Spring 1957 • Vol. XIX No. 2 Nonfiction |

Fiction and Its Critics: A Reply to Mr. Rahv

Robert Staliman FICTION AND ITS CRITICS: A REPLY TO MR. RAHV "All this is precise yet symbolic...." (Conrad: Under Western Eyes) A CCORDING TO a critic of Conrad in the Hudson Review a few years ago, good fiction is nothing more than "a genuine story." In his view, the proper use of language in fiction excludes the poetic. Conrad is at his best at the literal narrative level; minus myth, minus symbol, minus the whole texture of Conrad's reflexive use of language. This critic does not like symbolism, but then neither does he like Conrad. "As for myth and symbol," says he, "each has furnished its adherents with a career"; apparently his own career promises to be furnished by literal- minded readings of plots and characters. But even when he finds in Conrad a genuine story (such as "The Secret Sharer") he doesn't like it. He settles on two works as Conrad's best: Typhoon and The Nigger of the Narcissus. But I think his choice of The Nigger confounds his own platform. He attacks Conrad

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London Letter

By Wayland Young

Robert Staliman FICTION AND ITS CRITICS: A REPLY TO MR. RAHV "All this is precise yet symbolic...." (Conrad: Under Western Eyes) A CCORDING TO a critic of Conrad in the […]

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