The Wisdom of the Heart: Chance and Victory

  • Robert Hampson


The seeds of the positive vision of Conrad’s late novels are present in Nostromo in the figure of Mrs Gould.1 The narrator observes of her:

The wisdom of the heart having no concern with the erection or the demolition of theories any more than with the defence of prejudices, has no random words at its command. The words it pronounces have the value of acts of integrity, tolerance, and compassion. (p. 67)


Emotional Display Sudden Impulse False Identity Narrative Method Suicidal Impulse 
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  1. 2.
    C.L., III, p. 194. See R. W. Smith, ‘Dates of Composition of Conrad’s Works’, Conradiana, XI: 1 (1979) p. 77, for a detailed account of the chronology of composition.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Powell’s reminiscences, in both matter and manner, recall Conrad’s own memoirs, The Mirror of the Sea and A Personal Record, whose writing was contemporaneous with the writing of Chance. According to Smith, Conrad started The Mirror of the Sea in February 1904, and he started A Personal Record in September 1908 (p. 210). See also Thomas Moser, ‘Conrad, Ford and the Sources of Chance’, Conradiana, VII:3 (1975) pp. 207–25.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See, in particular, the fine article by Frances Wentworth Cutler, ‘Why Marlow?’, The Sewanee Review, 26 (1918) pp. 28–38Google Scholar
  4. 7a.
    C. E. Montague, The Manchester Guardian (15 January 1914)Google Scholar
  5. 7b.
    reprinted in Norman Sherry (ed.), Conrad: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973) pp. 273–6.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Henry James, ‘The New Novel’, The Times Literary Supplement, 635 (10 March 1914) pp. 133–4; 637 (2 April 1914) pp. 157–8. These articles were revised and expanded for reprinting in Notes on Novelists (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1914) pp. 249–87.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    See Hampson, ‘Chance: The Affair of the Purloined Brother’, The Conradian, 6:2 (June 1981) pp. 5–15. (For a discussion of the use of the ‘police-tale’, see also the ‘Epilogue’ to R. L. Stevenson’s The Wrecker.)Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Graham Hough, ‘Chance and Joseph Conrad’, Image and Experience: Studies in a Literary Revolution (London: Duckworth, 1960) p. 212.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    As Todorov suggests, the detective-story has an inbuilt tendency towards literary self-consciousness: This novel contains not one but two stories: the story of the crime and the story of the investigation…. The first story, that of the crime, ends before the second begins…. The characters of this second story, the story of the investigation, do not act, they learn…. This second story, the story of the investigation, thereby enjoys a particular status. It is no accident that it is often told by a friend of the detective, who explicitly acknowledges that he is writing a book; the second story consists, in fact, in explaining how this very book came to be written’ (T. Todorov, ‘The Typology of Detective Fiction’, The Poetics of Prose, trans. Richard Howard [Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977] pp. 44–5).Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    See, for example, Hewitt, pp. 98–102; Moser, p. 165; D. R. Schwarz, Conrad: The Later Fiction (London: Macmillan, 1982) pp. 42–3; Meyer, Joseph Conrad: A Psychoanalytic Biography, pp. 235–6.Google Scholar
  11. 23.
    Gary Geddes, Conrad’ s Later Novels (Montreal: McGill, Queen’s University Press, 1980) p. 22.Google Scholar
  12. 27.
    For a brilliant account of the novel’s construction of layers of perceptiveness/imperceptiveness and its implication of the male reader in its dialectic of male understanding/ignorance of women, see Andrew Roberts, ‘Secret Agents and Secret Objects’, The Joseph Conrad Society (U.K.) Sixteenth Annual International Conference, Canterbury, 1990.Google Scholar
  13. 37.
    Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton (London: W. Heinemann, 1897). Conrad had received a copy of this novel from James in return for the copy of An Outcast of the Islands which Conrad had sent him. See Conrad’s letters to Edward Garnett of 27 October 1896 and 13 February 1897 (C.L., I, pp. 311–12 and 339–40).Google Scholar
  14. 50.
    See E. E. Duncan-Jones, ‘Some Sources of Chance’, Review of English Studies 20, (1969) pp. 468–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 50a.
    Thomas Moser, ‘Conrad, Ford and the Sources of Chance’, Conradiana, VII:3 (1975) pp. 207–25.Google Scholar
  16. 54.
    Henry James, The Bostonians, 3 vols (London: Macmillan, 1885); Kirschner, p. 144Google Scholar
  17. 56.
    See K. West, Chapter of Governesses: A Study of the Governess in English Fiction, 1800–1949 (London: Cohen & West, 1949).Google Scholar
  18. 58.
    In Socialism and the New Life (London: Pluto Press, 1977), Sheila Rowbotham and Jeffrey Weeks argue that ‘The feminism of the 1900s was much wider than the vote and brought up again all kinds of questions about the relations between the sexes’ (p. 19). D. H. Lawrence provides evidence in support of this statement. He wrote to Edward Garnett (18 April 1913): ‘After all, it is the problem today, the establishment of a new relation, or the readjustment of the old one, between men and women’ (Harry T. Moore [ed.], Collected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, 2 vols [London: Heinemann, 1962] I, p. 200).Google Scholar
  19. 59.
    See F. R. Karl, ‘Victory: Its Origin and Development’, Conradiana, XV:1 (1983) p. 23Google Scholar
  20. 59a.
    R. G. Hampson, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Note on the Text’, Victory (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1989) pp. 9–32,37–42.Google Scholar
  21. 61.
    ‘It is clear that, at the very least, Conrad wishes the reader, as the recipient of all these strange perceptions and impressions which have accumulated in the mind of the narrator, to hesitate before trying to pin down the central character of his novel’ (Henry J. Laskowsky, ‘Esse est percipi: Epistemology and Narrative Method in Victory’, Conradiana, IX:3 (1977) p. 276. See also Secor, The Rhetoric of Shifting Perspectives: Conrad’s ‘Victory’.Google Scholar
  22. 63.
    D. B. J. Randall (ed.), Joseph Conrad and Warrington Dawson (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1968) p. 159.Google Scholar
  23. 66.
    Dike offers a different reading of Heyst’s relationship with Lena: ‘Lena does not understand Heyst’s attentions: that he is drawn not to her but to her plight. Though unexpectedly he is stirred by her physical presence, his conscious motive is to redress a social wrong’ (Donald Dike, ‘The Tempest of Axel Heyst’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 17 [September 1962] p. 109). Dike has not attended closely enough to the conflict between Heyst’s conscious view of himself and his unconscious processes, that is foregrounded in Part Two, and he accordingly fails to register the significance of Heyst’s response to Lena as a stage in that conflict.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 89.
    See Hampson, ‘Joyce’s Bed-trick: A Note on Indeterminacy in Ulysses’, James Joyce Quarterly, Summer 1980, pp. 445–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Hampson 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Hampson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Holloway and Bedford New CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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