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Echoes from Konrad Wallenrod in Almayer's Folly and a Personal Record

Jean M. Szczypien
Nineteenth-Century Literature
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Jun., 1998), pp. 91-110
DOI: 10.2307/2902971
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2902971
Page Count: 20
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Echoes from Konrad Wallenrod in Almayer's Folly and a Personal Record
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Abstract

That Konrad Korzeniowski became a literary lion known as Joseph Conrad has been quite fully acknowledged, but the extent to which he was an artistic fox masterfully incorporating images from Polish literature into his work has not been adequately discerned. Korzeniowski buried nuggets from Adam Mickiewicz's Konrad Wallenrod (1828) in Almayer's Folly (1895), his first novel, and in one of his autobiographies, A Personal Record (1912) (when discussing the ending of his sea career and the beginning of his writing life). By secreting part of his Polish cultural heritage in these pages Conrad was majestically serving his fatherland although writing in English. A discussion of intertextual theory and of some of the doubleness that is Polish in Almayer's Folly and A Personal Record provides a "sense" of what Michael Riffaterre describes as an "unlocking" or "uncovering... equivalent to a pattern of truth." Questions posed about aspects of Almayer's Folly by such eminent Conradian scholars as Ian Watt and Yves Hervouet are answered. The conclusion reached is that if one is to understand Conrad and to obtain the most that is to be had from his writings, one must have an understanding and an appreciation of Polish literature and culture.

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