Book reviews

Joseph Conrad’s Victory (Modern Library, 1921; originally published 1915)

Ape-like South American Indians, Chinamen, Dagos: terms cancel culture Democrats want to ban!  But…

If cancel culture zealots succeed in banning this book, they’ll miss an important feminist narrative: a woman who overcomes the hate of vicious men.  Why would anybody reject women’s literature like that—all for the sake of a ridiculous political correctivity?

Biblical imagery abounds in Conrad’s 1915 novel, so it is imperative for the twenty-first reader deprived of the literary foundation of the Western world by secular humanists to read the Book of Genesis first (you know, the beginning of the Jewish and Christian Bible).  Other religious imagery, like the “wood of the Cross” scenes on pages 285 and 380, will be obvious to any practicing Christian.

Of course, contemporary readers will find certain Conrad maxims (even the deceptively simple ones) not only delightfully worded, but also worth a prolonged conversation with intelligent friends (Republicans and Democrats who vote Republican, i.e. people who don’t fear intellectual activity).  I recommend the following for your conversation and enjoyment:

“An island is but the top of a mountain” (3)

“Consummate politeness is not the right tonic for an emotional collapse” (17)

“Liking is not sufficient to keep going the interest one takes in a human being.  With hatred, apparently, it is otherwise” (24)

“It is failure that makes a man enter into himself and reckon up his resources” (64)

“There is an unholy fascination in systematic noise” (66)

“The use of reason is to justify the obscure desires that move our conduct, impulses, passions, prejudices and follies, and also our fears” (79)

“Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm mental fog” (89)

“Every age is fed on illusions, lest men should renounce life early and the human race come to an end” (91)

“A meditation is always—in a white man, at least—more or less an interrogative exercise” (163)

“Man on this earth is an unforeseen accident which does not stand close investigation” (185-6)

“There is a quality in events which is apprehended differently by different minds or even by the same mind at different times.  Any man living at all consciously knows that embarrassing truth” (234)

“Womanlike, she felt the effect she had produced, the effect of knowing much and of keeping all her knowledge in reserve [….]  Thus encouraged, directed in the way of duplicity, the refuge of the weak [….]  Duplicity—the refuge of the weak and the cowardly, but of the disarmed, too!” (278)

“Diplomacy without force in the background is but a rotten reed to lean upon” (298)

“Diplomacy doesn’t go well with consistent contempt” (305)

“Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love—and to put its trust in life!” (383)

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