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Under Western Eyes

Joseph Conrad

Book Overview: 

Under Western Eyes is a novel by Joseph Conrad. The novel takes place in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Geneva, Switzerland, and is viewed as Conrad's response to the themes explored in Crime and Punishment, Conrad being reputed to have detested Dostoevsky. It is also, some say, Conrad's response to his own early life; his father was a famous revolutionary imprisoned by the Russians, but, instead of following in his father's footsteps, at the age of sixteen Conrad left his native land forever....This novel is considered to be one of Conrad's major works and is close in subject matter to The Secret Agent. It is full of cynicism and conflict about the historical failures of revolutionary movements and ideals. Conrad remarks in this book, as well as others, on the irrationality of life, the opacity of character, the unfairness with which suffering is inflicted upon the innocent and poor, and the careless disregard for the lives of those with whom we share existence. - Summary by Wikipedia

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .en that he noticed that the sheet of paper which for one night had remained stabbed to the wall above his empty bed was lying on top of the pile.

When he had taken it down the day before he had folded it in four, absent-mindedly, before dropping it on the table. And now he saw it lying uppermost, spread out, smoothed out even and covering all the confused pile of pages, the record of his intellectual life for the last three years. It had not been flung there. It had been placed there—smoothed out, too! He guessed in that an intention of profound meaning—or perhaps some inexplicable mockery.

He sat staring at the piece of paper till his eyes began to smart. He did not attempt to put his papers in order, either that evening or the next day—which he spent at home in a state of peculiar irresolution. This irresolution bore upon the question whether he should continue to live—neither more nor less. But its nature was very far remov. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Joseph Conrad was the one who stood at the fountainhead of all the twentieth century modernistic literature and he was one of the most sagacious writers of all times.
On the whole Under Western Eyes is a modern tale of Judas, ostensibly based on the traitor’s confessions.
There are two sides of barric

“I am quite willing to be the blind instrument of higher ends. To give one's life for the cause is nothing. But to have one's illusions destroyed - that is really almost more than one can bear.”

Joseph Conrad

Razumov is serious about his studies. He is quiet, and like most men who brood, there is

„In Life, You See, There Is Not Much Choice. You Have Either to Rot or to Burn.”

As depressing as this limitedness of choice may seem – however, that is exactly what life as such boils down to –, what may be even more depressing is when the decision pounces upon you instead of being taken by you. In

Conrad's books always seem to start slow as he methodically creates a solid foundation and base of characterization.

This one very much so and yet stays minimalistic and obscure throughout. Under Western Eyes, first published in 1911, had moments of greatness and had many very observant quotes about

In a word, this book was torturous, a long, slow torture. An unreliable narrator intimate with so many details, supposedly due to a diary, & yet unable to truly understand the Russian mind. "Words are the enemy of reality." Truly.

I liked a lot of Conrad's thoughts, depressing as they were. There is

Published in 1911, Conrad’s Russia novel (or so I’ve decided to call it) seems to predict the Bolshevik Revolution. It begins with a young student of philosophy, Razumov, who returns to his flat one night to find a classmate, Victor Haldin, standing in his kitchen- or rather, in Conradian fashion, w

Under Western eyes, is in many ways Conrad's Crime and Punishment, exploring the similar themes with that of Dostoevsky, Although this for me took longer to get into, the deep and personal aspects remain between the two. Taking place in St Petersburg and Geneva, Switzerland, the central character Ra

"The belief in a super natural sources of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness."
-- Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes

I'm beginning to think there are absolutely no whimsical novels written about the period between Bloody Sunday and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Wri

The fact that the Westerner narrator is an uncomprehending observer (whose character's eyes are in the title 'Under Western Eyes') and that the Russian character of the story, Razumov, has the reputation as a great listener (strikingly so, pun intended) is told us, gentle reader, upfront by the auth

Conrad's gripping espionager influenced Graham Greene,
Maugham and LeCarre. An apolitical student accidentally
becomes a Czarist spy after he betrays a rebel friend ;
later as a secret agent in Geneva he falls in love with
the fellow's sister.* Psychological trauma amid deception,
manipulation and tu

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