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Old 05-12-2014, 01:23 PM   #1
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Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad

This is the MR Literary Club selection for May 2014. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time! Guests are also always welcome.


Some free ebook availability-
MR Library- EPUB of the complete works of Joseph Conrad
Amazon- Australia Canada UK US
Kobo- US

Some paid ebook availability-
Amazon- US-Penguin edition with introduction by an editor of the UK journal of the Joseph Conrad Society, the Conradian ($2.85)


So, what are your thoughts on it?



Last edited by sun surfer; 05-13-2014 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:20 PM   #2
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I look forward to reading this book. I bought the Penguin edition for $2.85 since it had introductory text written by one of the editors of the Conradian, the journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK).
http://www.amazon.com/Under-Western-.../dp/B002RI9MZW

The introduction of this edition mentions the website Conrad First. I picked the first month of serialization, and it was interesting to look at the ads and other works in the magazine to get in the mindset of that time period.
http://www.conradfirst.net/conrad/home

Quote:
Conrad First is an open-access archive of the serials which first published the work of Joseph Conrad. It is sponsored by the Department of English, Uppsala University.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:32 PM   #3
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You are great at finding these interesting sites, Bookworm_Girl. Thanks very much.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:39 AM   #4
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You are great at finding these interesting sites, Bookworm_Girl. Thanks very much.
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Old 05-13-2014, 04:58 AM   #5
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I believe it's also over at Feedbooks as a stand alone book if someone doesn't want to load the whole Joseph Conrad collection up at once.
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Old 05-13-2014, 10:31 AM   #6
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You are great at finding these interesting sites, Bookworm_Girl. Thanks very much.
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Me, three. Thanks.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:48 PM   #7
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You do often provide us with some very interesting sites to peruse that add to the reading experience, Bookworm_Girl, so thanks from me too. Also thanks for the nomination; Heart of Darkness is one of my faves and I'm looking forward to finally reading another Conrad.

Even though your post is just after the original, I've added your link to Amazon to the availability section so that it won't be left out. crich, if you want to provide a Feedbooks link I'll add that one too.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for the kind words! I work in a scientific field so my nature is to research. I like to break things down and then build them back up, sort of resynthesize the reading experience into something immersive for me. It's great that we have such a variety of people in our club to offer their unique perspectives and make for a more interesting discussion.

My mother was reading Heart of Darkness when she came to visit last autumn and enjoying it! That's what influenced me to nominate a Conrad book.
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Old 05-16-2014, 12:24 PM   #9
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Me, three. Thanks.
And Me!
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Old 05-16-2014, 03:29 PM   #10
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I look forward to reading this book. I bought the Penguin edition for $2.85 since it had introductory text written by one of the editors of the Conradian, the journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK).
http://www.amazon.com/Under-Western-.../dp/B002RI9MZW

The introduction of this edition mentions the website Conrad First. I picked the first month of serialization, and it was interesting to look at the ads and other works in the magazine to get in the mindset of that time period.
http://www.conradfirst.net/conrad/home
Very interesting website. Please add my appreciation and gratitude to that already expressed. I also bought the Penguin edition (Thanks again) which was worth the money for the introduction alone. I'm about 25% through the book and enjoying it.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:01 PM   #11
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The Penguin edition also has annotated footnotes which are helpful.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:38 AM   #12
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I just started this one today. Was getting through Anathem by Neal Stephenson, a bit of a monster book. Now I need to do some catch-up.

Had trouble with the first 10%, but I was very tired this morning travelling in to work and was lacking the focus I probably needed for Conrad's writing.
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Old 05-20-2014, 02:37 AM   #13
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I started the book while jetlagged. Must've read the narrator introduction three or four times!

Keep going just a little bit further. I experienced a shift in clarity. It becomes more plot-like and engaging. You also adapt to the style.
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Old 05-20-2014, 02:50 AM   #14
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I am about 50 pages in. What strikes me is how very Russian it seems - even though Conrad was Polish of course! But I suppose he would have had a feel for their literature.

It's a long time since I read Crime and Punishment but I keep being reminded of it - all the internal anguish and near hysteria perhaps. Am I imagining it, or have others noticed it too?
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:38 PM   #15
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It's a long time since I read Crime and Punishment but I keep being reminded of it - all the internal anguish and near hysteria perhaps. Am I imagining it, or have others noticed it too?
I'm about 50% through the book. Like Bookworm_Girl, I've had the advantage of the Penguin edition with its excellent introduction by Allan W. Simmons.

Quote:
The novel’s engagement with Russian history is fundamental to its aims. Its first audience read it against the backdrop of the failed 1905 Revolution and in the shadow of the impulses that would take shape as the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Despite Conrad’s protestations that Dostoievsky was ‘too Russian for me’, and that Russian literature generally was ‘repugnant to me hereditarily and individually ’ ( Collected Letters, vol. V, p. 70, vol. VII, p. 615), critics have long discerned the influence of Crime and Punishment (1866) on this work. Although such influence is notoriously difficult to prove, one can see how the idea of turning the Russian master against himself might have appealed to Conrad, and one contemporary reviewer of the novel went so far as to claim that it ‘helps us to understand Turgeniev and Dostoievsky with great clearness’.
The periodic changes from the first-person viewpoint of the narrator, who is the English Teacher of Languages,to an omniscient viewpoint keeps pulling me out of the story to wonder how the narrator could know so much.

What I am most enjoying about the book is the view of Russia and the discussion of the nature of revolutions. Here is an interesting quote:
Quote:
"The last thing I want to tell you is this: in a real revolution— not a simple dynastic change or a mere reform of institutions—in a real revolution the best characters do not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and of tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards comes the turn of all the pretentious intellectual failures of the time. Such are the chiefs and the leaders. You will notice that I have left out the mere rogues. The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane, and devoted natures; the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement— but it passes away from them. They are not the leaders of a revolution. They are its victims : the victims of disgust, of disenchantment— often of remorse. Hopes grotesquely betrayed, ideals caricatured—that is the definition of revolutionary success. There have been in every revolution hearts broken by such successes."
Conrad, Joseph (2007-08-02). Under Western Eyes (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Locations 2751-2752). Penguin Books Ltd.
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