Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Impressionistic Literature Principles of Impressionism




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Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Impressionistic Literature

Principles of Impressionism

  • Use of thick, short strokes of bright color - No fine detail needed

  • Color is not mixed

  • Little to no use of true black

  • Plein-Air Painting and Natural Light



Impressionism in literature

Writing that seeks to capture fleeting impressions of characters, settings, and events, depicted subjectively as they appear through the filter of the writer’s moods and personal perceptions.

Narration in Impressionistic Literature

Impressionism is at its core a response to scientific positivism. It saw realism, a child of science, as flawed in its oversimplification of reality.

in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

  • …Impressionists, whether in the literary or visual arts, sought to represent the interaction between human consciousness and the objects of that consciousness.



in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

  • The assortments of commas in impressionist literature has been linked to the short brush-strokes of the impressionist painter.



Impressionistic Narrative Techniques

  • Achronology

  • Intentionally Limited Point of View

  • In Media Res

  • Primitive Perspective



Impressionist Techniques in Heart of Darkness

  • The Darkness

The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky - seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness-

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Impressionist Techniques in Heart of Darkness

  • The Fog

  • But there was the fact facing me--the fact dazzling, to be seen, like the foam on the depths of the sea, like a ripple on an unfathomable enigma, a mystery greater--when I thought of it-- than the curious, inexplicable note of desperate grief in this savage clamour that had swept by us on the river-bank, behind the blind whiteness of the fog.-

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

  • Impressionism differs from realism greatly with the fact that culture's effect on the individual is only one of the many parts that create the experience. Realism puts priority on the culture and the individual is a small part of culture.



Narration in Impressionist Art

Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one, hence this label that was given us, by the way because of me. I had sent a thing done in Le Havre, from my window, sun in the mist and a few masts of boats sticking up in the foreground....They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn't really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: 'Put Impression.'-

Claude Monet - On Impression, Sunrise



Realism Taking the Form of Impressionism Max Liebermann - Munich Beer Garden



Edgar Degas - L'Absinthe (in the cafe)



Narration in Impressionist Architecture

  • Sisley - Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne

  • Modern, newly constructed bridges were often the focal point for compositions by Sisley and other Impressionists. The motif of the cast-iron and suspension bridge here provides a sweeping diagonal thrust across this riverbank scene along the Seine painted in summer 1872.



Differing Perspective of Events



Scientific "Impressionism"



Repetition in Impressionism Monet-House of Parliament



The House of Parliament



House of Parliament



Conrad and Impressionism

  • Conrad is trying to capture a reality that is very different from realism.

  • Conrad uses Achronology/an intentionally limited point of view/In Medias Res/Primitive Perception

  • Conrad’s use of darkness, black, or night –the absence of light

  • Fog as distortion, obscuring clear view therefore forcing the reader to interpret. “What is behind the fog?”



Narration in Impressionist Art

  • Landscape

  • Realism

    • Narrator and point-of-view
    • The “lack of expression” of Degas’s painting
  • Architecture

  • Scientific “Impressionism”

  • Repetition



Bibliography

  • Peters, John G. Conrad & Impressionism. Port Chester, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2001. p 27.



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