By Linda Dryden (auth.)
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Extra resources for Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells: The Fin-de-Siècle Literary Scene
It is not the intention here to revisit that process, but rather to look more closely at the objections that Wells made to the collaboration as a means of understanding his relationship with Conrad. Along the way I will consider the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson and the publishing success of Treasure Island (1883) on the authors’ approach to the romance and adventure genre. For, as Brebach rightly concludes: ‘Conrad’s difficulties in accommodating himself to the demands of the novel’s genre, and especially to the attitudes toward romance required by the story, provide one of the primary reasons why the novel is less than satisfying’ (Brebach 3).
In James’s story an ageing American artist roams the streets of Florence with a young compatriot expounding upon the glories of Renaissance artistic masterpieces, but fails to produce his own ‘Madonna of the Future’. The past and the future are critical to James’s story because his artist is trying to reproduce the glories of past art for the sake of the future, much as Kipling’s narrator thinks of the future impact of ‘his’ story. Wells may have chosen this particular story because of its preoccupation with art and posterity: in many ways Sleeper is not just a political treatise, but a reflection on what might endure in the future.
Heart of Darkness 29)12 Writing his story just after War of the Worlds appeared in book form, Conrad is aware of the resonance here; and the reference would not have been lost on his early readers, as Patrick A. ’ That contrast between great intelligence and mortality forecasts the deaths not only of Wells’s colonists – the Martians – but of Conrad’s Kurtz as well. 14 Conrad’s comments to Zagórska about The Invisible Man prove that he had read that novel around the time of writing ‘The Heart of Darkness’, and reveal his genuine admiration for Wells’s fantastical imagination.
Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells: The Fin-de-Siècle Literary Scene by Linda Dryden (auth.)