Russia Revisited in Conrad’s Under Western Eyes

Yang Yu-Miao


Under Western Eyes is often regarded as one of Conrad’s political novels, as it deals with the issues of autocracy, democracy and revolution in Tsarist Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. Indeed, set in the autocratic state of Russia and overtly political, Conrad cracks open superficial perceptions of what “autocratic state” may imply and what a political novel may mean by digging deep into the personal and psychological struggles of its protagonist, Razumov. Razumov’s personal tragedy, viewed in this regard, carries the weight of Russia; his story encapsulates “things Russia”. Seeing Razumov’s catastrophic end in Under Western Eyes as the verdict Conrad delivered on “things Russia”, this paper seeks to examine the difficulties Russia confronting in finding its identity when it is challenged with the democratic ideal and economic prosperity embraced by Western Europe.


Conrad, Russia, Political Novel

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