Chance by Joseph Conrad

This text has been promoted as a classic. It may entertain the reader, but it is interesting why it has been accorded classic status. Is it because of its own merits or is it because Conrad has been granted the status of a writer of classics? If Conrad has been given this recognition it is in part because several of his novels have similar styles and themes.

This novel is set in part at sea. It is interested in psychology. Hence it is typical Conrad. However, a more troubling part of the work hits the reader between the eyes. It contains racism which reflects the values that legitimised the British Empire. Indeed, there is an obsession with skin colour which affects a few of the descriptions. For example, Conrad wrote:

“swarthy as an African.”

The story is put together largely in the form of dialogue. As a consequence, there is less poetry in the book than one might have thought. Therefore the reader focuses on other things, such as the gradual creation of atmosphere by repetition.


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