DescriptionUnder Western Eyes traces a sequence or error, guilt, and expiation. Its composition placed such demands upon Conrad that he suffered a serious breakdown upon its completion. It is by common critical consent one of his finest achievements. Bomb-throwing assassins, political repression and revolt, emigre revolutionaries infiltrated by a government spy: much of Under Western Eyes (1911) is more topical than we might wish. Set in tsarist Russia and in Geneva, its concern with perennial issues of human responsibility gives it a lasting moral force. The contradictory demands placed upon men and women by the social and political convulsions of the modern age have never been more revealingly depicted. Joseph Conrad personally felt no sympathy with either Russians or revolutionaries. None the less his portrayal of both in Under Western Eyes is dispassionate and disinterested. Through the Western eyes of his narrator we are given a sombre but not entirely pessimistic view of the human dilemmas which are born of oppression and violence.
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About the Author
Joseph Conrad (originally Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. In 1896 he settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. He continued to write until his death in 1924. Today Conrad is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of fiction in English--his third language.