Research Output

Karain”: Constructing the Romantic Subject’.

  In April 1898 Conrad wrote to Cunninghame Graham: ‘I am glad you like Karain. I was afraid you would despise it. There’s something magazine’ish about it. Eh? It was written for Blackwood’ (Letters 2, 57). Those ‘magazine’ish’ elements include a ghost, an exotic Malay chieftain, charms and talismans, love, betrayal, and questions of honour, and it is likely that it was precisely these ‘magazine’ish’ qualities that Conrad was looking for to ensure publication for this short story. In 1896 Edward Garnett had advised Conrad not to continue with The Sisters. Watt suggests that Garnett was effectively warning Conrad ‘against trying to be a more ambitious and highbrow kind of novelist’. ‘Karain’ is evidence, Watt asserts, that Conrad had ‘more or less accepted Garnett’s typecasting’ (Watt, 27). Significantly Conrad is aware of similar qualities in an earlier tale, ‘The Lagoon’ (1897). Writing to Garnett in August 1896, he calls this tale ‘a tricky thing’ and identifies exotic elements that would appeal to a magazine readership: ‘the usual forests river—stars—wind sunrise, and so on—and lots of secondhand Conradese in it. There is only 6000 words in it so it can’t bring in many shekels…Don’t you think I am a lost soul?’ He concludes: ‘I would bet a penny they will take it’ (Letters 1, 301). Cornhill Magazine duly accepted it.

  • Type:

    Book Chapter

  • Date:

    01 September 2000

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Palgrave MacMillan

  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    PR English literature


Dryden, L. (2000). Karain”: Constructing the Romantic Subject’. In Joseph Conrad and the Imperial Romance, 110-136. Palgrave MacMillan. doi:10.1057/9780230597075_6



"Karain"; Joseph Conrad;

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