Conclusion: A Terribly Searching Thing

  • Richard J. Hand

Abstract

It is all too easy to pull Conrad’s plays apart. In fact, it is a traditional sport that begins with the theatre critics who sharpened their pens with acerbic delight at the prospect of a great “man of letters” straying into their domain of the London stage. This attitude can subsequently be traced through John Galsworthy publishing, in the year of Conrad’s death appropriately enough, what amounts to a depressing obituary of Conrad’s drama, a lead followed by generations of literary critics. There are problems with his plays: as an adaptation a play like The Secret Agent is perhaps overly loyal to the original novel and yet the greatness and ingenuity of the source is compromised by the play’s strict chronological linearity. Some of Conrad’s suggestions for Victory may attempt to reconstruct the complexity of the novel but, as Neill R. Joy, suggests, they present “psychoneurotic intricacies (that) would tax a master dramatist” (Joy, 2003, 213). Some of Conrad’s dialogue is possibly afflicted with the fault that in 1923 Shaw locates as a redeemable but stubbornly peculiar fault of many self-adapting novelists: “there is a literary language which is perfectly intelligible to the eye, yet utterly unintelligible to the ear even when it is easily speakable by the mouth” (James, 1949, 765).

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Copyright information

© Richard J. Hand 2005

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  • Richard J. Hand

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