Tag Archives: writing

“Darkness” in Conrad’s Writing

“It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery–a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over.  It had become a place of darkness.  But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land” (Conrad 108).

Conrad often alludes to “darkness” throughout the novel, as evident in this passage at the beginning of the novel.  The darkness may be referring to an individual darkness within a person, or in this case, an unexplored primitive setting.  Conrad often appears to depict Africa in such a manner, making it clear as to why many critics question whether or not his writing is considered racist.

Source:

Conrad, Joseph, and Cedric Thomas. Watts. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Oxford:    Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Woolf and the Freedom of the Writer

Look within and life, it seems, is very far from being ‘like this’. Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there; so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style…

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 150. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

 

The Common Reader.. Woolf

“The writer seems constrained, not by his own free will, but by some powerful and unscrupulous tyrant who has him in thrall, to provide a plot, to provide comedy, tragedy, love interest, and air of probability embalming the whole so impeccable that if all his figures are to come to life they would find themselves dressed down to the last button of their coats in the fashion of the hour. The tyrant is obeyed; the novel is done to a turn. But sometimes, more and more often as time goes by, we suspect a momentary doubt, a spasm of rebellion, as the pages fill themselves in the customary way” (149).

Woolf, Virginia. The Common Reader. New York. Hartcourt Inc. 1925. Print.

This applies to many writers who are constrained by their own free will. I feel like the tyrant(s) is censorship along with publishing companies since it limits them to write what they truly desire. They want to see the writers provide plots, comedy, tragedy, love interest etc. into their writing since people who work for the publishing companies assume that is what everyone wants to read. Writers tend to obey the tyrant by pleasing them with these impeccable novels, short stories and poems. Soon after this period of modernism began and we see authors begin to rebel against the typical love interest/tragic/comedy stories and decides to make something filled with tragedy instead of comedy. Authors want to break free from tradition and start writing at their own free will.

Woolf: A Writer’s Relationship to Fiction

“‘Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semitransparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumcised spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible?”

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 150. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

The page should reflect the truth of life, in that it may be messy and uncoordinated, but still manages to be (somewhat) comprehensive. Good fiction is not so much defined by imitation, as it is by being able to look deeply within ourselves, and using our unique conscious to speak (and write) of the world as we live it and know it.