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Victory

Munsey's Magazine, The Tempest

heyst novel relations lena

a novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1915, serialized in Munsey's Magazine (1915). Its central character, Axel Heyst, a Swedish aristocrat, lives on an island in the Malay Archipelago. Influenced by the sceptical philosophy of his father, and trying to avoid forming any attachments, his way of life is challenged when he rescues Lena, who has been touring the islands as part of a Ladies' Orchestra, from the sexual harassment of the hotelkeeper, Schomberg. The novel explores their relationship and the difficulties precipitated by the arrival of the devilish ‘Mr Jones’ and his two companions. The novel is divided into four parts. In Part I, Heyst and his flight from Sourabaya with Lena is presented by an unnamed narrator who has no privileged access to Heyst's inner thoughts and feelings. In Part II, Heyst's flight is presented first from his own point of view and then from Schomberg's. Part III is similarly split between a first half devoted to Heyst's developing relationship with Lena and a second half that sets up Heyst's confrontation with Jones. In the final part, these various relations interact to produce a violent and tragic conclusion. The novel explores such typical Conradian concerns as isolation, identity, and the relations between fathers and sons, but it also displays Conrad's interests, in his late novels, in relations between men and women, in concepts of masculinity, and in the construction of female identity. Apart from the repeated shifts in narrative perspective, the novel is also of interest for the way in which it superimposes various mythic and literary patterns: for example, the characters and events on the island are clearly variations and adaptations of characters and events in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

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