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Joseph Conrads Metaphysik Moralischer Nihilismus in ‚The Return‘ und im Frühwerk

Søren R. Fauth, Børge Kristiansen


Pages 281 - 310



This article asks about Conrad’s concept of truth. The starting point is ‚The Return‘ and the moral questions of this narrative. In contrast to Nietzsche’s Apollonian doctrine, Conrad lets his protagonist recognize the moral veiled world as an illusion until he is confronted with the ‚true‘ Reality of a ‘universe of moral suffering’. Compared to the ‘finite infinity’ (H. Broch) of Christian cosmogony, the universe for Conrad has turned into a morally ‚empty‘ Universe in which every ‚firm ground‘ has dissolved in favor of infinite void. This emptiness can be found in the metaphors of ‚Typhoon‘, ‚The Secret Sharer‘, ‚Heart of Darkness‘ and can be understood as the last truth in Conrad’s thinking. It manifests itself in Conrad’s skepticism, value-relativism, aesthetics of ambiguity, but also justifies Conrad’s reduction of the empirical world to mere appearances. Nothing is ‘real’ in the ontological sense, and in order to protect themselves from this truth, Conrad lets his figures draw on the Apollonian- doctrine of the ‚Birth of Tragedy‘, but as ‚The Return‘ shows this solution is also questionable with Conrad, so that only the emptiness remains.

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