Conrad: the New Meaning of Tragic Irony

  • John Orr
Part of the Edinburgh Studies in Sociology book series (ESIS)


It was probably all to the good of literature that Conrad was an exiled seafaring Pole who wished to become an English gentleman. His travels made him a roving witness of the British Empire at its height. But he bore witness as an outsider and his literary portraits have an irony foreign to most natives of the island he so revered. His immensely subtle eye recorded the limits of Empire. For the masters of civilisation, his work points in only one direction, the very direction they were loathe to go. That direction was downward. Conrad’s work is subversive in spite of itself. For it creates an alternative fiction to the myth of Empire.


Material Interest Secret Agent Moral Compromise Tragic Hero Silver Ingot 
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© John Orr 1977

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  • John Orr

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