Category Archives: Conrad (Joseph)

What Would Lord Jim Do?

Trump and the NRA call for heroes with guns to save us from mass shootings. Conrad’s “Lord Jim” shows us what happens when fantasies encounter reality.

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Leaders Who Make Their Own Reality

What to make of Trump’s non-stop lying? Rushdie in “Midnight’s Chidren” describes what happens when “reality quite literally cease[s] to exist.”

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Trump in Chaucer, Shakespeare & Conrad

When compared to people called “dotard” in Chaucer and Shakespeare, Trump fits the insult hurled at him by Kim Jong-un. His statement to African leaders, meanwhile, makes him sound like a “Heart of Darkness” ivory trader.

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Reading Lit To Find the Meaning of Life

Paul Kalinithi moves between neuroscience and literature as he tries to understand the meaning of life and death, including his own terminal disease.

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Conrad: Terrorism Not as Clear as It Looks

We all think we know what went on with the killings in Charleston, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino because they fit easy narratives. Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent” should make us wary about jumping to conclusions.

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Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

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A Guide’s Conradian Revenge Fantasy

Do tour guides ever dream of doling out to their chargers what the porters in “Heart of Darkness” do with one of the visiting English?

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The CIA’s Heart of Darkness

Published details about the CIA’s torture program reveal that America descended into a Conradian heart of darkness.

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Why GOP Right Is Beating Up on the Poor

Paul Ryan projects upon the poor as Joseph Conrad did upon Africans.

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America’s Heart of Darkness Beginnings

America’s bloody beginnings are part of who we still are.

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Sweethearts Now Cleared for Combat

Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War story about a woman who goes rogue has things to teach us about the recent suspension of the Pentagon ban on women in combat.

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Armstrong’s Heart of Darkness

One our ideal, Lance Armstrong has proved to be more like Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness.”

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Great Political Novels Not Agenda Driven

Great political novels are rich in spiritual attitude. Poor ones are agenda driven.

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Following Shipwreck, Replay of Lord Jim?

Joseph Conrad’s novel “Lord Jim” came to mind when I heard reports that the captain of the shipwrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia may have abandoned the ship before all the passengers were off.

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Dirty Work = Heart of Darkness

In “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad indirectly teaches us that doing work that contributes to human misery will take a toll, however much we try to focus just on the work.

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Twain Was No Racist (Not Even Close)

“I hope that like Mark Twain, 100 years from now people will see my work and think, ‘Wow. That is actually pretty racist.’” –Tina Fey accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Thanks to a visiting lecturer in our Mark Twain series, I have a new understanding of Huckleberry Finn that is exciting me […]

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A Tribute to the Workers of the World

Here’s a special Labor Day post for the workers of the world—those who have jobs and those who don’t, those who are overworked and those who are underemployed, those who are treated fairly and those who are exploited, those who are just starting out and those who have been working for a long time, those […]

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Exiting an Iraqi Heart of Darkness

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now  As I listened to the president talk last night about the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, I found myself thinking of a book on his reading list, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. (See last Thursday’s post for the entire list.) In his talk, Obama mentioned how he had disagreed […]

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Literature as a Leadership Handbook

Joseph Conrad  I have just begun reading a book that is very much in tune with this website: Joseph L. Badaracco’s Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership through Literature, published by Harvard Business School Press (2006). I report here on the introduction. The author talks about assigning Joseph Conrad’s “Secret Sharer” to a […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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