Ian Watt (1917-99) has long been acknowledged as one of the finest of post-War literary critics. The Rise of the Novel (1957) is still the landmark account of the way in which realist fiction developed in the eighteenth century and Watt's work on Conrad has been enormously influential. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century (1979) was to have been followed by a volume addressing Conrad's later work, but the material for this long-awaited second volume remains in essay form. It is these essays, as Frank Kermode points out in his foreword, which form the nucleus of Essays on Conrad. Watt's own worldview, as well as his insight into Conrad's work, was shaped by his experiences as a prisoner of war on the River Kwai. His personal, and painfully moving, account of these experiences forms part of his famous essay 'The Bridge over the River Kwai as Myth' which completes this essential collection.
Foreword: Frank Kermode; 1. Joseph Conrad: alienation and commitment; 2. Almayer's Folly: introduction; 3. Conrad criticism and The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'; 4. Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the critics; 5. Comedy and humour in Typhoon; 6. Political and social background of The Secret Agent; 7. The Secret Sharer: introduction; 8. Conrad, James and Chance; 9. Story and idea in The Shadow-Line; 10. The decline of the decline: notes on Conrad's reputation; 11. Around Conrad's grave; 12. 'The Bridge over the River Kwai' as myth.