Nataša Tučev

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Some of the most influential studies written about Joseph Conrad in the 1950s (by Douglas Hewit, Thomas Moser and Albert Guerard) established a critical paradigm that continued to dominate Conrad studies for decades to come – especially with regard to his later novels, which according to these critics represented a decline after the achievements of his major period. The principal reason for this decline, as Moser argues, was Conrad's altered choice of subject matter from the novel Chance onwards – i.e., his newly-discovered interest in romance and female protagonists. Conrad's failure in representing intimate erotic relationship in his later novels, as Moser maintains, is inseparable from his inclination to create melodramatic and inauthentic heroines, incomparably less complex than the striking male protagonists of his earlier works.

More recently, critics such as Robert Hampson and Susan Jones have proposed a different approach to the romances of Conrad's later period. A case in point is Hampson's analysis of Lena's character in Victory. Unlike the earlier critics, who accused Conrad of sentimentality in female characterizations, Hampson argues that it is Lena herself who views her own being and her role in Heyst's life through a prism of sentimental romance. Lena's subjective perception of reality amounts to writing a script for herself (Hampson 2004), which casts her in the role of a sacrificial heroine. By using free indirect style, Conrad allows us to see Lena presented through her own idiom, in a manner comparable to Joyce's treatment of Gerty McDowell in Ulysses. The paper draws on Hampson's contention, exploring Conrad's narrative strategies in Victory, while also referring to the theoretical frameworks such as Genette's Narrative Discourse and Bakhtin's Dialogic Imagination.


Joseph Conrad, characterization, critical reception, free indirect style, subjectivity, Modernism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22190/FULL1702063T


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