As one of early modernism’s most visible and fruitful collaborations, Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford’s literary relationship resulted in the publication of three, largely undistinguished novels, The Inheritors (1901), Romance (1903), and The Nature of a Crime (1909). More importantly, though, their decade-long collaboration completely altered the nature of each writer’s aesthetic by providing Conrad and Ford with an explicit model for tapping into their readership’s textual expectations.1 Their theories of the novel — most notably, their aspirations for honing a kind of ‘literary impressionism’ in their fictions — demonstrate each writer’s attempts at creating a mechanism for eliciting reader response. Simply put, Conrad and Ford fashion a series of self-conscious appeals in their novels to what Hans Robert Jauss describes as the reader’s ‘horizon of expectations,’ or the manner in which readers interact with and ultimately respond to literary works. Conrad’s and Ford’s literary impressionism, with its Expectations accent upon the reader’s experiences when encountering literary texts, attempts to exploit these horizons of expectation in order to produce new and eminently more complicated layers of meaning in contrast with their literary precursors.
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- Addressing Horizons of Readerly Expectation in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, or, How to Put the ‘Reader’ in ‘Reader Response’
Todd F. Davis
- Macmillan Education UK
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