Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad

By Joseph Conrad

The tale of a dull-witted yet compassionate English woman who falls in love with an odd guy from japanese Europe. This ignorant, wild, and romantic peasant from the Carpathian Mountains has been solid up by means of the ocean, the one survivor from an emigrant send certain for the USA. not able to talk a notice of English and completely mystified as to the place he is—it could have been the US or Hell, itself—he leads a wretched and hunted life until the opportunity kindness of Amy Foster opens his eyes.

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11 Fear could be mastered by anticipating danger; or so runs the thinking in mid-century texts by authors such as Wolff and Kant. This mastery is important not just for personal comfort but for the survival of the Enlightened social order. 12 Starting in the middle decades of the eighteenth century, however, fright and fear are depicted as reactions and emotions that no longer necessarily have to be avoided. At about the same time that the concept of the uncanny appears in psychology, literature, and aesthetic theory, fear begins to be portrayed as a standard component of experience, and as part of a normal subjectivity Psychologist Johann Sulzer’s notions of different types of fright, including “empty,” “sublime,” and “healing” (“leerer,” “erhabener,” and “heilsamer”) represent an increasingly common understanding of fear as something potentially admissible into the world of the rational subject, as long as it is redeemed and restrained by aesthetically acceptable portrayal.

3 The intentional juxtaposition and acknowledgment of beauty’s interdependence with ruin are also an expression of and response to anxiety relating to mortality and decay. In the brief essay “On Transience” (“Vergänglichkeit,” 1916), Freud eases this kind of anxiety by constructing an apparently soothing view of mortality attenuated by repetition. 4 Freud responds that our own mortality permits us to enjoy and value the cyclical rhythms of natural beauty: “As regards the beauty of Nature, each time it is destroyed by winter it comes again next year, so that in relation to the length of our lives it can in fact be regarded as eternal” (“Was die Schönheit der Natur betrifft, so kommt sie nach jeder Zerstörung durch den Winter im nächsten Jahre wieder, und diese Wiederkehr darf im Verhältnis zu unserem Lebensdauer als eine ewige bezeichnet werden”).

Well before Ernst Jentsch explicitly theorizes the uncanny in his 1906 essay entitled “On the Psychology of the Uncanny” (“Zur Psychologie 14 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Sämtliche Schriften, ed. Karl Lachmann (Stuttgart: G. J. Goschen, 1893) 9: 20; paraphrased in Zelle, Angenehmes Grauen. Literaturhistorische Beiträge zur Ästhetik des Schrecklichen im achtzehnten Jahrhundert 412. 15 Karl Philipp Moritz, Fragmente aus dem Tagebuche eines Geistersehers, in Werke, ed. Horst Günther (Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1981) 3: 302.

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