A Tragic Venus. Idolatry, Desire and Suffering in “The Planter of Malata” by Joseph Conrad

Cezary Zalewski


The article is devoted to the analysis of the modern experience of love, to which the entire narrative of the Planter of Malata has been devoted. The modern approach to the subject will be understood here as the penetration of the sacred sphere into the domain of the profane. Thanks to this mechanism, it becomes possible to create the expression of an indirect, confused, quasi-sacred experience. Conrad’s protagonist thus sees a woman in terms of “sanctity,” which will be interpreted in terms of “modern idolatry” (J.-L. Marion), eliminating any distance between the worshiper and the object of worship. The main scope of the analyses will concern the consequences that result from the starting point established in this way. Conrad’s text confirms the assumption that “pain is a sign and a means of contact with the divine” (D. Morris), but at the same time indicates many levels at which this process takes place.

* The project was founded by The National Science Centre (Poland) on the basis of decision number 2012/05/B/HS2/04065.

Słowa kluczowe: love, idolatry, modern masochism

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Morris, David B. The Culture of Pain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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