This study relates Conrad's work to the cultural crisis of the late nineteenth century, the post-Nietzschean phase of modernity. It discusses "faultlines"-- ambiguities and apparent aesthetic ruptures-- in nine of the major novels and novellas. These faultlines are diagnosed as the symptoms of an unresolved tension between Conrad's temperamental affinity with the Nietzschean outlook and his fierce ideological rejection of its ultimate implications. Presenting Conrad as a modernist at war with modernity, the author studies the perpetual tug-of-war between the artistic will to meaning and the writer's susceptibility to the modern temper, both as a theme and as a structuring principle in his work. The modes of this struggle are defined as the failure of myth, the failure of metaphysics, and the failure of textuality. This forceful and original book draws on the work of Nietzsche, Valhinger, Bakhtin, Heller, MacIntyre, and other philosophers and cultural historians to present the ethical and epistemological issues which are interwoven with Conrad's aesthetics.
`Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper has the virtue of a responsiveness to the dynamic tensions and struggles which are so memorably and disturbingly experienced in reading Conrad's works.'
John Lyon, The Higher
'This is an interesting work.'
R. Nadelhaft, University of Maine at Orono, Choice, May '92
'There is much that is excellent in this book ... we can be very happy with what it has brought us at last.'
Allan Hunter, Curry College, Massachusetts, Notes and Queries, Vol. 39, No. 4, December 1992
'Some of Erdinast-Vulcan's readings are fresh and original ... This study will be particularly useful to teachers of Conrad who want to use contemporary critical theory to update the way in which they present his novels.'
Ross C. Murfin, University of Miami, Nineteenth-Century Literature 47:4 (March 1993)
'Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan's study of Conrad shows a deep understanding of Conrad's fiction and comes to terms with some important thematic issues in his work ... she writes lucidly and sensibly. Hers is an example of close reading within a historically contextual framework. Erdinast-Vulcan has written a solid, thoughtful, and commendably readable book.'
Daniel R. Schwarz, Cornell University, Studies in the Novel
'The merits of this work should not be understated ... This is a scholarly work, one feels, carried out in remarkable English.'
L'Epoque Conradienne 1993 (Vol. 19)
'An unmixed moral may be hard to find in a good Conrad story, but Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper offers a compelling account of his struggles and his failures to provide one.'
Gene M. Moore, Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Conradian (Volume 18: No. 1), Autumn 1993