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Conrad and History$
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Richard Niland

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580347.001.0001

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History and Nation: Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes

History and Nation: Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes

(p.95) 3 History and Nation: Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes
Conrad and History

Richard Niland

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Conrad's major political novels, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes, examining Conrad's politics in the context of nineteenth century philosophies of nationalism and nationhood. It first outlines Conrad's dialogue with the thought of Rousseau and Herder and the importance of these philosophers' work in a Polish Romantic context. Conrad's essay ‘Autocracy and War’ has a prominent role in this chapter as it represents Conrad's most political piece of writing on European politics and history, and the essay outlines Conrad's position regarding Polish and Russian identity, something treated somewhat more subtly in Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes. In addition to European politics, this chapter uncovers a crucially important context for Nostromo in Argentine writer Domingo F. Sarmiento's Facundo (1845), a work that Conrad borrowed from to authentically recreate the complex world of Latin American politics in Nostromo.

Keywords:   politics, nationalism, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, Under Western Eyes, Autocracy and War, nationhood, Rousseau, Herder, Polish, Russian, Sarmiento, Facundo

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