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By Olivier Weber

Ce livre est une prom littéraire pour rendre hommage à Conrad, et surtout pour régler ma dette envers l'illustre voyageur. De belles biographies existent, mais il me semblait qu'il manquait une lucarne dans le bateau Conrad, celle qui ouvre sur son inquiétude, ses affres puisées ou détruites dans le mouvement de ses escapades maritimes, et le mouvement, intemporel, de l'âme, décrit par los angeles plume. Une somme de tourments qui ont mené Conrad des ports plus ou moins bien fréquentés, des rixes de ponts, des tempêtes de l'Atlantique et des avanies de mers chaudes jusqu'à l'écritoire, ce lieu d'autres ouragans où guettent à l. a. fois l. a. rédemption et le naufrage.

Trois clés sont indispensables : le mystery de l'écriture, los angeles faute et l. a. foi en l'homme."

Conrad, d'origine polonaise, est né en Russie en 1857. Mais il va être l'un des plus grands auteurs anglais du XXe siècle. Orphelin, mousse à 17 ans à Marseille, capitaine à 30, ce polyglotte décide d'écrire dans los angeles langue de sa nouvelle patrie. los angeles Folie Almayer, Au coeur des ténèbres, Typhon, Lord Jim... Son oeuvre, qui ne saurait être réduite au roman de mer, est massive, profonde et sombre.

Olivier Weber, écrivain-voyageur et grand reporter (Prix Joseph Kessel, Prix de l'Aventure, Prix Albert Londres), est notamment l'auteur du Faucon afghan, du Grand festin de l'Orient, du Barbaresque et, aux éditions Arthaud, de Kessel, le nomade éternel. Ses romans et récits de voyages ont été traduits en une dizaine de langues.

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So Basilius can be read as suggesting some of the dimensions of Elizabeth’s position. Arcadia works with a series of equivalences that ‘figure forth’, as Sidney’s first biographer Fulke Greville wrote, particular ideas and issues, working through suggestion and shadowings rather than precise identifications. So the strength of the passages surrounding Philisides and the Iberian tournament in Arcadia establishes a connection, as Dennis Kay suggests, with Sidney and Elizabeth’s Accession Day tilts, and these textual events invite readers to understand Philisides as sometimes more successful than his historical counterpart.

I fear, indeed, the weakness of my government before, made you think such a mask would be grateful unto me and my weaker government since, makes you to pull off the visor. What shall I do then? Shall I seek far-fetched inventions? Shall I labour to lay marble colours over my ruinous thoughts? ’ (NA, p. 330) In this passage Philoclea demonstrates the fear that taxes most romance heroines – the anxiety that they will be deemed to have invited sexual advances through their own behaviour. Tinged with Philoclea’s joy is the fear and anger that she has been tricked into staining her own honour despite herself.

That is, she is a woman of great wit, wise beyond her gender, and certainly superior to her husband. She is chaste, but passionate and intelligent. This combination of qualities is ‘terrible’, in the full sense of that word, when Gynecia’s vehement spirits get the better of her, and she acts on her desires for Prince Pyrocles. Gynecia, then, provides an appropriate starting point for a discussion of the designing woman – a woman who acts in her own interests and on her own desires – primarily because she does so without becoming simply a negative exemplum.

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