. Conrad's characteristic style surrounds his subjects in most elaborate ways while yet insisting on what he liked to call their "mysteries." He rather over-favored the "unfathomable" and "inscrutable," the unknowable heart of the matter, in his insistence upon skepticism. Yet he obsessively portrayed hollow heroes, those without resilience and other resources than self-destruction, without heart. Simple goodness of character becomes our only defense against the "cosmic chaos" but, as Marlow tells Jewel in Lord Jim, "Nobody, nobody is good enough."