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Each of the four Chapters is an Analysis of its own, and can be read as a seperate Essay. Together they show Conrad's development as a writer which is the Thesis of the Book. For "Almayer's Folly", the emphasis is on Conrad's experiences in the Dutch East Indies. In the "Nigger of the Narcissus", Watt shows how Conrad through his own writing and reading was able to begin to develop his own Style. "Heart of Darkness", shows the beginnings of Conrad's use of literary devices, such as Symbolism and Impressionism. "Lord Jim" is the culmination of Conrad as a writer in the 19th Century, and shows such developments as Delayed Decoding and Symbolic Deciphering in the Narrative. Interestingly, even Watt, and Conrad's Biographers can only guess how Conrad developed some of these narrative devices, or whether he did do so himself, or through outside reading.
Several factors make this book work very well: Watt's impeccable research and knowledge of not only Conrad, but of Literature and its narrative devices, the careful organization and plan of the book, and his excellent writing which makes this book flow extremely well. My only criticism is that the book lacks a Bibliography. However, Watt's sources can be gleaned through the excellent footnotes.
If I were to teach a course on Conrad. I would use this book as a Text. Unfortunately, a second projected Volume, presumably a Study of Conrad's work in the 20th Century, was never published.
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