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Conrad: The Critical Response, 1950-75

Niland, Richard (2009) Conrad: The Critical Response, 1950-75. In: Joseph Conrad in Context. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 75-82. ISBN 0521887922

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Abstract

Following his positioning as a major English novelist by F.R. Leavis in The Great Tradition (1948), Conrad became a central figure in academic literary criticism in the 1950s and 1960s with the publication of a series of seminal works on the writer. With studies by Thomas Moser, Albert Guerard and Edward Said, the period saw the beginning of the Conrad industry in international academe, with several biographies undertaken or written and the hunt for every possible scrap of extant Conradiana under way. This resulted in societies and journals dedicated to Conrad's life and works in the USA, Britain, France, and Poland, the first steps in the daunting but now completed collected letters of Conrad, and a stubbornly unassailable interpretation of Conrad's literary career, captured in the title of Thomas Moser's influential Joseph Conrad: Achievement and Decline (1957). The period between 1950-75 also saw groundbreaking work on Conrad by Polish scholar Zdzisaw Najder, and with the unprecedented attention given to his life and works by gifted international scholars, these years constitute a true golden age of Conrad criticism.