Autobiography, Fiction and the Overcoming of Romance. The Parable of the Outsider in Joseph Conrad’s The Shadow-Line

Gianluca Cinelli


The Shadow-Line represents a fundamental achievement in Conrad’s literary career and constitutes the peak of the author’s ethical reflection on the relationship between literature and life. By combining the autobiographical narration with the motives, atmospheres, and vocabulary of romance, Conrad presents the account of his personal experience of initiation to adulthood as a quest-like fiction of maturation through hardship. The key-figure of this merger is the “outsider,” who is an individual who learns how to endure hardship and failure by opening his or her soul to solidarity and respect for humanity, thus achieving wisdom and ethical worth.

Słowa kluczowe: Joseph Conrad, romance, realism, autobiography, outsiders in literature

Primary sources

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                        . Letters from Joseph Conrad, 1895-1924. Ed. E. Garnett. Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1928.

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