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Joseph Conrad’s the Secret Agent and the grotesque Marrs, Brian George 1974

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JOSEPH CONRAD'S THE SECRET AGENT AND THE GROTESQUE by BRIAN GEORGE MARRS B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1971 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN THE REQUIREMENTS MASTER PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF FOR THE DEGREE OF OF ARTS i n the Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming t o the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1974 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia- I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of E n g l i s h The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date: October, 1974 ABSTRACT Th i s t h e s i s seeks t o examine Joseph Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent i n the context o f the grotesque mode. P a r t I d i s c u s s e s n a r r a t i v e and n a r r a t i v e s t y l e as a f u n c t i o n of the dynamic r e l a t i o n s h i p between t e x t and reader, and emphasizes the degree to which the i n t e r p l a y between t e x t and reader may be determined and manipulated by the author's e s t h e t i c e x p l o i t a t i o n of the conventions and e x p e c t a t i o n s t h a t com-p r i s e t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p . The d i s c r e p a n c y between n a r r a t i v e and reader e x p e c t a t i o n as a p o t e n t i a l source of the grotesque the nature o f the grotesque as a c r i t i c a l concept and as a mode p o s s e s s i n g s p e c i f i c forms, images, and e f f e c t s , and the h i s t o r i c a l development of the grotesque, are examined i n P a r t I I . P a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n i s p a i d t o the modern development of the grotesque mode, to the use of the grotesque i n the n o v e l , t o the s p e c i f i c a l l y l i t e r a r y f e a t u r e s of the grotesque and to the c r e a t i v e aspects o f the mode. P a r t I I I i n v e s t i -gates the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e s of The S e c r e t Agent, and r e v e a l s the v a r i o u s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c grotesque m o t i f s , images, and c h a r a c t e r s t h a t perform important e s t h e t i c f u n c t i o n s i n the n a r r a t i v e . The e x t e n s i v e presence o f the grotesque a t t h i s l e v e l suggests an examination of the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e p e r s p e c t i v e , and s t y l e w i t h i n the context of the grotesque. T h i s leads t o an e x p l a n a t i o n f o r the apparent d i s c r e p a n c i e s between p e r s p e c t i v e and content i n The S e c r e t Agent, and pro-vid e s a u n i f i e d d e s c r i p t i o n of those aspects of p e r s p e c t i v e , s t y l e , and language which determine the n a r r a t i v e f u n c t i o n and e f f e c t . A t a more s p e c u l a t i v e l e v e l , the grotesque mode a l s o suggests c e r t a i n c r e a t i v e a t t i t u d e s and p s y c h o l o g i c a l motives which might be a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the n o v e l . S u p e r v i s o r TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1 PART I . . . . • 10 PART I I 1. THE TRADITIONAL AND MODERN GROTESQUE 27 2. THE NATURE OF THE GROTESQUE . . . 49 PART I I I 1. THE SECRET AGENT: GROTESQUE CONTENT 86 2. THE SECRET AGENT; THE GROTESQUE PERSPECTIVE . . 147 3. THE SECRET AGENT: THE GROTESQUE VISION . . . . 181 CONCLUSION 200 NOTES 206 LIST OF WORKS CITED 213 i i i A NOTE ON REFERENCES The e d i t i o n of Conrad's works c i t e d throughout i s th a t of the M e d a l l i o n E d i t i o n p u b l i s h e d by the Gresham P u b l i s h i n g Co. L t d . ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would l i k e t o acknowledge the k i n d and w i l l i n g a s s i s t a n c e given t o me by my s u p e r v i s o r , Mr. Andrew Busza. i v 1 INTRODUCTION Certain c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , and therefore important, aspects of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent have not been s a t i s f a c t o r i l y explained by the c r i t i c a l w r iting on the novel; the problem i s , I believe, one of approach rather than of c r i t i c a l perceptiveness. I f e e l the c r i t i c i s m of The Secret Agent to be espe-c i a l l y inadequate i n two p r i n c i p a l ways. F i r s t , i t has not s u f f i c i e n t l y accounted for certain "discrepancies" and " d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s " which are present at a l l levels of the narrative, from content through structure to perspective. These dissonances may range from large s t r u c t u r a l "gaps," such as e x i s t between chapters three and four or i n the chronology of the novel, to the suppression, delay, ambiguity, or even gratuitous presence of c e r t a i n d e t a i l s within the context of single scenes, sentences, or images. Secondly, one of the most evident of these discrep-ancies i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p between form and content, and i t i s largely the f a i l u r e to describe t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p s a t i s -f a c t o r i l y , and therefore the f a i l u r e to account for what i s perhaps the central discrepancy, that has prevented a com-prehensive and meaningful description and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the narrative as a whole and of the i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p of i t s components. The form/content re l a t i o n s h i p i s commonly described i n terms of irony and detachment: such a description 2 i n f a c t prevents r e c o g n i t i o n o f the v i t a l , dynamic, and c o n t i n u a l i n t e r p l a y between p e r s p e c t i v e and content, a recog-n i t i o n important t o an understanding o f the unique e f f e c t of the n o v e l . It i s my c o n t e n t i o n t h a t t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p , i t s apparent discrepant-mature, and the other d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s , d issonances, and i n c o n g r u i t i e s which are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f the n a r r a t i v e , can be accounted f o r and d e s c r i b e d i n a manner consonant w i t h the thematic concerns of the n o v e l , by means of the grotesque mode. Although w r i t e r s on the grotesque commonly assume, and r i g h t l y so, I b e l i e v e , t h a t the grotesque e x i s t s as a complete and independent e s t h e t i c category, there e x i s t s no s a t i s f a c -t o r y d e f i n i t i o n and d e s c r i p t i o n o f the mode which i s t r u l y comprehensive i n the g e n e r i c sense. T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y t r u e of the grotesque as a l i t e r a r y mode. I t i s f i r s t of a l l necessary, t h e r e f o r e , t o d e f i n e and d e s c r i b e the grotesque i n as comprehensive a manner as p o s s i b l e , so t h a t i t s charac-t e r i s t i c motives, a t t i t u d e s , c o n t e n t s , s t r u c t u r e s , s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e s , and e f f e c t s are r e l a t e d t o each other w i t h i n a s i n g l e concept. The f o u n d a t i o n of any such concept w i l l be Wolfgang Kayser's The Grotesque i n A r t and L i t e r a t u r e , o r i g i n a l l y p u b l i s h e d under the t i t l e Das Groteske; s e i n e G e s t a l t u n g i n M a l e r e i und Dichtung (1957) . T h i s study i s p r i m a r i l y u s e f u l 3 i n i t s p r o v i s i o n of a catalogue of the p r i n c i p a l m o t i f s and images which c h a r a c t e r i z e grotesque a r t and l i t e r a t u r e , and i n t r a c i n g the development of the grotesque as a mode and as a c r i t i c a l concept from the Renaissance t o the modern e r a . I t i s l i m i t e d i n th r e e important ways, however: f i r s t , although i t o u t l i n e s the nature of the grotesque as an inde-pendent e s t h e t i c category, and suggests c e r t a i n motives, p e r s p e c t i v e s , and e f f e c t s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the mode, i t s main emphasis i s upon the content of the grotesque; second, i t s t r a n s - g e n e r i c scope tends t o prevent or obscure any c l e a r sense of a d i s t i n c t l y l i t e r a r y grotesque; and t h i r d , whenever the focus does become p u r e l y l i t e r a r y , the d e f i n i t e b i a s toward the German Romantic l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n e s s e n t i a l l y i n v a l i d a t e s the o b s e r v a t i o n i n s o f a r as most post-Romantic E n g l i s h and American grotesque l i t e r a t u r e i s concerned. These l i m i t a t i o n s apply g e n e r a l l y t o most w r i t i n g on the grotesque, although a few s t u d i e s of i n d i v i d u a l works, and a r e c e n t emphasis upon the p s y c h o l o g i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of the grotesque, have extended the concept i n important ways. I have employed such s t u d i e s where r e l e v a n t , and have attemp-ted t o compensate f o r the Romantic or " g o t h i c " b i a s of the standard d e f i n i t i o n s by r e f e r r i n g t o the w r i t i n g s of such modern exponents o f the grotesque as Charles Dickens, G. K. Ch e s t e r t o n , James Joyce, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r , F l a n n O'^Bfieh, Nathanael West, F l a n n e r y O'Connor, and Samuel B e c k e t t . By 4 a s s e s s i n g the ways i n which the grotesque i n t h e i r w r i t i n g s i s a f u n c t i o n of s p e c i f i c l i t e r a r y p e r s p e c t i v e s , s t r u c t u r e s , and d e v i c e s , I have t r i e d t o p r o v i d e a more modern context f o r the grotesque i n The S e c r e t Agent. G e n e r a l l y speaking, the problem of d e f i n i n g the genre of the grotesque i s one which attaches i t s e l f t o the attempt t o d e f i n e any genre. This problem i s c l e a r l y s t a t e d by Wellek and Warren i n Theory of L i t e r a t u r e : The dilemma of genre h i s t o r y i s the dilemma of a l l h i s t o r y : i . e . , i n order to d i s c o v e r the scheme of r e f e r e n c e ( i n t h i s case, the genre) we must study the h i s t o r y ; but we cannot study the h i s t o r y w ithout having i n mind some scheme of s e l e c t i o n . 2 That some scheme o f s e l e c t i o n i s necessary i n attempting t o reach a d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque i s i n d i c a t e d i n George Gib i a n ' s remark t h a t : The danger i n u s i n g the term GROTESQUE i s of a t t r i b u t i n g t o i t too broad r a t h e r than too narrow a meaning. The grotesque borders on or even par-takes of numerous o t h e r q q u a l i t i e s : the f a n t a s t i c , d i s t o r t e d , exaggerated, b i z a r r e , absurd, l u d i c r o u s l y e c c e n t r i c , extravagant, monstrous, or macabre. Yet these a d j e c t i v e s are not a l i s t of i t s synonyms. The grotesque must moreover be d i s t i n g u i s h e d from simple c a r i c a t u r e and the t r a g i c o m i c . ^ The need f o r , and d i f f i c u l t y o f , such comparative d e f i n i t i o n i s f u r t h e r i n d i c a t e d by the f a c t t h a t P h i l i p Thomson's The Grotesque, the b e s t s h o r t i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the s u b j e c t , devotes over o n e - t h i r d of i t s d i s c u s s i o n t o making p r e c i s e l y the types of d i s t i n c t i o n mentioned by G i b i a n . Thomson r e l a t e s the grotesque r e s p e c t i v e l y t o the absurd, the 5 b i z a r r e - the macabre, c a r i c a t u r e , parody, s a t i r e , i r o n y , and the comic. He p o i n t s out t h a t even "the c o n f l i c t of incom-p a t i b l e s , " which i s the most fundamental element of the grotesque, " i s not e x c l u s i v e l y a c r i t e r i o n of the grotesque"; t h a t , f o r i n s t a n c e , Irony and paradox depend on t h i s s o r t of c o n f l i c t or c o n f r o n t a t i o n , and a l l t h e o r i e s of the comic are based on some n o t i o n of i n c o n g r u i t y , c o n f l i c t , j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f o p p o s i t e s , e t c . ^ Such d i s t i n c t i o n s are t h e r e f o r e e s p e c i a l l y p e r t i n e n t when i t comes t o examining The S e c r e t Agent w i t h i n the context of the grotesque, f o r the elements of disharmony which c h a r a c t e r i z e The Secret.Agent are u s u a l l y e x p l a i n e d i n terms of the i r o n i c , and sometimes the comic, mode. While such e x p l a n a t i o n s are v a l i d up t o a p o i n t , they are unable t o d e a l w i t h some of the b a s i c f a c t s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the n a r r a t i v e . The d e s c r i p t i o n of the grotesque as a l i t e r a r y mode i s f a c i l i t a t e d by s t r e s s i n g a c e r t a i n concept of s t y l e — n a m e l y , one which takes account of the ongoing r e l a t i o n s h i p between reader and t e x t , and between reader and author. F o r i t i s the e x p l o i t a t i o n of the conventions and e x p e c t a t i o n s o f t h i s ongoing r e l a t i o n s h i p which i s a primary source o f the gro-tesque mode. T h i s i s suggested i n the f o l l o w i n g o b s e r v a t i o n r e g a r d i n g Dickens, an o b s e r v a t i o n which c o u l d w e l l be a p p l i e d to any grotesque n a r r a t i v e , i n c l u d i n g The S e c r e t Agent: 6 . . . some of the most memorable of the grotesquerie of Bleak House depends upon our remembering that the book is a present transaction with i t s readers, and not simply the r e l i c of prior events, hoarded up for our more leisured inspection or edification.5 The three parts of the thesis, therefore, deal respec-tively with narrative and narrative style, the grotesque mode, and the grotesque mode of The Secret Agent. Although the f i r s t two parts are designed to be more than mere prelimi-naries to the f i n a l part, i t is nevertheless true that the main ideas and observations of my discussion are fully realized only in terms of the concrete narrative of The  Secret Agent, and are often, of necessity, only suggested or stated as generalizations in the earlier, more abstract sections on style and the grotesque. Part I, which deals with narrative and narrative style, is the briefest and most derivative of the three. It represents a synthesis of ideas and observations put forth by certain c r i t i c s , principally Frank Kermode and E. H. Gombrich. This synthesis is largely an attempt to illuminate certain aspects of narrative that are often ignored in criticism, and which I feel are especially significant in understanding and appreciating both the grotesque mode and the narrative peculiarities of The Secret Agent. Part II discusses the grotesque, beginning with an examination of the development of the traditional grotesque, and moving toward a concept of the grotesque as a specifically 7 l i t e r a r y mode which i s d e f i n a b l e i n terms of motive, concep-t i o n , e x e c u t i o n , and e f f e c t , and i d e n t i f i a b l e as a c o n c r e t e s e t of s t r u c t u r e s , f a r m s m o t i f s, images, and s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e s . P a r t I I I focuses upon The S e c r e t Agent. The n a r r a t i v e i s c o n s i d e r e d i n terms of s u b j e c t , content, s t r u c t u r e , p e r s p e c t i v e , and s t y l e , w i t h each of these n a r r a t i v e aspects being r e l a t e d t o the grotesque f e a t u r e s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of each. I have p a r t i c u l a r l y emphasized the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the grotesque p o i n t of view, or p e r s p e c t i v e , as i t i s here t h a t the primary source of the grotesque, and o f the unique e f f e c t of the n a r r a t i v e i s , I b e l i e v e , t o be found. Accord-i n g l y , I have attempted to i l l u s t r a t e those s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e s and s t r a t e g i e s which seem to c h a r a c t e r i z e and determine the grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e , and to r e l a t e these d e v i c e s t o o t h e r aspects of the n a r r a t i v e as w e l l . The development of the ideas and o b s e r v a t i o n s , from the a b s t r a c t i o n s of " s t y l e " through the grotesque to the t e x t of The S e c r e t Agent, might suggest t h a t the f i r s t two p a r t s are no more than p r e l i m i n a r y steps toward the a n a l y s i s of the l a t t e r . T h i s i s not e n t i r e l y the case; my i n t e r e s t , and consequently p a r t of my emphasis, i s a l s o upon s t y l e , and upon the grotesque, i r r e s p e c t i v e of t h e i r r o l e s w i t h i n The  S e c r e t Agent. As w e l l as examining s t y l e and the grotesque as subordinate steps i n the attempt t o understand and d e s c r i b e 8 The S e c r e t Agent, I have a l s o attempted, therefore,, t o ex p l o r e what I f e e l i s a very s i g n i f i c a n t g e n e r i c approach t o a g r e a t d e a l of modern l i t e r a t u r e , and t o o u t l i n e c e r t a i n of my b a s i c assumptions r e g a r d i n g s t y l e . Because of the d i v i d e d emphasis, I have h o p e f u l l y reduced the degree t o which the s e c t i o n s form a s e l f -v a l i d a t i n g system, and t r u s t t h a t the concept o f s t y l e I have o u t l i n e d i s v a l i d not' 7only f o r the genre of the gro-tesque, and t h a t the d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque I have o f f e r e d i s not r e s t r i c t e d i n a p p l i c a t i o n t o The S e c r e t Agent alone. On the other hand, I t r u s t t h a t a sense of develop-ment and c o n t i n u i t y does e x i s t among the s e c t i o n s , and t h a t the d i v i d e d emphasis hasn't f i l t e r e d out i n t o t h r e e u n r e l a t e d essays. Each p a r t i s meant t o pr o v i d e at l e a s t a meaningful con t e x t f o r the o t h e r s . My primary purpose, however, i s t o analyze and d e s c r i b e , by way of the grotesque mode, the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e s o f The  S e c r e t Agent. By so d o i n g , I hope t o pr o v i d e a d e s c r i p t i o n of the n o v e l which goes beyond the l i m i t a t i o n s o f those d e s c r i p t i o n s which approach The S e c r e t Agent a c c o r d i n g to a s t r i c t l y i r o n i c or comic framework, and thereby i n d i c a t e the dynamic nature of the n a r r a t i v e as a whole. My a n a l y s i s o f The S e c r e t Agent tends t o be d e s c r i p -t i v e i n nature, and attempts t o suggest the s t r u c t u r a l and s t y l i s t i c purposes and e f f e c t s o f t h e ' n a r r a t i v e ; as such, 9 however, i t i s o f f e r e d as a supplement t o , r a t h e r than a s u b s t i t u t e f o r , those analyses which are i n t e r p r e t i v e i n nature, and which give p r i o r i t y to the thematic purposes and concerns. 10 PART I In h i s essay e n t i t l e d "Myth- F i c t i o n , and D i s p l a c e -ment ," Northrop Frye observes t h a t When a c r i t i c d e a l s w i t h a work of l i t e r a t u r e , the most n a t u r a l t h i n g f o r him to do i s to f r e e z e i t , t o ignore i t s movement i n time and look at i t as a completed p a t t e r n o f words, w i t h a l l i t s p a r t s e x i s t i n g s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . ^ T h i s approach, as Frye p o i n t s out, i s common to p r a c t i c a l l y every c r i t i c a l t echnique. I t i s , however, incomplete, and leads t o what might be c a l l e d a " s t a t i c " concept of n a r r a t i v e , which i s i n t u r n unable t o account f u l l y f o r the experience of a work of l i t e r a t u r e . The i n s u f f i c i e n c y of the s t a t i c concept of n a r r a t i v e i s p r i m a r i l y a f u n c t i o n o f i t s i n a b i l i t y t o d e a l w i t h the temporal s t r u c t u r e s of the n o v e l , and to i t s inadequacy i n accounting f o r the r e l a t i o n s h i p between author and rea d e r . In s h o r t , such a concept of n a r r a t i v e tends t o obscure r e c o g n i t i o n o f the s u b t l e t i e s o f the ongoing t r a n s a c t i o n between reader and t e x t . Frye r e f e r s t o t h i s t r a n s a c t i o n i n terms of "the pe r s u a s i o n o f c o n t i n u i t y , " s t a t i n g t h a t . . . i n the d i r e c t experience of l i t e r a t u r e , which i s something d i s t i n c t from c r i t i c i s m , we are aware of what we may c a l l the p e r s u a s i o n of con-t i n u i t y , the power t h a t keeps us t u r n i n g the pages of a n o v e l and t h a t holds us i n our seats a t the t h e a t r e [Frye, 21]. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note Frye's a s s e r t i o n t h a t "the d i r e c t 11 experience of l i t e r a t u r e " i s " d i s t i n c t from c r i t i c i s m . " T h i s i s t r u e , of course, i n s o f a r as i t i s i m p o s s i b l e t o read and r e f l e c t upon a s t o r y s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . N e v e r t h e l e s s , I f e e l t h a t the methods of c r i t i c a l a n a l y s i s and e x p l i c a t i o n c o u l d w e l l be expanded t o take b e t t e r account of c e r t a i n aspects of n a r r a t i v e which are more c l o s e l y connected t o the d i r e c t e xperience o f a n o v e l than t o the " s t a t i c " p a t t e r n s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s which are p r e s e n t when the work i s viewed from a " s p a t i a l " or s y n c h r o n i c p e r s p e c t i v e and seen "as a completed p a t t e r n of words, w i t h a l l i t s p a r t s e x i s t i n g s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . " The concept of n a r r a t i v e as a " s t a t i c " r e l a t i o n s h i p between the components of a t e x t leads i n t u r n t o an emphasis upon theme. A c c o r d i n g to F r y e , . . . i n the d i r e c t experience of f i c t i o n , c o n t i -n u i t y i s the c e n t e r of our a t t e n t i o n ; our l a t e r memory, o r what I c a l l the p o s s e s s i o n of i t , tends t o become d i s c o n t i n u o u s . Our a t t e n t i o n s h i f t s from the sequence of i n c i d e n t s t o another f o c u s : a sense of what the work of f i c t i o n was a l l about, or what c r i t i c i s m u s u a l l y c a l l s i t s theme [Frye, 23]. The thematic concerns of n a r r a t i v e c e r t a i n l y deserve a t t e n -t i o n , and must be taken i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n by any c r i t i c a l approach which c l a i m s t o be comprehensive; so t o o , I would argue, should any such approach take i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n the n a r r a t i v e as a s e t of temporal r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the words, images, i d e a s , and s t r u c t u r e s , and c o n j o i n t l y , as a dynamic, ongoing r e l a t i o n s h i p between reader and t e x t . T h i s 12 i n t u r n leads t o a concept of n a r r a t i v e as a dynamic p r o c e s s — a concept which would complement the concept of n a r r a t i v e as a s t a t i c and s p a t i a l s e t of r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The d e f i n i t i o n of s t y l e which seems to me t o d e a l b e s t w i t h the s u b t l e t i e s of temporal c o n t i n u i t y i n n a r r a t i v e i s , p a r a d o x i c a l l y , a d e f i n i t i o n o f f e r e d i n a study of s p a t i a l form. I am r e f e r r i n g t o E. H. Gombrich's A r t and I l l u s i o n , the s u b j e c t of which i s s t a t e d i n the s u b t i t l e : A Study i n 7 the Psychology of P i c t o r i a l R e p r e s e n t a t i o n . A c c o r d i n g to Gombrich, A s t y l e , l i k e a c u l t u r e or c l i m a t e of o p i n i o n , s e t s up a h o r i z o n of e x p e c t a t i o n s , a mental s e t , which r e g i s t e r s d e v i a t i o n s or m o d i f i c a t i o n s w i t h exaggerated s e n s i t i v i t y . In n o t i c i n g r e l a t i o n -s h i p s the mind r e g i s t e r s tendencies [Gombrich, 60], Gombrich's d e f i n i t i o n i s r e l a t e d to c e r t a i n p s y c h o - s t y l i s t i c concepts which have a d i r e c t b e a r i n g on the s u b j e c t at hand, and which I w i l l t h e r e f o r e o u t l i n e b r i e f l y . In i t s s i m p l e s t terms, the fundamental premise under-l y i n g Gombrich's d e f i n i t i o n i s t h a t "the f a m i l i a r w i l l always remain the s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r the r e n d e r i n g of the u n f a m i l i a r " (Gombrich, 82). T h i s premise holds f o r the r e c o g n i t i o n as w e l l as the r e n d e r i n g of the u n f a m i l i a r . The unique or o r i g i n a l i s f i r s t approached by means of an i n i t i a l "schema" or category, w i t h i n which the f l u x of experience or impres-s i o n s i s l o o s e l y grasped or c a t e g o r i z e d . The schema, Gombrich notes, 13 . . . i s not the product of a process of "abstrac-t i o n , " of a tendency to "simplify"; i t represents the f i r s t approximate, loose category which i s gradually tightened to f i t the form i t i s to reproduce [Gombrich, 74]; further, i t i s important to note that "Paradoxically, i t matters r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e what these f i r s t categories are. We can always adjust them according to need" (Gombrich, 88). We confront new experiences at least i n part, there-fore, by projecting f a m i l i a r schemata onto them; t h i s i n i t i a l s tarting-point i s followed by a process of adjustment, and the movement toward s p e c i f i c a t i o n i s carried out. This process i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n that i t leads not to an accurate t r a n s c r i p t i o n or " f a i t h f u l record" of external r e a l i t y , but rather to the " f a i t h f u l construction of a r e l a -t i o n a l model" (Gombrich, 90). I t therefore becomes easier to recognize the primary goal of art as being that of creating an equivalence of reactions, not of representing l i f e . The s t y l i s t i c s i g n i f i c a n c e of such a process i s evident with regard to both a r t i s t and audience, or writer and reader. The emphasis i s returned to the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the a r t i s t and his a r t , or the audience and the work of a r t , rather than to the mimetic r e l a t i o n s h i p between art and the external (or for that matter, the internal) " r e a l i -t i e s " i t ostensibly transcribes. With regard to the a r t i s t , i t becomes apparent that 14 Nature cannot be imitated or "transcribed" without f i r s t being taken apart and put together again. This i s not the work of observation alone but rather of ceaseless experimentation [Gombrich, 141-142] . It i s a process i n which "making precedes matching," i n which the unfamiliar and the p a r t i c u l a r are rendered only through a process of adjusting and experimenting with f a m i l i a r schemata. Equally important i s the recognition that the f i n a l "matching" represents a discovery not of likeness but of equivalence, which enables us, says Gombrich, "to see r e a l i t y i n terms of an image and an image i n terms of r e a l i t y " (Gombrich, 345). The psychological factors which govern the rendering of an experience are equally important with respect to the reception of t h i s a r t i s t i c rendering; thus Gombrich notes that . . . the very process of perception i s based on the same rhythm that we found governing the process of representation: the rhythm of schema and correc-t i o n . I t i s a rhythm which presupposes constant a c t i v i t y on our part i n making guesses and modifying them i n the l i g h t of our experience [Gombrich, 271-272]. The tendency of the reader to r e g i s t e r and c l a s s i f y experience i n terms of the f a m i l i a r and known, i n conjunction with the fact that the responses of the reader are directed less by conceptual knowledge than by the power of expectation, may present a problem to the a r t i s t i n his attempt to render the p a r t i c u l a r , or to create a freshness of perspective and response. Thus the need exists for a s p e c i a l awareness 15 ( p a r t i c u l a r l y on the p a r t of the w r i t e r ) of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between w r i t e r and r e a d e r — a r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t M a r t i n P r i c e p has c a l l e d the " f i c t i o n a l c o n t r a c t . " With such an awareness, however, the w r i t e r may use these very " o b s t a c l e s " t o communication as means of augment-i n g h i s s t y l i s t i c c a p a b i l i t i e s . He may e x p l o i t the expecta-t i o n s of the " f i c t i o n a l c o n t r a c t " t o h i s own a d v a n t a g e — n o t onl y by p l a y i n g upon those c o n v e n t i o n a l e x p e c t a t i o n s which are independent of the i n d i v i d u a l work, or are attached t o the l a r g e r , g e n e r i c schema of the n a r r a t i v e , but a l s o those more s u b t l e e x p e c t a t i o n s , assumptions, and a n t i c i p a t i o n s which the w r i t e r f i r s t s e t s up and then manipulates i n more or l e s s unexpected ways w i t h i n the work i t s e l f . I t i s i n understand-i n g the s t y l i s t i c techniques and p o s s i b i l i t i e s t h a t a l l o w such m a n i p u l a t i o n t h a t a sense -of n a r r a t i v e as a dynamic and temporal c o n s t r u c t can be formulated. M u s i c a l s t y l i s t i c s i s n a t u r a l l y concerned w i t h temporal and t e l e o l o g i c a l ( g o a l - o r i e n t e d ) r a t h e r than s p a t i a l and r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l p a t t e r n s and modes, and a c c o r d i n g l y o f f e r s a concept of s t y l e which i s r e l e v a n t here. In h i s Music, the A r t s , and Ideas, Leonard B. Meyer a s s e r t s t h a t : . . . s t y l e s e x i s t not as unchanging p h y s i c a l processes i n the world of n a t u r e , but as psycho-l o g i c a l processes i n g r a i n e d as h a b i t s i n the p e r c e p t i o n s , d i s p o s i t i o n s , and responses of those who have l e a r n e d through p r a c t i c e and experience t o understand a p a r t i c u l a r s t y l e . What remains constant from s t y l e t o s t y l e are not s c a l e s , modes, 16 harmonies, or manners of performance, but the psychology of human mental processes—the ways i n which the mind, operating within the context of c u l t u r a l l y established norms, selects and organizes the s t i m u l i that are presented to i t . For instance, the human mind, s t r i v i n g for s t a b i l i t y and completeness, "expects" s t r u c t u r a l gaps to be f i l l e d i n . 9 From the perspective offered by Gombrich and Meyer i t becomes possible to conceive of s t y l e i n reference to i t s a b i l i t y to mobilize and then manipulate the projections of the reader. This forces us to become aware of the techniques and conven-t i o n a l structures which are capable of t r i g g e r i n g certain expectations and assumptions, and of the ways i n which a p a r t i c u l a r narrative f u l f i l l s , f a i l s to f u l f i l l , or f u l f i l l s i n unexpected ways, the expectations and anticipations which i t has i t s e l f mobilized. In his essay e n t i t l e d "The Irrelevant D e t a i l and the Emergence of Form," Martin Price discusses the experience of l i t e r a t u r e within a framework of perceptual psychology s i m i l a r to that employed by Gombrich and Meyer i n t h e i r respective studies of p i c t o r i a l representation and musical structure. P r i c e , l i k e Gombrich, refers to our tendency "to create patterns, to relate elements, to simplify, to classify'.'" He goes on to say that 17 Our f i r s t impressions are o f t e n based upon s t e r e o t y p e s , upon c o n v e n t i o n a l c a t e g o r i e s by which we a s s i m i l a t e the u n f a m i l i a r or b e w i l d e r i n g . I t i s only w i t h c l o s e r knowledge and extended i n t e r e s t t h a t we b e g i n t o d i f f e r e n t i a t e , t o s p e c i f y d i s -t i n c t i v e p a t t e r n s o r t e l l i n g p e c u l i a r i t i e s , t o c o n s t r u c t an i n d i v i d u a l [ P r i c e , ID, 70-7.1]. The process a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a dynamic and temporal s t y l e t h e r e f o r e e n t a i l s a movement from s t e r e o t y p e toward s p e c i f i c a t i o n , c a r r i e d out by what Gombrich c a l l s "the rhythm o f schema and c o r r e c t i o n . " T h i s process of making and matching, to repeat, i s a l s o a movement i n the d i r e c t i o n of equi v a l e n c e r a t h e r than l i k e n e s s ; i n P r i c e ' s terms: "the e l a b o r a t e forms of r e a l i s m are generated l e s s by the d e s i r e to r e p r e s e n t the a c t u a l than by the p r e s s u r e of conventions r e a c h i n g outward f o r more complex d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n " ( P r i c e , ID, 74). The b e g i n n i n g of a n a r r a t i v e w i l l t h e r e f o r e t r i g g e r c e r t a i n c o n v e n t i o n a l e x p e c t a t i o n s and assumptions; e x a c t l y which conventions and assumptions are s e t up, and the degree of c o n t r o l t h a t the w r i t e r has over the development and f u l f i l l m e n t o f these a n t i c i p a t i o n s , depends upon the aware-ness and s t y l i s t i c d e x t e r i t y of the author i n q u e s t i o n . In h i s essay e n t i t l e d "The F i c t i o n a l C o n t r a c t , " P r i c e contends t h a t To read a n o v e l i s t o d i s c o v e r the order l a t e n t i n i t s m a t e r i a l s r a t h e r than simply t o impose one by a s e t of r u l e s . In some sense each n o v e l d i s -c l o s e s t o the reader the order he may expect to f i n d , i n i t s use of conventions and by i t s opening 18 movement: we c o u l d not speak of suspense unless t h e r e were a l i m i t e d range of e x p e c t a t i o n s , w i t h i n which t h e r e remains c r u c i a l u n p r e d i c t a b i l i t y . In t h a t sense, the n o v e l both s e t s the r u l e s and pro v i d e s the c h a l l e n g e [ P r i c e , FC, 152], In both o f h i s essays P r i c e compares the process o f rea d i n g to t h a t of engaging i n a game. The " r u l e s of the game" which the reader i s t o p l a y , says P r i c e , are s e t by the openings of n o v e l s : The degree of s p e c i f i c a t i o n s i n s e t t i n g , the presence or absence of a person behind the n a r r a -t i v e v o i c e , the v e r b a l d e n s i t y o f the s t y l e — i t s m e t a p h o r i c a l e l a b o r a t i o n o r c u l t i v a t e d i n n o c e n c e — a l l these are ways of i n d i c a t i n g the nature of the game, of educating the responses and g u i d i n g the c o l l a b o r a t i o n of the reader [ P r i c e , ID, 82], A c c o r d i n g l y , the reader may gi v e h i m s e l f over t o the conventions o r r u l e s of the game onee 'they have been'iestab-l i s h e d and l e a r n e d ; however, whereas the r u l e s o f a game are i n f l e x i b l e , the " r u l e s , " o r conventions, o f a n a r r a t i v e may i n f a c t be a l t e r e d or manipulated: such changes o f t e n determine the meaning and e f f e c t of a n a r r a t i v e . The s i g n i f i c a n c e of the process whereby c o n v e n t i o n a l " s e t s " or schemata are s t y l i s t i c a l l y m o b i l i z e d and manipu-l a t e d t o new ends i s one of the s u b j e c t s of Frank Kermode's study o f t e l e o l o g i c a l p a t t e r n s i n f i c t i o n , The Sense o f An  E n d i n g . 1 1 Kermode focuses upon the p a t t e r n s and processes as sources o f our sense of r e a l i t y and re l e v a n c e i n n a r r a t i v e . B r oadly speaking [writes Kermode] i t i s the popular s t o r y t h a t s t i c k s most c l o s e l y t o esta b -" l i s h e d / c o n v e n t i o n s j i n e v e l s the c l e r i s y c a l l s 19 "major" tend to vary them, and to vary them more and more as time goes by [Ending, 17]. The process of r e a d i n g f i c t i o n becomes what Kermode would c a l l the re-enactment of "the f a m i l i a r d i a l o g u e between c r e d u l i t y and s c e p t i c i s m , " o r , i n terms of the t e x t r a t h e r than the reader, the adjustment of p a t t e r n , or paradigm (convention, archetype, or s t e r e o t y p e ) , by and to the c o n t i n g e n c i e s of the a c t u a l . I t might be supposed t h a t n a r r a t i v e s which c o n f i r m our e x p e c t a t i o n s would be those we value most h i g h l y ; p a r a d o x i c a l l y , i t i s those n a r r a t i v e s t h a t f a l s i f y our e x p e c t a t i o n s of t h e i r development and endings t h a t meet w i t h our s t r o n g e s t a p p r o v a l . T h i s g e n e r a l i z a t i o n r e q u i r e s a degree of q u a l i f i c a t i o n . What i s sought i s something between. thertwoEextremes;:.ta\:narratajverwhich ends.iin.a manner consonant w i t h i t s b e g i n n i n g s , but which reaches t h i s consonance i n unexpected w a y s — u s u a l l y through a s e r i e s of d i s c o n f i r m a t i o n s , b e s t d e s c r i b e d i n terms of what Kermode r e f e r s t o as " p e r i p e t e i a " : P e r i p e t e i a , which has been c a l l e d the e q u i v a l e n t , i n n a r r a t i v e , of i r o n y i n r h e t o r i c , i s p r e s e n t i n every s t o r y o f the l e a s t s t r u c t u r a l s o p h i s t i c a t i o n . ltfTNow~:peripeteia3dep§nd^ i t i s a d i s c o n f i r m a t i o n f o l l o w e d by a consonance; the i n t e r e s t of having our e x p e c t a t i o n s f a l s i f i e d i s o b v i o u s l y r e l a t e d t o our wish t o reach the d i s c o v e r y or r e c o g n i t i o n by an unexpected and i n s t r u c t i v e route [Ending, 18]. T h i s i n t e r p l a y between paradigm and contingency, p a t t e r n and d e t a i l , and the a s s i m i l a t i o n of the p e r i p e t e i a , through which 20 we enact an adjustment of our e x p e c t a t i o n s — a n d thereby move toward s p e c i f i c a t i o n — i s more a f u n c t i o n o f the process of r e a d i n g than of the o v e r a l l s t r u c t u r a l p a t t e r n s and thematic concerns which we are able to p e r c e i v e i n r e t r o s p e c t . The c r e a t i v e s a t i s f a c t i o n and the sense of r e l e v a n c e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h such a process are r e l a t e d t o the presence of the p e r i p e t e i a , f o r , as Kermode p o i n t s out: The more d a r i n g the p e r i p e t e i a , the more we may f e e l t h a t the work r e s p e c t s our sense of r e a l i t y ; and the more c e r t a i n l y we s h a l l f e e l t h a t the f i c t i o n under c o n s i d e r a t i o n i s one o f those which, by u p s e t t i n g the o r d i n a r y balance of our naive e x p e c t a t i o n s , i s f i n d i n g something out f o r us, something r e a l [Ending, 18], Th i s aspect of our r e a d i n g i s s i m i l a r l y d e s c r i b e d by P r i c e , who once again employs the analogy.of the game: P a s s i v e p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n games of mere chance i n v o l v e s l i t t l e more than h o p e f u l w a i t i n g ; but most games i n v o l v e some s k i l l , and t h e r e f o r e an a c t i v e e f f o r t t o b r i n g form i n t o b e i n g . The success of a game depends, i n l a r g e measure, on j. L i t s p r o v i d i n g s u f f i c i e n t r e s i s t a n c e to c a l l f o r t h e x e r t i o n and y e t not so much as t o make the e f f o r t f u t i l e [ P r i c e , FC, 154]. What i s r e q u i r e d , says Kermode, i s "a c h a l l e n g e t o c r e a t i v e c o - o p e r a t i o n , " not "easy s a t i s f a c t i o n s " (Ending, 19). Th i s concept of s i g n i f i c a n c e i s a l s o supported by Meyer's remarks on v a l u e and m u s i c a l s t y l e . He s t a t e s t h a t . . . va l u e has something t o do w i t h the a c t i v a t i o n of a m u s i c a l impulse having tendencies toward a more or l e s s d e f i n i t e g o a l and w i t h the temporary r e s i s t a n c e or i n h i b i t i o n of these tendencies [Meyer, 26]. This process may a l s o be understood i n terms of the l i s t e n e r , 21 i n that . . . musical meaning . . . arises when pur expectant habit responses are delayed or blocked—when the normal course of s t y l i s t i c - m e n t a l events i s disturbed by some form of deviation [Meyer. 10].12 "Meaning," therefore, refers not only to the thematic concerns and formal structures of a work, but i s also a function of the dynamic and t e l e o l o g i c a l , or what Meyer terms the " k i n e t i c , " process involving schema, peripeteia, and consonance i n a movement toward s p e c i f i c a t i o n and equivalence. As Meyer states i t : "Meaning, then, i s not a s t a t i c , i n v a r i -ant attribute of a stimulus, but an evolving discovery of at t r i b u t e s " (Meyer, 12). Taken to either extreme, the process breaks down. Those narratives which p a r a l l e l or meet our expectations without any degree of disconfirmation or s p e c i f i c a t i o n f a i l . to create a sense of r e a l i t y (although they may well confirm our wishes and s a t i s f y the stereotyped and conventional ideas and b e l i e f s of an unsophisticated audience). Such schematic narratives are described by Price: . . . a pattern i s so firmly established that, once i t i s mastered, i t s application presents no new problem and becomes only passive execution. Things do not simply f a l l into place; they j o s t l e one, as i t were, i n t h e i r readiness to get there, and one feels oneself more the instrument of a design than the discoverer, much less the creator, of one [Price, FC, 154-155]. Just as t o t a l f u l f i l l m e n t of expectation and assump-tion amounts to no more than a cliche 1 i n which information i s n i l , so too i s a complete defeat or departure from the 22 paradigm l i k e l y to lead to a breakdown of communication and loss of cr e d u l i t y i n which suspension of d i s b e l i e f becomes impossible. This i s true whether the narrative establishes i t s e l f as fantasy or realism: the p a r t i c u l a r convention i s i r r e l e v a n t . I t i s the degree of adherence to and manipula-t i o n of the convention that i s s i g n i f i c a n t here. What seems to be necessary i s a cert a i n continuity and l o g i c of disso-nance rather than complete s a t i s f a c t i o n of expectation or complete surprise. Although a t e l e o l o g i c a l and k i n e t i c concept of narra-t i v e i s v a l i d for a l l l i t e r a t u r e , i t s relevance i s es p e c i a l l y apparent with regard to modern and contemporary l i t e r a t u r e with i t s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c penchant for experimentation and i t s acute awareness and consequential exploration of i t s own conventions and paradigms, both i n respect to i t s t r a d i t i o n s and to the " f i c t i o n a l contract" between author and reader. As Price observes, to :<&\ . . . discover such canons of relevance may require l i t t l e e f f o r t i n a conventional work; i t may be a major source of i n t e r e s t i n the experimental novel, where the experiment i s performed upon the reader as well as upon the material [Price, ID, 70]. A s i m i l a r observation i s made by Kermode: As an extreme case you w i l l f i n d some novel, probably contemporary with yourself, i n which the departure from a basic paradigm, the peripeteia i n the sense I am now giving i t , seems to begin with the f i r s t sentence. The schematic expectations of the reader are discouraged immediately [Ending, 19]. Conrad's The Secret Agent i s not as r a d i c a l i n i t s e x p l o i t a t i o n of e x p e c t a t i o n and convention as c e r t a i n more re c e n t n o v e l s ; i t i s , however, no l e s s aware of these conventions and t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s than such novels—p-par.ticu-l a r l y where the s u b t l e t i e s of r e l a t i o n s h i p between t e x t and reader are concerned. What Kermode observes w i t h regard to R o b b e - G r i l l e t ' s Les Gommes may not be t r u e to the same degree of The S e c r e t Agent, but i t i s t r u e i n k i n d : " I t i s always not doing t h i n g s which we unreasonably assume novels ought t o do: connect, d i v e r s i f y , e x p l a i n , make concords, f a c i l i t a t e e x t r a p o l a t i o n s " (Ending, 21). In a r e c e n t l e c t u r e , p u b l i s h e d as Novel and N a r r a t i v e , Kermode l i n k s these two w r i t e r s i n p r e c i s e l y these terms: As I've noted, n o v e l i s t s long ago e x p l o i t e d t h e i r knowledge t h a t t h e i r medium was i n h e r e n t l y p l u r a l i s t i c ; t o the name of James one need add o n l y t h a t of Conrad, who invented the hermeneutic gap long b e f o r e R o b b e - G r i l l e t expanded i t t o e n g u l f the whole text.13 R e f e r r i n g to The S e c r e t Agent, U. C. Knoepflmacher w r i t e s t h a t : Conrad's n a r r a t i v e method presupposes an a b s o l u t e a l e r t n e s s from the re a d e r . Although the n a r r a t o r ' s i r o n i c v o i c e s e t s the tone f o r the s t o r y , t h i s v o i c e i s disembodied; d e s p i t e h i s omniscience, the n a r r a t o r e f f a c e s h i m s e l f and f o r c e s us t o hear and see o n l y those d e t a i l s he has c a r e f u l l y screened and s e l e c t e d . These "sup p r e s s i o n s " of d e t a i l and f a c t , Knoepflmacher 24 declares, "offend our yearning for order, continuity, and explanation." The narrative discrepancies i n The Secret Agent range from major s t r u c t u r a l gaps to discrepancies at the l e v e l of the sentence and image. Whereas e a r l i e r c r i t i c i s m of the novel tended to ignore, rearrange, or condemn these discrep-ancies, more recent c r i t i c i s m has begun to recognize t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e . E l l i o t t Gose, for instance, noting the i n s i s -tence upon and frequency of various narrative d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s and oddities i n The Secret Agent, remarks that " a l l these ' f a i l u r e s * of narrative should convince us that he i s aiming 15 at another kind of rhythm . . ." S i m i l a r l y , Albert GuSrard recognizes the s t y l i s t i c t r a n s i t i o n as being "an 16 astonishing leap into an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t kind of a r t . " The t r a n s i t i o n i s not such that subject and theme are no longer important, but i t i s c e r t a i n l y such that the meaning of the narrative at any given point cannot be consid-ered apart from the manner of presentation; moreover, the presence of various "peripeteia" at a l l lev e l s of the narra-t i v e suggests the need for a means of narrative description which w i l l reveal the k i n e t i c as well as the s t a t i c aspects of the s t y l i s t i c devices and strategies. The emphasis I have given to the apparently r a d i c a l nature of the s t y l i s t i c t r a n s i t i o n represented by The Secret  Agent would seem to imply that a correspondingly r a d i c a l change took place i n Conrad's thinking or es t h e t i c . This i s suggested, for example, i n the following remarks: Conrad was not f i n a l l y s a t i s f i e d with t h i s retreat into s t y l e . In Under Western Eyes and subsequent novels he returns to the problem of s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and examines once again how action can be meaningful.17 Although t h i s same c r i t i c allows that The Secret Agent i s "a great masterpiece of the modern imagination," I question his statement that i t represents a "retreat into s t y l e " ; nor can i t be said that Conrad ignores "the problem of s o c i a l r e lationships" i n The Secret A g e n t — i n fact many of Conrad's most perceptive c r i t i c s have focused t h e i r interpretations upon the comprehensive s o c i a l v i s i o n offered by the novel. My own sense i s that Conrad's concern with s t y l e i n his other novels i s equal to that i n The Secret Agent. Certainly the l a t t e r represents a change of d i r e c t i o n , but i t does not s i g n i f y a departure from Conrad's o v e r a l l purpose rather, i t represents an extension along one of the lines of Conrad's continual development of, and experimentation with, technique and s t y l i s t i c p o t e n t i a l , and stands as an i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n rather than temporary abandonment of his esthetic purpose as stated i n his "Preface" to The Nigger of  the "Narcissus" :. "My task which I am tryin g to achieve i s by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you f e e l — i t i s , before a l l , to make you see" (x). The s t y l e of The Secret Agent may be related to the s u b j e c t , content, and themes of the n o v e l ; i t might a l s o be seen as the means o f e x p l o r i n g and e x p l o i t i n g the e s t h e t i c p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the ongoing and dynamic t r a n s a c t i o n between n a r r a t i v e and reader. With regard t o the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f such s t y l i s t i c concerns, Leonard Meyer p o i n t s out t h a t . . . our h a b i t s o f p e r c e p t i o n and a p p r e h e n s i o n — the accumulation o f t r a d i t i o n a l p r e c o n c e p t i o n s which we b r i n g t o a e s t h e t i c e x p e r i e n c e — p r e v e n t us from s e e i n g and h e a r i n g what i s r e a l l y t here t o be p e r c e i v e d [Meyer, 7.4]. The S e c r e t Agent i s t h e r e f o r e o f c e n t r a l , not p e r i p h e r a l , importance to an understanding o f Conrad's a r t and the techniques which t h a t a r t comprises. I t i s d i r e c t e d not o n l y at what we see, but a l s o a t the way i n which we s e e — — i t concerns the b r e a k i n g down and r e s t r u c t u r i n g o f our p e r s p e c t i v e . As George Santayana puts i t i n The Sense of Beauty; "The d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f mental forms and t h e i r 18 r e i n t e g r a t i o n i s the l i f e o f the i m a g i n a t i o n . " The c r e a t i n g a r t i s t , however, has l i t t l e use f o r t h e o r i e s o f s t y l e — h e works w i t h a medium, not w i t h i d e a s , and i t i s w i t h t h i s i n mind t h a t I w i l l now t u r n from the concept of n a r r a t i v e and s t y l e as means of b r e a k i n g down and r e s t r u c t u r i n g f a m i l i a r schemata t o a d e s c r i p t i o n o f n a r r a t i v e and s t y l e as a co n c r e t e s e t of techniques which c o n s t i t u t e t h i s means. The s t y l i s t i c techniques I r e f e r t o are those of the grotesque. 27 PART II 1. The T r a d i t i o n a l and Modern Grotesque Excavations i n Rome and other p a r t s of I t a l y d u r i n g the l a t e - f i f t e e n t h century brought t o l i g h t an a n c i e n t type of ornamental p a i n t i n g which came t o be known as the grotesque ("la g r o t t e s c a ' ) or grotesque ( ' g r o t t e s c o ' ) — - d e r i v e d from ' g r o t t a ' (cave). T h i s a r t form was subsequently t r a c e d back t o the be g i n n i n g of the C h r i s t i a n e r a when, a c c o r d i n g t o Kayser, i t "had reached I t a l y as a new f a s h i o n r e l a t i v e l y l a t e " (Kayser, 2 0 ) . I t i s perhaps a p p r o p r i a t e , t h e r e f o r e , t o be g i n an a n a l y s i s o f the grotesque, l-rbra Both'an h i s t o r i c a l and a c r i t i c a l p o i n t of view, w i t h the f o l l o w i n g comments of the Roman contemporary of Augustus, Marcus V i t r u v i u s P o l l i o : . . . our contemporary a r t i s t s decorate the w a l l s w i t h monstrous forms r a t h e r than r e p r o d u c i n g c l e a r images o f the f a m i l i a r w o r l d . Instead of columns they p a i n t f l u t e d stems w i t h oddly shaped leaves and v o l u t e s , and i n s t e a d of pediments arabesques; the same w i t h candelabra and p a i n t e d e d i c u l e s , on the pediments o f which grow d a i n t y flowers u n r o l l i n g out o f r o o t s and topped, without rhyme or reason, by f i g u r i n e s . The l i t t l e stems, f i n a l l y , support h a l f - f i g u r e s crowned by human or animal heads. Such t h i n g s , however, never e x i s t e d , do not now e x i s t , and s h a l l never come i n t o being [quoted i n •Kayser, p. 20] . V i t r u v i u s ' s comments w i l l serve as a u s e f u l i n t r o d u c t i o n both t o the nature o f the grotesque and t o a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c 28 c r i t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e on the grotesque. He r e f e r s t o the "monstrous forms" of t h i s a r t - and at another p o i n t i n h i s a t t a c k he c a l l s them "bastard forms." V i t r u v i u s may have chosen h i s a d j e c t i v e s w i t h t h e i r p e j o r a t i v e connotations i n mind- but they are nonetheless apt from a s t r i c t l y o b j e c t i v e o r d e s c r i p t i v e p o i n t of view as w e l l : the grotesque i m p l i e s an incongruous or d i s c r e p a n t f u s i o n , c o n f u s i o n , fragmenta-t i o n , or j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f normally separate realms or o b j e c t s — o f t e n accompanied by a sense of r a d i c a l d i s p r o p o r -t i o n and d i s c o n t i n u i t y — t h e e f f e c t of which i s u s u a l l y t o c r e a t e an ambivalent response. The ambivalence and ambiguity are heightened by the f r e q u e n t l y abnormal nature of the m a t e r i a l , and by the f a c t t h a t i t i s the t r u s t e d and f a m i l i a r aspects of the everyday w o r l d which are undergoing a process of estrangement. The " c l e a r images of the f a m i l i a r world" are subverted. In the example which V i t r u v i u s d e s c r i b e s , a c o n f u s i o n o f realms i n which the human, the p l a n t , and the animal are fused "without rhyme or reason" i s apparent": "The l i t t l e stems . . . support h a l f - f i g u r e s crowned by human or animal heads." T h i s m o t i f of a c o n f u s i o n or f u s i o n of normally separate or d i s t i n c t realms i s a l s o c e n t r a l to more re c e n t grotesque forms. One of the a n a r c h i s t s ( a p p r o p r i a t e l y named Gogol) i n G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) i s d e s c r i b e d as wearing: 29 . . . the h i g h white c o l l a r and s a t i n t i e t h a t were the u n i f o r m of the o c c a s i o n ; but out of t h i s c o l l a r t h e r e sprang a head q u i t e unmanageable and q u i t e unmistakable, a b e w i l d e r i n g bush of brown h a i r and beard t h a t almost obscured the eyes l i k e those of a Skye t e r r i e r . . . . The e f f e c t of this, f i g u r e was not t e r r i b l e l i k e t h a t of the P r e s i d e n t , but i t had every d i a b l e r i e t h a t can come from the u t t e r l y grotesque. I f out of t h a t s t i f f t i e and c o l l a r t h e r e had come a b r u p t l y the head of a c a t or a dog, i t c o u l d not have been a more i d i o t i c c o n t r a s t . 1 ^ Where Chesterton's c h a r a c t e r appears to take on the f e a t u r e s of v a r i o u s domestic animals, Dickens' S i l a s Wegg, i n Our Mutual F r i e n d , t h r e a t e n s to sprout wooden appendages: Wegg was a knotty man, and a c l o s e - g r a i n e d , w i t h a f a c e carved out of very ha>rd m a t e r i a l , t h a t had j u s t as much p l a y of e x p r e s s i o n as a watchman's r a t t l e . When he laughed, c e r t a i n j e r k s s o c c u r r e d i n i t , and the r a t t l e sprung. Sooth to say, he was so wooden a man t h a t he seemed to have taken h i s wooden l e g n a t u r a l l y , and r a t h e r suggested to the f a n c i f u l o bserver, t h a t he might be e x p e c t e d — i f h i s development r e c e i v e d no untimely c h e c k — t o o b e completely s e t up w i t h a p a i r of wooden l e g s i n about s i x months.^0 J u s t as V i t r u v i u s * s a n a l y s i s of the grotesque i s a p p l i c a b l e t o these e x c e r p t s from C h e s t e r t o n and Dickens, so too can the f o l l o w i n g g e n e r a l d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque by a modern c r i t i c be a p p l i e d t o the example gi v e n by V i t r u v i u s : In the b r o a d e s t sense, the grotesque shows us a w o r l d i n which the n a t u r a l order of t h i n g s has been subverted. The animal and v e g e t a b l e worlds are confused and swarm i n t o each o t h e r : the w o r l d of inanimate t h i n g s i s no longer separate from the realms of p l a n t s , animals, and human b e i n g s . The laws of s t a t i c s , symmetry and p r o p o r t i o n are no l o n g e r v a l i d . Men can become animals which can become p l a n t s : a g a i n , we are i n a p r i m i t i v e dream world where fantas y and nightmare have f u l l p l a y . ^ l 30 Perhaps the s i m p l e s t assessment of the grotesque i n these g e n e r a l terms i s - o f f e r e d i n Kayser's statement t h a t "The grotesque world i s — a n d i s n o t — o u r own world" (Kayser, 3 7 ) . I t i s t h i s suspension between our own f a m i l i a r , t r u s t e d world and an a l i e n , perhaps h o s t i l e realm t h a t i s p a r t i a l l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the ambivalence and ambiguity of the grotesque. From a p s y c h o l o g i c a l p o i n t of- view, the grotesque "presupposes t h a t the c a t e g o r i e s which apply t o our world view become i n a p p l i c a b l e " (Kayser, 185). The grotesque r e f u s e s t o order experience a c c o r d i n g to c o n v e n t i o n a l p a t t e r n s , and a d i s o r d e r s i m i l a r t o t h a t of dream or h a l l u -c i n a t i o n i s s u b s t i t u t e d (The Man Who Was Thursday i s sub-t i t l e d A Nightmare, and f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r s t o the experiences i t r e l a t e s as b e i n g d r e a m - l i k e ) . The laws of cause and e f f e c t , p e r c e p t i o n and concept, and temporal and s p a t i a l c o n t i n u i t y appear to break down, and t h i s serves t o a c t i v e l y c h a l l e n g e our b a s i c assumptions about the order and s i g n i f i c a n c e of l i f e : "The i n t e g r i t y of the i n d i v i d u a l and the harmony of the u n i v e r s e cease t o be matters of f a c t and 22 become i n s t e a d no more than a matter of p e r c e i v i n g . " The grotesque i s f a r more than simply an i n t e l l e c t u a l s t r u c t u r e , and the response t o the grotesque goes beyond a p u r e l y i n t e l l e c t u a l r e a c t i o n . As w e l l as c o n f r o n t i n g us w i t h a v i s i o n , or a p e r s p e c t i v e , which may seem to be "without 31 rhyme or reason," and which undermines our r a t i o n a l assump-t i o n s , the d i s c r e p a n c y a l s o c h a l l e n g e s the s t r u c t u r e of our c o n v e n t i o n a l emotional responses t o ex p e r i e n c e . The i n c o n g r u i t y i s f r e q u e n t l y emotional i n nature, comprising a c o n f l i c t between, f o r i n s t a n c e , the comic and something which i s non-comic or anti-comic> such as the t r a g i c , p a t h e t i c , d i s g u s t i n g , h o r r i b l e , o r f r i g h t e n i n g . The ambiguity of e f f e c t serves as an important means of d i s t i n c t i o n between the grotesque and the p u r e l y comic o r , i r o n i c . I o f f e r the f o l l o w i n g e x c e r p t from the murder scene i n F l a n n O'Brien's The T h i r d Policeman i n an attempt t o e l i c i t the ambivalent response a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the grotesque: There i s l i t t l e t o t e l l about the murder. The lowering s k i e s seemed t o c o n s p i r e w i t h us, coming down i n a shroud o f dreary m i s t t o w i t h i n a few yards o f the wet road where we were w a i t i n g . E v e r y t h i n g was very s t i l l w i t h no sound i n our ears except the d r i p p i n g of the t r e e s . Our b i c y c l e s were hidden. I was l e a n i n g m i s e r a b l y on my spade and Divney, h i s i r o n pump under h i s arm, was smoking h i s p i p e c o n t e n t e d l y . The o l d man was upon us almost b e f o r e we r e a l i z e d t h e r e was anybody near. I c o u l d not see him w e l l i n the dim l i g h t b u t I coul d glimpse a spent b l o o d l e s s face p e e r i n g from the top of the g r e a t b l a c k coat which covered him from ear t o an k l e . Divney went forward a t once and p o i n t i n g back along the road s a i d : "Would t h a t be your p a r c e l on the road?" The o l d man turned h i s head t o look and r e c e i v e d a blow i n the back of the neck from Divney's pump which knocked him c l e a n o f f h i s f e e t and probably smashed h i s neck-bone. As he c o l l a p s e d f u l l - l e n g t h i n the mud he d i d not c r y out. Instead I heard him say something s o f t l y i n a c o n v e r s a t i o n a l t o n e — something l i k e "I do not care f o r c e l e r y " or "I l e f t my g l a s s e s i n the s c u l l e r y . " Then he l a y very s t i l l . " 2 3 3 2 I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that the casual, almost matter-of-fac t tone of t h i s passage and the u t t e r l y r i d i c u l o u s comments of the victim, which together serve to infuse the scene with i t s comic component, paradoxically serve also to heighten and provoke the extremely anti-comic aspects of the actual event being described. The dissonant e f f e c t of the grotesque may be caused by the material i t s e l f , by a tension between the material or subject and the form, or by the form i t s e l f . In such terms, the h i s t o r i c a l evolution of the grotesque might be seen as a movement away from a dependence upon substance and toward establishment as a function of form and s t y l e . The develop-ment of the grotesque as a way of seeing, as a perspective, allows the writer to present a l l of his material i n a grotesque l i g h t i f he so wishes—he i s no longer dependent upon an abnormality inherent i n the material i t s e l f . Secondly, and of equal importance, t h i s i n no way diminishes the grotesque e f f e c t , but i n fa c t gives i t even greater int e n s i t y and depth—now even the most ordinary, f a m i l i a r , and trusted material can be transmuted into the "substance" of the grotesque. Another important development which corresponds to the t r a n s i t i o n toward a mature and modern grotesque perspective and s t y l e (and which i n fa c t enhances t h i s transition) i& the adaptation of the grotesque to the generic demands of 3 3 the n o v e l . Kayser- i t might be noted, would oppose t h i s o b s e r v a t i o n , and s t a t e s t h a t . . . the grotesque appears p r e f e r a b l y i n the form of episodes and i n d i v i d u a l scenes, w h i l e b e i n g unable t o f u r n i s h the s t r u c t u r a l b a s i s f o r an e n t i r e work. . . . The matter i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t , however, i n the s h o r t e r form, the n o v e l l a [Kayser, 6 8 ] . In the context of the Romantic p e r i o d , Kayser's o b s e r v a t i o n i s i n d i s p u t a b l e ; the g r o t e s q u e — e s p e c i a l l y the g o t h i c and f a n t a s t i c g r o t e s q u e — f l o u r i s h e d i n the t a l e s and marchen of Poe and E. T. A. Hoffmann, not i n the n o v e l . The n o v e l i t s e l f was perhaps the l e a s t important of the Romantic genres. By the end of the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , however, having been employed by such n o v e l i s t s as B a l z a c , Dickens, and Dostoevsky, the grotesque had become fused w i t h the longer prose n a r r a t i v e forms of the romance and the n o v e l . Donald Fanger, i n Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism, r e f e r s t o the w r i t e r s most r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h i s a d a p t a t i o n as "romantic r e a l i s t s , " whom he a l s o sees as b e i n g respon-s i b l e f o r f i r s t r e a l i z i n g "the p o t e n t i a l i t i e s of the metrop-24 o l i s as a s u b j e c t of f i c t i o n . " In h i s assessment of the c o n t r i b u t i o n s made by these w r i t e r s , Fanger s t a t e s t h a t : The e xtravagant, the b i z a r r e , the grotesque, which o t h e r s c o u l d use t o produce a crude or f a c t i t i o u s sense of n o v e l t y , became f o r these w r i t e r s the b a s i s of t h e i r claims to r e a l i s m , the outward s i g n of the newness of the s o c i a l p a t t e r n s they were d e s c r i b i n g . Each emphasized the s o l i d i t y o f h i s p h y s i c a l c i t y , t o s e t o f f the u n r e a l i t y of the l i f e l i v e d i n i t . And by so doing each was 34 admonishing his readers, i n e f f e c t : "The old assumptions, the old categories, are no longer v a l i d ; we must t r y to see afresh" [Fanger, 260-262], Although Fanger emphasizes i t s s o c i o l o g i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e i n th i s passage, his f i n a l statement points beyond to the fac t that the grotesque, by the beginning of this century, had been found to be compatible with the contexts of the novel and i t s associated conventions, and had begun to be recog-nized as an important way of "seeing a f r e s h " — a s a perspec-t i v e — a n d was available as a concrete set of s t y l i s t i c devices and st r a t e g i e s . The implications of Fanger's f i n a l sentence are p a r t i c u l a r l y important: they illuminate the pot e n t i a l of the grotesque not merely as a means of estranging, or "breaking down" f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y , but also as a means of "restructuring" or "recreating" a new r e a l i t y . I t i s t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y that s i g n i f i e s the presenceeof an independent mode. Before the grotesque was able to a t t a i n recognized status as an independent genre, i t had to be freed from an external d e f i n i t i o n based upon the premises of i t s r e l a t i o n -ship to c l a s s i c a l ideals of a r t , as well as from d e f i n i t i o n s aimed at subordinating i t as a branch of one of i t s compo-ne n t s — u s u a l l y either the gothic or the comic. An analysis 35 of t h i s t r a n s i t i o n toward generic independence w i l l also suggest the corresponding process of adaptation to the p r i n c i p a l modes of modern l i t e r a t u r e . The s h i f t away from an emphasis on substance toward an emphasis on perspective and s t y l e as the sources of the grotesque w i l l be seen to be intimately connected with the t r a n s i t i o n away from the gothic and f a n t a s t i c toward the comic and r e a l i s t i c as the prime instruments and techniques of the grotesque. The c r i t i c a l precedent established by Vitruvius has proven to be as tenacious as the grotesque mode i t s e l f ; t h i s i s indicated by the following remarks of Arieh Sachs, editor of The English Grotesque: An Anthology from Langland to Joyce, published i n 1969: Given a l l I have said, we might attempt a d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque as an aesthetic (or anti-aesthetic) category. The grotesque, then, i s the inverse of the i d e a l . I t i s e v i l or baseness or abnormality, portrayed i n incongruously com-pounded human and non-human images, that are i n various degrees both disturbing and absurd.^5 The d i s t i n c t i o n , according to Sachs, i s unequivocal: The i d e a l , whatever i t i s , tends to be character-ized by proportion, harmony, cleanliness, serenity and beauty. In the notion of the grotesque are combined the inverse q u a l i t i e s : the deformed, the monstrous, the repuls i v e l y i l l - p r o p o r t i o n e d or frighteningly protean i n shape and s p i r i t . One may, therefore, conclude that the grotesque i s diametrically opposed to the i d e a l [Sachs, xx]. The c l a s s i c a l assumption of an " i d e a l " both as a basis f o r d e f i n i t i o n and as a norm of value i s responsible for the subordinate p o s i t i o n of the grotesque i n Sachs' hierarchy of v a l u e . The assumption t h a t the grotesque i s a l l t h a t "the i d e a l " i s not tends to reduce the grotesque to a back-door ro u t e through which the i d e a l s hines as the u l t i m a t e g o a l . T h i s n o t i o n of the " i m p l i e d i d e a l " i s t y p i f i e d i n the f o l l o w i n g remarks by Walter Bagehot: This a r t works by c o n t r a s t . I t enables you t o see. i t makes you see, the p e r f e c t type by p a i n t i n g the o p p o s i t e d e v i a t i o n . I t shows you what ought to be by what ought not t o be; when complete, i t reminds you of the p e r f e c t image by showing you the d i s t o r t e d and i m p e r f e c t image.^6 Needless t o say, Bagehot's concept of " i t makes you see" i s the e x a c t o p p o s i t e of what t h i s same statement r e f e r s t o i n Conrad's "Preface" t o The Nigger o f the " N a r c i s s u s " . The h i e r a r c h y of c l a s s i c a l v a lue which-underpins such assessments i s e x p l i c i t i n Bagehot's a s s e r t i o n t h a t An e x c e p t i o n a l m o n s t r o s i t y of h o r r i d u g l i n e s s cannot be made p l e a s i n g , except i t be made t o s u g g e s t — t o r e c a l l — t h e p e r f e c t i o n , the beauty, from which i t i s a d e v i a t i o n [Bagehot, 360]. Another danger i n h e r e n t i n such an approach i s t h a t the r e c o g n i t i o n of an i m p l i e d i d e a l may l e a d t o the tempting but not n e c e s s a r i l y l o g i c a l assumption t h a t the n o v e l i s t i s proposing the p o s s i b i l i t y o f o b t a i n i n g or i n s t i t u t i n g such 27 an i d e a l . V i c t o r Hugo, and the Romantic e r a i n g e n e r a l , e l e v a t e d the grotesque t o a h i g h e r , and on o c c a s i o n e q u a l , s t a t u s i n r e l a t i o n t o the c l a s s i c a l i d e a l , s e e i n g one as a necessary complement t o the o t h e r . As A r t h u r Clayborough puts i t : "Hugo regards the grotesque not merely as a u s e f u l source of c o n t r a s t but as a necessary complement without which the 2 8 sublime and the b e a u t i f u l must remain i m p e r f e c t . " Never-t h e l e s s , whether the grotesque i s viewed as a p o l a r o p p o s i t e t o the c l a s s i c a l , as a d e l i b e r a t e c o n t r a s t i m p l y i n g the i d e a l , o r as a necessary complement, the very assumptions •. * on which a l l such views are formulated are fundamentally c l a s s i c a l i n o r i g i n . And i t u s u a l l y f o l l o w s t h a t , as Tony Tanner warns, Ef you p o s i t and set,up one i d e a l of reasonable beauty, or reasonable conduct, then i n f a c t every-t h i n g you see w i l l look unreasonable because, of course, nothing m a t e r i a l ever i n c a r n a t e s the i d e a l p e r f e c t l y . The r e c a l c i t r a n t i m p e r f e c t i o n s of matter always prevent t h i s [Tanner, 149]. The g r o t e s q u e - c l a s s i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n i s t h e r e f o r e l a r g e l y a product of the b a s i c credos o f the c l a s s i c a l e s t h e t i c i t s e l f : the s e p a r a t i o n of s t y l e s , and the p o s i t i n g o f norms and st a n d a r d s . A c c o r d i n g l y , the grotesque i s d e f i n e d n e g a t i v e l y , and o f t e n p e j o r a t i v e l y , w i t h i n the context of such an e s t h e t i c , a tendency which has p e r s i s t e d throughout the h i s t o r y o f grotesque a r t . However, although i t i s necessary to keep i n mind the l i m i t a t i o n s and dangers o f such d e f i n i t i o n s of the grotesque, t h e r e i s no need to abandon the d i s t i n c t i o n . What i s necessary i s a c a r e f u l q u a l i f i c a t i o n , f o r the a c t u a l s i t u a t i o n i s f a r more complex and s i g n i f i c a n t than the simple o p p o s i t i o n or c o n t r a s t d e l i n e a t e d by the c l a s s i c a l e s t h e t i c would suggest. 38 Perhaps the point at which the grotesque moved from a s i t u a t i o n of peripheral importance to a c e n t r a l , or at l e a s t independent p o s i t i o n , occurred i n conjunction with the recognition that the c l a s s i c a l idea of art as "an imitation of nature" was brought into question, and with the corres-ponding recognition that the "truth" of art i s less a function of mimesis than of a r t i f i c e — - a recognition which s h i f t s the "authority" for the work of art from an unimpeachable external standard, approachable only by abstraction and implication, to the very conventions and structures within the work of a r t . This s h i f t rendered vulnerable the previously unassail-able assumptions and standards. Sachs points out that The c l a s s i c a l idea of art as "an imitation of nature" and the c l a s s i c a l separation between the "high" and "low" s t y l e s are therefore i n i m i c a l to the grotesque, which w i l l be found to f l o u r i s h i n ages l i k e the Gothic, the Mannerist, the late Romantic or the Modern, when the c l a s s i c a l ideals for various reasons lose t h e i r hold [Sachs, xxv]. While some might look upon such periods as "lapses" i n the history of a r t , I would argue that they represent times of regeneration for a r t , and that the s h i f t away from the c l a s s i c a l to the grotesque corresponds to a s h i f t away from "nature" toward the work of art i t s e l f as the locus of c r e a t i v i t y , and that such self-consciousness i s not only p o t e n t i a l l y healthy, but even necessary to the regeneration of a r t i s t i c conventions. I t i s i n t h i s sense that the grotesque exists not merely as a mode of breaking down or c o n f u s i n g f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y o r standards, norms, and conven-t i o n s of a r t , but a l s o as a means o f r e c o n s t r u c t i n g , r e s t r u c t u r i n g , and renewing these aspects of the a r t i s t i c e xperience i n a more v i t a l and r e l e v a n t manner. T h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i s suggested by Thomson's o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t " h i g h l y i n v e n t i v e and i m a g i n a t i v e , as w e l l as s t r o n g l y e x p e r i m e n t a l , l i t e r a t u r e seems t o g r a v i t a t e toward the grotesque" (Thomson, 64). We have now moved from a concept i n which the grotesque i s d e f i n e d as one h a l f of a c o n f l i c t between the c l a s s i c a l and a n t i - c l a s s i c a l , t o a p o s i t i o n i n which t h i s " c o n f l i c t " i s i n t e r n a l i z e d w i t h i n the s t r u c t u r e of the grotesque i t s e l f , and the d i s t i n c t i o n between c l a s s i c a l and grotesque i s no longer necessary to a d e s c r i p t i o n o f e i t h e r . T h i s modern concept of the grotesque might be r e p r e s e n t e d by Thomas Mann's remarks i n h i s 1925 I n t r o d u c t i o n t o the German t r a n s -l a t i o n of The S e c r e t Agent; . . . I f e e l t h a t , b r o a d l y and e s s e n t i a l l y , the s t r i k i n g f e a t u r e of modern a r t i s t h a t i t has ceased to r e c o g n i s e the c a t e g o r i e s of t r a g i c or comic, or the dramatic c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , tragedy and comedy. I t sees l i f e as tragicomedy, w i t h the r e s u l t t h a t the grotesque i s i t s most genuine s t y l e — t o the e x t e n t , indeed, t h a t today t h a t i s the o n l y g u i s e i n which the sublime may a p p e a r . 2 9 The s i t u a t i o n has now r e v e r s e d completely, and the "sublime," once the c e n t r a l p i v o t of the c l a s s i c a l e s t h e t i c , has now been adopted by the grotesque. The grotesque has not taken over from the c l a s s i c a l , but i t has come t o be seen as a mode 40 d i s t i n c t from the c l a s s i c a l , and as a genre which no l o n g e r depends s o l e l y upon the " i m p l i c a t i o n " of the i d e a l f o r i t s own d e f i n i t i o n . With independence comes r e c o g n i t i o n , and i n her " I n t r o d u c t i o n " t o Thomas Wright's A H i s t o r y of C a r i c a t u r e and Grotesque i n L i t e r a t u r e and A r t , Frances K. Barasch contends t h a t "In f i c t i o n and drama, i n the t h e a t e r and i n a r t , the grotesque has appeared as the s i n g l e most charac-30 t e r i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n of our time." The modern co n c e p t i o n of the grotesque has not only had t o evolve amid attempts to d e f i n e i t a c c o r d i n g t o c l a s -s i c a l s t a ndards, but a l s o a g a i n s t the tendency t o view i t i n terms o f one of i t s components at the expense of o t h e r s . As Thomson notes: W r i t e r s on the grotesque have always tended t o a s s o c i a t e the grotesque w i t h e i t h e r the comic or the t e r r i f y i n g . Those who see i t as a sub-form of the comic c l a s s the grotesque, b r o a d l y , w i t h the burlesque and the v u l g a r l y funny. Those who empha-s i z e the t e r r i f y i n g q u a l i t y of the grotesque o f t e n s h i f t i t towards the realm o f the uncanny, the m y s t e r i o u s , even the s u p e r n a t u r a l [Thomson, 2 0 ] . Most of the w r i t e r s on the grotesque have p o i n t e d t o t h i s d u a l i t y : Kayser d i s t i n g u i s h e d the " f a n t a s t i c " and the " c o m i c a l l y " grotesque; Axton r e f e r s t o the "darker" s t r a i n as opposed t o the " l i g h t e r , gayer" s t r a i n of the grotesque; Fanger observes t h a t : In the works of h i g h romanticism ( i n Germany e s p e c i a l l y and, through the i n f l u e n c e of Hoffmann, i n F r a n c e ) , the grotesque meant the f a n t a s t i c , the s u p e r n a t u r a l , the d i a b o l i c , the causes of the e f f e c t s of a l i e n a t i o n and madness. . . . Or the grotesque may be c o n s i d e r e d . . . as r e s i d i n g i n the p l a y w i t h p r o p o r t i o n , an e s s e n t i a l l y comic m a n i p u l a t i o n of r e a l i t y t o c o n s t r u c t a new and u n r e a l world where any t r i f l e can grow to c o l o s -s a l p r o p o r t i o n s [Fanger, 124]. Both Kayser and Axton a s s o c i a t e the "darker" or " f a n t a s t i c " c u r r e n t of the grotesque with such a r t i s t s as B r e ughel, Grunewald, Bosch, and Kafka, and the " l i g h t e r " o r "comic" grotesque w i t h such sources as "commedia d e l l ' a r t e , " h a r l e q u i n a d e , and the drawings of C a l l o t . Kayser emphasizes the more g o t h i c aspects of the grotesque t r a d i t i o n ; Axton, who i s more conscious of the E n g l i s h development of the grotesque, a s s e r t s t h a t . . . i t seems c l e a r t h a t the development of grotesque s t y l e i s f i r m l y l i n k e d t o important p r e c u r s o r s of E n g l i s h pantomime, bu r l e s q u e , and melodrama, and t h a t the l a t e r forms r e t a i n many of i t s f e a t u r e s . 3 1 Thus the a n t i t h e s i s which arose between the concepts o f the grotesque and the c l a s s i c a l i s a l s o apparent i n terms of the two p r i n c i p a l c u r r e n t s u n d e r l y i n g the grotesque: both the comic and the g o t h i c are c o n s i d e r e d d e v i a n t modes w i t h i n the context of c l a s s i c a l e s t h e t i c s — o r a t l e a s t were u n t i l the b e g i n n i n g of the t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y . But j u s t as the attempt t o d e f i n e the grotesque as a whole on the b a s i s of c l a s s i c a l assumptions i s bound to r e s u l t i n a n e g a t i v e con-c e p t i o n , so too i s the attempt t o c o n f i n e and subordinate the 42 grotesque t o one of i t s two main elements l i k e l y t o l i m i t and d i s t o r t the c o n c e p t i o n which emerges. Therefore most attempts a t d e f i n i t i o n which b e g i n by s e p a r a t i n g the strand s o f the grotesque have found i t neces-sary t o reweave them i n order t o o f f e r a v i a b l e e x p l a n a t i o n of the mode. Such i s the case- f o r i n s t a n c e , i n John Ruskin's a n a l y s i s o f the grotesque i n Grotesque Renaissance: F i r s t , then, i t seems t o me t h a t the grotesque i s , i n almost a l l cases, composed of two elements, one l u d i c r o u s , the other f e a r f u l ; t h a t , as one or other o f these elements p r e v a i l s , the grotesque f a l l s i n t o two branches, s p o r t i v e grotesque and t e r r i b l e grotesque; but t h a t we cannot l e g i t i m a t e l y c o n s i d e r i t under these two a s p e c t s , because t h e r e are h a r d l y any examples which do not i n some degree combine both elements; there are few grotesques so u t t e r l y p l a y f u l as t o be o v e r c a s t w i t h no shade of f e a r f u l n e s s , and few so f e a r f u l as a b s o l u t e l y t o exclude a l l ideas of j e s t . - 0 ^ Ruskin's view i s a c t u a l l y c l o s e r than t h a t of many more r e c e n t c r i t i c s t o the modern c o n c e p t i o n o f the grotesque as a composite o f both c u r r e n t s i n which one or the other may p r e v a i l , or dominate, but i n which one i s i n s e p a r a b l e from the o t h e r . The s p i r i t o f the grotesque may range from g e n i a l i t y t o f e r o c i t y , but the e f f e c t r e q u i r e s a c e r t a i n balance of the grotesque components, not the absence of one or the o t h e r . T h i s would concur w i t h Thomson's p o s i t i o n t h a t . . . apar t from a few exceptions i n e a r l i e r p e r i o d s , the tendency t o view the grotesque as e s s e n t i a l l y a mixture i n some way or oth e r of both the comic and the t e r r i f y i n g (or the d i s -g u s t i n g , r e p u l s i v e , etc.) i n a p r o b l e m a t i c a l ( i . e . , not r e a d i l y r e s o l v a b l e ) way i s a compar-a t i v e l y r e c e n t one [Thomson, 20-21], 43 This concept i s f a r more capable o f accounting f o r the unique e f f e c t o f the grotesque, and enables a c l e a r e r d i s t i n c t i o n t o be made between such a response and the response t o the pu r e l y comic or p u r e l y g o t h i c . Kayser's own p e r s p e c t i v e on the grotesque, as mentioned above, i s o r i e n t e d toward the more romantic, f a n t a s t i c , and g o t h i c f e a t u r e s of the mode. His emphasis of these f e a t u r e s leads t o a corresponding de-emphasis of the comic and r e a l i s t i c elements a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the grotesque. T h i s p a r t i c u l a r b i a s emerges most s t r o n g l y i n h i s somewhat c u r s o r y assessment and subsequent d i s m i s s a l of E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e ' s c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the grotesque t r a d i t i o n : Our b r i e f glance a t E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e s f u r n i s h e s a d d i t i o n a l proof t h a t the grotesque has a l s o i t s p l a c e i n r e a l i s m , even though i t s scope i s c o n s i d e r a b l y narrowed by the i n c r e a s i n g l y s t r o n g r e j e c t i o n o f the s u p e r n a t u r a l and the g r e a t e r emphasis which i s p l a c e d on i t s humorous s i d e [Kay ser? 2 1 2 3 . ] . ? J Kayser here chooses t o ign o r e the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the E n g l i s h c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the grotesque t r a d i t i o n f o r the very reasons I would s t r e s s i t : the e x p l o i t a t i o n of the comic aspect o f the grotesque, and, e q u a l l y important, the a d a p t a t i o n of the grotesque mode as a whole t o the r e a l i s t i c mode and to a r e a l i s t i c framework. T h i s a d a p t a t i o n a l s o o c c u r s , although w i t h l e s s emphasis on the comic, i n l i t e r a t u r e o ther than E n g l i s h , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n Russian and French l i t e r a t u r e . The French 44 and Russian n o v e l i s t s , as Fanger c o n v i n c i n g l y demonstrates i n Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism, were t u r n i n g the comic and r e a l i s t i c t o grotesque ends i n t h e i r e x p l o r a t i o n of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f f e r e d by the genre of the n o v e l , and by the c i t y as a p o s s i b l e s u b j e c t and s e t t i n g w i t h i n the context of the n o v e l . F i r s t of a l l , a c c o r d i n g to Fanger, w r i t e r s such as Gogol, B a l z a c , Dostoevsky, and Dickens p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the r e d i s c o v e r y and f u r t h e r e x p l o i t a t i o n of the grotesque "as an instrument f o r y o k i n g l i t e r a r y v a l u e s t h a t had h i t h e r t o been c o n s i d e r e d a n t i t h e t i c a l , t o produce something i n the nature of a ' f r i s s o n nouveau*" (Fanger, 20). Fanger suggests t h a t j u s t as . . . r e a l i s m , l a r g e l y through the use o f i r o n y , continues t o bear the marks of a comic i n h e r i t a n c e adapted to new ends, so i t might be h y p o t h e s i z e d . . . t h a t romantic r e a l i s m r e v e a l s a p a r a l l e l a d a p t a t i o n of comic t e c h n i q u e s , l a r g e l y through the use of the grotesque [Fanger, 20]. Secondly, Fanger a s s e r t s t h a t the "romantic r e a l i s t s " were the f i r s t t o r e a l i z e the p o s s i b i l i t i e s i n h e r e n t i n the c i t y as s e t t i n g and s u b j e c t . Fanger notes t h a t A lready i n the second decade, the grotesque had been made to invade the r e a l , the s e r i o u s l y r e a l , i n Hoffmann's t a l e s ; but i t i s only w i t h Gogol t h a t we see a major attempt t o i d e n t i f y i t w i t h the r e a l , s y m b o l i c a l l y , i n the P e t e r s b u r g t a l e s [Fanger, 229-230] . Whereas the " r e a l i t y " o f an urban or m e t r o p o l i t a n s e t t i n g might seem t o be a l i e n to the s p i r i t and e f f e c t of estrange-45 ment e s s e n t i a l to the grotesque, the o p p o s i t e i s i n f a c t the case. With regard t o Gogol and Dostoevsky, Fanger observes t h a t P e t e r s b u r g i s e s t a b l i s h e d as the most r e a l of r e a l p l a c e s i n order t h a t we may wonder a t what strange t h i n g s happen i n i t : i t i s , i n f a c t , the c o n d i t i o n o f our p e r c e i v i n g the f u l l f o r c e o f the strangeness, the l e v e r t h a t f o r c e s the suspension of our d i s b e l i e f [Fanger, 134]. This o b s e r v a t i o n c o u l d be a p p l i e d w i t h equal v a l i d i t y t o Ba l z a c ' s P a r i s o r Dickens' (or Conrad's) London. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t i n the London of Dickens, C h e s t e r t o n , and Conrad, i t i s f r e q u e n t l y the d e t e c t i v e - f i g u r e s w h o serves as the guide i n t o the darker c o m e r s o f the m e t r o p o l i s . What they d i s c o v e r i s o f t e n as f a n t a s t i c i n one sense as i t i s r e a l i s t i c i n another. The f o l l o w i n g scene i n v o l v i n g I n s p e c t o r Bucket i n Bleak House looks ahead t o s i m i l a r scenes i n v o l v i n g I n s p e c t o r Heat and the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner i n The S e c r e t Agent: When they come a t l a s t t o Tom-all-Alone's, Mr. Bucket stops f o r a moment at the c o r n e r , and takes a l i g h t e d b u l l ' s eye from the c o n s t a b l e on duty t h e r e , who then accompanies him w i t h h i s own p a r t i c u l a r b u l l ' s eye a t h i s w a i s t . Between h i s two conductors, Mr. Snagsby passes along the middle of a v i l l a i n o u s s t r e e t , undrained, u n v e n t i l a t e d , deep i n b l a c k mud and c o r r u p t w a t e r — t h o u g h the roads are dry e l s e w h e r e — a n d r e e k i n g w i t h such s m e l l s and s i g h t s t h a t he, who has l i v e d i n London a l l h i s l i f e , can s c a r c e b e l i e v e h i s senses. Branching from t h i s s t r e e t and i t s heaps of r u i n s , are o t h e r s t r e e t s and c o u r t s so infamous t h a t Mr. Snagsby s i c k e n s i n body and mind, and f e e l s as i f he were going, every moment deeper down, i n t o the i n f e r n a l g u l f . 46 "Draw o f f a b i t here, Mr. Snagsby," says Bucket, as a k i n d o f shabby pal a n q u i n i s borne towards them, surrounded by a n o i s y crowd. "Here's the f e v e r coming up the s t r e e t ! " As the unseen wretch goes by, the crowd, l e a v i n g t h a t o b j e c t of a t t r a c t i o n , hovers round the three v i s i t o r s l i k e a dream of h o r r i b l e f a c e s , and fades away up a l l e y s and i n t o r u i n s , and behind w a l l s ; and w i t h o c c a s i o n a l c r i e s and s h r i l l w h i s t l e s of warning, t h e n c e f o r t h f l i t s about them u n t i l they leave the p l a c e . ^ 4 . S i m i l a r o b s e r v a t i o n s are t o be found i n The Man Who Was Thursday, i n which London i s r e f e r r e d t o v a r i o u s l y as a l a b y r i n t h , h e l l , a "subterranean country," and as "the landscape of a new p l a n e t " (Thursday, 49). Thomson a l s o examines the r e l a t i o n of the grotesque to the " r e a l i s t i c , " and takes a p o s i t i o n o p p o s i t e to t h a t of Kayser's dictum t h a t the movement away from the " f a n t a s t i c " toward the r e a l i s t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n leads to a narrowing of scope and power. Thomson maintains t h a t . . . f a r from p o s s e s s i n g a necessary a f f i n i t y w i t h the f a n t a s t i c , the grotesque d e r i v e s at l e a s t some of i t s e f f e c t from b e i n g presented w i t h i n a r e a l -i s t i c framework, i n a r e a l i s t i c way [Thomson, 8 ] . He goes on t o p o i n t out t h a t : I f " f a n t a s t i c " means simply a pronounced divergence from the normal and n a t u r a l then the grotesque i s undoubtedly f a n t a s t i c . But i f , as we s u r e l y must, we i n s i s t t h a t the c r i t e r i o n be whether the m a t e r i a l i s presented i n a f a n t a s t i c , or r e a l i s t i c way, then we are more l i k e l y t o conclude t h a t , f a r from p o s s e s s i n g an a f f i n i t y w i t h the f a n t a s t i c , i t i s p r e c i s e l y the c o n v i c t i o n t h a t the grotesque world, however s t r a n g e , i s y e t our w o r l d , r e a l and immediate, which makes the grotesque so powerful [Thomson, 22-23]. 47 Other w r i t e r s on the grotesque have made p a r a l l e l observa-t i o n s . A l f r e d Appel, J r . , f o r i n s t a n c e s t a t e s t h a t The impact of the grotesque depends on a sense of the f a m i l i a r , f o r what Nathanael West c a l l e d the " t r u l y monstrous" r e s i d e s not i n the super-n a t u r a l and the b i z a r r e , but i n our o r d i n a r y , everyday l i v e s . 3 5 The i n t e n s i t y and unique e f f e c t of the grotesque i s a t l e a s t p a r t l y d e r i v e d , t h e r e f o r e , from i t s a b i l i t y t o estrange r e a l i t y without d i s p e n s i n g w i t h i t . The i m p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the gro-tesque i n s o f a r as i t s development as a s t y l e and p e r s p e c t i v e i s concerned are suggested i n the f o l l o w i n g passage (quoted by Thomson) from Gerhard Mensching's d i s s e r t a t i o n e n t i t l e d Das Groteske im modernen Drama: No matter how i n v e n t i v e the author of the f a n -t a s t i c i s , he w i l l mostly keep to the p e r s p e c t i v e of the u n r e a l (or a n t i - r e a l ) . The f a n t a s t i c w o r l d remains c l o s e d . I t may be only through the i n c l u s i o n , or omission, of a s i n g l e p i e c e of i n f o r m a t i o n at the b e g i n n i n g o f the t e x t , but t h e r e w i l l be between author and reader a c e r t a i n mutual understanding about the l e v e l at which e v e r y t h i n g i s t o be taken. The assumption, f o r example, t h a t t h e r e are c e r t a i n people who have the a b i l i t y t o hover i n the a i r , c o u l d be the s t a r t i n g - p o i n t f o r a f a n t a s t i c s t o r y of a humorous, uncanny or fairy-? t a l e nature. But as long as the n a r r a t i v e perspec-t i v e i s r e t a i n e d unbroken i t w i l l be pure f a n t a s y . Such a s t o r y might become grotesque not because of some e x t r a o r d i n a r y b i z a r r e n e s s of i n v e n t i o n , but because of the a l t e r n a t i o n or c o n f u s i o n of d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e s . The hallmark of the grotesque i n the realm of the f a n t a s t i c i s the conscious c o n f u s i o n between f a n t a s y and r e a l i t y [Thomson, 22-23]. Thomson observes t h a t Mensching p i n p o i n t s here a very i n t e r e s t i n g 48 source o f the grotesque: the d i s o r i e n t i n g and even f r i g h t e n i n g - but a l s o p o t e n t i a l l y comic, c o n f u s i o n of the r e a l w i t h the u n r e a l [Thomson, 24]. What seems even more s i g n i f i c a n t , however, i s Mensching's r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t t h i s c o n f u s i o n and d i s o r i e n t a t i o n i s a f u n c t i o n l e s s o f content or s u b j e c t than of the conyentiona1  assumptions and ex p e c t a t i o n s t r i g g e r e d by a p a r t i c u l a r w o r k — t h a t the grotesque i s a "conscious c o n f u s i o n " which i s born i n the awareness and e x p l o i t a t i o n o f the f a c t t h a t "there w i l l be between author and reader a c e r t a i n mutual under-s t a n d i n g about the l e v e l a t which e v e r y t h i n g i s t o be taken." I t i s t h i s r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t I am attempting t o prepare f o r i n terms of the grotesque, as I d i d i n terms of s t y l e — the r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t the grotesque mode, i n Conrad as w e l l > as i n c e r t a i n o t h e r modern w r i t e r s , i s l a r g e l y a f u n c t i o n of p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e , where p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e are i n t u r n informed by and developed a c c o r d i n g t o those s u b t l e bonds of a n t i c i p a t i o n , e x p e c t a t i o n , and assumption, and the subsequent m a n i p u l a t i o n of those bonds, which l i n k author, n a r r a t i v e , and reader. The modern e x p l o r a t i o n o f l i t e r a r y t e c hnique, s t y l e , and p e r s p e c t i v e , i n which Conrad p a r t i c -i p a t e d and t o which he c o n t r i b u t e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y , made t h i s d i s c o v e r y o f " s t y l e as process" p o s s i b l e . 49 2. The Nature of the Grotesque The most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e of the grotesque i s t h a t of disharmony- and i t i s important- a c c o r d i n g to Thomson, t h a t t h i s disharmony be t r a c e d t o i t s sources not only i n the work of a r t i t s e l f , "but a l s o i n the r e a c t i o n i t produces and ( s p e c u l a t i v e l y ) i n the c r e a t i v e temperament and p s y c h o l o g i c a l make-up of the a r t i s t " (Thomson, 20). Kayser a l s o makes i t c l e a r t h a t "the word 'grotesque 1 a p p l i e s t o t h r e e d i f f e r e n t r e a l m s — t h e c r e a t i v e p r o c e s s , the work of a r t i t s e l f , and i t s r e c e p t i o n , " s t a t i n g t h a t t h i s m u l t i p l i c i t y of l o c a t i o n and approach " i s s i g n i f i c a n t and a p p r o p r i a t e as an i n d i c a t i o n t h a t i t has the making of a b a s i c e s t h e t i c category" (Kayser, 180). S t u d i e s of the grotesque have been c a r r i e d out i n terms of each o f these realms, some r e s t r i c t i n g t h e i r focus to the c r e a t i v e process assumed t o l i e behind the work, some to the work of a r t , or to some aspect of the work of a r t , and some t o the response e l i c i t e d by the grotesque. There has as y e t been no comprehensive study which has taken a l l of these aspects i n t o account; even Kayser, who r e c o g n i z e s t h a t the grotesque must be c h a r t e d i n each and a l l of these realms i f i t i s i n f a c t t o stand as an independent genre, o f f e r s no more than an o u t l i n e of the o v e r a l l r e l a t i o n s h i p . His t r i -50 p a r t i t e d e f i n i t i o n g i v e s s p e c i a l emphasis t o the c r e a t i v e process (1. "the grotesque i s the estranged world"; 2. "the grotesque i s a p l a y w i t h the absurd"; 3. "the grotesque i s an attempt t o invoke and subdue the demonic aspects o f the world" [Kayser- 184, 186, 187]), but h i s a c t u a l a n a l y s i s i s l i m i t e d t o the content or substance o f the grotesque. W i t h i n t h i s l i m i t a t i o n , however, Kayser's account o f the grotesque i s thorough, and t r a c e s the p r i n c i p a l m o t i f s , forms, images, and f e a t u r e s o f the grotesque from the Renaissance t o modern times. The r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t the grotesque i s l e s s a d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n of d i s t o r t e d r e a l i t y than an e s t h e t i c d i s t o r -t i o n of normal or f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y has l e d other w r i t e r s on the grotesque t o c o n s i d e r the c r e a t i v e processes and motives. u n d e r l y i n g the grotesque, o r the p s y c h o l o g i c a l response t o the grotesque. The p s y c h o l o g i c a l approach has i n f a c t been r e s p o n s i b l e f o r p r o v i d i n g v a r i o u s i n s i g h t s i n t o the grotesque which have been extremely important i n understanding both i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e as an e s t h e t i c mode, and the p a r t i c u l a r -c o m p l e x i t i e s ©fsLtscmechanismdandfe>ffect&ltA-l>thbughypsyetio-l o g i c a l c r i t i c i s m tends t o subordinate l i t e r a r y a n a l y s i s to human psychology, and depends u l t i m a t e l y upon t h e o r e t i c a l and o f t e n m y t h i c a l models o f mind, i t o f t e n serves t o com-plement l i t e r a r y a n a l y s e s , or o f f e r s t h e o r e t i c a l s t r u c t u r e s which can be transposed i n t o e s t h e t i c s t r u c t u r e s , and thereby 51 be g i v e n o b j e c t i v e v e r i f i c a t i o n i n s t y l i s t i c terms. Of those s t u d i e s which have attempted t o account f o r and d e s c r i b e the grotesque p r i n c i p a l l y i n terms of the work of a r t i t s e l f , the m a j o r i t y have sought to e s t a b l i s h t h e i r f i n d i n g s on the b a s i s of content or s u b j e c t - m a t t e r , and have p o i n t e d t o the grotesqueness of the substance or content as the primary source of the grotesque. Attempts to e s t a b l i s h a s t y l i s t i c b a s i s f o r the grotesque are p r a c t i c a l l y non-e x i s t e n t , although c e r t a i n s t u d i e s of i n d i v i d u a l works and authors have p r o v i d e d o b s e r v a t i o n s and i n s i g h t s which are a p p l i c a b l e i n the l a r g e r c o n t e x t . There are a l s o s t u d i e s such as Kayser's which p o i n t t o those Oiarger s t r u c t u r e s and forms which are: c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the grotesque, but these s t r u c t u r e s are i n e f f e c t m o t i f s r a t h e r than elements of s t y l e . With r e g a r d to the work of a r t i t s e l f , t h e r e f o r e , i t may be s a i d t h a t the grotesque has f r e q u e n t l y been d e s c r i b e d i n terms of content, l e s s f r e q u e n t l y i n terms of a s p e c i f i c r e l a t i o n s h i p between content and s t y l e , and o n l y r a r e l y i n terms of s t y l e alone. Kayser has assembled a catalogue of the most charac-t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e s , m o t i f s , and images of the grotesque. N a t u r a l l y a l l "monsters" belong to the a Menu realm of 52 the grotesque, one major source of which i s the B i b l i c a l apocalypse w i t h i t s "animals r i s i n g from the abyss." Real animals are not excluded, f o r , a c c o r d i n g to Kayser, "Even i n animals t h a t are f a m i l i a r t o him, modern man may experience the strangeness of something t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t from h i m s e l f and s u g g e s t i v e o f abysmal ominousness." The animals which Kayser c i t e s as b e i n g " e s p e c i a l l y s u i t a b l e t o the grotesque" are "snakes, owls, toads, s p i d e r s — t h e n o c t u r n a l and c r e e p i n g animals which i n h a b i t realms a p a r t from and i n a c c e s s i b l e t o man" (Kayser, 182). I t i s to such a realm t h a t Dickens r e l e g a t e s F a g i n i n O l i v e r Twist: The mud l a y t h i c k upon the stones, and a b l a c k m i s t hung over the s t r e e t s ; the r a i n f e l l s l u g g i s h l y down, and e v e r y t h i n g f e l t c o l d and clammy to the touch. I t seemed j u s t the n i g h t when i t b e f i t t e d such a being as the Jew to be abcoad. As he g l i d e d s t e a l t h i l y a long, c r e e p i n g beneath the s h e l t e r of the w a l l s and doorways, the hideous o l d man seemed l i k e some loathsome r e p t i l e , engendered i n the s l i m e and darkness through which he moved: c r a w l i n g f o r t h , by n i g h t , i n search of some r i c h o f f a l f o r a meal.36 As might a l s o be expected, "vermin" and " i n s e c t s " occupy an important p o s i t i o n on the l i s t , and the catalogue of animals i s capped w i t h the . . . grotesque animal i n c a r n a t e . . . the bat ("Fledermaus"), the very name of which p o i n t s to an u n n a t u r a l f u s i o n of o r g a n i c realms c o n c r e t i z e d i n t h i s g h o s t l y c r e a t u r e . . . . I t i s strange even i n the s t a t e of repose when i t s wings cover i t l i k e a coat and i t hangs, head down, from a r a f t e r , more l i k e a p i e c e o f dead matter than a l i v i n g t h i n g [Kayser, 183]. One has to allow f o r K a y s e r 1 s g o t h i c and demonic b i a s , 53 but i t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s t r u e t h a t , t o g e t h e r w i t h s i m i l a r forms from the p l a n t world, such c r e a t u r e s are standard grotesque types. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t these have been r e p l a c e d by more f a m i l i a r and "domestic" c r e a t u r e s i n modern grotesque l i t e r a t u r e — a n d t h a t the e f f e c t i s e q u a l l y "monstrous," which i s a sure i n d i c a t i o n of the s h i f t from substance t o p e r s p e c t i v e as the source of the grotesque. The f o l l o w i n g excerpt from W i l l i a m Faulkner's The Hamlet w i l l i l l u s t r a t e t h i s p o i n t : The smoke l a y l i k e a w a l l b e f o r e him; beyond i t he c o u l d hear the steady t e r r i f i e d b e l l o w i n g of the cow. He ran i n t o the smoke and toward the v o i c e . The e a r t h was now hot to h i s f e e t . He began to snatch them q u i c k l y up; he c r i e d once h i m s e l f , hoarse and amazed, whereupon, as though i n answer, the smoke, the circumambience i t s e l f , screamed back a t him. The sound was everywhere, above and beneath, f u n n e l l i n g downward at him; he heard the hooves and as he paused, h i s b r e a t h indrawn, the horse appeared, m a t e r i a l i z e d f u r i o u s l y out of the smoke, monstrous and d i s t o r t e d , w i l d - e y e d and w i t h t o s s i n g mane, b e a r i n g down upon him. He screamed too. For an i n s t a n t they y e l l e d f a ce to f a c e , the w i l d eyes, the y e l l o w t e e t h , the long g u l l e t r e d w i t h ravening g l e e f u l triumph, s t o o p i n g a t him and then on as the horse swerved without b r e a k i n g , the wind, the f i e r c e dragon-reek of i t s passage, b l a s t i n g a t h i s h a i r and garments; i t was gone. I t d i d not even swerve. I t took o f f almost without g a t h e r i n g , a t f u l l s t r i d e . The t e e t h , the w i l d eyes, the long red . g u l l e t , stooped a t him, framed him out of a s w i r l e d r i g i d i t y of f o r e l o c k and mane, the e n t i r e animal f l o a t i n g overhead i n monstrous d e l i b e r a t i o n . The a i r was f i l l e d w i t h f u r i o u s wings and the f o u r c r e s c e n t - g l i n t s of shod hooves as, s t i l l screaming, the horse vanished beyond the r a v i n e ' s l i p , sucking f i r s t the cow and then h i m s e l f a f t e r i t as though by the v i o l e n t vacuum of i t s passing.37 54 As i s e v i d e n t from the above examples, one of the main f e a t u r e s of the grotesque content (aside from i t s f r e q u e n t p h y s i c a l abnormality) i s the apparent f u s i o n , j u x t a p o s i t i o n , and c o n f u s i o n of normally separate realms. T h i s breakdown of b a r r i e r s between realms, o r i n t r u s i o n i n t o a realm by an a l i e n substance or o b j e c t , i s by no means r e s t r i c t e d to the or g a n i c realms of p l a n t s and animals. In f a c t , perhaps one of the most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c m o t i f s o f the modern grotesque i s the f u s i o n o f the animate, o r human, w i t h the inanimate, which Kayser terms the " t e c h n i c a l " grotesque: the f u s i o n of o r g a n i c and mechanical elements, as w e l l as " a l l the t o o l s which u n f o l d a dangerous l i f e of t h e i r own" (Kayser, 183). An example of t h i s may be seen i n Bloom's Nighttown encounter w i t h the streetsweeper i n U l y s s e s : He looks around, d a r t s forward suddenly. Through r i s i n g fog a dragon sandstrewer, t r a v e l l i n g a t c a u t i o n , slews h e a v i l y down upon him, i t s huge r e d h e a d l i g h t winking, i t s t r o l l e y h i s s i n g i n the wire.3 8 The f u s i o n of the human w i t h the nonhuman u n d e r l i e s a grea t d e a l o f grotesque estrangement. In the case of the mechanical and human, f o r example, "The mechanical o b j e c t i s a l i e n a t e d by being brought t o l i f e , the human being by being d e p r i v e d o f i t " (Kayser, 183). A c c o r d i n g l y , "Among the most p e r s i s t e n t m o t i f s of the grotesque we f i n d human bodies reduced t o puppets, marionettes,.and automata, and t h e i r faces f r o z e n i n t o masks" (Kayser, 183) . One other c h a r a c t e r -i s t i c m o t i f which Kayser r e l a t e s t o the dehumanizing tendency 55 of the grotesque i s t h a t of i n s a n i t y : In the insane person, human nature i t s e l f seems to have taken on ominous overtones. Once more i t i s as i f an impersonal f o r c e , an a l i e n and inhuman s p i r i t , had entered the s o u l . The encounter w i t h madness i s one of the b a s i c experiences of the grotesque which l i f e f o r c e s upon us [Kayser, 184]. V a r i o u s of these f e a t u r e s are e v i d e n t i n the maddened f i g u r e o f A r m s t i d i n The Hamlet, who i s reduced to an inhuman puppet by h i s o b s e s s i v e quest f o r t r e a s u r e : Then the l a s t of the watchers would depart, l e a v i n g A r m s t i d i n the middle of h i s f a d i n g s l o p e , spading h i m s e l f i n t o the waxing t w i l i g h t w i t h the r e g u l a r i t y o f a mechanical toy and w i t h something monstrous i n h i s u n f l a g g i n g e f f o r t , as i f the toy were too l i g h t f o r what i t had been s e t to do, or too t i g h t l y wound [Hamlet, 372]. In terms o f substance or content, then, many of the images and m o t i f s are i n t r i n s i c a l l y incongruous, p a r t i c u l a r l y when the u n d e r l y i n g s t r u c t u r a l p r i n c i p l e i s the f u s i o n or c o n f u s i o n o f normally separate realms. F r e q u e n t l y , the separate components of a grotesque image are grotesque i n themselves. T h i s i s t r u e of such b a s i c grotesque forms as b a t s , snakes, vermin, and i n s e c t s , where a disharmony and i n c o n g r u i t y , r e l a t e d t o a sense of abnormality a s s o c i a t e d with such c r e a t u r e s , i s p r e s e n t even b e f o r e such forms are combined w i t h images from a l i e n realms t o produce grotesque f u s i o n s . Abnormality i s of course another form of disharmony, and the grotesque t h e r e f o r e owes i t s e f f e c t not only to a b a s i c d i s r e g a r d o f boundaries and c a t e g o r i e s , but a l s o t o a b a s i c d i s r e g a r d of "norms" and "standards" (norms of the 56 f a m i l i a r and o r d i n a r y r a t h e r than c l a s s i c a l norms). Thomson r e l a t e s the grotesque t o the " p h y s i c a l l y abnormal," and he i n c o r p o r a t e s t h i s i n t o h i s d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque: The abnormal i s a secondary f a c t o r , of g r e a t importance but s u b s i d i a r y to what I have o u t l i n e d as the b a s i c d e f i n i t i o n o f the grotesque: the un r e s o l v e d c l a s h o f incompatibles i n work and response. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t t h i s c l a s h i s p a r a l l e l e d by the ambivalent nature of the abnormal as p r e s e n t i n the grotesque: we might c o n s i d e r a secondary d e f i n i t i o n o f the grotesque to be 'the amb i v a l e n t l y abnormal' [Thomson, 27]. Thus f a r i t i s p o s s i b l e t o d e s c r i b e the grotesque i n terms of content or substance, where the element of d i s h a r -mony may a r i s e out of the i n t r i n s i c a l l y abnormal, or out of the c l a s h between r e a l m s ^ a n d i n most cases, out of both s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . Needless t o say, i t would be d i f f i c u l t t o e s t a b l i s h the grotesque as an independent genre on the b a s i s of s u b j e c t - m a t t e r and substance alone. S i m i l a r l y , an i n d i v i d u a l work of a r t may c o n t a i n i n s t a n c e s of the grotesque without being grotesque i n concept or e x e c u t i o n — p a r t i c u l a r l y i f such i n s t a n c e s are r e s t r i c t e d t o the content o f the work i n q u e s t i o n . I t i s only when the grotesque permeates the work t h a t the work as a whole can be termed grotesque, and i t i s only when the grotesque i n h e r e s i n the very form of the work t h a t such permeation i s p o s s i b l e . Thus, as important, i f not more important, than the r a d i c a l nature of the grotesque content i s the way i n which the m a t e r i a l i s presented. Thomson p o i n t s out t h a t the " r a d i c a l i t y e x i s t s 57 i n both s u b j e c t and p r e s e n t a t i o n : i n the s u b j e c t - m a t t e r presented and i n the means employed i n the p r e s e n t a t i o n " (Thomson, 28). We can now begin to examine the grotesque as i t i s manifested i n s t r u c t u r e and s t y l e . The grotesqueness of what i s presented i s matched by the grotesqueness of the p r e s e n t a t i o n . So p u r s u i t o f the o b j e c t l e a d s us t o p u r s u i t o f the v i s i o n , and p u r s u i t of the v i s i o n leads us to the s t y l e [Fanger, 121]. The s i g n i f i c a n c e of the grotesque as a s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t genre, and i t s p o t e n t i a l as s t y l e , does not f u l l y r e v e a l i t s e l f u n t i l we move from the "grotesqueness of what i s presented" t o the "grotesqueness o f the p r e s e n t a t i o n . " Grotesque s u b j e c t - m a t t e r , m o t i f s , and forms may occur i n a l i t e r a r y work without s i g n i f i c a n t l y a l t e r i n g the tenor of the work as a whole, but, as mentioned, i t i s only when the grotesque begins t o permeate the s t r u c t u r e ? ysty.<Le(? <,andipoint of view o f a work t h a t a grotesque mode or genre must be taken i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n . When the e n t i r e " v i s i o n " i s gro-tesque, we look l e s s t o the substance and more t o the l i g h t c a s t upon i t , and the grotesque must be examined as the conceptual b a s i s u n d e r l y i n g the v i s i o n . I f the e f f e c t of estrangement so c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f the grotesque i s l a r g e l y a f u n c t i o n of the "sudden p l a c i n g of f a m i l i a r elements of 58 r e a l i t y i n a p e c u l i a r and d i s t u r b i n g l i g h t " (Thomson, 59), then the most potent source of the grotesque becomes the p e r s p e c t i v e or p o i n t of view i t s e l f , and i t s a b i l i t y t o c a s t "a p e c u l i a r and d i s t u r b i n g l i g h t " over a l l t h a t i s p l a c e d under i t s e s t r a n g i n g glow. With such a grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e , t h e r e would be l i t t l e need t o r e l y upon the t r a d i t i o n a l " f u r n i t u r e " of the g r o t e s q u e — t h e r a t s , b a t s , and m o n s t e r s — w h i c h , l i k e the u n i c o r n , soon l o s e the disharmonious impact so necessary t o the grotesque; i n s t e a d , w i t h such a p e r s p e c t i v e , the most f a m i l i a r and t r u s t e d aspects and a r t i c l e s of our world can be turned a g a i n s t us i n sudden, a g g r e s s i v e l y sudden, ways. What, then, c o n s t i t u t e s a "grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e " or "grotesque v i s i o n " ? And what are the techniques by which such a p e r s p e c t i v e i s achieved? As the development of such a p e r s p e c t i v e l a r g e l y c o i n c i d e s w i t h the r e c o g n i t i o n of the s t y l i s t i c p o s s i b i l i t i e s of c e r t a i n comic d e v i c e s and s t r a t e g i e s , i t w i l l be u s e f u l to b e g i n w i t h an examination of such techniques, and to r e l a t e them i n t u r n t o the other components of the grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e . The s i g n i f i c a n c e of the comic component i n the a r t of the grotesque, e s p e c i a l l y the modern grotesque, i s o f t e n misunderstood. Thomson, as noted e a r l i e r , views the grotesque as b e i n g "a c l a s h between incompatible r e a c t i o n s — l a u g h t e r on the one hand and horror or disgust on the other" (Thomson, 2), and many similar definitions could be cited. This basic discrepancy or discord between the comic and the non- or anti-comic, which serves to disorient the reader, is cer-tainly one of the most apparent features of the grotesque. But in order to understand the grotesque in a l l of i t s potential, range, and subtlety, i t becomes necessary to pursue the mechanics of the comic component even further. Comedy, and the "comic," are concepts which lend them-selves to definition almost as reluctantly as the grotesque. This is particularly true of modern literature in which, as Wylie Sypher points out, "comedy goes a great deal f a r t h e r — as i t did for the ancients with their cruel sense of the 39 comic." In contrast to the classical separation of genres, "The comic and the tragic views of l i f e no longer exclude each other" (Comedy, 193). Sypher goes on to suggest that Perhaps the most important discovery in modern criticism i s the perception that comedy and tragedy are somehow akin, or that comedy can t e l l us many things about eurusituation even tragedy cannot [Comedy, 193]. The absurd, the irrational, the inexplicable, the ludicrous, and the nonsensical are inherent in the modern sense of existence to a greater extent than ever before—we exist "amid the irra t i o n a l , the ludicrous, the disgusting, or the perilous" (Comedy, 197)—and our existence amid such irreconcilables turns toward the comic for i t s mode of 60 e x p r e s s i o n and i n an attempt t o d i s c o v e r meaning and v a l u e . The comic a r t i s t . . . has l e s s r e s i s t a n c e than the t r a g i c a r t i s t t o r e p r e s e n t i n g what seem i n c o h e r e n t and i n e x p l i c a b l e , and thus lowers the t h r e s h o l d of a r t i s t i c p e r c e p t i o n . A f t e r a l l [continues Sypher] comedy, not tragedy, admits the d i s o r d e r l y i n t o the realm of a r t ; the grotesque depends uponnan i r r a t i o n a l f o c u s . Ours i s a century of d i s o r d e r and i r r a t i o n a l i s m [Comedy, 199-201]. The b l u r r i n g of d i s t i n c t i o n s between the realms of tragedy and comedy i n modern l i t e r a t u r e i s o f t e n d e s c r i b e d i n terms of tragicomedy. Kayser notes t h a t Beginning w i t h the dramaturgic p r a c t i c e of the "Sturm und Drang" and the dramatic theory of Romanticism, tragicomedy and grotesque are concep-t u a l l y r e l a t e d , and the h i s t o r y o f the grotesque i n the f i e l d o f drama i s l a r g e l y one w i t h t h a t of tragicomedy [Kayser, 54]. Whereas the " t r a g i c o m i c mixture," t o borrow Ruby 40 Cohn's phrase, p r o v i d e s another c l u e as t o the nature of the b a s i c ' i n c o n g r u i t i e s a t the h e a r t of the grotesque, i t i s n e v e r t h e l e s s t r u e t h a t an important d i s t i n c t i o n between the two e x i s t s . Thomson makes t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i n o b s e r v i n g t h a t "Tragi-comedy p o i n t s o n l y to the f a c t t h a t l i f e i s a l t e r n a t e l y t r a g i c and comic, the world i s now a v a l e of t e a r s , now a c i r c u s . " He sees, the p o s s i b i l i t y o f the f u s i o n o f the two as w e l l as t h e i r co-presence, or "mixture," and a s s e r t s t h a t such a f u s i o n "has a harder message. I t i s t h a t the v a l e of t e a r s and the c i r c u s are one, t h a t tragedy i s i n some ways comic and a l l comedy i n some ways t r a g i c and 61 p a t h e t i c . " T h i s f u s i o n , a c c o r d i n g t o Thomson, i s a charac-t e r i s t i c not of tragi-comedy i n the t r a d i t i o n a l sense o f the term, but r a t h e r o f the grotesque, and . . . i s perhaps the most profound meaning of the grotesque, a t l e a s t of t h a t type of the grotesque e x e m p l i f i e d by Lear but c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l s o of such d i s s i m i l a r w r i t e r s as Kafka and Beckett [Thomson, 63]. I t i s t h e r e f o r e t o be expected t h a t the p r o x i m i t y of the grotesque mode to the modes of the comic and t r a g i c o m i c w i l l be r e f l e c t e d i n the techniques which are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of each. As noted e a r l i e r , v a r i o u s c r i t i c s have approached the grotesque as a branch, or sub-category, o f the comic. In c e r t a i n i n s t a n c e s , of course, t h i s i s p r e c i s e l y the case. A fundamentally comic, o r t r a g i c o m i c , or f o r t h a t matter, i r o n i c , p a r o d i c , or s a t i r i c work may, f o r one reason o r another, take a grotesque t u r n , w i t h o u t becoming grotesque as a whole. V a r i o u s combinations of comedy, tragicomedy, i r o n y , parody, s a t i r e , and the grotesque o f t e n c o - e x i s t i n a s i n g l e n a r r a t i v e , and enhance one another. The attempt t o l o c a t e the p o i n t at which comedy o r i r o n y ends and the gro-tesque b e g i n s , o r v i c e v e r s a , i s always d i f f i c u l t i n such works. But j u s t as each of the t r a d i t i o n a l modes mentioned here i s p e r f e c t l y capable o f becoming the u n i f y i n g and determining mode of d i s c o u r s e f o r a p a r t i c u l a r n a r r a t i v e , so too i s the grotesque capable o f the same. One mode which i s r e l a t e d t o both the comic and the grotesque, and which i s o f t e n adapted t o the v i s i o n s of both comedy and the grotesque, i s t h a t o f c a r i c a t u r e . I t s most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c techniques are a l s o important t o the grotesque. Ac c o r d i n g to Thomson, " C a r i c a t u r e may be b r i e f l y d e f i n e d as the l u d i c r o u s e xaggeration of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c or p e c u l i a r f e a t u r e s " (Thomson, 3 8 ). Although the grotesque can be d i s t i n g u i s h e d from c a r i c a t u r e on the b a s i s of both substance and e f f e c t , i t i s a l s o t r u e t h a t the l i n e t h a t separates the two i s o f t e n a t h i n one. The f u s i o n of i n c o m p a t i b l e or a l i e n elements and the ambivalent, p r o b l e m a t i c response u s u a l l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the grotesque are not o r d i n a r i l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c a r i c a t u r e ; however, c a r i c a t u r e i s based upon d i s t o r t i o n and e x a g g e r a t i o n i n the d i r e c t i o n of the l u d i c r o u s and abnormal, and there comes a p o i n t at which one merges w i t h the o t h e r . At t h i s p o i n t , the s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d response a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c a r i c a t u r e becomes more complicated and ambivalent; as Thomson observes: "There i s annorm f o r c a r i c a t u r i s t i c e x a g g e r a t i o n — a norm of abnormality" (Thomson, 3 8-39) . The tendency f o r c a r i c a t u r e to move i n the d i r e c t i o n of the grotesque i s a f u n c t i o n of i t s i n h e r e n t l y r e d u c t i v e q u a l i t y . Tony Tanner d e s c r i b e s c a r i c a t u r e as " r e d u c t i o n by means of s i m p l i f i c a t i o n and a b b r e v i a t i o n . " Such r e d u c t i o n i s f r e q u e n t l y aimed a t e l i c i t i n g the " l a t e n t animal i n the human f e a t u r e s , " o r , f o r t h a t matter, the l a t e n t p l a n t , 63 o b j e c t , or machine (Tanner, 148). Dickens' novels r e p r e s e n t a v i r t u a l compendium of r e d u c t i v e t e c h n i q u e s , and h i s c a r i c a t u r e s f r e q u e n t l y exceed the "norm of abnormality" t o become grotesque h y b r i d s which e x i s t i n a conglomerate realm of the human and non-human. Grandmother and Grandfather Smallweed i n Bleak House exemplify such c a r i c a t u r a l excess. T h e i r r e p e t i t i o u s , one-dimensional, p r e d i c t a b l e , and auto-matic r e a c t i o n s to one or two s p e c i f i c s t i m u l i are t y p i c a l o f c a r i c a t u r e , but the r e d u c t i o n c a r r i e s them w e l l over the b o r d e r l i n e s e p a r a t i n g the wofold of man from the world of o b j e c t s . Grandmother Smallweed i s t r i g g e r e d by any mention of a number, which she u n f a i l i n g l y a s s o c i a t e s w i t h money. Her subsequent r e a c t i o n e l i c i t s an i n e v i t a b l e response from Grandfather Smallweed, who throws h i s cushion a t h e r . The e n t i r e process i s a m e c h a n i s t i c c h a i n r e a c t i o n : . "Ho!" says Grandfather Smallweed. "Ten minutes." Grandmother Smallweed, who has been mumbling and shaking her head a t the t r i v e t s , h e a r i n g f i g u r e s mentioned, connects them w i t h money, and screeches, l i k e a h o r r i b l e o l d p a r r o t without any plumage, "Ten ten-pound notes! 1 1 Grandfather Smallweed immediately throws the cushion a t h e r . "Drat you, be q u i e t ! " says the good o l d man. The e f f e c t of t h i s a c t of j a c u l a t i o n i s t w o f o l d . I t not o n l y doubles up Mrs. Smallweed''s head a g a i n s t the s i d e o f her p o r t e r ' s c h a i r , and causes her t o p r e s e n t , when e x t r i c a t e d by her granddaughter, a h i g h l y unbecoming s t a t e of cap, but the necessary e x e r t i o n r e c o i l s on Mr. Smallweed h i m s e l f , whom i t throws back i n t o h i s p o r t e r ' s c h a i r , l i k e a broken puppet. The e x c e l l e n t o l d gentleman b e i n g , a t these times, a mere c l o t h e s - b a g w i t h a b l a c k s k u l l - c a p on 64 the top of i t , does not p r e s e n t a very animated appearance u n t i l he has undergone the two opera-t i o n s at the hands of h i s granddaughter, of being shaken up l i k e a g r e a t b o t t l e , and poked and punched l i k e a g r e a t b o l s t e r [Bleak, 343]. A source of grotesque techniques and m o t i f s which are r e l a t e d t o those of c a r i c a t u r e i s the t h e a t r e . Kayser emphasizes the importance of the "commedia d e l l ' a r t e " and the "Sturm und Drang" drama i n the e v o l u t i o n of grotesque forms, and W i l l i a m Axton focuses upon the n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y popular t h e a t r e as a storehouse of s i m i l a r t e c h n i q u e s , many of which, a c c o r d i n g to Axton, Dickens adapted to h i s l i t e r a r y s t y l e . Such t h e a t r i c a l modes as f a r c e , pantomime, and burlesque . . . shared a fondness f o r i m p r o b a b i l i t y , e x t r a v -agance, and comic anachronism, together w i t h a p r e f e r e n c e f o r a c t i o n and b u s i n e s s to d i a l o g u e . S t r u c t u r a l l y these forms were e p i s o d i c , e x p l o i t i n g a l l the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of machinery, sudden changes of scene, incongruous t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s , and s u r p r i s e r e v e r s a l s ; what u n i t y they achieved l a y i n t h e i r common d e l i g h t w i t h stock p a t t e r n s of a c t i o n : i n t r i g u e , d i s g u i s e , the chase, a c c i d e n t a l unmask-i n g , and comic r e p e t i t i o n w i t h v a r i a t i o n i n m o t i f , episode, g e s t u r e , and a c t i o n [Axton, 22]. The e n t i r e a c t i o n of F l a n n O'Brien's The T h i r d Policeman achieves i t s grotesque ef f-ects p r e c i s e l y by these means: the o v e r a l l sense i s , o n e of b u s t l i n g but absurd a c t i v i t y , i n which plump policemen are transformed i n t o b i c y c l e s i n a strange and c o n s i s t e n t l y i r r a t i o n a l underworld j u s t c l o s e enough to the s u r f a c e of our world to be uncomfortably f a m i l i a r . The same i s t r u e , although t o a l e s s e r degree, o f 6 5 the a c t i o n i n Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, as w e l l as i n The S e c r e t Agent. Axton connects b u r l e s q u e r i e and c a r i c a t u r e as s h a r i n g c e r t a i n t r a i t s which r e l a t e them to the "involvement" of the grotesque as opposed t o the "detachment" of comedy. The l a t t e r maintains a c e r t a i n detachment "which i s not proper t o the grotesque," and i n which "we f i n d o u r s e l v e s becoming more i n v o l v e d than we had a n t i c i p a t e d . . ." (Axton, 31-32). L i k e c a r i c a t u r e and b u r l e s q u e r i e , the grotesque subverts f a m i l i a r f o o t h o l d s o f convention, t r a d i t i o n , and r e a l i t y , and the e f f e c t i s one o f displacement r a t h e r than of s e c u r i t y or detachment on the p a r t of the reader. Detachment may be e f f e c t e d through the grotesque, but i t must emerge.within a new framework, and f o l l o w s upon o r a t l e a s t i s simultaneous w i t h the d i s s o l u t i o n of p r i o r frameworks and t r a d i t i o n s . The " r e d u c t i v e " q u a l i t y which i s present i n c a r i c a t u r e i s a l s o c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of t h e a t r i c a l b u r l e s q u e r i e . In the l a t t e r , the world i s . . . s i m p l i f i e d to i t s g e s t i c e s s e n t i a l s , h e i g h t -ened by r e p e t i t i o n , and estranged by a s p e c t a t o r i a l p o i n t of view t h a t r e f u s e s t o p r o v i d e c o n v e n t i o n a l l i n k s between t h i n g s o r t h a t p e r c e i v e s l i k e n e s s e s between incongruous t h i n g s [Axton, 5 9 ] . S i m p l i f i c a t i o n and h e i g h t e n i n g are the techniques which the worlds of c a r i c a t u r e , b u r l e s q u e , f a r c e , and pantomime share i n common, and which are c a r r i e d over i n t o the mode of the grotesque. 66 The a f f i n i t y of the grotesque f o r the t h e a t r i c a l mode i s d i s c e r n i b l e i n other ways as w e l l . Many of the important m o t i f s and forms of the grotesque are the s t o c k - i n - t r a d e of the popular t h e a t r e , as i s apparent i n the f o l l o w i n g b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h i s t h e a t r e by Axton: There were i n v e n t i o n s o f u n l i k e l y beings and o b j e c t s tumbling about amid inc o m p a t i b l e juxtapoS s i t i o n s of everyday t h i n g s . There, too, e c c e n t r i c f i g u r e s gamboled i n the c a r i c a t u r a l , g e s t i c modes of pantomime and burlesque or pursued t h e i r humors and c r o t c h e t s w i t h the mad c o n s i s t e n c y o f " f a r c e u r s . " I t i s a mode i n v o l v i n g . . . the s p r i g h t l y t r a n s p o s i t i o n s of animate and inanimate worlds; where pantomime clowns became animals, v e g e t a b l e s , and o b j e c t s , and where machin-ery, inanimate t h i n g s , and vegeta b l e l i f e turned i n t o people or took on some e x t r a o r d i n a r y a c t i v i t y o f t h e i r own [Axton, 28-29]. The a f f i n i t y between the grotesque and these t h e a t r i c a l techniques i s apparent i n Kayser's comments on the dramatic elements of "suddenness and s u r p r i s e " and the " g e s t i c s t y l e " which c h a r a c t e r i z e the grotesque. He d e f i n e s " g e s t i c " i n terms of v i s u a l art': "A completely f r o z e n a t t i -tude i n one p a r t of the drawing may suddenly g i v e way to the most e c c e n t r i c movements i n another" (Kayser, 39). Trans-posed i n t o l i t e r a r y , o r a t l e a s t dramatic terms, " g e s t i c " r e f e r s t o r a p i d , sudden, and e c c e n t r i c movements which are out of p r o p o r t i o n t o t h e i r c o n t e x t , and which suddenly and unexpectedly i n t r u d e or explode w i t h i n a p r e v i o u s l y s t a t i c scene. One of Faul k n e r ' s Southern "golems," Eck Snopes of 67 The Hamlet, provides an excellent example of "gestic" movement, bringing to his new position of blacksmith an uncontrolled and unceasing energy of both physical and verbal action which completely unsettles the scene: "Morning, morning," he said, his l i t t l e bright eyes darting. "Want that horse shod, hey? Good, good: save the hoof and save a l l . Good-looking animal. Seen a considerable better one i n a f i e l d a piece back. But no matter; love me, love my horse, beggars can't be choosers, i f wishes was horseflesh we'd a l l own thoroughbreds. What's the matter?" he said to the man i n the apron. He paused, though s t i l l he seemed to be i n v i o l e n t motion, as though the attitude and po s i t i o n of his garments gave no i n d i c a t i o n whatever of what the body within them might be doing—indeed, i f i t were s t i l l inside them at a l l . . . . the shoe shaped and cooled i n the tub, the newcomer darted i n again. I t was as i f he took not only Houston but himself too by complete s u r p r i s e — t h a t weasel-like qu a l i t y of e x i s t i n g independent of h i s clothing so that although you could grasp and hold that you could not r e s t r a i n the body i t s e l f from doing what i t was doing u n t i l the damage had been done—a furious already d i s s i -pating concentration of energy vanishing the instant a f t e r the intention took shape, the new-comer darting between Houston and the raised hoof and clapping the shoe onto i t and touching the animal's quick with the second blow of the hammer on the n a i l and being hurled, hammer and a l l , into the shrinking-tub by the plunging horse which Houston and the man i n the apron f i n a l l y backed into a corner and held while Houston jerked n a i l and shoe free and flung them into the corner and backed the horse savagely out of the shop, the hound r i s i n g and resuming i t s p o s i t i o n q u i e t l y at proper heeling distance behind the man [Hamlet, 64-65]. The t h e a t r i c a l or dramatic texture of the grotesque v i s i o n might also be explained i n part by the close r e l a t i o n -68 s h i p of the grotesque i m a g i n a t i o n to the v i s u a l and p h y s i c a l . The term "grotesque" i s u s u a l l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the v i s u a l a r t s , and was c o i n e d to d e s c r i b e a form of v i s u a l a r t . As Thomson remarks- "There i s nothing a b s t r a c t about the grotesque" (Thomson, 5 7 ) . These grotesque techniques which resemble and o f t e n b e g i n w i t h the techniques of c a r i c a t u r e or the t h e a t r e are p r i n c i p a l l y important to the a r t of the grotesque a t the l e v e l s of c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n , a c t i o n , and s e t t i n g , and to a c e r t a i n e x t e n t as a b a s i s f o r the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r e s of a grotesque n a r r a t i v e . The u n d e r l y i n g " r e d u c t i v e " q u a l i t i e s o f h e i g h t e n i n g and s i m p l i f i c a t i o n are important i n terms of a grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e or p o i n t of view as w e l l , however, and w i l l t h e r e f o r e p l a y a p a r t i n the c o n s i d e r a t i o n of a grotesque s t y l e . Those q u a l i t i e s which p r o v i d e the b a s i s f o r a grotesque form o r p e r s p e c t i v e which i s not n e c e s s a r i l y dependent upon the s u b j e c t - m a t t e r or content, or even upon a c e r t a i n r e l a -t i o n s h i p between content and form, are d i f f i c u l t t o i s o l a t e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the a b s t r a c t . However, a comparison w i t h the techniques a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the cinema i s u s e f u l i n t h i s r e s p e c t , and c e r t a i n of the techniques c e n t r a l to the f i l m are a l s o important t o the p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e of the gro-tesque mode. R e f e r r i n g to modern and experimental l i t e r a t u r e , Thomson asks 69 . . . to what extent modern experimental techniques —-stream of consciousness- point of view, the use of f i l m techniques, p r o l i f e r a t i o n of disparate styles and so on—themselves are related to the creation of the grotesque [Thomson, 64] . The p o t e n t i a l of cinematic techniques for the grotesque i s almost boundless. TThe most obvious a f f i n i t y exists between the v i s u a l emphasis of each. And i n a mode which often stresses the 11 object-ive" tendencies of humans, what more suitable technique than the detached o b j e c t i v i t y of the "camera eye"? The detachment proper to the grotesque, however, i s that "detachment" which i n fact gains i t s most potent effects through a sudden and unexpected involvement i n a scene or action, and which i s achieved through an o b j e c t i v i t y which estranges and provokes: a gratuitous and i r r e l e v a n t d e t a i l suddenly comes into focus, becoming the centre of attention; i t may be "zoomed-in" on, or "blown-up" out of a l l proportion to i t s context or value. If the d e t a i l i s normally a part of a larger whole, it.may suddenly appear by this method to take on an independent, and therefore l u d i -crous, or menacing, or ludicrous and menacing, existence. Events may be put into "slow-motion," or "fast-motion" (resembling the t h e a t r i c a l "gestic" s t y l e ) ; flashbacks, time-lapses, time-shifts, discontinuous or d i s j o i n t e d chronology, and a confusion between time as "temps" and time as "dureV become possible. 70 Thus far the main emphasis has been placed on the grotesque as a mode of al i e n a t i o n and estrangement, and upon the substance and techniques of the grotesque as means of breaking down, estranging, fusing,, confusing, and fragmenting f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y and i t s conventions, thereby rendering the known as unknown i n an aggressive and often h o s t i l e manner. This aspect of the grotesque i s c e r t a i n l y present, but the picture i s s t i l l incomplete. This i s es p e c i a l l y true when we consider the gradual movement away from the "gothic" or "demonic" grotesque and toward the comic-grotesque during the past century. On the one hand, then, the grotesque e f f e c t i s one of ali e n a t i o n : "Something which i s f a m i l i a r and trusted i s suddenly made strange and disturbing" (Thomson, 58). The sudden shock and impact of the grotesque amplifies i t s ag-gressiveness, and as well as being thus suited as a weapon used i n the contexts of s a t i r e , irony, parody, and burlesque, the grotesque . . . may also be used to bewilder and d i s o r i e n t , to bring the reader up short, j o l t him out of accustomed ways of perceiving the world and con-front him with a r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t , disturbing perspective [Thomson, 58]. On the other hand, th i s sudden recasting of f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y , or reorientation of perspective, which underlies the e f f e c t of estrangement or al i e n a t i o n , i s not necessarily seen as a movement ending with the breakdown of perspective 71 and r e a l i t y . Various c r i t i c s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the l i g h t of the comic component i n the grotesque, and of the psycholo-g i c a l functions performed by the comic-grotesque- have seen the "breaking-down" of experience as but a preliminary step i n a process rather than the end-result of a u n i l a t e r a l s h i f t . The term "step" i s i n fac t m i s l e a d i n g — i n the grotesque, the breaking down and restructuring of f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y actually occur simultaneously. Commenting on G. K. Chesterton's assessment of the grotesque, Arthur Clayborough states that Apart from being a r e f l e c t i o n of r e a l i t y , the grotesque i s thus i n the second place an a r t i s t i c device which does not so much serve to draw our attention from the natural world as to make us see the world with new eyes i n a way which i s not less but more t r u t h f u l than the usual attitude of casual acceptance. Clayborough goes on to note that the . . . chief point of in t e r e s t i n Chesterton's remarks on the grotesque i s the idea that the grotesque may be employed as a means of presenting the world i n a new l i g h t without f a l s i f y i n g i t [Clayborough, 59-6.0], Various c r i t i c s have more or less supported t h i s concept of the grotesque as a way of seeing the world anew, and of "restructuring" r e a l i t y , although few have been w i l l i n g to examine the means by which this process occurs. One means has already been suggested: the association of value and sig n i f i c a n c e to the presence of peripeteia, and the corresponding association of peripeteia with a "coercive" 72 s t y l e such as i s e x e m p l i f i e d by the grotesque. Another means i s suggested by the comic component which o f t e n c h a r a c t e r i z e s the grotesque. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note Ian Watt's statement t h a t . . . i t i s s u r e l y t h i s c o n s i s t e n t l y comic s t y l e t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z e s The S e c r e t Agent, from the b r i l l i a n t d e s c r i p t i o n of V e r l o c ' s walk to the Embassy i n chap. 2, t o t h a t of the murder i t s e l f . To d e f i n e the v a r y i n g elements of t h i s s t y l e i s one task which the c r i t i c s do not y e t seem t o have attempted . . . I agree w i t h Watt's c o n t e n t i o n t h a t a c l o s e r a n a l y s i s of the s t y l e i s a p r i n c i p a l key to a f u l l e r understanding of The S e c r e t Agent; but I d i s a g r e e t h a t t h i s s t y l e i s e s s e n t i a l l y comic i n nature, and o f f e r the grotesque as the proper schema w i t h which, i n Watt's words, "To d e f i n e the v a r y i n g elements of t h i s s t y l e . " The d i s t i n c t i o n between the comic and the grotesque i s not always c l e a r , and the concept of the former has been expanded i n the hands of c e r t a i n c r i t i c s t o i n c l u d e much of what c e r t a i n other c r i t i c s would a s s i g n t o the l a t t e r . I t i s perhaps here t h a t the p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y o r i e n t e d approaches t o the comic and the grotesque serve as the most u s e f u l means of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , p r o v i d i n g c e r t a i n i n s i g h t s t h a t other approaches are i n c a p a b l e of d i s c e r n i n g . Thomson i s o l a t e s what seems to be a p r i n c i p a l d i s t i n c t i o n i n terms of . . . the presence of one cause of l a u g h t e r which 73 one might not admit t o be connected w i t h the comic. This i s the p u r e l y d e f e n s i v e l a u g h t e r w i t h which a person seeks to ward o f f emotional shock or d i s t r e s s . In i t s extreme form, t h i s s o r t of laugh-t e r takes on overtones of h y s t e r i a ; but even i n a m i l d e r form, the nervous laugh, i t cannot be p r o p e r l y seen as a r e a c t i o n to the comic. Laughter p u r e l y i n defense means t h a t the person concerned does not f i n d anything comic i n whatever causes i t [Thomson, 5 3 - 5 4 ] . A c c o r d i n g to Thomson, then, l a u g h t e r i n the face of the grotesque i s not " f r e e " or " u n d i s t u r b e d " — t h e r e a c t i o n i s confused by a simultaneous r e c o g n i t i o n of t h a t aspect of the grotesque whxchlisVrinccmpatible w i t h the comic, " i t s h o r r i f y i n g , d i s g u s t i n g or f r i g h t e n i n g aspect" (Thomson, 5 3 - 5 4 ) . In terms o f the p s y c h o l o g i c a l e f f e c t a s s o c i a t e d with the grotesque, the process i n v o l v i n g the "breaking down and r e s t r u c t u r i n g of f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y " i s e q u i v a l e n t t o a dynamic process of i n t e r a c t i o n between author and m a t e r i a l , and m a t e r i a l and reader, i n v o l v i n g the l i b e r a t i o n from f e a r s and i n h i b i t i o n s . As i m p l i e d i n the above d i s c u s s i o n of l a u g h t e r , however, the response i s not s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d or u n i l a t e r a l , and n e i t h e r i s the e f f e c t . T h i s r a i s e s the q u e s t i o n "of whether the grotesque has a l i b e r a t i n g or an i n h i b i t i n g , t e n s i o n - p r o d u c i n g e f f e c t " (Thomson, 59). I s the non-comic element-.?—the g o t h i c , o r d i s g u s t i n g , or h o r r i b l e — u n d e r c u t and thereby c o n t r o l l e d by the comic element, or does the o p p o s i t e occur, and the h o r r i f y i n g or d i s g u s t i n g cut across a b a s i c a l l y comic v i s i o n t h a t "the guffaw becomes a grimace" (Thomson, 5 9 ) ? The most p l a u s i b l e a n a l y s i s of the grotesque paradox i n terms of i t s p s y c h o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n and s i g n i f i c a n c e i s put f o r t h by M i chael S t e i g i n h i s a r t i c l e " D e f i n i n g the Grotesque: An 4 2 Attempt at S y n t h e s i s . " S t e i g begins by examining the concept developed by L. B. Jennings ( i n The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Grotesque i n German Post-Romantic Prose) t h a t a "disarming mechanism" i s a t work i n the grotesque, by means of which, a c c o r d i n g to Jennings, "The formation of f e a r images i s i n t e r c e p t e d , a t i t s very onset, by the comic tendency, and the r e s u l t i n g o b j e c t r e f l e c t s t h i s i n t e r a c t i o n of opposing f o r c e s " (quoted i n S t e i g , 2 5 5 ) . Whereas such an e x p l a n a t i o n seems l o g i c a l , S t e i g pursues h i s d e f i n i t i o n y e t f u r t h e r , and moves on to the p r i n c i p l e enunciated by Thomas Cramer i n h i s study of the grotesque i n the works of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Das Groteske b e i E. T. A. Hoffmann): "the grotesque i s the f e e l i n g of a n x i e t y aroused by means o f the comic pushed to an extreme," but c o n v e r s e l y , "the grotesque i s the d e f e a t , by means of the comic, cof a n x i e t y i n the f a c e of the i n e x p l i c a b l e " (quoted i n S t e i g , 2 5 6 ) . As S t e i g p o i n t s out, This f o r m u l a t i o n o f the complementarity of the fearsome and the comic allows us to move beyond the r a t h e r mechanical n o t i o n of the comic as s o l e l y a d e f e n s i v e measure a g a i n s t a n x i e t y : i n the grotesque they are more complexly r e l a t e d , i n t h a t the e x t r a v - • agant use of the comic can c r e a t e a n x i e t y , as w e l l as r e l i e v e i t [ S t e i g , 2 5 6 ] . T h i s s i m u l t a n e i t y (or what S t e i g designates as "com-plem e n t a r i t y " ) and ambivalence of response was i n t i m a t e d 75 e a r l i e r i n the d i s c u s s i o n of c a r i c a t u r e , when Thomson p o i n t e d out t h a t "a norm of abnormality" e x i s t e d , and t h a t what seemed at one moment t o promote detachment, the next moment i n v o l v e d the p e r c e i v e r i n an uncomfortable and perhaps t h r e a t e n i n g manner. Or r a t h e r than speak i n terms of a s u c c e s s i o n . o f responses, i t i s more accurate to say t h a t a m u l t i l e v e l e d response occurs s i m u l t a n e o u s l y : . . . on one l e v e l , we w i l l respond t o the d i s t o r t e d , unhuman q u a l i t i e s of the c h a r a c t e r w i t h a n x i e t y , because they are strange and a l i e n and y e t seem t o resemble human q u a l i t i e s ; but a t the same time, the f a c t t h a t these q u a l i t i e s are r e c o g n i z a b l y a d e n i a l of humanity to the c h a r a c t e r a allows us t o t r e a t him as though he were separate from our own r e a l i t y , and thus u n t h r e a t e n i n g [ S t e i g , 256]. S t e i g p o i n t s to t h i s p a r a d o x i c a l nature of the grotesque as the f e a t u r e which d i s t i n g u i s h e s the grotesque from the comic — i n pure comedy the defense i s complete, and detachment i s achieved, whereas the grotesque i s "double-edged," and both " a l l a y s and i n t e n s i f i e s " the f e a r s , a n x i e t i e s , and i n h i b i -t i o n s which are a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the response. Although Dickens* c h a r a c t e r s — F a g i n , Krook, Heep, f o r i n s t a n c e — a r e u s u a l l y c i t e d as examples of grotesque charac-t e r i z a t i o n prompted by p s y c h o l o g i c a l motives, one of the b e s t examples may be found i n Conrad's Under Western Eyes, i n the person (or r a t h e r form) of the double-agent N i k i t a : a " c r e a t u r e , so grotesque as t o s e t town dogs b a r k i n g a t i t s mere s i g h t . . ." (267). The comical but f r i g h t e n i n g 76 grotesqueness of "Necator," as he i s nicknamed, i s r e g i s t e r e d by Razumov i n h i s f i r s t encounter w i t h him: The abrupt squeaks of the f a t man seemed to proceed from t h a t t h i n g l i k e a b a l l o o n he c a r r i e d under h i s overcoat. The s t o l i d i t y of h i s a t t i t u d e , the b i g f e e t , the l i f e l e s s , hanging hands, the enormous b l o o d l e s s cheek, the t h i n wisps of h a i r s t r a g g l i n g down the f a t nape of the neck, f a s c i n a -ted Razumov i n t o a s t a r e on the verge of h o r r o r and l a u g h t e r [266]. Although rendered f l a b b y and absurd, and "reduced to the p r o p o r t i o n s of a squeaking toy" (225) , the v i c i o u s monstros-i t y of N i k i t a remains b a r e l y endurable, and h i s a t t a c k on Razumov a f t e r the l a t t e r ' s c o n f e s s i o n i s b r u t a l and h o r r i b l e . The concept of the grotesque which emerges w i t h i n a p s y c h o l o g i c a l framework i s t h e r e f o r e t h a t of a mode which provokes and b r i n g s t o the s u r f a c e our f e a r s and a n x i e t i e s , where they are rendered l e s s harmful o r i n o p e r a t i v e through comic management. The management i s incomplete, however, and the e f f e c t i s t h e r e f o r e ambiguous and a m b i v a l e n t — t h i s , i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h the f a c t t h a t i t i s o f t e n the comic pushed t o an extreme which e l i c i t s these f e a r s and a n x i e t i e s i n the f i r s t p l a c e , serves to d i s t i n g u i s h the grotesque from other modes. The p s y c h o l o g i c a l concept of the grotesque can be r e l a t e d t o the t h i r d p a r t of the d e f i n i t i o n put f o r t h by Kayser: In s p i t e of a l l the h e l p l e s s n e s s and h o r r o r i n s p i r e d by the dark f o r c e s which l u r k i n and behind our world and have pov/er to estrange i t , the t r u l y a r t i s t i c p o r t r a y a l e f f e c t s a s e c r e t l i b e r a t i o n . The darkness has been s i g h t e d , the ominous powers d i s c o v e r e d , the incomprehensible f o r c e s c h a l l e n g e d . And thus we a r r i v e a t a f i n a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the grotesque: an attempt t o invoke and subdue the demonic aspects o f the world [Kayser, 18 8 ] . Although Kayser couches h i s d e f i n i t i o n i n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y g o t h i c terminology, he n e v e r t h e l e s s makes e x p l i c i t the l i n k between the' c r e a t i v e motive and the p s y c h o l o g i c a l response of the reader. The p s y c h o l o g i c a l approach p r o v i d e s the most d e t a i l e d e x p l o r a t i o n of "the processes i n v o l v e d i n our response t o the grotesque" ( S t e i g , 260) , and serves to complement the concept of the grotesque as a mode which operates d y n a m i c a l l y as w e l l as r e f l e c t i v e l y and s t a t i c a l l y . I t i s p a r t i c u l a r l y u s e f u l , a c c o r d i n g to Thomson, i n t h a t " i t accounts i n psycho-l o g i c a l terms f o r the e s s e n t i a l paradox of the grotesque: t h a t i t i s both l i b e r a t i n g and t e n s i o n - p r o d u c i n g a t the same time" (Thomson, 61). The p s y c h o l o g i c a l concept of the grotesque would t h e r e -f o r e seem to support the o v e r a l l concept of the grotesque as the simultaneous b r e a k i n g down and r e s t r u c t u r i n g of f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y , accomplished through the r a d i c a l p r e s e n t a t i o n of a s u b j e c t - m a t t e r which i s i n i t s e l f f r e q u e n t l y , but not neces-s a r i l y , abnormal, and which aims n e i t h e r at complete a l i e n a -t i o n nor complete detachment, but r a t h e r p l a y s one a g a i n s t the other i n order to e f f e c t a readjustment of p e r s p e c t i v e 7 8 toward the f a m i l i a r , commonplace world. In s h o r t , the grotesque i s a means of t r a n s f o r m i n g the e x i s t i n g w o r l d . Although the grotesque mode f l o u r i s h e s i n many a r t forms, and although many o f i t s most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e s and m o t i f s are e q u a l l y apparent and e f f e c t i v e i n each of these, i t i s a l s o t r u e t h a t c e r t a i n unique aspects of each form are e s p e c i a l l y p r e d i s p o s e d towards the grotesque. By examining some of the aspects of language and l i t e r a r y d i s c o u r s e t h a t seem to have a p a r t i c u l a r a f f i n i t y f o r the grotesque, the e x t e n t to which the grotesque i s a v e r b a l phenomenon i n any g i v e n t e x t w i l l become more apparent. Language and l i t e r a r y d i s c o u r s e i n g e n e r a l are as s u b j e c t t o the d i s t o r t i o n s and d i s c r e p a n c i e s of the grotesque as any other human c r e a t i o n or s t r u c t u r e ; and i n s o f a r as language or d i s c o u r s e i s dependent upon conventions, prone to c l i c h ^ s a n d s t e r e o t y p e e x p r e s s i o n s , s u b j e c t to hyperbole, m u l t i p l e meaning, ambiguity, f i g u r a t i v e d i s t o r t i o n , and capable of b e i n g p r o l i f e r a t e d along a t a n g e n t i a l course of development, i t i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s u i t a b l e as a grotesque medium. As Thomson p o i n t s out, the grotesque may a c t u a l l y o r i g i n a t e i n the "play" w i t h language, as i s f r e q u e n t l y the 79 case i n the works of such w r i t e r s as Edward Lear, Lewis C a r r o l l , C h r i s t i a n Morgenstern, and James Joyce. Such " p l a y " a l s o goes beyond mere whim and c a p r i c e , o f t e n being motivated by the b e l i e f t h a t language i n h i b i t s e x p r e s s i o n , imprisons c r e a t i v i t y , and, because of i t s c o n v e n t i o n a l and a r b i t r a r y nature, f a l s i f i e s e x p e r i e n c e . Thomson notes t h a t from t h i s p o i n t of view, Morgenstern 1s b r i l l i a n t l y w i t t y games wit h words are . . . devious devices of a l i e n a t i o n , and at t h e i r most r a d i c a l succeed i n producing i n the reader a strange s e n s a t i o n — m a k i n g one suddenly doubt one's comfortable r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h the l a n g u a g e — n o t u n l i k e the sense of d i s o r i e n t a t i o n and c o n f u s i o n a s s o c i a t e d with the grotesque [Thomson, 65]. Although i t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t the pure p l a y with language, i r r e s p e c t i v e of content, stands behind more than a s m a l l f r a c t i o n of grotesque l i t e r a t u r e , i t i s probable t h a t t h i s aspect p l a y s some p a r t a t l e a s t i n most l i t e r a r y g r o t e s q u e r i e ; even more s i g n i f i c a n t i s the c l a r i t y with w h i c h t h e e x t r e m e c a s e s d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t s p e c i f i c e l e m e n t s of language f a c i l i t a t e and encourage the development of the grotesque. A c c o r d i n g l y , the grotesqueness o f a g i v e n work may be d e s c r i b e d i n p a r t on a v e r b a l b a s i s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n terms of those elements which are e x p l o i t e d by the w r i t e r f o r grotesque ends, or which, because of t h e i r n a t u r a l a f f i n i t y f o r the grotesque, r e f l e c t the concerns of the grotesque v i s i o n and p e r s p e c t i v e . In e i t h e r case, the elements are the same, and may be t r a c e d from c e r t a i n f i g u r a t i v e d e v i c e s through t o an o v e r a l l n a r r a t i v e " v o i c e . " The f i g u r e of speech b e s t s u i t e d to the grotesque i s the s i m i l e , which serves t o i n d i c a t e the strangeness of the f a m i l i a r i n i t s a b i l i t y to l i n k one commonplace t h i n g or f e a t u r e w i t h another q u i t e incongruous t h i n g or f e a t u r e . E q u a l l y important i s the f a c t t h a t the s i m i l e i s able to h o l d the two th i n g s b e i n g compared i n p a r i t y o r suspension. A p a r t i c u l a r l y u n s e t t l i n g example of such f i g u r a t i v e ambivalence i s the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n from Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust; He got out of bed i n s e c t i o n s , l i k e a p o o r l y made automaton, and c a r r i e d h i s hands i n t o the bathroom. He turned on the c o l d water. When the b a s i n was f u l l , he plunged h i s hands i n up to the w r i s t s . They l a y q u i e t l y on the bottom l i k e a p a i r of s t range a q u a t i c animals. When they were t h o r -oughly c h i l l e d and began t o crawl about, he l i f t e d them out and h i d them i n a towel. He was c o l d . He ran hot water i n t o the tub and began t o undress, fumbling w i t h the buttons o f h i s c l o t h i n g as though he were undressing a s t r a n g e r . He was naked b e f o r e the tub was f u l l enough to get indand he s a t down on a s t o o l to w a i t . He kept h i s enormous hands f o l d e d q u i e t l y on h i s b e l l y . A l -though a b s o l u t e l y s t i l l , they seemed curbed r a t h e r than r e s t i n g . ^ 3 Here the r e d u c t i v e q u a l i t y o f the f i g u r a t i v e e quation i s e s p e c i a l l y apparent i n the v i s i o n o f the hands t a k i n g on a grotesque l i f e of t h e i r own, which, together w i t h the animal and mechanical imagery, e f f e c t the estrangement of the human realm. 81 The examples c o u l d be m u l t i p l i e d ; both Dickens and Conrad make fre q u e n t use of the t r a n s f i g u r i n g p o t e n t i a l of the s i m i l e , metaphor, and "as i f " formula. Whereas the s i m i l e has the v i r t u e of p a r i t y , suspension, and ambivalence, the metaphor i s e s p e c i a l l y s u i t e d to the sudden and unexpected t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of the commonplace. A l l o f these f i g u r a t i v e means are p a r t i c u l a r l y d e v a s t a t i n g when a p p l i e d r e d u c t i v e l y t o man. The apparent fragmentation and indepen-dence of normally coherent aspects or p a r t s , the sense of automation or mechanization, and the mi n g l i n g of the human and non-human, a l l o f which are presen t i n the above example from West's The Day of the Locust, are a l s o e v i d e n t i n s i m i l a r d e s c r i p t i o n s i n Dickens and Conrad. Dickens' Mr. Chadband, f o r example, i s d e s c r i b e d as b e i n g : . . . a l a r g e y e l l o w man, w i t h a f a t s m i l e , and a ge n e r a l appearance of having a good d e a l of t r a i n o i l i n h i s system. . . . Mr. Chadband moves s o f t l y and cumbrously, not u n l i k e a bear who has been taught t o walk u p r i g h t . He i s very much embarrassed about the arms, as i f they were i n c o n v e n i e n t to him, and he wanted to g r o v e l [Bleak, 316-317]. Faulkner uses s i m i l a r means of d e s c r i p t i o n i n c h a r a c t e r i z i n g many of the grotesques i n The Hamlet, e s p e c i a l l y the ominous and deadly Flem Snopes: . . . a t h i c k squat s o f t man of no e s t a b l i s h a b l e age between twenty and t h i r t y , w i t h a broad s t i l l f a c e c o n t a i n i n g a t i g h t seam of mouth s t a i n e d s l i g h t l y at the corners w i t h tobacco, and eyes the c o l o r of stagnant water, and p r o j e c t i n g from among the other f e a t u r e s i n s t a r t l i n g and sudden paradox, a t i n y predatory nose l i k e the beak of a s m a l l hawk. 82 I t was as though the o r i g i n a l nose had been l e f t o f f by the o r i g i n a l d e s igner or draftsman and the u n f i n i s h e d job taken over by someone of a r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t s c h o o l or perhaps by some v i c i o u s l y maniacal humorist or perhaps by one who had had only time to c l a p i n t o the c e n t e r of the face a f r a n t i c and desperate warning [Hamlet, 52]. In h i s a n a l y s i s of Faulkner's Snopes T r i l o g y , Lewis A. Lawson employs the term "meiosis" to d e s c r i b e the process of v e r b a l r e d u c t i o n i l l u s t r a t e d by the above example. Mei-o s i s , a c c o r d i n g to Lawson, i s a form of d i m i n u t i o n , which i n t u r n i s "any k i n d of speech which tends, e i t h e r by the f o r c e of low or v u l g a r imagery, or by other s u g g e s t i o n , to depress an o b j e c t below i t s u s u a l l y accepted s t a t u s . S u c h d e s c r i p t i o n s r e s u l t i n the primary o b j e c t absorbing the con-t e m p t i b i l i t y of the secondary o b j e c t w i t h which i t i s being compared. (In l i g h t of the frequent r e f e r e n c e s to o b e s i t y , and the a s s o c i a t i o n of o b e s i t y w i t h c e r t a i n types of animals and w i t h the inanimate, i n The S e c r e t Agent, i t i s i n t e r e s t -i n g t o note t h a t "meiosis" i s the Greek r h e t o r i c a l term f o r "the technique of r e n d e r i n g d e v i l s f l a b b y " [Lawson, 45-46].) A t the same time, as the f i g u r a t i v e a t t a c k s upon such c h a r a c t e r s as Dickens' F a g i n , Conrad's Necator, and Faulkner's Snopes make c l e a r , the technique of m e i o s i s , and of grotesque c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i n g e n e r a l , serves a l s o t o i n t e n s i f y the ominous nature of c e r t a i n f i g u r e s , and t o i n c r e a s e as w e l l as a l l a y the anxiety or f e a r e f f e c t e d by t h e i r presence. As w e l l as e x p l o i t i n g the c o n v e n t i o n a l norms of 83 language, such as the c l i c h e and the r e l a t i o n s h i p between l i t e r a l and f i g u r a t i v e dimensions of meaning, the w r i t e r may a l s o employ o t h e r aspects o f language as v e h i c l e s f o r the grotesque. The p r o p e n s i t y toward a c e r t a i n type o f imagery may be accompanied by the tendency toward extravagant p r o l i f -e r a t i o n of such image:r.yif i n which the grotesque i s e f f e c t e d through the use of e x c e s s i v e and g r a t u i t o u s d e t a i l . A technique c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d withlj.the^"p.iayv l!^with language, being i t s e l f d e f i n e d as a "play on words," i s the pun. Both the pun and the double-entendre re p r e s e n t potent means of f u s i n g c o n f l i c t i n g elements, e s p e c i a l l y the comic and a n t i - c o m i c . The grotesque p o s s i b i l i t i e s of these v e r b a l turns are b e s t i l l u s t r a t e d by the puns d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t S t e v i e i n The S e c r e t Agent, as, f o r example, when the n a r r a -t o r remarks i n chapter one t h a t "he was d i f f i c u l t to dispose o f , t h a t boy" (8); or when Winnie warns S t e v i e "not t o d i r t y h i s c l o t h e s unduly i n the country," f o l l o w e d by the remon-s t r a n c e : "'You know you do get y o u r s e l f very u n t i d y when you get a chance, S t e v i e " 1 (189). As w e l l as t u r n i n g language and d i s c o u r s e t o grotesque ends by means of such d e v i c e s as f i g u r a t i v e language, m e i o s i s , p r o l i f e r a t i o n , puns and double-entendres, i t i s a l s o p o s s i b l e t o achieve a grotesque e f f e c t through i n c o n g r u i t i e s between c h a r a c t e r and d i a l o g u e , and between d i a l o g u e and s i t u a t i o n . J u s t as the grotesque a c t i o n s and f e a t u r e s of a 84 c h a r a c t e r are reached through an extreme c a r i c a t u r e , so too i s the d i a l o g u e of such c h a r a c t e r s rendered grotesque through extreme parody. Chapter three of The S e c r e t Agent o f f e r s a good example of t h i s type of grotesque d i s c o u r s e ; the n a r r a t i v e o s c i l l a t e s between grotesque d i a l o g u e (reduced t o a disembodied monologue i n Conrad's world o f non-communica-t i o n ) and grotesque d e s c r i p t i o n : "I have always dreamed," he [Yundt] mouthed, f i e r c e l y , "of a band of men abs o l u t e i n t h e i r r e s o l v e to d i s c a r d a l l s c r u p l e s i n the c h o i c e of means, s t r o n g enough t o g i v e themselves f r a n k l y the name of d e s t r o y e r s , and f r e e from the t a i n t of t h a t r e s i g n e d pessimism which r o t s the world. No p i t y f o r anything on e a r t h , i n c l u d i n g themselves, and death e n l i s t e d f o r good and a l l i n the s e r v i c e o f h u m a n i t y — t h a t ' s what I would have l i k e d t o see." His l i t t l e b a l d head q u i v e r e d , i m p a r t i n g a comical v i b r a t i o n t o the wisp of white goatee. His e n u n c i a t i o n would have been almost' t o t a l l y u n i n t e l l i g i b l e to a s t r a n g e r . His worn-out p a s s i o n , resembling i n i t s impotent f i e r c e n e s s the e x c i t e -ment of a s e n i l e s e n s u a l i s t , was badly served by a d r i e d t h r o a t and t o o t h l e s s gums which seemed t o catc h the t i p o f h i s tongue,, [42-43] . The u t t e r a n c e s o f the c h a r a c t e r s are s u b j e c t e d t o the same grotesque d i s t o r t i o n s t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z e t h e i r f e a t u r e s and a c t i o n s . The syntax fragments t h e i r b o d i e s , a c t i o n s , and u t t e r a n c e s i n t o s e r i e s of d i s c r e t e , e s s e n t i a l l y u n r e l a t e d phenomena, d i s s o c i a t i n g s p i r i t and f l e s h , s e v e r i n g i n t e n t i o n from a c t and motive from speech, s t y l i z i n g g e sture and ex-p r e s s i o n u n t i l the c h a r a c t e r s take on the mindless f o r m a l i t y of automata. These v a r i o u s aspects o f language and d i s c o u r s e might 85 be c o n s i d e r e d t o g e t h e r i n terms of what Axton c a l l s the "grotesque v o i c e . " A c c o r d i n g to Axton, the grotesque v o i c e i s " o r d i n a r i l y a d e s c r i p t i v e mode, which i s marked by a d i s c r e p a n t use of language t o render strange the f a m i l i a r o b j e c t - w o r l d by d i s c o r d a n c e and i n c o n g r u i t y " (Axton, 155). Axton goes on t o d e f i n e t h i s " v o i c e " on the b a s i s of i t s i m a g i s t i c and d e s c r i p t i v e q u a l i t i e s , p o i n t i n g out t h a t : . . . the grotesque v o i c e . . . i s mainly deployed i n s c e n i c d e s c r i p t i o n , where i t may be i d e n t i f i e d by the presence of incongruous imagery t o d e p i c t commonplace o b j e c t s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , g r o t e s q u e r i e takes the form of f i g u r a t i v e t r a n s p o s i t i o n or j u x t a -p o s i t i o n of i n c o m p a t i b l e or d i s c r e p a n t realms, much i n the manner of t h e a t r i c a l pantomime: the inanimate and animate, the b e s t i a l and the human, the f a m i l i a r and the e x o t i c . Or i t may e q u a l l y i n v o l v e the i n t e r m i x t u r e of coirLmphpiecet-iitemsrdrawfirf••romivtwo- or more widely separated c o n t e x t s , [or] the f a n t a s t i c p r o l i f e r a t i o n of c o n c r e t e r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s f a r i n excess o f any d e s c r i p t i v e necessity.- [Axton, 155-156] . P e t e r S t e e l e has remarked of Dickens t h a t "grotesque-r i e i s something i n Dickens's v o i c e as w e l l as something i n h i s eye" ( S t e e l e , 21); t h i s same o b s e r v a t i o n c o u l d w e l l be a p p l i e d to The S e c r e t Agent, and v a r i o u s c r i t i c s , among them A l b e r t Guerard, J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , Norman H o l l a n d , and U. C. Knoepflmacher, have r e f e r r e d to the p a r t i c u l a r " v o i c e " which c h a r a c t e r i z e s the n o v e l . I t i s toward an understanding of t h i s " v o i c e , " and i t s c o n t r i b u t i o n to the grotesque v i s i o n and p e r s p e c t i v e i n The S e c r e t Agent, t h a t the r e s t of the t h e s i s i s devoted. 86 PART I I I 1. THE SECRET AGENT; GROTESQUE CONTENT The p l o t of The S e c r e t Agent ce n t r e s upon the attempted bombing of Greenwich Observatory, and begins w i t h Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s demand t h a t V e r l o c c r e a t e an a n a r c h i s t - t y p e i n c i d e n t . Mr. V e r l o c i n t u r n sends h i s h a l f - w i t b r o t h e r - i n -law S t e v i e , bomb i n hand, on a m i s s i o n t o blow up the Observ-a t o r y ; S t e v i e a c c i d e n t a l l y t r i p s over the r o o t of a t r e e i n the park adjacent to h i s t a r g e t and blows h i m s e l f to b i t s . The f a i l u r e t o complete the a t t a c k a g a i n s t the Observatory presents no o b s t a c l e t o the sequence of events which has been i n i t i a t e d . Even the s t r i c t l y " p o l i t i c a l " p l o t i s continued by the e x p l o s i o n : the t a r g e t i s missed, but an i r r a t i o n a l e x p l o s i o n n e v e r t h e l e s s o c c u r s , thereby f u l f i l l i n g the p r i n -c i p a l demand of Mr. V l a d i m i r . More important, however, at l e a s t w i t h regard to the p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r s i n the n o v e l , i s the death of S t e v i e . T h i s f a c t serves to i n t e r t w i n e the domestic a f f a i r s of the V e r l o c household w i t h the p o l i t i c a l p l o t , both of which are f u r t h e r k n i t by the s i n g u l a r focus of the subsequent p o l i c e i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Ths p o l i t i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of the s t o r y which emerge e a r l y i n the n o v e l are g r a d u a l l y subordinated to the "domes-t i c " i m p l i c a t i o n s which S t e v i e ' s death i n t r o d u c e s ; although 87 a n a r c h i s t s , r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s , embassy o f f i c i a l s , p o l i t i c a l f i g u r e s , and policemen r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a n a r c h i s t a c t i v i t i e s crowd the scene, the sequence of events culminates i n two main i n c i d e n t s p r i m a r i l y connected to the domestic r a t h e r than the p o l i t i c a l p l o t : Winnie's murder of V e r l o c , and her subsequent s u i c i d e . The p o l i t i c a l p l o t continues along i t s i r o n i c curve, coming f u l l c i r c l e to d e s t r o y V e r l o c and render Mr. V l a d i m i r i n e f f e c t i v e as a p o l i t i c a l f o r c e . Our a t t e n t i o n has long s i n c e s h i f t e d almost f u l l y to the V e r l o c household and i t s b i z a r r e goings on, however, and there i s a g r e a t d e a l of t r u t h t o the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner's observa-t i o n t h a t "'From a c e r t a i n p o i n t of view we are here i n the presence of a domestic drama'" (222). From y e t another p o i n t of view, The S e c r e t Agent might appear a t f i r s t to have been composed with an eye to the popular market. The bomb-explosion,ismurder, and s u i c i d e ; the presence of r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s , a n a r c h i s t s , policemen, and s e c r e t agents; and the c r i m i n a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n , p o l i t i c a l i n t r i g u e , and a i r of m y s t e r y — a l l of these elements would seem t o i n d i c a t e the melodramatic p l o t of the crime novel or " t h r i l l e r . " ' In f a c t , A l b e r t Guerard a f f i r m s t h a t with The  S e c r e t Agent Conrad " v i r t u a l l y c r e a t e d the genre of the s e r i o u s p s y c h o - p o l i t i c a l mystery n o v e l " (Guerard, 220). I t soon becomes apparent, however, t h a t none of these elements are b e i n g employed merely f o r t h e i r own sake (Guerard i s 88 c a r e f u l t o use the a d j e c t i v e " s e r i o u s " ) , although e a r l y r e c e p t i o n of the n o v e l tended to q u e s t i o n t h i s , and Conrad even f e l t compelled to f o r m a l l y defend the " s e r i o u s n e s s " of h i s purpose i n the "Preface" to The S e c r e t Agent: I confess t h a t i t makes a g r i s l y s k e l e t o n . But s t i l l I w i l l submit t h a t t e l l i n g Winnie V e r l o c ' s s t o r y to i t s a n a r c h i s t i c end of u t t e r d e s o l a t i o n , madness and d e s p a i r , and t e l l i n g i t as I have t o l d i t here, I have not intended to commit a g r a t u i t o u s outrage on the f e e l i n g s of mankind [ x v ] . A t the other extreme, i t i s p o s s i b l e to r e l a t e the n a r r a t i v e to jhi fstorikcH-l l f a c t : s p e c i f i c a l l y , t o an a c t u a l bombing attempt which occu r r e d on February 14, 189 4, and has s i n c e come to be known as the "Greenwich Bomb Outrage of 1894." An a n a r c h i s t , or r a t h e r a man supposed by the p o l i c e t o be an a n a r c h i s t , named M a r t i a l Bourdin, d i e d s h o r t l y a f t e r the bomb he was c a r r y i n g exploded prematurely i n G r e e n w i c h — i t i s s p e c u l a t e d t h a t h i s t a r g e t was the Greenwich Observatory. The connection between the h i s t o r i c a l event and the f i c t i o n a l account i n The S e c r e t Agent i s supported by v a r i o u s s i m i l a r -i t i e s and f a c t s , not the l e a s t of which i s Conrad's e x p l i c i t r e f e r e n c e i n h i s "Preface" to "the a l r e a d y o l d s t o r y of the attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory," f o l l o w e d by h i s d e c l a r a t i o n t h a t "This book i s t h a t s t o r y , reduced to manageable p r o p o r t i o n s , i t s whole course suggested and c e n t r e d around the absurd c r u e l t y of the Greenwich Park e x p l o s i o n " (x, x i i ) . F u r t h e r support f o r the h i s t o r i c a l r e f e r e n c e and framework of the n o v e l i s o f f e r e d by Ian Watt, 89 who p o i n t s out t h a t "The years between the Greenwich explo-s i o n and the w r i t i n g of The Se c r e t Agent were c e r t a i n l y the golden age of p o l i t i c a l 'agents p r o v o c a t e u r s ' " [Casebook, 238). The h i s t o r i c a l and t o p i c a l aspects of the n a r r a t i v e are c e r t a i n l y worth c o n s i d e r i n g , but to conclude with Norman Sherry t h a t "the no v e l d e r i v e s undoubtedly from Conrad's knowledge of the Bomb Outrage and of a n a r c h i s t a c t i v i t y i n 45 London a t t h a t time" accents these aspects i n a way t h a t i s as untenable as the view t h a t the v i s i o n i s p u r e l y g r a t u i -tous i n purpose; both views i g n o r e the n a r r a t i v e c o m p l e x i t i e s of the novel as a whole. A t r u e sense of the n a r r a t i v e l i e s somewhere between these extremes, although the r e c o n c i l i a t i o n of p e r s p e c t i v e , s t y l e , s u b j e c t , and content i s not, as i t turns out, simply a matter of compromise. Ian Watt's q u a l i f i c a t i o n of the h i s -t o r i c a l r e f e r e n c e i n which he s t a t e s t h a t "although Joseph Conrad's f i c t i o n n e a r l y always s t a r t e d from some germ of r e a l i t y — a n anecdote, an h i s t o r i c a l event, an i n c i d e n t seen or a c o n v e r s a t i o n o v e r h e a r d — b y the time the work was f i n -i s h e d i t u s u a l l y d i s c l a i m e d any r e l a t i o n to a c t u a l persons, p l a c e s o r events" (Casebook 229) , may serve t o put the f a c t u a l c o n n e c t i o n i n a proper p e r s p e c t i v e , but c e r t a i n l y doesn't d i m i n i s h the l i t e r a l concerns of the n a r r a t i v e . I t i s apparent t h a t even without the "Bomb Outrage of 1894" the n a r r a t i v e i s " r e a l i s t i c " i n the sense t h a t i t s urban s e t t i n g 90 i s d i s t i n c t l y modern and f a m i l i a r , i t s c h a r a c t e r s r e p r e s e n t p o s s i b i l i t i e s w i t h i n the broad s o c i a l v i s i o n t h a t the no v e l p r e s e n t s , and i t s s u b j e c t i s t o p i c a l . In the l i g h t o f the above, a s t r o n g c r i t i c a l g r a v i t a -t i o n toward thematic i n t e r p r e t a t i o n based upon the l i t e r a l concerns o f The S e c r e t Agent has p e r s i s t e d from the beg i n n i n g , although r e c e n t c r i t i c i s m has been i n c r e a s i n g l y turned toward other dimensions o f the n a r r a t i v e . I b e l i e v e t h a t both approaches have a p l a c e i n a comprehensive rea d i n g of The  S e c r e t Agent; j u s t as the thoroughness and i m a g i n a t i v e con-t i n u i t y of the l i t e r a l v i s i o n cannot be ig n o r e d , so too i s there s t r o n g and c o n s i s t e n t evidence throughout the novel f o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s which u l t i m a t e l y transcend the l i t e r a l concerns. I w i l l f i r s t of a l l examine the p o s s i b i l i t i e s and l i m i t a t i o n s o f those i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s which focus upon the e x p l i c i t s u b j e c t s and themes of The S e c r e t Agent, and then move toward a con c e p t i o n of the no v e l which w i l l a l s o take account of those aspects o f the n a r r a t i v e which seem to elude such i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . These n a r r a t i v e " d i f f i c u l t i e s , " p a r t i c u l a r l y those concerning s t y l e and p o i n t of view, are apparent i n an a n a l y s i s o f The S e c r e t Agent by I r v i n g Howe (in c l u d e d i n h i s P o l i t i c s and the Novel) which i s r e l e v a n t to v a r i o u s aspects of the d i s c u s s i o n to t h i s p o i n t . Howe's study p r o v i d e s an example of an approach which focuses upon the l i t e r a l 91 concerns of the n o v e l , which sees Conrad's treatment of h i s m a t e r i a l as be i n g g r a t u i t o u s i n purpose, and which i n a d v e r -t e n t l y demonstrates the n e c e s s i t y f o r an approach which, u n l i k e h i s own, does not view s t y l e as an adjunct t o content and s u b j e c t . In b r i e f , Howe takes the n a r r a t i v e l i t e r a l l y , and approaches The S e c r e t Agent as a s t o r y which has p o l i t i c a l anarchy and p o l i t i c a l a n a r c h i s t s as i t s main concern. Howe asks of a n a r r a t i v e t h a t i t be "tru e to l i f e " — a n d i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r case, t h a t i t be "tru e to the moral c o m p l e x i t i e s 46 of p o l i t i c a l behaviour." The v i s i o n of The S e c r e t Agent which emerges through t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i s i n t e r e s t i n g and i n f o r m a t i v e : What one misses i n The S e c r e t Agent i s some dramatic p r i n c i p l e of c o n t r a d i c t i o n , some f o r c e o f r e s i s t a n c e ; i n a word, a moral p o s i t i v e t o serve l i t e r a r y ends. Conrad's i r o n i c tone s u f f u s e s every sentence, nagging a t our a t t e n t i o n to the p o i n t where one yearns f o r the r e l i e f of d i r e c t statement almost as i f i t were an e t h i c a l good. And t h i s i s t r u e even f o r Conrad's development of the theme t h a t the most d e v i a n t p o l i t i c a l f i g u r e s are d r i v e n to d e s t r u c t i o n by t h e i r d e s i r e , shared w i t h the v a s t s l u g g i s h mass of men, f o r normal and domestic convenience. That the very motives which l e a d one man t o a suburb can entangle another i n a co n s p i r a c y , t h a t the e x t r e m i s t s o f p o l i t i c s can be as mediocre i n t h e i r p e r s o n a l standards as those who f i n d s a f e t y i n the cant o f p o l i t i c a l moderation — t h i s i s a b r i l l i a n t i n s i g h t . And y e t i n i t s very b r i l l i a n c e , i t d i s f i g u r e s the n o v e l . The Secret  Agent i s surrounded by a t h i c k fog of i r o n y which s t e a d i l y eats away a t the f e a t u r e s , the e n e r g i e s , the very v i t a l s of i t s major c h a r a c t e r s . What the E n g l i s h n a r r a t o r does i n Under Western Eyes, Conrad's s t y l e overdoesTihnTKe^Se^^'-Agentjr• I t i s one t h i n g f o r a n o v e l i s t g r a d u a l l y t o de p r i v e h i s c h a r a c t e r s of t h e i r p r e t e n s i o n s or i l l u s i o n s , another t h i n g t o deny them the m i l d e s t claims t o d i g n i t y and redemption. The no v e l f o r c e s one f o conclude e i t h e r t h a t Conrad's f a b l e i s not worth t r o u b l i n g about, which I take t o be m a n i f e s t l y untrue, o r t h a t h i s i r o n y has turned i n upon i t s e l f , becoming f a c i l e through i t s pervasivenessaaridl-lack of g r a d i n g . . . . So pe e v i s h an i r o n y must have i t s source l e s s i n z e a l or anger than i n some deep distemper [Howe, 96]. What i s p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g about Howe's e v a l u a t i o n i s the u n d e r l y i n g assumption t h a t the content, o r substance of the s t o r y takes p r i o r i t y , and t h a t the s t y l e , or way i n which the content i s t r e a t e d and presented, should correspond t o the s u b j e c t i n q u e s t i o n , but i n a s u p p o r t i n g r o l e . In other words, s t y l e i s seen as secondary t o s u b j e c t and content. Howe i s not o b j e c t i n g t o the i r o n i c p o i n t of view per s e — i r o n y r e p r e s e n t s a v a l i d correspondence between form and c o n t e n t — w h a t he o b j e c t s t o i s the dominance of s t y l e i n the n a r r a t i v e , or at l e a s t t o the exte n t t o which s t y l e and per-s p e c t i v e determine the v i s i o n . What I see as a j u s t i f i a b l e emphasis, Howe views as excess: "What the E n g l i s h n a r r a t o r does i n Under Western Eyes, Conrad's s t y l e overdoes i n The  Se c r e t Agent." T h i s s t y l i s t i c p r e s s u r e , from Howe's perspec t i v e , can be accounted f o r i n only one of two ways: e i t h e r "Conrad's f a b l e i s not worth t r o u b l i n g about," or e l s e Conrad has f a i l e d to c o n t r o l h i s own excess, and " h i s i r o n y has turned i n upon i t s e l f . " What i s i m p l i c i t i n Howe's a n a l y s i s i s another choice 93 either Howe i s correct i n his b e l i e f that the narrative suffers from an imbalance of subject and s t y l e , or else The  Secret Agent as a whole cannot be accounted for at the l e v e l of subject and content alone. There are f a i r l y obvious indicators even at the most l i t e r a l levels of the story which suggest that a l l i s not what i t might appear to be insofar as the " p o l i t i c a l " plot i s concerned. The main plot and i t s central events, as I have already suggested, g"o~s's"es:s only peripheral connections with p o l i t i c a l anarchism. The sequence of events i s i n i t i a t e d by an ambassador of a reactionary foreign government, who i s anything but an anarchist; the sequence i s continued by Mr. Verloc, whose "mission i n l i f e " i s "the protection of the s o c i a l mechanism, not i t s perfectionment or even i t s c r i t i c i s m " (15); and the step leading to the explosion i s executed by a ha l f w i t . Most readers would i n a l l l i k e l i h o o d emerge from a reading of the novel not with a sense of moral concern regarding p o l i t i c a l anarchism, but rather with images of a g r i s l y and absurd explosion-death, a highly charged and partly ludicrous murder scene, and a pathetic suicide, a l l outlined against the background of a dark, dank, and foggy metropolis i n which the bonds of everyday normality and r e a l i t y have been loosened. One of the more memorable scenes i n the novel i s the journey of Winnie's mother to the alms-house i n the grotesque cab, a scene which i s t o t a l l y separate from the p o l i t i c a l concerns of the n o v e l , and i n f a c t i s b a s i c a l l y i r r e l e v a n t t o the p l o t as a whole. The p o l i t i c a l concerns must be seen i n the context of l a r g e r concerns. I t i s not t h a t p o l i t i c a l anarchy and the p o l i t i c a l a n a r c h i s t s are not r e a l t y a p a r t of the theme; r a t h e r , i t i s t h a t "anarchy" i s not r e s t r i c t e d to the p o l i -t i c a l realm, and the " a n a r c h i s t s " are not l i m i t e d t o the s e l f - p r o c l a i m e d a n a r c h i s t s . What emerges, t h e r e f o r e , i s l e s s a p o l i t i c a l than a s o c i a l v i s i o n . As E l l i o t t Gose p o i n t s out, "The S e c r e t Agent i s l e s s about the shortcomings of a group of conscious a n a r c h i s t s than about the f a i l u r e of a whole s o c i e t y d i s i n t e g r a t i n g i n t o a s t a t e of unconscious anarchy" (Gose, 40). T h i s view i s a l s o h e l d by J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , who s t a t e s t h a t The v i s i o n of s o c i e t y which informs The S e c r e t  Agent i s not t h a t of a s t a b l e c i v i l i z a t i o n t h r e a t -ened by the absurd c r i m i n a l i t y of a l o t of " h a l f -crazy" a n a r c h i s t s . Conrad sees a l l s o c i e t y as r o t t e n a t the c o r e , as a v a s t h a l f - d e l i b e r a t e con-s p i r a c y of p o l i c e , t h i e v e s , a n a r c h i s t s , tradesmen, a r i s t o c r a t i c b l u e - s t o c k i n g s , m i n i s t e r s of s t a t e , and ambassadors of f o r e i g n powers.47 The a n a r c h i s t i c views of the novel's s e l f - p r o c l a i m e d r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s are t h e r e f o r e only the p o l i t i c a l m a n i f e s t a -t i o n s of a l a r g e r s i t u a t i o n , i n which anarchy goes beyond a p o l i t i c a l p h i l osophy to become a moral c o n d i t i o n a f f e c t i n g 95 a l l of society; i t i s a s i t u a t i o n i n which The e n t i r e universe of moral values i s f a l l i n g apart; the world of The Secret Agent, from top to bottom, from the o f f i c i a l spheres to the domestic to the underground ranks of conspirators, i s one of profound moral d i s l o c a t i o n and anarchy.4° The i s o l a t i o n of the characters, the pursuit of self-centred interests (although frequently carried out "under the banner of f a i t h f u l public service" [Hagan, 160]), and the breakdown or lack of communication between characters, are a few of the more obvious manifestations of the themes of moral and s o c i a l anarchy which run throughout the novel. Each charac-ter i n the story attempts to keep i n t a c t a separate l i t t l e world that he or she has created. The pursuit of i n d i v i d u a l interests i s no .less true of the p o l i c e than of the revolutionaries. The Assistant Commissioner's motive fo r solving the mystery of the explo-sion and capturing those responsible for i t has l i t t l e i f anything to do with a sense of duty toward s o c i a l j u s t i c e . In f a c t , he i s not r e a l l y concerned that he capture those responsible—what he i s r e a l l y concerned about i s that Michaelis, whether g u i l t y or innocent, does not get arrested. For i f he i s , the friendship of Michaelis' lady-patroness which i s enjoyed by the Assistant Commissioner's wife would dissolve, and the Assistant Commissioner would i n turn find himself further harassed by his already nagging wife: " ' I f the fellow i s l a i d hold of again,' he thought, 'she w i l l 96 never f o r g i v e me"1 (112). This leads to the l u d i c r o u s d u e l of w i t s between the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner and C h i e f I n s p e c t o r Heat (whose very t i t l e of "Chief I n s p e c t o r " seems to usurp the rank of h i s s u p e r i o r ) . Heat's motives i n the p u r s u i t of j u s t i c e are as s e l f - c e n t r e d as those of the A s s i s t a n t Commis-s i o n e r ; but w h i l e the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner wants M i c h a e l i s l e f t alone- Heat seeks immediately to have the f a t e x - c o n v i c t a r r e s t e d - f o r "besides being l e g a l and expedient- the a r r e s t of M i c h a e l i s s o l v e d a l i t t l e p e r s o n a l d i f f i c u l t y which w o r r i e d C h i e f I n s p e c t o r Heat somewhat" (121). A c c o r d i n g to "the r u l e s of the game-" Heat reasons, when a crime i s committed, someone ( i t doesn't r e a l l y matter who) must go to j a i l , and what b e t t e r person than a n a t u r a l suspect such as M i c h a e l i s : T h i s being the s t r o n g f e e l i n g of Inspector Heat, i t appeared to him j u s t and proper t h a t t h i s a f f a i r should be shunted o f f i t s obscure and i n c o n v e n i e n t t r a c k , l e a d i n g goodness knows where, i n t o a q u i e t (and lawful) s i d i n g c a l l e d M i c h a e l i s [123]. That the case i s f i n a l l y s o l v e d , and the r i g h t people apprehended or d i s c o v e r e d , i s a matter more of pure chance ( S t e v i e ' s c o a t - l a b e l ) than of j u s t i c e being c a r r i e d out r a t i o n a l l y and c o n s c i o u s l y . The a c t i o n s of the p o l i c e , although m i t i g a t e d somewhat by t h e i r comic appearance and behaviour, are i n f a c t no l e s s i f not more morally : ; 7reprehen-s i b l e than the a n a r c h i s t s ' a t t i t u d e s . D i s t i n c t i o n s are soon l e v e l l e d i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r s o l u t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l atoms seeking s e l f - e q u i l i b r i u m -i t soon becomes apparent, t h e r e f o r e , t h a t the concept of anarchy must be expanded beyond the narrow bounds of i t s p o l i t i c a l connotations to i n c l u d e the e n t i r e spectrum o f the s o c i a l v i s i o n and i t s components i n the n o v e l , an expansion which i s r e c o g n i z e d by Avrom Fleishman i n h i s statement t h a t The S e c r e t Agent i s , then, not as much a novel about p o l i t i c a l anarchism as i t i s a novel about s o c i a l anarchy. I t i s a dramatic p o r t r a y a l of the s o c i o l o g i c a l concept of " a n o m i e " — r a d i c a l d i s o r d e r i n the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e and consequent p e r s o n a l d i s l o c a t i o n . ^ 9 As was i m p l i e d i n the a n a l y s i s of the motives behind the a c t i o n s o f the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner and Heat, the s i t u a t i o n o f s o c i a l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n , and of i n d i v i d u a l s e l f -i n t e r e s t and i s o l a t i o n , i s made more i r o n i c by the emphasis on the apparent s o c i a l orders and connections which l i n k the v a r i o u s c h a r a c t e r s one to the other i n a s e r i e s of s o c i a l " c i r c l e s . " Each c h a r a c t e r i n the n o v e l i s a member of a t l e a s t one, and o f t e n more than one c i r c l e , r anging from the domestic or f a m i l y c i r c l e of the V e r l o c s through the r e v o l u -t i o n a r y c i r c l e , the p o l i c e c i r c l e , the p o l i t i c a l c i r c l e , t o the s o c i a l group gathered beneath the r o o f of M i c h a e l i s 1 l a d y - p a t r o n e s s . M i c h a e l i s belongs both to the l a t t e r and to the c i r c l e of r e v o l u t i o n a r i e s ; the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner moves through v a r i o u s c i r c l e s i n the course of the s t o r y ; and of course V e r l o c , who i s shopkeeper, p o l i c e - s p y , embassy s e c r e t agent, r e v o l u t i o n a r y , husband and s t e p - f a t h e r — e a c h 98 " o s t e n s i b l y " and "nominally," t o borrow two terms from the opening paragraph of the n o v e l — w h i l e at the same time remaining t o t a l l y s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d , i s the p e r f e c t represen-t a t i v e of the " s o c i a l " s i t u a t i o n : he i s the i r o n i c "Everyman" at the h e a r t of the v i s i o n . A c c o r d i n g to J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , the v i s i o n of s o c i e t y and i t s "web of s e c r e t connections" presented i n The S e c r e t Agent i s symbolized by London i t s e l f . That Conrad's London i s a p p r o p r i a t e to the conception of s o c i e t y d i s p l a y e d w i t h i n i t s boundaries i s e v i d e n t i n s e v e r a l ways. As Conrad h i m s e l f s t a t e s i n h i s "Author's P r e f a c e " to the n o v e l : There was room enough t h e r e to p l a c e any s t o r y , depth enough th e r e f o r any p a s s i o n , v a r i e t y enough the r e f o r any s e t t i n g ; darkness anough t o bury f i v e m i l l i o n s of l i v e s [ x i i ] . I t i s a l s o t r u e , however, and perhaps even more s i g n i f i c a n t i n the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , t h a t i t i s i n terms of the s e t t i n g (at the l e v e l of content r a t h e r than s t y l e ) t h a t the n a r r a t i v e e x e r t s i t s most n o t i c e a b l e tendency away from the l i t e r a l , and begins t o take on a s i g n i f i c a n c e over and above the themes of e i t h e r p o l i t i c a l or s o c i a l anarchy. Again, t h i s i s not to say t h a t these themes are d i s p e n s a b l e ; i n f a c t , the theme of anarchy i s not dispensed w i t h a t a l l — i t i s a c t u a l l y r a i s e d t o a new power, extended to i n c o r p o r a t e not only the 9 9 sense of p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l , moral and p s y c h o l o g i c a l anarchy, but of n a t u r a l and m e t a p h y s i c a l anarchy as w e l l . In a d d i t i o n , the urban s e t t i n g a l s o becomes the p r i n c i p a l locus f o r the emergence of the grotesque i n The S e c r e t Agent. The London of The S e c r e t Agent i s imaged as a c i t y composed of decaying r u i n s , enveloped i n a darkness "as v a s t as the sea," and permeated w i t h a "raw, unwholesome fog" (102, 86). I t s " s q u a l i d " and " s o r d i d " s t r e e t s wind through a "wilderness of poor houses," and between b u i l d i n g s which are viewed as "enormous p i l e s of b r i c k s " (82, 82); the char-a c t e r i s t i c v i s i o n i s t h a t of . . . an immensity of greasy s l i m e and damp p l a s t e r i n t e r s p e r s e d w i t h lamps, and enveloped, oppressed, p e n e t r a t e d , choked, and s u f f o c a t e d by the blackness of a wet London n i g h t , which i s composed of soot and water [150]. As the p r e c i n c t s of t h i s dank and dark m e t r o p o l i s are exposed i n the course o f the s t o r y , images of the j u n g l e , the under-world, the l a b y r i n t h , and the p r i s o n are superimposed on the urban s e t t i n g ; the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner's journey to V e r l o c ' s abode ( " n e s t l i n g i n a shady s t r e e t behind a shop where the sun never shone" [258]) i s seen as a "descent i n t o a slimy aquarium from which the water had been run o f f . A murky, gloomy darkness enveloped him" (147). This c i t y i s a c l o s e d system, and Winnie, h e r p p r o t e c t i v e i l l u s i o n s s h a t t e r e d a f t e r the death of her b r o t h e r and her murder of her husband, sees i t i n i t s most c o n f i n i n g and abysmal form: 100 She was alone i n London: and the whole town of marvels and mud- w i t h i t s maze of s t r e e t s and i t s mass of l i g h t s , was sunk i n a hopeless n i g h t , r e s t e d a t the bottom of a b l a c k abyss from which no unaided woman co u l d hope t o scramble out [270-271]. The c i t y , w i t h i t s dark, c o l d , inhuman p r o s p e c t , stands as a t h r e a t not only to Winnie, but to every c h a r a c t e r w i t h i n the s t o r y , and a f e e l i n g t h a t t h i s man-made environment i s about to c l o s e i n and crush i t s i n h a b i t a n t s , or f a l l i n r u i n s , charges the novel w i t h a l a t e n t t e n s i o n . To begin w i t h , then, the London of The S e c r e t Agent may be viewed as the o b j e c t i v e c o r r e l a t i v e to the psycho-l o g i c a l and moral chaos of i t s i n h a b i t a n t s . The i n n e r i s o l a t i o n and breakdown i s r e f l e c t e d i n the v i s i o n of the c i t y t h a t o f f e r s i t s e l f t o the c h a r a c t e r s . The s t r u c t u r e s of the c i t y both amplify the t e n s i o n t h a t mounts w i t h i n the c h a r a c t e r s , and p r o v i d e an added t e n s i o n by t h e i r very presence. As Norman H o l l a n d d e c l a r e s , "London becomes i n n e r madness rendered as outer s e t t i n g , and the c i t y threatens throughout the novel t o s t i f l e , s u f f o c a t e , submerge, over-whelm . . . " 5 0 we f i n d V e r l o c , f o r i n s t a n c e , w i t h the growing burden of V l a d i m i r ' s assignment on h i s mind, l e a n i n g . . . h i s head a g a i n s t the c o l d window-pane—a f r a g i l e f i l m of g l a s s s t r e t c h e d between him and the enormity o f c o l d , b l a c k , wet, muddy, i n h o s p i t a b l e accumulation of b r i c k , s l a t e s , and stone, t h i n g s i n themselves u n l o v e l y and u n f r i e n d l y to man [56]. Such a fragmented and inhuman environment i s h i g h l y a p p r o p r i -ate to the i n n e r s t a t e of Mr. V e r l o c , who " f e l t the l a t e n t 101 u n f r i e n d l i n e s s o f a l l out of doors w i t h a f o r c e approaching to p o s i t i v e b o d i l y anguish" (56). He i s l e f t w i t h "the s e n s a t i o n of an i n c i p i e n t f a l l " (57) , a " s e n s a t i o n " which a f f e c t s c h a r a c t e r and s e t t i n g a l i k e . During the c a b - r i d e to the alms-house, f o r example, . . . the progress o f the journey was made s e n s i b l e to those w i t h i n by the near f r o n t s of the houses g l i d i n g past slowly and s h a k i l y , w i t h a g r e a t r a t t l e and j i n g l e o f g l a s s , as i f about t o c o l l a p s e behind the cab . . . [156]. The c i t y i s an a l i e n environment, y e t b i z a r r e l y human, t h r e a t e n i n g to engu l f man i n h i s own p r e c a r i o u s s t r u c t u r e s and forms, b e f o r e d i s i n t e g r a t i n g i n t o the p r i m a l mud and darkness where man and h i s m a t e r i a l s f i r s t o r i g i n a t e d . The c i t y i s , as J . H i l l i s M i l l e r p o i n t s out, "'man-made* , a monstrous human c o n s t r u c t i o n which surrounds man w i t h h i s own image, and hi d e s from the l i g h t and t r u t h of nature" ( M i l l e r , 41). The image p r o v i d e d i s s o c i a l as w e l l as p s y c h o l o g i c a l , f o r the London of The Se c r e t Agent serves t o symbolize the s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n as w e l l as the i n d i v i d -u a l t e n s i o n s . The i r r a t i o n a l maze of s t r e e t s , the darkness, the crumbling facades, the b u i l d i n g s which t h r e a t e n t o r e t u r n t o a p i l e of b r i c k s and stones and f i n a l l y t o a l a y e r o f dust, the l i f e l e s s expanses o f c o n c r e t e , the mud, f o g , and soot a l l serve as the decaying and p r e c a r i o u s l y balanced s u p e r s t r u c t u r e of a s o c i e t y which i s , as M i l l e r s t a t e s , " r o t t e n a t the core" and composed of "a v a s t h a l f - d e l i b e r a t e 102 c o n s p i r a c y " of s e l f - s e e k i n g i n d i v i d u a l s . As we s p i r a l down through the p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , l e g a l , r e v o l u t i o n a r y , and domestic " c i r c l e s , " the apparent order d i s s o l v e s b e f o r e our eyes i n t o a v a s t a t o m i s t i c swarm of independent beings, each seeking s e l f - e q u i l i b r i u m under the i l l u s o r y g u i s e of the v a r i o u s orders or departments t h a t they o s t e n s i b l y s e r v e . Some of these f e a t u r e s of the urban s e t t i n g become ev i d e n t d u r i n g Mr. V e r l o c ' s journey to the embassy (chapter 2), a scene which w i l l a l s o serve as an i n t r o d u c t i o n to other aspects of the n a r r a t i v e i n which the c i t y p l a y s a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e : Mr. V e r l o c , steady l i k e a r o c k — a s o f t k i n d of r o c k — m a r c h e d now along a s t r e e t which c o u l d w i t h every p r o p r i e t y be d e s c r i b e d as p r i v a t e . In i t s breadth, emptiness, and extent i t had the majesty of i n o r g a n i c n a t u r e , o f matter t h a t never d i e s . The only reminder of m o r t a l i t y was a d o c t o r ' s brougham a r r e s t e d i n august s o l i t u d e c l o s e to the curbstone. . . . A g u i l t y - l o o k i n g c a t i s s u i n g from under the stones ran f o r a w h i l e i n f r o n t of Mr. V e r l o c , then d i v e d i n t o another basement; and a t h i c k p o l i c e c o n s t a b l e , l o o k i n g a s t r a n g e r to every emotion, as i f he too were a p a r t of i n o r g a n i c n ature, s u r g i n g a p p a r e n t l y out of a lamp-post, took not the s l i g h t e s t n o t i c e of Mr. V e r l o c . With a t u r n to the l e f t Mr. V e r l o c pursued h i s way along a narrow s t r e e t by the s i d e of a y e l l o w w a l l which, f o r some i n s c r u t a b l e reason, had No. 1 Chesham Square w r i t t e n on i t i n b l a c k l e t t e r s . Chesham Square was a t l e a s t s i x t y yards away, and Mr. V e r l o c , cosmopolitan enough not t o be d e c e i v e d by London's t o p o g r a p h i c a l m y s t e r i e s , h e l d on s t e a d i l y , without a s i g n of s u r p r i s e or i n d i g n a t i o n . At l a s t , w i t h b u s i n e s s - l i k e p e r s i s t e n c y , he reached the Square, and made d i a g o n a l l y f o r the number 10. This belonged t o an imposing c a r r i a g e gate i n a h i g h , c l e a n w a l l between two houses, of which one r a t i o n a l l y enough bore the number 9 and the other was number 37 . . . [13-14]. 103 The i r r a t i o n a l and l a b y r i n t h i n e nature of London's topography i s imaged throughout the s t o r y , as we proceed through i t s dark s t r e e t s , i n t o back a l l e y s , and i n t o the v i c i n i t y o f "Maze H i l l . " T h i s sense of d i s o r d e r i n the human realm i s even more r a d i c a l l y i n d i c a t e d by another image which occurs i n the above passage, and which r e c u r s throughout the n o v e l : the movement of l i f e through lower forms toward a s t a t e of inanimacy, and of ordered forms i n general toward even lower formsoof order and energy. Mr. V e r l o c appears as "a s o f t k i n d of rock"; the c a t appears t o be merely a momentary i n c a r n a t i o n , born of stone and q u i c k l y r e t u r n i n g t o i t s o r i g i n a l s t a t e ; s i m i l a r l y , the " t h i c k p o l i c e c o n s t a b l e . . . as i f he, too, were p a r t of i n o r g a n i c nature," emerges "out of a lamp-post." I t i s w i t h i n t h i s c o n t e x t o f "matter t h a t never d i e s " t h a t the concept of anarchy takes on y e t f u r t h e r dimensions, as the theme of order versus d i s o r d e r , and the images of form tending toward d e f o r m i t y , move beyond the s o c i a l l e v e l s of the n a r r a t i v e i n t o the very s t r u c t u r e s of the w o r l d of The S e c r e t Agent. T h i s tendency of l i f e t o move downward to the i n o r g a n i c , and of matter i t s e l f t o seek lower and lower forms of o r g a n i z a t i o n , i s imaged i n v a r i o u s ways throughout The S e c r e t Agent, and u n d e r l i e s many of the novel's most important themes. This tendency i s a l s o one of the p r i n c i p a l m o t i f s of the grotesque, w i t h i t s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i n v e r s i o n 10 4 and s u b v e r s i o n of the n a t u r a l world, and the consequent f u s i o n of the human realm with the non-human realms of the animal, v e g e t a b l e , i n o r g a n i c , and mechanical realms. This f u s i o n of the human and non-human i s a l a t e n t t h r e a t and frequent a c t u a l i t y i n The S e c r e t Agent, i n which London, the " c r u e l devourer of the world's l i g h t " ( x i i ) , seems to absorb e v e r y t h i n g i n t o i t s fog and murky d a r k n e s s — " d a r k n e s s enough to bury f i v e m i l l i o n s of l i v e s " ( x i i ) . T h i s grotesque d i s t o r t i o n , f u s i o n and fragmentation a f f e c t s e v e r y t h i n g i n the s t o r y . P a r t of t h i s outer break-down can be a t t r i b u t e d t o the " p s y c h o l o g i c a l " aspects of the landscape, t o the f a c t t h a t we f r e q u e n t l y see the world a c c o r d i n g to the p e r s p e c t i v e of i t s i n h a b i t a n t s ; p a r t can be a t t r i b u t e d t o the f a c t t h a t the urban environment i s a human c o n s t r u c t , and t h e r e f o r e r e f l e c t s the v i s i o n o f i t s i n h a b i -t a n t s . But t h e r e i s no h i e r a r c h y of focus i n the n o v e l : where s e t t i n g r e f l e c t s c h a r a c t e r , c h a r a c t e r r e f l e c t s s e t t i n g . There i s no hero, no c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r — t h e c h a r a c t e r s are a p a r t of t h e i r environment as s u r e l y as t h e i r environment i s a p a r t of them. In f a c t , some c r i t i c s , n o t a b l y Leo Gurko, go so f a r as t o p r o c l a i m London i t s e l f the "hero" of the n o v e l . Gurko contends t h a t although "the a n a r c h i s t theme s u p p l i e s the n o v e l w i t h i t s p h y s i c a l s c a f f o l d i n g , " i t does no more: Underneath l i e s the h e a r t of the book, the domi-nant i d e a which determines i t s movement and i s r e s p o n s i b l e i n the f i r s t p l a c e f o r the s e l e c t i o n of 105 anarchism as the sheath of the p l o t . That h e a r t i s London, and the i d e a stemming from i t i s the l i f e of man i n the g r e a t c i t y . 5 1 Gurko's emphasis on the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the c i t y , independent of i t s c h a r a c t e r s , i s a u s e f u l counter to the view t h a t the c i t y ' s prime f u n c t i o n i s t h a t of symbolizing the p s y c h o l o g i c a l , moral, p o l i t i c a l , and s o c i a l aspects of the c h a r a c t e r s . These r e l a t i o n s h i p s are c e r t a i n l y i n t e g r a l t o the n a r r a t i v e as a whole, but I would argue t h a t they each r e f l e c t a c o n d i t i o n of anarchy t h a t transcends a l l of the m a n i f e s t a t i o n s so f a r examined. I d i s a g r e e with Gurko's a s s e r t i o n t h a t the a n a r c h i s t theme only p r o v i d e s the " p h y s i -c a l s c a f f o l d i n g " ; r a t h e r , I j o i n Stanton de Voren Hoffman i n h i s statement t h a t "The problem i s — h o w f a r r e a c h i n g i s t h i s theme of anarchy, i s i t everywhere, i n every p o s s i b i l i t y , 52 and how are we to take i t , once we see i t ? " The sense of anarchy which begins to emerge i n the p h y s i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n s o f the c i t y and i t s l i f e not only supports the l i t e r a l a spects of the n a r r a t i v e p l o t and s i t u a t i o n , but i n t r o d u c e s an a d d i t i o n a l dimension t o the v i s i o n . The sense of d i s o r d e r , of anarchy, i s not r e s t r i c t e d t o the human realm, but expands t o permeate the e n t i r e world of The S e c r e t Agent. 106 The concept t h a t suggests the n a t u r a l and me t a p h y s i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f anarchy as w e l l as the s o c i a l - p o l i t i c a l -and p s y c h o l o g i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s , i s t h a t of entropy. A s h o r t but comprehensive d e f i n i t i o n of t h i s concept i s pro v i d e d by Wylie Sypher i n Loss of the S e l f i n Modern L i t e r a t u r e and A r t ; In e f f e c t entropy i s the tendency of an ordered u n i v e r s e t o go over i n t o a s t a t e of d i s o r d e r . This i s another way of s a y i n g t h a t the behaviour of th i n g s tends t o become i n c r e a s i n g l y random; and i n any system tending toward the random there i s a l o s s o f d i r e c t i o n . The u n i v e r s e as we have thought of i t from::Arist6tle'-to Eins"te±h-3was->«?assystgm'.controlied by laws t h a t produced a cosmos i n s t e a d of a c h a o s — t h a t i s , the u n i v e r s e was h i g h l y s t r u c t u r e d ; but entropy i s a d r i f t toward an u n s t r u c t u r e d s t a t e of e q u i l i b r i u m t h a t i s t o t a l . ^ 3 With the passage of time, t h e r e f o r e , t h e r e i s a gradual movement i n nature from the ordered t o the random, from a s i t u a t i o n of hig h energy p o t e n t i a l t o a s i t u a t i o n of u n i -f o r m i t y , e q u i l i b r i u m , and i n e r t i a . A c c o r d i n g t o Sypher, "Every i s o l a t e d system i n c r e a s e s i n entropy u n t i l i t reaches a c o n d i t i o n o f r e s t " (Sypher, Loss, 7 4 ) . U l t i m a t e l y the e n t r o p i c process r e p r e s e n t s a wearing down and h a l t i n g of a l l l i f e : the r e v e r s i o n to the e t e r n a l t o r p o r of the inanimate. The world of The S e c r e t Agent c o u l d e a s i l y be d e s c r i b e d as an " i s o l a t e d system," w i t h i n which the i n h a b i -t a n t s seek e q u i l i b r i u m l i k e so many atoms or p a r t i c l e s i n s o l u t i o n . The tendency toward ever lower forms of or d e r , and toward a g r e a t e r d i s p e r s i o n of energy, w i t h the u l t i m a t e 107 g o a l o f i n e r t i a and e q u i l i b r i u m , i s a n a l o g o u s t o t h e p r o c e s s i n The S e c r e t A g e n t . The c h r o m a t i c movement i s one o f l i g h t t o d a r k n e s s . The n o v e l b e g i n s by f o c u s i n g upon t h e t e n s i o n and e x c e s s e n e r g y o f S t e v i e , w h i c h i s p o r t r a y e d as a s t r a i n upon t h e s y s t e m i n t h e e a r l y c h a p t e r s o f t h e s t o r y — a s t r a i n w h i c h , t h r o u g h t h e s u c c e s s i v e t a m p e r i n g o f V l a d i m i r and V e r l o c , i s r e l e a s e d s u d d e n l y i n t h e f o r m o f an e x p l o s i o n , w h i c h i n t u r n s e t s o f f t h e " c h a i n r e a c t i o n " t h r o u g h w h i c h t h e s y s t e m a t t e m p t s t o s e e k e q u i l i b r i u m by d i s p e r s i n g t h i s e x c e s s e n e r g y . T h i s may be s a i d t o l e a d t o W i n n i e ' s murder o f V e r l o c , and f i n a l l y , w i t h W i n n i e ' s l e a p i n t o t h e s e a o u t s i d e o f t h i s i s o l a t e d s y s t e m , t h e e n e r g y i s r e l e a s e d , and t h e s y s t e m as a w h o l e s e t t l e s t o a l o w e r l e v e l o f h o m o g e n e i t y and i n e r t i a . T h i s s h i f t i s n e g a t i v e , w i t h an i n c r e a s e i n e n t r o p y , b e c a u s e S t e v i e ' s e x p l o s i o n - d e a t h r e p r e s e n t s a p e r v e r s i o n o f t h e p o t e n t i a l e n e r g y , and what i s p o t e n t i a l l y c r e a t i v e becomes d e s t r u c t i v e i n a c t u a l i t y . "The p o i n t i s , " s a y s Tony T a n n e r i n a r e f e r e n c e t o Pope's The D u n c i a d w h i c h i s e q u a l l y a p p l i c a b l e t o The S e c r e t A g e n t , " t h a t a l l t h i s m i s d i r e c t e d e n e r g y i s n o t p r o d u c t i v e o f a n y t h i n g p o s i t i v e o r f u l l y f o r m e d , and e n e r g y w h i c h does n o t f o r m s o m e t h i n g must, p e r f o r c e , d e f o r m s o m e t h i n g " ( T a n n e r , 1 5 4 ) . I t i s n o t n e c e s s a r y t o l o o k n a t t h e n o v e l f r o m s u c h a s c i e n t i f i c a l l y o b j e c t i v e and n a t u r a l i s t i c p e r s p e c t i v e t o p e r c e i v e t h e above p r o c e s s i n o p e r a t i o n . Images o f i n e r t i a , 108 decay, fragmentation, and r e d u c t i o n abound. The process of dehumanization which a f f e c t s the human realm i s made even more ominous by what seems t o be the o p p o s i t e process i n the non-human or inanimate realm, where " t h i n g s , " or subhuman c r e a t u r e s o r d i n a r i l y r e l e g a t e d t o l e v e l s of nature lower than man, begin t o a s s e r t themselves: . . .Mr. V e r l o c heard a g a i n s t the window-pane the f a i n t b u z z i n g of a f l y . . . . The u s e l e s s f u s s i n g of t h a t t i n y , e n e r g e t i c organism a f f e c t e d u n p l e a s a n t l y t h i s b i g man threatened i n h i s i n d o l e n c e [27]. He even f e e l s threatened by something as normally i n s i g n i f i -cant as Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s bow n e c k t i e , which "seemed t o b r i s t l e w i t h unspeakable menaces" (24). A s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n , e x p l i c i t l y connected w i t h entropy, occurs i n West's Miss  L o n e l y h e a r t s : On t h a t day a l l the inanimate t h i n g s over which he had t r i e d t o o b t a i n c o n t r o l took the f i e l d a g a i n s t him. When he touched something, i t s p i l l e d o r r o l l e d t o the f l o o r . The c o l l a r buttons d i s -appeared under the bed, the p o i n t of the p e n c i l broke, the handle of the r a z o r f e l l o f f , the window shade r e f u s e d t o stay down. He fought back, but w i t h too much v i o l e n c e , and was d e c i s i v e l y defeated by the s p r i n g of the alarm clock.54 I t i s p o s s i b l e t o t r a c e t h i s process of dehumanization and the corresponding process of the a s s e r t i o n l o f . " t h e ^ i n a n -imate or non-human i n The S e c r e t Agent u n t i l the two seem to merge at the moment of Mr. V e r l o c ' s murder. A f t e r Winnie has stabbed him, there i s no'^apparent d i f f e r e n c e i n h i s appearance: "Mr. V e r l o c was t a k i n g h i s h a b i t u a l ease. He 109 looked comfortable" (264). S i m i l a r l y , Ossipon's s c r u t i n y of V e r l o c * s corpse r e v e a l s no v i s i b l e change: "He looked i n , and d i s c o v e r e d Mr. V e r l o c r e p o s i n g q u i e t l y on the s o f a " (284); as f a r as he (Ossipon) i s concerned, Mr. V e r l o c i s " s i m u l a t i n g s l e e p f o r reasons of h i s own" (285). F i n a l l y , and s i g n i f i -c a n t l y , Ossipon i s " t o l d " the t r u t h of the s i t u a t i o n by an inanimate o b j e c t — M r . V e r l o c ' s hat: "But the t r u e sense o f the scene he was b e h o l d i n g came to Ossipon through the contemplation of the h a t . I t seemed an e x t r a o r d i n a r y t h i n g . . ." (285). I t is_ an e x t r a o r d i n a r y t h i n g , f o r j u s t as we have watched the i n d o l e n t and f a t V e r l o c progress toward h i s own p r i v a t e s t a t e of i n e r t i a — " h e longed f o r a more p e r f e c t r e s t " (259)—we have a l s o seen h i s constant companion, h i s h a t , achieve an almost l i v e l y independence i n comparison. As V e r l o c s e t t l e s i n t o h i s f a v o r i t e s o f a , unaware t h a t he s h a l l never r i s e a g a i n , " h i s hat, as i f accustomed to take care of i t s e l f , made f o r a s a f e s h e l t e r under the t a b l e " (259). V e r l o c h i m s e l f i s c o n s t a n t l y d e s c r i b e d i n terms of h i s o b e s i t y , i n d o l e n c e , and drowsiness, o f t e n being imagina-t i v e l y reduced and fragmented as i n the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n : "His t h i c k arms r e s t e d abandoned on the o u t s i d e of the coun-terpane l i k e dropped weapons, l i k e d i s c a r d e d t o o l s " (179), i n which the r e f e r e n c e to h i s o b e s i t y ("thick arms") i s f o l l o w e d by a s e r i e s of images of s e p a r a t i o n ("abandoned," "dropped," "discarded") and of r e d u c t i o n to inanimate 110 "weapons" and " t o o l s . " These same images and techniques of p e r s p e c t i v e are a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a l l of the c h a r a c t e r s i n The  S e c r e t Agent, most of whom share V e r l o c ' s f a t n e s s and i n d o l e n c e , and are d i s t o r t e d i n grotesque ways. With regard to the s e t t i n g , the processes o u t l i n e d above are e v i d e n t a t every t u r n . The steady onset of dark-ness and dampness, i n which e v e r y t h i n g seems to d i s s o l v e , prompts H i l l i s M i l l e r ' s o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t " E v e r y t h i n g seems t o have come out of t h i s f l u i d i t y , and t o be i n danger of r e t u r n i n g t o i t on any dark, r a i n y n i g h t " ( M i l l e r , 61). B u i l d i n g s are reduced by being d e s c r i b e d as "accumulations of b r i c k s , s l a t e s , and stones" (56), or as "enormous p i l e s of b r i c k s " (81), and even the remaining fragments t h r e a t e n t o merge w i t h the darkness and s i n k i n t o o b l i v i o n . The v i s i o n i s one of nature a n a r c h i c a l l y inverted—-.^Entropy x i s Devolution i n r e v e r s e , " remarks Sypher (Sypher, Loss, 7 5 ) — i n which n a t u r a l f o r c e s "may a c t u a l l y be on the s i d e of those t h i n g s which go downwards, back t o e a r t h , headlong to mud" (Tanner, 155). The i m p l i c a t i o n s of such a v i s i o n , as Tanner p o i n t s out, "are f o r m i d a b l e : t h a t Nature's d r i f t works a g a i n s t man's i n t e l l i g e n t e f f o r t " (Tanner, 157), and t h a t Nature i s no longer a synonym f o r l i g h t and o r d e r , but a c e a s e l e s s c o r r o s i v e l e v e l l i n g m u t a b i l -i t y which i n d i f f e r e n t l y destroys monstrous aber r a -t i o n s and a l l t h a t makes l i f e d i g n i f i e d [Tanner, 158]. T h i s sense of e n t r o p i c d i s i n t e g r a t i o n i s a l s o present i n other authors of the grotesque. In Bleak House, we see I l l Mr. T u l k i n g h o r n s i t t i n g . . . In h i s lowering magazine of dust- the u n i v e r -s a l a r t i c l e i n t o which h i s papers and h i m s e l f , and a l l h i s c l i e n t s , and a l l t h i n g s on e a r t h , animate and inanimate, are r e s o l v i n g . . . [Bleak, 359]. T h i s theme i s made e x p l i c i t by Nathanael West i n Miss L o n e l y h e a r t s ; The p h y s i c a l world has a t r o p i s m f o r d i s o r d e r , entropy. Man a g a i n s t Nature . . . the b a t t l e of the c e n t u r i e s . Keys yearn t o mix w i t h change. Mandolins s t r i v e t o get out of tune. Every order has w i t h i n i t the germ of d e s t r u c t i o n . [Lonely-h e a r t s , 31] . The theme of entropy i n The S e c r e t Agent i s the s u b j e c t of Joseph I. F r a d i n ' s query: Do we not come t o f e e l i n The S e c r e t Agent some obscure knowledge, some s t i r r i n g i n the mind which c r e a t e s i t , t h a t the law at work i n human a f f a i r s , the movements of men, i s the r e f l e c t i o n of l a r g e r p h y s i c a l laws, t h a t anarchy i m i t a t e s entropy? Do we not f e e l , i n other words, t h a t the d r i f t of the human community toward the anonymity and moral sameness which i s a form of death i m i t a t e s the u n i v e r s a l d r i f t toward thermodynamic sameness, the death which i s t o t a l i n e r t i a ? 5 * Although F r a d i n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of the " l a r g e r p h y s i c a l laws" i s an accurate i n d i c a t i o n of the o v e r a l l s t a t e of a f f a i r s i n the n o v e l , i t i s necessary to note t h a t the v i s i o n does not r e p r e s e n t a t o t a l acquiescence i n the d r i f t toward "sameness." Even though what r e s i s t a n c e there i s i n the n o v e l i s i n f a c t l e v e l l e d b e f o r e the s t o r y reaches i t s i n e x o r a b l e c o n c l u s i o n , i t i s important t o e x p l o r e the i s l a n d s o f r e s i s t a n c e t h a t do emerge, f o r i t i s o n l y i n terms of such r e s i s t a n c e t h a t F r a d i n ' s c o n c l u s i o n t h a t the n o v e l presents a " n i h i l i s t i c 112 v i s i o n " and demonstrates "the v o i d which l i e s a t the h e a r t of l i f e " can be c o u n t e r e d . ^ N e v e r t h e l e s s , the London of The S e c r e t Agent i s i n s e p a r a b l e from i t s image as an "enormous town slumbering monstrously on a c a r p e t of mud under a v e i l of raw mist" (300). I f such a London symbolizes the nature of the human community w i t h i n , i t i s a l s o t r u e t h a t "Such a London symbolizes the u n i v e r s e as absurd, i r r a t i o n a l , p u r p o s e l e s s , 57 u n f r i e n d l y t o man through i t s v a s t i n d i f f e r e n c e t o a l l . " I t i s a world i n which anarchy i s the norm r a t h e r than the ex c e p t i o n ; a world i n which anarchy as a p o l i t i c a l a t t i t u d e and as a s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n i s a r e f l e c t i o n of anarchy as the p r e v a i l i n g n a t u r a l and meta p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n ; a s i t u a t i o n i n which, p a r a d o x i c a l l y and i r o n i c a l l y , anarchy r e p r e s e n t s an alignment w i t h the governing f o r c e s r a t h e r than an at t a c k upon them. The affinity between the city-setting and the mode of the grotesque is one of the subjects of Fanger's Dostoevsky  and Romantic Realism; Fanger also assesses the degree to which the genesis of the modern grotesque is a function of it s adaptation to the genre of the novel. A further relationship among these subjects is contained in Fanger's 113 o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t "Between the very form o f a novel and t h a t of a great c i t y , an a f f i n i t y e x i s t s " (Fanger, 27). Fanger i n t e g r a t e s these v a r i o u s s u b j e c t s by a n a l y z i n g t h e i r r o l e i n the e v o l u t i o n of romantic r e a l i s m i n n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y European l i t e r a t u r e . The p a r a l l e l between the f u n c t i o n of the grotesque and Fanger's d e f i n i t i o n of romantic r e a l i s m w i l l be immediately apparent: romantic r e a l i s m , a c c o r d i n g to Fanger, i n v o l v e s "a p r i n c i p l e d deformation of r e a l i t y : i t s f a m i l i a r contours are presented t o us, but i n a new, manipulated l i g h t " (Fanger, 15). The a b i l i t y t o fuse the f a m i l i a r and the strange, the known and the unknown, the r e a l and the i d e a l , the m a t e r i a l and the s p i r i t u a l , and the n a t u r a l and the s u p e r n a t u r a l r e p r e s e n t s f o r Fanger the p r i n c i p a l endeavour of romanticism. He notes t h a t such an endeavour c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y sought i t s forms i n the context of "Nature," and looked upon the c i t y as " i n h e r e n t l y u n s u i t e d " i n i t s r a t i o n a l l y organized and r i g i d l y r e s t r a i n i n g forms, s t r u c t u r e s , and i n s t i t u t i o n s . The development of romantic r e a l i s m as a v i a b l e mode arose i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h the r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t the c i t y d i d i n f a c t o f f e r a p o t e n t i a l realm f o r romantic e x p l o r a t i o n — t h a t the c i t y was " ' t e r r a - i n c o g n i t a ' , and t h a t , t o the p r o p e r l y armed i n v e s t i g a t o r , i t c o u l d o f f e r a l l the wonder of the strange i n the f a m i l i a r which might be d e s i r e d " (Fanger, 22). A c c o r d i n g to Fanger, the " p r o p e r l y armed i n v e s t i g a t o r " 114 i s t h a t a r t i s t who, l i k e B a lzac- Dickens, Gogol, and Dostoev-sky, adapted and developed the techniques of the grotesque, o r , more s p e c i f i c a l l y : " . . . romantic r e a l i s m r e v e a l s a p a r a l l e l a d a p t a t i o n of comic techniques, l a r g e l y through the use of the grotesque" (Fanger, 20). I t was the romantic r e a l i s t s , ( e s p e c i a l l y those mentioned above, who were able t o fuse these techniques w i t h the concerns a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the r e a l i s t i c urban environment; i n s h o r t , i t was the romantic r e a l i s t s who ''iwere the f i r s t f u l l y to r e a l i z e the p o t e n t i a l -i t i e s of the m e t r o p o l i s as a s u b j e c t of f i c t i o n " (Fanger, 21). Much of what Fanger observes about the c i t y - s e t t i n g s o f h i s s u b j e c t s c o u l d be a p p l i e d t o Conrad's London i n The S e c r e t Agent—some of the p a r a l l e l s a r e , i n f a c t , q u i t e s t r i k i n g . Fanger r e f e r s to a passage from Sketches by Boz ("Shabby-Genteel People") i n which . . . Dickens notes the e x i s t e n c e of " c e r t a i n d e s c r i p t i o n s o f people who, oddly enough, appear to a p p e r t a i n e x c l u s i v e l y t o the m e t r o p o l i s . You meet them, every day, i n the s t r e e t s of London, but no one ever encounters them elsewhere; they seem indigenous to the s o i l , and to belong as e x c l u s i v e l y t o London as i t s own smoke, or the dingy b r i c k s and mortar" [Fanger, 76]. This r e c a l l s an o b s e r v a t i o n made by the A s s i s t a n t Commis-s i o n e r r e g a r d i n g the patrons of the l i t t l e I t a l i a n r e s t a u r a n t t h a t he v i s i t s : They seemed c r e a t e d f o r the I t a l i a n r e s t a u r a n t , u n l e s s the I t a l i a n r e s t a u r a n t had been perchance c r e a t e d f o r them. But t h a t l a s t hypothesis was u n t h i n k a b l e , s i n c e one c o u l d not p l a c e them any-where o u t s i d e those s p e c i a l e s t a b l i s h m e n t s . One 115 never met these e n i g m a t i c a l persons elsewhere. I t was i m p o s s i b l e to form a p r e c i s e i d e a what occupa-t i o n s they f o l l o w e d by day and where they went t o bed a t n i g h t [149]. In both d e s c r i p t i o n s the i n s e p a r a b i l i t y of c h a r a c t e r and environment i s emphasized—a merging which, as noted e a r l i e r , i s a common f e a t u r e of the urban world of The S e c r e t Agent, and which serves as a p r i n c i p a l m o t i f of the grotesque. I t might a l s o be noted here t h a t a g r e a t d e a l of what i s gro-tesque i n The S e c r e t Agent i s a n t i c i p a t e d i n the c h a r a c t e r s and s e t t i n g s of Dickens* urban worlds, where the muddy s t r e e t s immersed i n darkness, fog, and decay are prowled by d e t e c t i v e s , policemen and c r i m i n a l s who have t h e i r counter-p a r t s i n The S e c r e t Agent. The world o f The S e c r e t Agent might a l s o be compared to Dostoevsky's P e t e r s b u r g . In h i s "Petersburg C h r o n i c l e , " Dostoevsky remarks t h a t I t i s w e l l known t h a t a l l P e t e r s b u r g i s n o t h i n g but a c o l l e c t i o n of an enormous number of l i t t l e c i r c l e s , each of which has i t s r e g u l a t i o n s , i t s decorum, i t s law, i t s l o g i c , and i t s o r a c l e [Fanger, 138]. The S e c r e t Agent has been d e s c r i b e d as "a c o l l e c t i o n of an enormous number of l i t t l e c i r c l e s , " and i t i s no l e s s t r u e here than i n Dostoevsky t h a t each o f these " c i r c l e s " r e p r e s e n t s a realm which i s i s o l a t e d i n many ways from the o t h e r s ; on the other hand, as i n the case of S t e v i e * s c i r c l e s , each one i s l i n k e d t o another. The connections, however, are u s u a l l y c l a n d e s t i n e , and i t i s :this f a c t t h a t 116 lends importance to those c h a r a c t e r s who have access to t h i s m u l t i t u d e of realms. I t i s i n such a m i l i e u t h a t the " d e t e c t i v e " f i g u r e and " s e c r e t agent" emerge as the n a t u r a l heroes. Sherlock Holmes re p r e s e n t s the romantic conception of such a hero, the e x p l o r e r of the urban j u n g l e . None of the c h a r a c t e r s i n The S e c r e t Agent are granted the p r i v i l e g e s , i n s i g h t , and detachment of Sherlock Holmes, but the type i s c e r t a i n l y r e c o g n i z a b l e i n the f i g u r e of the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner. I t i s through such a f i g u r e t h a t the c i r c l e s of s o c i e t y are r e v e a l e d , p e n e t r a t e d , and e x p l o r e d , and the c l a n d e s t i n e l i n k s between them demonstrated. That c h a r a c t e r s o t h e r than the p o l i c e are able t o move wit h equal f a c i l i t y among many o f these c i r c l e s i n The S e c r e t Agent i s an i n d i c a t i o n of the s o c i a l anarchy which p r e v a i l s , i n which the c o n t i n u a l j u x t a p o s i t i o n of c h a r a c t e r s from supposedly separate realms i s r e l a t e d to the c o n t i n u a l o v e r l a p p i n g , i n t e r c h a n g i n g and fragmenting of s o c i a l r o l e s — " I t i s a world of d o u b l e - d e a l i n g and masks beneath masks" (Fanger, 2 5 - 2 6 ) . The i l l u s i o n of s o c i a l d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n and separate orders i s recognized by the P r o f e s s o r , who remarks t h a t "The t e r r o r i s t and the policeman both come from the same basket. R e v o l u t i o n , l e g a l i t y — c o u n t e r moves i n the same game; forms of i d l e n e s s at bottom i d e n t i c a l " ( 6 9 ) . The s i t u a t i o n as a whole i s b e s t suggested by Fanger's d e s c r i p t i o n of a s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n i n B a l z a c ' s F e r r a g u s : 117 The b e w i l d e r i n g changes of i d e n t i t y between outlaws and r e s p e c t a b l e c i t i z e n s , l i k e those between p o l i c e agents and t h e i r quarry; the f a n -t a s t i c powers t r a n s l a t e d from the realm of the s u p e r n a t u r a l t o t h a t of the everyday; a l l these suggest the romantic concerns t h a t were to be l e g i t i m a t e d anew i n the urban s e t t i n g [Fanger,27]. This i s a l s o the s t a t e of a f f a i r s i n Chesterton's The  Man Who Was Thursday, where the c o n f u s i o n and interchange-a b i l i t y o f r o l e s among the a n a r c h i s t s and policemen i s c a r r i e d to such extremes t h a t i s becomes im p o s s i b l e t o know who i s an a n a r c h i s t and who i s a policeman, not to mention who i s pursuing whom. The assuming of masks and d i s g u i s e s , along w i t h metamorphoses, m u l t i p l e i d e n t i t i e s , and r e v e r s a l s , are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the burlesque and grotesque modes, and are p r e s e n t , although to a l e s s e r extent than i n The Man Who  Was Thursday, i n The S e c r e t Agent. The c i t y - s e t t i n g , then, was developed by c e r t a i n n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y w r i t e r s as a s u i t a b l e context, s u b j e c t , and s e t t i n g f o r the c o n t i n u a t i o n of romantic concerns. E q u a l l y important, as i s suggested by the term "romantic r e a l i s m , " i s the c o r r e s p o n d i n g development of the urban s e t t i n g as a " r e a l i s t i c " environment. P a r a d o x i c a l l y , t h i s does not temper or d i l u t e the power of the grotesque, but i n f a c t enhances i t . T h i s i s t r u e whether " r e a l i s m " i s c o n s i d -ered i n terms of p l a u s i b i l i t y and o r d i n a r i n e s s , or i n terms of c e r t a i n s t y l i s t i c t e c h n i q u e s . Dostoevsky, f o r example, r e f e r r e d t o h i s mode of r e n d e r i n g s e t t i n g as b eing " f a n t a s t i c 118 r e a l i s m , " i n which he e s t a b l i s h e d P e t e r s b u r g "as the most r e a l of r e a l p l a c e s i n order t h a t we may wonder at what strange t h i n g s happen i n i t " (Fanger, 134). In a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n , the grotesqueness of the P r o f e s -s o r i n The Man Who Was Thursday i s a t t r i b u t e d i n p a r t to the "sense of unbearable r e a l i t y " about h i s f i g u r e : Under the i n c r e a s i n g s u n l i g h t the c o l o u r s of the Doctor's complexion, the p a t t e r n of h i s tweeds, grew and expanded ou t r a g e o u s l y , as such t h i n g s grow too important i n a r e a l i s t i c n o v e l [Thursday, 99], T h i s c o i n c i d e s w i t h Thomson's o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t the grotesque e f f e c t i s p a r t l y dependent on the r e a l i s t i c framework and manner of p r e s e n t a t i o n , which i n t u r n lends to the d i s t u r b i n g sense t h a t i t i s our own f a m i l i a r and t r u s t e d worlH which i s capable of grotesque t r a n s m u t a t i o n . To what extent Conrad was d i r e c t l y i n f l u e n c e d by those n o v e l i s t s designated as "romantic r e a l i s t s " by Fanger i s l e s s important than the r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t , l i k e those a r t i s t s , C o n r a d t r a n s f o r m e d t h e u r b a n s e t t i n g i n t o a medium and framework capable of accommodating h i s deepest c o n c e r n s — a t r a n s f o r m a t i o n which l e d t o the d i s c o v e r y t h a t such concerns or themes c o u l d not only be adapted to such a s e t t i n g , but a c t u a l l y be enhanced and g i v e n a d d i t i o n a l power and depth w i t h i n j u s t such a framework. Fanger s t a t e s t h a t : A l l such i n v e s t i g a t i o n s of e v i l , crime, and death, t r e a t e d s e n s a t i o n a l l y by the popular n o v e l i s t s of the same p e r i o d , i n the hands of these same w r i t e r s become p a r t of a more s e r i o u s search f o r meaning and p o s s i b i l i t i e s of meaning i n the chaos of the c i t y . The same may be s a i d of the terms they used to s e t f o r t h these i n v e s t i g a t i o n s . The extravagant, the b i z a r r e , the grotesque, which ot h e r s c o u l d use t o produce a crude or f a c t i t i o u s sense of n o v e l t y , became f o r these w r i t e r s the b a s i s of t h e i r claims to r e a l i s m , the outward s i g n of the newness of the s o c i a l p a t t e r n s they were d e s c r i b i n g . Each emphasized the s o l i d i t y of h i s p h y s i c a l c i t y , t o s e t o f f the u n r e a l i t y of the l i f e l i v e d i n i t . And by so doing each was admonishing h i s r e a d e r s , i n e f f e c t : "The o l d assumptions, the o l d c a t e g o r i e s , are no longer v a l i d ; we must t r y to see a f r e s h . " [Eanger, 260-262]. Conrad c e r t a i n l y r e c o g n i z e d the n a r r a t i v e p o t e n t i a l of the m e t r o p o l i s as s e t t i n g and s u b j e c t , and was able t o p e r c e i v e the s t y l i s t i c and s t r u c t u r a l means by which such a s e t t i n g and i t s concerns would b e s t be rendered. I t i s e v i d e n t t h a t the c i t y - s e t t i n g of London serves Conrad's v i s i o n and purpose i n v a r i o u s ways, from the l i t e r a l super-s t r u c t u r e of a s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n to the p h y s i c a l index of the metaphysical c o n d i t i o n . P a t r i c i a Morley d e c l a r e s t h a t "The London of The S e c r e t Agent i s not the London found i n most Edwardian novels of s o c i a l r e a l i s m " (Morley, 60). Perhaps i t would be more accurate to say t h a t i t i s — a n d i s not. Conrad's thorough e x p l o i t a t i o n of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s e x i s t i n g i n the m e t r o p o l i t a n s e t t i n g i s matched only by the aptness of an e q u a l l y potent and s u g g e s t i v e i m a g e — t h e bomb e x p l o s i o n . The correspondence between s e t t i n g and c e n t r a l 120 event i s p e r f e c t . The s i t u a t i o n r e v e a l e d i n The S e c r e t Agent i s "explo-s i v e " from the b e g i n n i n g . T h i s sense of i n s t a b i l i t y , i n the opening scenes of the n o v e l , i s centred i n the c h a r a c t e r of S t e v i e , who, i n one sense, may be seen as the p i v o t upon which the e n t i r e s o c i a l e d i f i c e i s c o n s t r u c t e d . He i s , as i t were, the main p o i n t of c o n t a c t f o r the i r r a t i o n a l f o r c e s gathered beneath t h i s p a r t i c u l a r world; he i s the "crack i n the imposing f r o n t of the g r e a t e d i f i c e of l e g a l conceptions s h e l t e r i n g the a t r o c i o u s i n j u s t i c e of s o c i e t y , " and "the r e a l l y i n t e l l i g e n t d e tonator," both o f which the P r o f e s s o r seeks and, i n a d v e r t e n t l y , f i n d s (80, 67). S t e v i e i s de-s c r i b e d as "a p e r p e t u a l r e s i d u e of a n x i e t y " ; f o r those around him "there was always the a n x i e t y of h i s mere e x i s t e n c e to f a c e " (3 8, 39). The f o r c e s concentrated i n S t e v i e are sug-gested by h i s "mad a r t , " "those c o r u s c a t i o n s of innumerable c i r c l e s s u g g e s t i n g chaos and e t e r n i t y " (237). The p o t e n t i a l l y d i s r u p t i v e e f f e c t of these f o r c e s i s suggested i n the d e s c r i p t i o n of S t e v i e ' s l e t t i n g o f f of f i r e w o r k s i n the o f f i c e where he was once e m p l o y e d — h i s h y p e r s e n s i t i v i t y having been tampered w i t h r e s u l t s i n a comical adumbration- of l a t e r events: "Wild-eyed, choking c l e r k s stampeded through the passages f u l l of smoke; s i l k hats and e l d e r l y businessmen c o u l d be seen r o l l i n g independently down the s t a i r s " (9). The key word here i s "independently": a l r e a d y there are 121 i n d i c a t i o n s of the l i b e r a t i o n of inanimate o b j e c t s — i n t h i s case, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , the o b j e c t s are "hats." S t e v i e ' s b r o t h e r - i n - l a w " s t e p f a t h e r , " Mr. V e r l o c , i s the f i g u r e i n whom i s i n v e s t e d the power of c o n t r o l over t h i s i r r a t i o n a l and v o l a t i l e occupant of an otherwise l e t h a r g i c household and s o c i e t y . His c o n t r o l i s e s t a b l i s h e d by Winnie and her mother, who have r i g o r o u s l y i n d o c t r i n a t e d S t e v i e w i t h the b e l i e f and f a i t h t h a t Mr. V e r l o c i s i n f a l l i b l y "good." Mr. V e r l o c i s an apt f i g u r e h e a d , f o r i n him i s embodied the e n t i r e s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l s t r u c t u r e of the s o c i e t y i n which he l i v e s . I f the opening s i t u a t i o n i s looked at i n terms of S t e v i e ' s v o l a t i l i t y and the q u a l i t y of c o n t r o l represented by Mr. V e r l o c , the balance i s seen to be p r e c a r i o u s a t b e s t , and the s l i g h t e s t p r e s s u r e i n j e c t e d i n t o t h i s already s t r a i n e d "system" w i l l s u f f i c e t o b r i n g about an e x p l o s i o n . There i s , as i t t u r n s out, one opening which i s s u s c e p t i b l e t o additic3nal pressure from o u t s i d e : the embassy. As J . H i l l i s M i l l e r a p t l y d e s c r i b e s i t , The p l o t of The S e c r e t Agent i s a chain r e a c t i o n , a sequence of disenchantments s t a r t e d by Mr. V l a d i -mir's demand t h a t V e r l o c c r e a t e a s e n s a t i o n a l i s t a n a r c h i s t demonstration [ M i l l e r , 4 5 ] . Even at the most l i t e r a l l e v e l of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , t h i s " chain of events" r e p r e s e n t s a grotesque comedy of e r r o r s . As mentioned p r e v i o u s l y , the a c t i o n i s o r i g i n a t e d not by an a n a r c h i s t — o n the c o n t r a r y , i t i s conceived by Mr. V l a d i m i r , 122 the f o r e i g n ambassador of a r e a c t i o n a r y government. V e r l o c represents the next l i n k i n the c h a i n , which f u r t h e r guaran-tees the p e r v e r s i o n of the o r i g i n a l c o n c e p t i o n , and adds another l e v e l of i r o n y to the " p o l i t i c a l " aspect of the p l o t . The v i o l e n t e x p l o s i o n - d e a t h of S t e v i e r e p r e s e n t s the next, and most important step i n t h i s s t r i n g of a b s u r d i t i e s , from which p o i n t the sequence i s p i c k e d up by the p o l i c e , who i n f o r m Winnie of S t e v i e ' s death. This transposes the p l o t p r i m a r i l y t o the "domestic" plane f o r the balance of the n o v e l , c u l m i n a t i n g i n the murder of V e r l o c and Winnie's sub-sequent s u i c i d e . As w e l l as having o n l y the most tenuous connection w i t h a c t u a l p o l i t i c a l a n a r c h i s t s , the p l o t leads up t o and away from an event which i s based upon pure chance: S t e v i e ' s death occurs when he t r i p s over the r o o t of a t r e e . The p l a c e of the e x p l o s i o n w i t h i n the context of the events which occur on the p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , and domestic l e v e l s of the n o v e l i s e v i d e n t , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the conse-quences which b e f a l l A d o l f V e r l o c and h i s w i f e Winnie. Again however, as i n the case of the s e t t i n g , the e x p l o s i o n p o i n t s toward correspondences beyond the moral, s o c i a l , and p o l i t i -c a l l e v e l s , although, as s t r e s s e d e a r l i e r , these l e v e l s are not dispensed w i t h , but are i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o a broader and more profound v i s i o n encompassing a l l . As s t a t e d by Joseph F r a d i n and Jean C r e i g h t o n , " S t e v i e ' s d i s i n t e g r a t i o n assumes i n c r e a s i n g f o r c e i n the n o v e l as an analogue of the u n i v e r s a l 123 d i s i n t e g r a t i o n which i s taking place" (Fradin and Creighton, 26) . The c i t y - s e t t i n g of London and the explosion-death of Stevie together constitute a powerful symbolic force which dominates the narrative. The narrative movement i t s e l f i s analogous to an explosion, or perhaps to an explosion i n slow-motion, as the waves of force move r e l e n t l e s s l y outward from the vi o l e n t centre, d i s t o r t i n g , fragmenting, mixing, fusing and d i s o r i e n t i n g everything i n t h e i r path. The force of the explosion i s f e l t i n the very descriptions of the objects and characters i n the novel; the explosion i s not d i r e c t l y narrated, but i t s effects are, paradoxically, d i r e c t l y recorded i n the grotesque dissonances present i n both form and content. Kayser refers to the German Romantic novelist Jean Paul as being the f i r s t writer to make . . . use of a motif which frequently occurs i n the subsequent history of the grotesque: the disintegra-t i o n of order i n a s p a t i a l l y u n i f i e d s o c i a l group, the estrangement i n f l i c t e d upon an entire c i t y [Kayser, 67]. I t i s int e r e s t i n g to note that " i n order to motivate the estrangement" Jean Paul introduces into his urban setting "a dense fog, the most t e r r i b l e fog of the entire eighteenth century. This fog, however, only increases the confusion that already inheres i n the s i t u a t i o n " (Kayser, 67). Although fog and darkness reinforce the estrangement of 124 Conrad's London i n The Se c r e t Agent, i t i s a c t u a l l y the bomb e x p l o s i o n which- l i k e Jean Paul's f o g , f u n c t i o n s t o motivate the estrangement of the c h a r a c t e r s . I t i s a l s o true however, again l i k e Jean Paul's f o g , t h a t the e x p l o s i o n i n The Se c r e t Agent "only i n c r e a s e s the c o n f u s i o n t h a t a l r e a d y i n h e r e s i n the s i t u a t i o n . " As f a r as the c h a r a c t e r s who are a f f e c t e d by i t are concerned i t i s c e r t a i n l y the major event of the n o v e l , s e r v i n g t o demolish t h e i r f l i m s y defenses and b r i n g them f a c e t o face w i t h an a l i e n and h o s t i l e w orld. To the reader, however, the a l i e n a t i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r s i s apparent from the be g i n n i n g . As Frank Kermode observes, the e x p l o s i o n . . . takes p l a c e , though l i t t l e i s made of t h i s , a t t he dead c e n t e r o f the human world, a t me r i d i a n z e r o . But we are c l e a r t h a t i t belongs not to a world marked o f f by m e r i d i a n s — a r e they reduced t o S t e v i e ' s p o i n t l e s s , endless c i r c l e s ? — b u t t o a world e n t i r e l y without coherence, a world which already echoes the hopes of the an a r c h i s t s . 5 8 The e x p l o s i o n and i t s consequences t h r u s t the charac-t e r s i n t o c o n t a c t w i t h the " r e a l i t y " of t h e i r world, an encounter which i n f a c t exposes i t s b a s i c u n r e a l i t y : "One by one these c h a r a c t e r s are xwr-es.tedi from t h e i r complacency and put i n a s i t u a t i o n which i s , one might say, out of t h i s w orld" ( M i l l e r , 45). The p r e v i o u s l y l a t e n t t e n s i o n and sense of danger i s made ma n i f e s t , as the f r a g i l e , because i l l u s o r y , b a r r i e r s e n c l o s i n g and p r o t e c t i n g each c h a r a c t e r are swept away. T h i s , once a g a i n , i s the c o n d i t i o n and s i t u a t i o n o f the grotesque: i t 125 . . . i s — a n d i s n o t — o u r own w o r l d . The ambiguous way i n which we are a f f e c t e d by i t r e s u l t s from our awareness t h a t the f a m i l i a r and apparently harmoni-ous world i s a l i e n a t e d under the impact of abysmal f o r c e s .'•••'wh.ifeh-jbreak" it":upaaridsshatter i t s coherence [Kayser, 3 7 ] . A sense of u n r e a l i t y i s c o n t i n u a l l y f e l t as a l a t e n t p r e s s u r e , and i n t r u d e s w i t h g r e a t e r frequency as the s t o r y p r o g r e s s e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y f o l l o w i n g the e x p l o s i o n , u n t i l i t becomes a l l - p e r v a d i n g as r e f l e c t e d by and through the deranged consciousness of Winnie V e r l o c . I t i s a world viewed on the b r i n k of and i n the process of d i s s o l u t i o n , a s i t u a t i o n which i s made even more apparent by the sense of i n s t a b i l i t y and menace which gathers about the c h a r a c t e r s , and u l t i m a t e l y by the madness which possesses Winnie and c o n s t i t u t e s her "legacy" t o Ossipon at the c o n c l u s i o n of the n o v e l . The e x p l o s i o n , t o r e p e a t , i s not the abysmal f o r c e , but r a t h e r i t s most profound m a n i f e s t a t i o n , the instantaneous i r r u p t i o n of v i o l e n t d i s i n t e g r a t i o n which occurs at the c e n t r e of the human cosmos, and t h a t r e q u i r e s the expanse of the e n t i r e n o vel t o f u l l y r e g i s t e r . In terms of the grotesque, i t would be d i f f i c u l t t o imagine a more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , even p r o t o t y p i c a l , manifes-t a t i o n of the nature and e f f e c t of the grotesque than the e x p l o s i o n - d e a t h of S t e v i e . The grotesque i s i n d i c a t e d by a f u s i o n or j u x t a p o s i t i o n of i n c o m p a t i b l e s , which u s u a l l y takes the form of a c o n f u s i o n of the human realm w i t h t h a t of the 126 animal, v e g e t a b l e , i n o r g a n i c or mechanical realms. I t i s a l s o i n d i c a t e d by the fragmentation of wholes i n t o indepen-dent p a r t s which may take on a separate e x i s t e n c e . The r a d i c a l nature of the grotesque i s o f t e n heightened by the abnormality or d e f o r m i t y of i t s s u b j e c t - m a t t e r , as w e l l as by the sudden and f r e q u e n t l y v i o l e n t manner i n which i t i n t r u d e s upon the f a m i l i a r and normal to estrange and a l i e n a t e the environment. The r e s u l t of S t e v i e ' s death i s , l i t e r a l l y , fragmenta-t i o n and abnormal f u s i o n , e f f e c t e d v i o l e n t l y and suddenly: The s h a t t e r i n g v i o l e n c e of d e s t r u c t i o n which made of t h a t body a heap of nameless fragments a f f e c t e d h i s [the C h i e f I n s p e c t o r ' s ] f e e l i n g s w i t h a sense of r u t h l e s s c r u e l t y , though h i s reason t o l d him the e f f e c t must have been as s w i f t as a f l a s h of l i g h t n i n g [87]. What remains of S t e v i e i s i n t e r m i x e d w i t h the elements of h i s surroundings a t the time of the e x p l o s i o n , and i s r e f e r r e d t o as " t h a t heap of mixed t h i n g s , which seemed to have been c o l l e c t e d i n shambles and rag shops," complete with "a s p r i n -k l i n g of s m a l l g r a v e l , t i n y brown b i t s of bark, and p a r t i c l e s of s p l i n t e r e d wood as f i n e as needles" (87). The dehumaniza-t i o n of S t e v i e i s l i t e r a l l y complete: he has been transformed f i r s t of a l l i n t o "A r e a l l y i n t e l l i g e n t detonator" (67) , and i s f i n a l l y reduced to fragments of matter i n e x t r i c a b l y mixed w i t h fragments of surrounding matter. Avrom Fleishman d e s c r i b e s t h i s process of dehumanization i n The S e c r e t Agent i n more gen e r a l terms: 127 P h y s i c a l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n begins i n the tendency to reduce the human be i n g t o i t s component p a r t s . Men are seen f i r s t as animals, then simply as f a t , f l e s h , o r meat. . . . With the u l t i m a t e r e d u c t i o n of the human be i n g t o fragments of matter . . . man i s i m a g i n a t i v e l y - — a n d l i t e r a l l y — a n n i h i l a t e d [Fleishman, 198], Fleishman i s r e f e r r i n g l e s s t o the a c t u a l r e d u c t i o n of S t e v i e than t o the i m a g i n a t i v e r e d u c t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r s as a whole, but S t e v i e ' s death r e p r e s e n t s an i r o n i c symbol of t h i s p r o c e s s . Moving from the substance to the a c t u a l s t r u c t u r i n g o f the n a r r a t i v e , the "blank space" at the ce n t r e becomes even more apparent. The a c t u a l e x p l o s i o n occurs " o f f s t a g e , " and we are informed of i t i n d i r e c t l y through the newspaper r e p o r t which Ossipon reads t o the P r o f e s s o r i n chapter f o u r . Not o n l y i s the e x p l o s i o n n a r r a t e d i n d i r e c t l y , but the i d e n t i t y o f i t s v i c t i m i s not r e v e a l e d (although many h i n t s are given) u n t i l much l a t e r . T h i s i n f o r m a t i o n i s "delayed," as i s the n a r r a t i v e e f f e c t o f the e x p l o s i o n as a whole: In h e a r i n g about the bomb outrage as a p i e c e of secondhand i n f o r m a t i o n , we are as y e t unawaresthat another gaping "hole" has been punched by the n o v e l i s t h i m s e l f . M i s l e d by the seeming c o n t i n u i t y o f chapters three and f o u r , we do not y e t know t h a t chapter e i g h t — w i t h i t s e x p o s i t i o n o f the t r i a n g u l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p b i n d i n g S t e v i e , Winnie, and t h e i r m o t h e r — s h o u l d have c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y f o l l o w e d the a c t i o n d e p i c t e d i n chapter t h r e e [Knoepflmacher, 246-247]. Knoepflmacher goes on t o p o i n t out t h a t i t i s not u n t i l chapter e i g h t and the f i r s t p a r t of chapter nine t h a t the events omitted between chapters three and f o u r are f i l l e d i n : 128 Winnie's mother's s a c r i f i c e and r e l i n q u i s h m e n t of her maternal r o l e t o Winnie, S t e v i e ' s encounter w i t h the cabman, the i n c r e a s i n g r a p p o r t between S t e v i e and V e r l o c , t h e i r j o i n t walks, V e r l o c ' s assurance t o h i s w i f e t h a t S t e v i e would p r o f i t by b'eing sent t o M i c h a e l i s ' cottage i n the country, t h e i r t r i p t o the country, and V e r l o c ' s resumption of h i s walks [Knoepflmacher, 247]. We are f o r c e d , as Andrzej Busza a p t l y s t a t e d i t , t o b a c k f i l l 59 the h o i e which has been blown i n the middle of the n o v e l ; says Knoepflmacher, To understand even i t s p l o t we must supply some f a c t s and c a r e f u l l y p i e c e together those t h a t are doled out to us; l i k e I n s p e c t o r Heat or the A s s i s -t a n t Commissioner we must go by h i n t s , l o o s e fragments, surmises, and keep away from m i s l e a d i n g p i e c e s of evidence [Knoepflmacher, 241-242]. The g e o g r a p h i c a l l o c a t i o n of the e x p l o s i o n at Green-wich has v a r i o u s m e t a p h y s i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s ,wwhi]chhhave> been c l o s e l y analyzed and d i s c u s s e d a t l e n g t h by R. W. Stallman i n h i s essay "Time and The S e c r e t Agent." Stallman observes t h a t " a l l t i m e — l e g a l time, c i v i l time, a s t r o n o m i c a l time, and U n i v e r s a l Time—emanates from Greenwich Observatory," which leads him to conclude t h a t The theme of The S e c r e t Agent has t o do with time, the d e s t r u c t i o n and c o n f u s i o n of time i t s e l f , and the confused chronology o f n a r r a t e d events by t h e i r disarrangement from time e f f e c t s a s t r u c t u r e which i s at one w i t h the theme.^0 Stallman's c o n c l u s i o n f i n d s ample evidence t o support i t , and I agree w i t h the view t h a t a c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p e x i s t s between s t r u c t u r e and theme; I would a l s o argue, however, t h a t t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p i s much more complex than 129 Stallman's a n a l y s i s s u g g e s t s — i n terms of both theme and s t r u c t u r e . Knoepflmacher moves beyond Stallman i n t h i s r e s p e c t , r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t Conrad's d i s r u p t i o n of the time scheme of a no v e l centered around V l a d i m i r ' s attempts t o have V e r l o c blow up Greenwich Observatory, the f i r s t m e ridian which lends order t o the notions, of a c i v i l i z a t i o n r u l e d by time, serves h i s purposes i n more ways than one. V l a d i m i r wants t o u n s e t t l e t h i s impassive, o r d e r l y w o r l d and shake i t s optimism through an " a c t of d e s t r u c t i v e f e r o c i t y r s o absurd as t o be incomprehensible, i n e x p l i c a b l e , almost u n t h i n k a b l e " (chap. 2). The n o v e l i s t , however, i s l e s s n i h i l i s t i c i n h i s aims. Although he too wants t o j a r the reader's complacency, he explodes time so t h a t he can order h i s f i c t i o n a l u n i v e r s e by c o n t r o l l i n g and g r a d u a l l y widening our understanding of i t s nature [Knoepflmacher, 247]. The apparent s t r u c t u r a l " c o n f u s i o n " i s t h e r e f o r e motivated by f a r more than a somewhat s u p e r f i c i a l attempt t o s t r u c t u r a l l y i m i t a t e the theme. What i n f a c t occurs i s much more complex, namely, t h a t as order and c o n t i n u i t y break down on one l e v e l , they are si m u l t a n e o u s l y r e i n s t a t e d a t another l e v e l . T h i s , from a s t r u c t u r a l o r formal p o i n t of view, i s the s i t u a t i o n of the grotesque, and i t can be seen t h e r e f o r e t h a t the e x p l o s i o n i s analogous to the grotesque as s t r u c t u r e and s t y l e as w e l l as to the grotesque as content or substance. The grotesque content o f The S e c r e t Agent has many f a c e t s which have not y e t been touched upon, and i t w i l l be h e l p f u l t o i l l u m i n a t e c e r t a i n o f these aspects i n order to f a c i l i t a t e the t r a n s i t i o n t o the conception of the grotesque as a f u n c t i o n o f p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e , and as an independent 130 mode. Once the grotesque i s e s t a b l i s h e d as a p e r v a s i v e element i n the s u b j e c t matter and substance o f the s t o r y , and i t s f u n c t i o n , e f f e c t , and s i g n i f i c a n c e made c l e a r at t h i s fundamental n a r r a t i v e l e v e l , t h i s t r a n s i t i o n should occur n a t u r a l l y and l o g i c a l l y . An examination of chapter f o u r w i l l serve t o e s t a b l i s h the nature o f the grotesque content i n n a r r a t i v e context; i t w i l l a l s o serve t o i n t r o d u c e the sense o f a grotesque d i s s o -nance o p e r a t i v e at the l e v e l s of form and s t y l e , which w i l l be d i s c u s s e d l a t e r . Chapter f o u r opens upon the f i g u r e s of the P r o f e s s o r and Comrade Ossipon s i t t i n g a t a t a b l e i n the "underground h a l l " of the S i l e n u s Restaurant. Although we are not as y e t informed of the f a c t , the e x p l o s i o n has alr e a d y o c c u r r e d . The f i r s t h i n t t h a t something has happened i s contained i n Ossipon's remark t o the P r o f e s s o r : "'Unless I am very much mistaken you are the man who would know the i n s i d e of t h i s confounded a f f a i r * " (61), a remark which t r i g g e r s the f o l l o w i n g response: An u p r i g h t semi-grand piano near the door, f l a n k e d by two palms i n p o t s , executed suddenly a l l by i t s e l f a v a l s e tune w i t h a g g r e s s i v e v i r t u o s i t y . The d i n i t r a i s e d was deafeni n g . Then i t ceased, as a b r u p t l y as i t had s t a r t e d [61]. 131 The i r r u p t i o n of t h i s absurd piano i s "sudden," "aggressive," and apparently meaningless i n terms of the narrative. The walls of the caf£ present a background of equally i r r e l e v a n t frescoes, with "Varlets i n green jerkins [who] brandished hunting-knives and raised on high tankards of foaming beer" (SA, 61). As Frank Kermode observes, "The r e l a t i o n between these properties and the thematic design of the book i s an occult one" (Kermode, History, 235). However i r r e l e v a n t and meaningless such intrusions might appear at the l i t e r a l l e v e l , they nevertheless take on a cumulative significance at another l e v e l of the narrative. The "brandished hunting-knives," for example, herald a sequence of s i m i l a r instances i n which our attention i s drawn to a k n i f e — p a r t i c u l a r l y to the carving knife i n the Verloc kitchen, which ends up being stuck murderously into Verloc. This scene i s set i n "the basement of the renowned Silenus Restaurant" (67) , Silenus making his appearance again i n the form of the grotesque cab-driver who conveys Winnie's mother to her f i n a l abode. Wylie Sypher's statement concern-ing Nietzsche and Silenus i s appropriate i n t h i s context: The substratum of the world of a r t , Nietzsche says, i s "the t e r r i b l e wisdom of Silenus," and Silenus i s the satyr-god of comedy leading the e c s t a t i c "chorus of natural beings who as i t were l i v e d ineradicably behind every c i v i l i z a t i o n " [Comedy, 200]. This p a r t i c u l a r "underworld" i s the favourite haunt of the Professor, the dedicated agent of the subversive anarchist 132 forces who, unlike the rest of mankind with i t s dependence on l i f e , depends "on death, which knows no r e s t r a i n t and cannot be attacked" (68) . Like Stevie, whom he resembles i n s i z e and b a t - l i k e features, the Professor i s a threat to the "ordered" forces of the s o c i a l world—"They stood perplexed before him as i f before a dreadful portent" (83-84). The Professor's companion i n t h i s scene, Comrade Ossipon, i s committed to the orders of science and medicine, and i s accordingly given an "Apollo-like ambrosial head," although his p a r t i c u l a r i l l u s i o n s f a i l i n the end to sustain him. Even at t h i s moment i n the novel Ossipon's daylight, sane, pseudo-Apollonian existence i s threatened by the ominous surroundings of the Professor's realm. As well as being subjected to the i r r a t i o n a l outbursts of the piano, he begins to s u f f e r menacing v i s i o n s , and the sense of impending chaos i s heightened. Ossipon imagines the Professor's . . . round black-rimmed spectacles progressing along the streets on the top of an omnibus, t h e i r self-confident g l i t t e r f a l l i n g here and there upon the heads of the unconscious stream of people on the pavements. The ghost of a s i c k l y smile altered the set of Ossipon's thick l i p s at the thought of walls nodding, of people running for l i f e at the sight of those spectacles [63], The tension i s further amplified when Ossipon sights the Professor's body-bomb: "a glimpse of an india-rubber tube, resembling a slender brown worm, issuing from the armhole of his waistcoat and plunging into the inner breast of his jacket" (66), which i n turn serves to provoke an even 133 more t e r r i f y i n g v i s i o n , c o m p l e t e w i t h a p p r o p r i a t e m u s i c a l accompaniment: The p i a n o a t t h e f o o t o f t h e s t a i r c a s e c l a n g e d t h r o u g h a m azurka w i t h b r a z e n i m p e t u o s i t y , as t h o u g h a v u l g a r and impudent g h o s t were s h o w i n g o f f . The k e y s sank and r o s e m y s t e r i o u s l y . Then a l l became s t i l l . F o r a moment O s s i p o n i m a g i n e d * t h e o v e r l i g h t e d p l a c e c h a n g e d i n t o a d r e a d f u l b l a c k h o l e b e l c h i n g h o r r i b l e fumes c h o k e d w i t h g h a s t l y r u b b i s h o f smashed b r i c k w o r k and m u t i l a t e d c o r p s e s . He h a d s u c h a d i s t i n c t p e r c e p t i o n o f r u i n and d e a t h t h a t he s h u d d e r e d a g a i n [ 6 7 ] , H i s v i s i o n i s p r o p h e t i c i n d e e d — a n d t h e f i n a l s c e n e o f t h e n o v e l r e t u r n s t o t h e basement o f t h e "renowned S i l e n u s , " where once a g a i n t h e P r o f e s s o r and O s s i p o n a r e s e a t e d , t h u s c l o s i n g t h e c i r c l e w h i c h b e g i n s w i t h t h e f i r s t m e n t i o n o f t h e e x p l o s i o n and c u l m i n a t e s i n t h e f i n a l s c e n e w i t h t h e announcement o f W i n n i e ' s d e a t h by s u i c i d e . A n o t h e r p a r a l l e l i s p r o v i d e d by b o t h t h e e x p l o s i o n and t h e s u i c i d e b e i n g m e n t i o n e d i n i t i a l l y i n t h e newspaper. The p i a n o , w h i c h r e t u r n s a t t h e end o f t h e f i r s t o f t h e s e s c e n e s t o p l a y t h e P r o f e s s o r o u t o f t h e S i l e n u s t o t h e t u n e o f "The B l u e B e l l s o f S c o t l a n d , " 'also adds i t s s t r i d e n t n o t e s t t o t t h e f f i n a l S S i d h e n u s s s c e n e : "The m e c h a n i c a l p i a n o n e a r t h e d o o r p l a y e d t h r o u g h a v a l s e c h e e k i l y , t h e n f e l l s i l e n t a l l a t o n c e , as i f gone grumpy" ( 3 1 0 ) . T h i s i r r a t i o n a l p i a n o f r a m e s e a c h o f t h e two s c e n e s i n t h e S i l e n u s , and t h e s c e n e s t h e m s e l v e s frame t h e e n t i r e s e q u e n c e o f e v e n t s w h i c h o c c u r b e t w e e n t h e e x p l o s i o n - d e a t h o f S t e v i e and t h e s u i c i d e o f W i n n i e — t h e framework s u g g e s t i n g t h e t e n o r o f t h e e v e n t s t h a t 134 l i e between. The e x p l o s i o n has taken p l a c e " o f f s t a g e , " j u s t p r i o r t o the l i f t i n g o f the c u r t a i n onto the S i l e n u s scene i n chapter f o u r , and i s t h e r e f o r e never d i r e c t l y n a r r a t e d . In another sense, however, i t i s t r a n s m i t t e d d i r e c t l y , w i t h an impact and s i g n i f i c a n c e f a r g r e a t e r than an a c t u a l t r a n s c r i p -t i o n of the event would be capable of conveying. For from t h i s p o i n t onward, s t r u c t u r e and substance are g r o t e s q u e l y d i s a r r a n g e d , rearranged, d i s t o r t e d , and fragmented, and we are l e f t to contend w i t h the gaping "hole" l e f t i n the n a r r a t i v e , f o l l o w e d by a s e r i e s of o t h e r such "unexpected s o l u t i o n s of c o n t i n u i t y , sudden h o l e s i n space and time" (85). In chapter f o u r i t seems as though the major themes i n the novel are v i s i b l y transformed or t r a n s l a t e d i n t o the forms and images of the grotesque. The connection between the novel's thematic d e s i g n and these forms or images may indeed be "an o c c u l t one," but i t i s a r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t serves to c l a r i f y the i s s u e s and movements o f the n a r r a t i v e r a t h e r than obscure t h e m — " a f t e r a l l , " w r i t e s Kermode, " i t i s an extremely i n f o r m a t i v e scene, and i n i t s way a p l a u s i b l e one. I t makes us s e e . I t e x p l a i n s " (Kermode, H i s t o r y , 235). The "brazen" piano and the P r o f e s s o r ' s ominous spec-t a c l e s are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c grotesque forms—two of c o u n t l e s s s i m i l a r grotesque images and m o t i f s which occur throughout the n o v e l , a l l of which serve to render the f a m i l i a r u n f a m i l i a r and to e l i c i t from the well-known the shape of the 135 unknown i n a c o n c r e t e and d i r e c t way. Kayser s t a t e s t h a t "The mechanical o b j e c t i s a l i e n a t e d by being brought to l i f e , the human by b e i n g d e p r i v e d of i t " (Kayser, 183). V a r i o u s o b j e c t s are brought t o l i f e i n The S e c r e t Agent, as i n the above-mentioned i n s t a n c e s of the piano, s p e c t a c l e s , and nod-d i n g w a l l s ; these i n c a r n a t i o n s may range from the l u d i c r o u s , such as d u r i n g V e r l o c ' s i n t e r v i e w w i t h V l a d i m i r when the l a t t e r ' s " q u a i n t l y o l d - f a s h i o n e d bow n e c k t i e seemed • to b r i s t l e w i t h unspeakable menaces" (24) , t o the monstrous a p p a r i t i o n o f the van and horses i n B r e t t S t r e e t which, . . . merged i n t o one mass, seemed something a l i v e — a square-backed b l a c k monster b l o c k i n g h a l f the s t r e e t , w i t h sudden i r o n - s h o d stompings, f i e r c e j i n g l e s , and heavy, blowing s i g h s [151]. There are " t r o t t i n g vans," "drowsy" and " l o n e l y " c l o c k s ; an "unhappy, homeless couch, accompanied by two u n r e l a t e d c h a i r s " s t a n d i n g i n an alleyway; "Speaking bubes resembling snakes . . . t i e d by the heads to the back of the A s s i s t a n t C o m m i s s i o n e r ' s wooden a r m c h a i r , " whose " g a p i n g mouths seemed ready t o b i t e h i s elbows" (9 7); a "long f r o c k coat" which has the " c h a r a c t e r of e l a s t i c soundness, as i f i t were l i v i n g t i s s u e " (110); g a s - j e t s which w h i s t l e "as i f a s t o n i s h e d " or p u r r "comfortably l i k e a c a t " (191); and a cracked d o o r b e l l which c l a t t e r s "with impudent v i r u l e n c e " a t v a r i o u s times i n the course of the s t o r y . These images belong to a world i n which the c o n v e n t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s between man and o b j e c t s have broken down and no l o n g e r p e r t a i n . 136 Such grotesque images may range i n impact from the s l i g h t l y b i z a rre or ludicrous to the repulsive and frighten-ing; they may occur i n i s o l a t i o n or, as i n chapter four, they may dominate an entire scene or chapter. Chapter eight, for example, i s not only thoroughly grotesque i n terms of i t s imagery, but the chapter as a whole might be termed "occult" i n i t s rel a t i o n s h i p to the balance of the narrative. Once again, i t i s informative inaa d i r e c t and concrete way, and the cab-ride to the alms-house involving Winnie, Stevie, and t h e i r mother stands as one of the more memorable episodes i n the novel. The instruments of this journey—the cab, cabman, and h o r s e — a r e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c forms of the grotesque imagina-t i o n , as i s the journey i t s e l f . The mode of description i s worth analyzing b r i e f l y on t h i s account. The cabman has "a hooked iron contrivance protruding from the l e f t sleeve" of his coat, and his "enormous and unwashed countenance flamed red i n the muddy stretch of the stree t " ; t h i s same countenance i s also described as a "bloated and sodden face of many colours b r i s t l i n g with white h a i r s " (156, 157). The "i n f i r m horse" i s even more grotesque i n appearance than i t s master: The l i t t l e s t i f f t a i l seemed to have been f i t t e d i n for a heartless joke; and at the other end the t h i n , f l a t neck, l i k e a plank covered with old horse-hide, drooped to the ground under the weight of an enormous bony head. The ears hung at d i f f e r e n t angles, negligently . . . [166]. And f i n a l l y the cab i t s e l f i s related to "a medieval device 137 f o r the punishment of crime," to a c o f f i n ("the dark, low box on wheels"), and appears to Winnie as "profoundly lamentable, w i t h such a p e r f e c t i o n of grotesque misery and weirdness of macabre d e t a i l , as i f i t were the Cab of Death i t s e l f . . ." (163, 168, 170). The grotesqueness of these images i s manifested i n a v a r i e t y of ways: the cabman wi t h h i s hook i s a l i t e r a l gro-tesque, maimed p h y s i c a l l y i n a manner c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of many grotesque f i g u r e s ; the grotesqueness of the horse and cab, on the o t h e r hand, i s e s t a b l i s h e d through the r e d u c t i v e d e s c r i p t i o n . The horse appears to be a f u s i o n of animate and inanimate p a r t s which have been " f i t t e d " t o g e t h e r — t h e t a i l i s stuck on and the neck i s a p i e c e of "plank covered w i t h o l d h orse-hide." T h i s mode of d e s c r i p t i o n occurs throughout The S e c r e t Agent, as was suggested i n the e a r l i e r s e c t i o n d e a l i n g w i t h V e r l o c ' s dehumanization, and as w i l l be f u r t h e r d i s c u s s e d i n r e l a t i o n t o the grotesqueness of the c h a r a c t e r -i z a t i o n i n g e n e r a l . C e r t a i n images may become grotesque through a s s o c i a -t i o n , r a t h e r than through an i n h e r e n t d i s p r o p o r t i o n , d i s t o r t i o n , or i n c o n g r u i t y . T h i s i s t r u e , f o r example, i n regard t o many of the r e f e r e n c e s to food and e a t i n g , which become grotesque a c c o r d i n g to the degree of a s s o c i a t i o n of such images wi t h o t h e r more o v e r t l y grotesque images, p a r t i c u l a r l y those of human f l e s h i n e s s and o b e s i t y , S t e v i e ' s 138 v i o l e n t d i s i n t e g r a t i o n into scraps of f l e s h and matter, and the references to cannibalism. Such images work metonymi-c a l l y , i n t e r a c t i n g and enhancing each other u n t i l reference to one automatically brings to mind another. The j o i n t of roast on the Verloc table, for instance, becomes thoroughly repulsive to the reader for various reasons. As a chunk of animal f l e s h i t i s related to various characters whose obesity and p a s s i v i t y i s described i n s i m i l a r terms. This s i m i l a r i t y i s made grotesquely e x p l i c i t i n the following scene, which occurs i n the context of Verloc's r e f l e c t i o n s about the death of Stevie: The sensation of unappeasable hunger, not unknown afte r the s t r a i n of a hazardous enterprise to adventurers of a tougher f i b r e than Mr. Verloc, overcame him again. The piece of roast beef, l a i d out i n the likeness of funereal baked meats for Stevie's obsequies, offered i t s e l f largely to his notice. And Mr. Verloc again partook. He partook ravenously, without r e s t r a i n t and decency, cutting thick s l i c e s with the sharp carving k n i f e , and swallowing them without bread [253]. H e r e t h e r o a s t i s a s s o c i a t e d n o t o n l y w i t h t h e s p i r i t l e s s fleshiness of the characters i n general, but s p e c i f i c a l l y with the corpse of Stevie. Mr. Verloc i s correspondingly reduced to a ravenous beast or cannibal, and the e a r l i e r description of Stevie's remains as "an accumulation of raw material for a cannibal feast" (86) also comes to mind. The reference to the carving knife, on a second reading of the novel at l e a s t , would conjure the image of Verloc's corpse as w e l l . 139 Other instances of s i m i l a r grotesque juxtapositions could be c i t e d , and i t i s inte r e s t i n g to observe the subtle preparations for such associations that are made throughout The Secret Agent. The description of Heat's examination of the dead Stevie i s comparable to and helps prepare for the above description of Verloc feeding: And meantime the Chief Inspector went on peering at the table with a calm face and the s l i g h t l y anxious attention of an indigent customer bending over what may be c a l l e d the by-products of a butcher's shop with a view to an inexpensive Sunday dinner [88]. The comic aspects of most of these descriptions should not be overlooked either , and i t i s frequently the comic component which elevates an image or scene into the true grotesque. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that the most humorous scenes and incidents are those which are also the most intense and disturbing, and p o t e n t i a l l y the most non-comic: the Inspector's befuddled examination of Stevie's blasted remains, p a r t i c u l a r l y when combined with the comments of the ludicrous policeman ("'He's a l l there. Every b i t of him. I t was a j o b 1 " [87]); the scene surrounding Winnie's murder of Verloc; the references to Stevie, who i s constantly being undermined through puns and double-entendres; and p a r t i c u l a r -l y the f i n a l scenes involving Winnie and Ossipon, i n which humour and tension push one another to ever greater heights of i n t e n s i t y . BBy the time these f i n a l scenes are reached, 140 Conrad's mastery of the f i n e l y honed ambivalence necessary to the grotesque response i s complete. The grotesque world of The S e c r e t Agent i s i n h a b i t e d by grotesque c h a r a c t e r s . The f a c t t h a t these c h a r a c t e r s are a l l i n i t i a l l y unaware of the t r u e nature of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s , and i n most cases remain so, serves t o amplify the e f f e c t of the grotesque. T h i s a m p l i f i c a t i o n occurs through the growing sense of menace surrounding each of the c h a r a c t e r s as t h e i r defenses t h r e a t e n to c o l l a p s e , through t h e i r v i s i o n s of an estranged world which are provoked by t h i s apprehension, and through the a c t u a l estrangement of those c h a r a c t e r s who come to r e c o g n i z e the t r u t h of t h i s s i t u a t i o n . The c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i s grotesque i n an even more d i r e c t sense, achieved l a r g e l y by means of " s a t i r i c , c a r i c a -t u r a l , and c y n i c a l d i s t o r t i o n s , t h a t i s , by way of the c o m i c a l l y grotesque" (Kayser, 173). The c h a r a c t e r s are almost a l l d i s t o r t e d or deformed i n the d i r e c t i o n of the inhuman, or may appear i n more o v e r t l y grotesque forms through the use of such c h a r a c t e r i s t i c grotesque m o t i f s as e c c e n t r i c i t y of f e a t u r e or g e s t u r e , masks, or the f u s i o n w i t h the animal, inanimate, or mechanical. The most common type of d i s t o r t i o n i n the n o v e l i s 141 that of size and shape. As J . H i l l i s M i l l e r remarks: With something of a shock the reader r e a l i z e s how many of the characters i n The Secret Agent are fa t . Conrad seems to be i n s i s t i n g on t h e i r gross bodies, as i f t h e i r fatness were connected with the central themes of the novel [Mi l l e r , 50]. Of the twelve main characters i n the story, eight are por-trayed i n varying stages of obesity, from the plump Winnie Verloc with her " f u l l , rounded form" (6) to Winnie's mother, "a stout, wheezy woman" whose "swollen legs rendered her inactive" (6), or Michaelis, whose "voice wheezed as i f deadened and oppressed by the layer of f a t on his chest" and who i s "round l i k e a tub, with an enormous stomach and d i s -tended cheeks of a pale, semi-transparent complexion" (41). Almost every reference to Michaelis pays tribute to his grossness, and he i s s p e c i f i c a l l y referred to as being "grotesque" i n appearance, both as a "grotesque incarnation of humanitarian passion," and as being "pathetic i n his grotesque and incurable obesity" (108, 107). This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c obesity often leans toward the animal or inanimate, as i n the case of Mr. Verloc, who i s described as "Undemonstrable and burly i n a fa t - p i g s t y l e , " as "a so f t kind of rock," and as " slow beast with a sleek head, gloomier than a s e a l , and with a husky voice" (13, 13, 257), to mention only a few of many such references. That such descriptions are motivated by more than a s a t i r i c a l purpose, and r e f l e c t a larger v i s i o n of humanity as a whole, 142 i s suggested i n H i l l i s M i l l e r ' s observation that "A fat man seems i n danger of ceasing to have a soul and becoming simply a body, and th i s r e c a l l s the grotesque absurdity of our own incarnation" ( M i l l e r , 50). The grotesque discrepancy between an idea and i t s material incarnation, or a s p i r i t and i t s mortal embodiment, forms a major theme of The Secret Agent. It i s a novel which "predicates the retrogression of what ceases to go forward" (Kermode, History, 236). Other d i s t o r t i o n s of body size also occur. The Professor i s described as "a dingy l i t t l e man" of "stunted stature," as a "short, owlish, shabby figure," and as "a pest i n the street f u l l of men" (62, 77, 311). He i s i n fact given even more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c grotesque features, appearing not only as a "miserable organism" and "owl," but also with the physiognomy of what Kayser c a l l s the "grotesque animal incarnate"—the bat: the Professor's . . . f l a t , large,earstdepartedpwidelywfromytheom ^ • sides of his s k u l l , which looked f r a i l enough for Ossipon to crush between thumb and forefinger. . . . the f l a t cheeks, of a greasy unhealthy complexion, were smudged by the miserable poverty of a thin dark whisker [6 2] — a n d as a f i n a l touch he i s extremely shortsighted. Distortions l i k e these may i n turn be amplified by physical deformities, such as Yundt's "skinny groping hand deformed by gouty swellings," his " f a i n t black grimace of a toothless mouth," and his "extinguished eyes" (42, 42, 47). A figure l i k e the "maimed" cabman and his "infirm" horse 143 together i l l u s t r a t e , a c c o r d i n g to the n a r r a t o r , "the proverb t h a t ' t r u t h can be more c r u e l than c a r i c a t u r e , ' i f such a proverb e x i s t e d " ( 155 ). Such t r u t h s are rendered by the grotesque. "Among the most p e r s i s t e n t m o t i f s of the grotesque," w r i t e s Kayser, "we f i n d human bodies reduced t o puppets, m a r i o n e t t e s , and automatons, and t h e i r faces f r o z e n i n t o masks" (Kayser, 1 8 3 ). Characters i n The S e c r e t Agent o f t e n seem t o move i n a mechanical, e c c e n t r i c , o r automatic manner, or seem to r e q u i r e an e x t e r n a l f o r c e i n order to move a t a l l . At the c o n c l u s i o n of the meeting o f the r e v o l u t i o n a r y " c i r c l e " a t V e r l o c ' s abode, f o r example, the scene i s p a r t l y d e s c r i b e d i n the f o l l o w i n g manner: With t r o u b l e d eyes he [ M i c h a e l i s ] looked f o r h i s round, hard hat, and put i t on h i s round head. His round and obese body seemed to f l o a t low between the c h a i r s under the sharp elbow of K a r l Yundt".. The o l d t e r r o r i s t , r a i s i n g an u n c e r t a i n and claw-1 l i k e hand, gave a swaggering t i l t to a b l a c k f e l t sombrero shading the hollows and r i d g e s of h i s wasted f a c e . He got i n t o motion s l o w l y , s t r i k i n g the f l o o r w i t h h i s s t i c k a t every s t e p . I t was r a t h e r an e f f o r t t o get him out of the house, • because, now and then, he would s t o p , as i f t o t h i n k , and d i d not o f f e r t o move again t i l l i m p e l l e d forward by M i c h a e l i s [ 5 1 ] . M i c h a e l i s ' s round body " f l o a t i n g " toward Yundt's "sharp elbow" isbperhaps -ashelosestolansexplosionpasB.thesespartieular anarehistsieverscome-j-oma?he p i e t u f e t i s e t h o r o u g h l y ^ grotesque - i n d e t a i l , g e s t i c movement, and sense of outer compulsion. The p h y s i c a l automatism which marks v a r i o u s o f the c h a r a c t e r s i s 144 matched by the "mental" automatism or u n i d i m e n s i o n a l i t y of thought which they a l s o possess, M i c h a e l i s ' s "idee f i x e " b e i n g an example of the l a t t e r . The f i n a l scenes surrounding Winnie's d i s c o v e r y o f S t e v i e * s death, her murder of V e r l o c , and her subsequent encounter w i t h Ossipon are charged w i t h grotesque e x p l o s i v e -ness and humour, and are c o r r e s p o n d i n g l y r e p l e t e w i t h grotesque m o t i f s , forms, and images. In response t o Winnie's t e l l i n g him to see who has entered the shop ( i t i s the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner, come t o d e l i v e r the f i r s t blow to the V e r l o c household), Mr. V e r l o c obeyed woodenly, stony-eyed, and l i k e an automaton whose face had been p a i n t e d r e d . And t h i s resemblance to a mechanical f i g u r e went so f a r t h a t he had an automaton's absurd a i r of being aware of the machinery i n s i d e of him [197]. Winnie's appearance, once she has gazed upon the t r u t h of the s i t u a t i o n , goes through a sequence of grotesque metamor-phoses: she i s seen as a " s t a t u e , " a "dummy," a "corpse," a "masked and mysterious v i s i t o r o f impenetrable i n t e n t i o n s , " as having "no f a c e , almost no d i s c e r n a b l e form," and as b e i n g t o t a l l y estranged and excluded from the "human" world around he r . The extent of t h i s a l i e n a t i o n i s i n d i c a t e d by the d e s c r i p t i o n of V e r l o c * s speech to her i n terms of The waves o f a i r o f the proper l e n g t h , propagated i n accordance w i t h c o r r e c t mathematical formulas, flowed around a l l the inanimate t h i n g s i n the room, lapped a g a i n s t Mrs. V e r l o c " s head as i f i t had been a head of stone [260]. 145 Here the embodiment of i d e a and s p i r i t i n human speech i s tantamount to entombment. I t soon becomes e v i d e n t , t h e r e f o r e , t h a t the r e f u s a l t o n a r r a t e the e x p l o s i o n d i r e c t l y i n no way l e s s e n s i t s impact. I t i s f o r c i b l y manifested i n every aspect of the s t o r y , i n c l u d i n g , as I s h a l l t r y to show i n the f o l l o w i n g chapters, form and s t y l e as w e l l as content. In many ways i t p r o v i d e s the l i n k between form and content, as suggested by Avrom Fleishman's o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t . . . the i m a g i n a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e of The S e c r e t  Agent i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the s u b j e c t matter, both p e r s o n a l and s o c i a l . This p e r s p e c t i v e i s a v i s i o n o f the modern world i n a s t a t e of f r a g m e n t a t i o n — as i f by e x p l o s i o n [Fleishman, 188]. The s e t t i n g , imagery, and c h a r a c t e r s i n The S e c r e t  Agent are fundamentally grotesque. The i n h a b i t a n t s of t h i s dark c i t y are c o n s t a n t l y threatened by t h e i r environment, and the two merge i n v a r i o u s w a y s — t h e c i t y and i t s m a t e r i a l s take on a grotesque e x i s t e n c e , and the c h a r a c t e r s undergo a process of dehumanization which i n c e r t a i n cases culminates i n the r e d u c t i o n t o i n o r g a n i c matter, and i n otherst'the con-sequence i s madness. I t i s a v i s i o n of p h y s i c a l and mental d i s i n t e g r a t i o n . The process of d i s i n t e g r a t i o n i n the s t o r y as a whole i s a slow-motion v e r s i o n of the e x p l o s i o n , and the e f f e c t s of t h i s b l a s t on S t e v i e and h i s immediate surroundings are a forewarning of the f i n a l s t a t e of balance between a l l of the c h a r a c t e r s and t h e i r m e t r o p o l i t a n 146 environment: "'Blown to small b i t s : limbs, g r a v e l , c l o t h i n g , bones, s p l i n t e r s — a l l mixed up together'" (210). 147 2. THE SECRET AGENT; THE GROTESQUE PERSPECTIVE So far I have analyzed the grotesque v i s i o n i n The  Secret Agent largely i n terms of subject-matter and content. This content, of which the c i t y - s e t t i n g and the explosion are so appropriately emblematic, i s largely that of a world i n the process of d i s s o l u t i o n and estrangement, moving toward darkness, decay, madness, despair, and death. The mode of the grotesque on t h i s basis appears to be one of d i s t o r t i o n , a l i e n a t i o n , and disharmony, with t o t a l estrangement of the human realm being the ultimate end. With such a content, i t i s tempting to view the form and s t y l e of The Secret Agent i n one of two ways: either as corresponding to the content, or as redeeming i t . Stanton de Voren Hoffman, for example, sees the theme of anarchy, which I have attempted to trace through to i t s metaphysical manifestations and implications, as extending into the form i t s e l f : . . . the anarchy extends even to the l e v e l of a r t i s t i c consciousness. One peels o f f layer after layer and finds more and more disorder and at the very core i s the symbol for order used as a parody of disorder, and thus becoming, i t s e l f , disorder, through this parodying. But t h i s also happens to what seems to be the only r e a l order i n the n o v e l — a r t i s t i c o r d e r i n g — t h e novel's only counter-value [Hoffman, 124, n. 52]. The opposite approach, viewing the content as being 148 q u a l i f i e d i n some s i g n i f i c a n t way by the form- i s c e r t a i n l y more tenable than the approach offered by Hoffman. This approach sees the form as balancing, c o n t r o l l i n g , detaching, redeeming or i n some such way of f e r i n g a posi t i v e value as a counter to a negative psychological, moral, s o c i a l , and metaphysical v i s i o n . Such views may range from the b e l i e f that the esthetic order offers a straightforward triumph of form over content, seeing a r t as the only means of transform-ing the chaos of experience into a valuable and meaningful order, to more subtle versions of the form/content r e l a t i o n -ship. Of these l a t t e r r elationships, irony and comedy are most frequently offered as the modes governing The Secret  Agent. The majority of the c r i t i c a l interpretations of The  Secret Agent support the view that the relationship between form and content i s one of pure i r o n i c disjunction, controlled by what J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , among others, refers to as Conrad's "stance . . . of i r o n i c detachment" and his perspective of "clearheaded p i t y and contempt" ( M i l l e r , 44, 46). According to this commonly held view, the si t u a t i o n i s one i n which c l a r i t y , o b j e c t i v i t y , detachment, and a c l a s s i c a l l y controlled form and structure are held against a world of mud, darkness, confusion, disorder, "madness and despair." This does not, however, account for those instances i n the narrative when th i s "distancing" and "detachment" between perspective and 149 m a t e r i a l simply c o l l a p s e s , such t h a t the p e r s p e c t i v e a c t u a l l y provokes or enhances the grotesque e f f e c t of the scene, c h a r a c t e r , or image t h a t i s b e i n g focused upon. Irony and the grotesque are not i n c o m p a t i b l e , and the former i s f r e -q u e n t l y the base or context of the l a t t e r ; i n the presence of the grotesque, however, the i r o n i c s t a b i l i t y a f f o r d e d the reader tends to d i s s o l v e , and the p e r s p e c t i v e suddenly becomes capable of c u t t i n g both ways s i m u l t a n e o u s l y . The d i s t i n c t i o n between the grotesqueness i n h e r e n t i n the subject-matter of the s t o r y i s d i f f i c u l t to d i s t i n g u i s h from the grotesqueness r e s u l t i n g from the way i n which the s u b j e c t - m a t t e r i s presented. In The S e c r e t Agent, the grotesque may be e s t a b l i s h e d as a f u n c t i o n of e i t h e r , but i t i s only when we move from the substance to the v i s i o n , and from the v i s i o n t o the s t y l e i t s e l f , t h a t the extent and depth of the grotesque i n the novel can be measured and assessed. In s h o r t , the grotesque i s no l e s s a f u n c t i o n of the manner of p r e s e n t a t i o n than of the matter being presented. The S e c r e t Agent comprises t h i r t e e n chapters. Anyone r e f l e c t i n g upon the s t r u c t u r e of the novel i s bound to be s t r u c k by the complex and i n t r i c a t e d e s ign which permeates the e n t i r e n o v e l . Even more s i g n i f i c a n t , however, i s t h a t 150 at f i r s t the n a r r a t i v e seems t o l a c k any c o n s i s t e n t s t r u c -t u r i n g p r i n c i p l e . Indeed, f o r some c r i t i c s , the novel simply does not possess a c o n s i s t e n t s t r u c t u r e ; others take the o p p o s i t e view. T h i s o p p o s i t i o n i s r e f l e c t e d i n the responses o f c r i t i c s such as F. R. L e a v i s and J o c e l y n Baines. Whereas Le a v i s p r a i s e s the "complex o r g a n i c s t r u c t u r e " by which "the theme develops i t s e l f , " and notes "the r i c h economy of the p a t t e r n , " "the cunning o r g a n i z a t i o n of the whole book," and "the economy of form and p a t t e r n t h a t g i v e s every d e t a i l i t s significance";^"'" Baines s t a t e s t h a t . . . i t i s very hard to decide what the c e n t r a l i n t e r e s t i s , f o r , although the i r o n i c a l treatment prov i d e s a u n i t y of mood, the book l a c k s , u n l i k e most of Conrad's work, a u n i f y i n g theme, and when i t i s c a r e f u l l y examined f a l l s a p a r t i n t o a suc-c e s s i o n of only s u p e r f i c i a l l y r e l a t e d scenes; i n f a c t the " c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n " of which Conrad speaks i n the Author's Note never o c c u r s . ^ Such a divergence of o p i n i o n i s i n d i c a t i v e of the ambiguity of response which i s p o s s i b l e when confronted with t h i s n o v e l — a sense of ambivalent s t r u c t u r e which i s captured by R. W. Stallman's d e c l a r a t i o n t h a t " A l l ' s chaos and c o n f u s i o n ; a l l ' s incongruous and i r r a t i o n a l , but n e v e r t h e l e s s l o g i c designs the s t r u c t u r e of The S e c r e t Agent" (Stallman, 236). The s i g n i f i c a n c e here l i e s i n the f a c t t h a t the d i s -u n i t i e s , or dissonances, pres e n t i n the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e are not a r e s u l t of lapses on the p a r t of the author, but are o b v i o u s l y d e l i b e r a t e . The sources of these dissonances on the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r a l plane are r e l a t i v e l y easy to 151 i d e n t i f y : the p l o t i s subject to time-shifts, thereby "con-fusing" the chronological sequence and creating inconsequent juxtapositions of scenes; relevant information i s suppressed and delayed; and the main incidents of the p l o t are often rendered i n d i r e c t l y . In f a c t , of the three main events of the s t o r y — t h e explosion-death of Stevie, the murder of Adolf Verloc, and the suicide of Winnie—the f i r s t and t h i r d occur "offstage" as i t were, and we receive the news as second-hand information ( l i t e r a l l y , as both incidents are f i r s t revealed through newspaper reports). On the other hand, the murder of Verloc i s presented i n as d i r e c t a manner as p o s s i b l e — s o d i r e c t that Leavis pronounced i t as "disturbing i n i t s r e a l i t y , " and declared the scene to be "one of the most as-tonishing triumphs of genius i n f i c t i o n " (Leavis, 245, 244). Why, i t might be asked, i s there such a glaring contrast and apparent incongruity i n narrative techniques? Not only does Conrad choose to "omit" d i r e c t narration or description i n certain key instances which would seem to demand "onstage" treatment, but he also includes an entire chapter (chapter eight) which more than one c r i t i c has singled, out. as being i r r e l e v a n t to the p r i n c i p a l concerns and movements of the p l o t . Another apparent narrative p e c u l i a r i t y i s the absence not only of a hero, but of a central character, which i n most narratives provides the f o c a l point and p r i n -c i p a l means of achieving unity. C r i t i c a l support for t h i s 152 o b s e r v a t i o n i s i n d i r e c t r a t h e r than d i r e c t , f o r almost every c h a r a c t e r i n The S e c r e t Agent has been s i n g l e d out by some c r i t i c or other as the p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r ^ - e s p e c i a l l y Winnie, S t e v i e , Mr. V e r l o c , and the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner. However, although each of these c h a r a c t e r s becomes the f o c a l p o i n t t e m p o r a r i l y d u r i n g the course of the s t o r y , none remains i n t h i s p o s i t i o n long enough to warrant the l a b e l of "hero" or c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r . Leo Gurko notes t h a t The S e c r e t Agent i s "a n o v e l without a hero," p o i n t i n g out t h a t I t i s the o n l y such n o v e l ever w r i t t e n by Conrad, and one of the few of i t s k i n d i n the whole h i s t o r y of f i c t i o n . There i s no dearth of c h a r a c t e r s ; no fewer than e i g h t s i t t o f u l l - l e n g t h p o r t r a i t s . But t h e r e i s no " c e n t r a l " f i g u r e , around whom e i t h e r the a c t i o n or the meaning of the s t o r y r e v o l v e s . I n s t e a d , i t r e v o l v e s around them a l l . Moreover, there i s no main c h a r a c t e r i n terms o f sympathy, l i k i n g , or i d e n t i f i c a t i o n [Gurko, 308]. John Hagan, J r . makes a s i m i l a r p o i n t , although he would d i s a g r e e w i t h Gurko t h a t The S e c r e t Agent i s the only one of Conrad's novels without a hero. Hagan remarks t h a t Beginning w i t h Nostromo . . . a d i s p e r s i o n of the atoms of the s t o r y took p l a c e on a h i t h e r t o unprecedented s c a l e . The f o c a l p o i n t f l u c t u a t e d so r a d i c a l l y t h a t some c r i t i c s denied t h a t the book had any c e n t e r of i n t e r e s t at a l l . To a l e s s e r e x t e n t the same t h i n g i s going on i n The S e c r e t  Agent [Hagan, 149]. T h i s , once again, leads to the l a r g e r q u e s t i o n : "the extent t o which Conrad succeeds i n f u s i n g i n t o an o r g a n i c whole a g r e a t number of a p p a r e n t l y detached scenes and c h a r a c t e r s " (Hagan, 148). Gurko and Hagan, l i k e S t a l l m a n , o f f e r t h e i r 153 own v e r s i o n s of the u n i t y u n d e r l y i n g the apparent chaos, but at the moment I am p r i m a r i l y i n t e r e s t e d i n emphasizing the more obvious departures from, or m o d i f i c a t i o n s o f , the normal s t r u c t u r e s of n a r r a t i v e . As U. C. Knoepflmacher observes, a r e a d i n g of The S e c r e t A g e n t ' e n t a i l s an "accumulation of f r a g -ments which a t f i r s t do not seem to cohere at a l l , " and t h a t i n order t o . . . understand even i t s p l o t we must supply some f a c t s and c a r e f u l l y p i e c e t o g e t h e r those t h a t are doled out to us; l i k e I n s p e c t o r Heat or the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner we must go by h i n t s , l o o s e fragments, surmises, and keep away from m i s l e a d i n g p i e c e s of evidence. We must rearrange the t h i r t e e n f r a g m e n t s — o n e h e s i t a t e s t o c a l l them c h a p t e r s — i n t o which the n o v e l i s d i v i d e d . Although we must experience them i n the order i n which they are pr e -sented, we must at the same time be aware of t h e i r • t r u e c h r o n o l o g i c a l sequence [Knoepflmacher, 241-242]. That Conrad i s aiming a t a d i f f e r e n t s t r u c t u r e , s t y l e , and e f f e c t i n the The S e c r e t Agent i s f u r t h e r suggested by the absence of c e r t a i n n a r r a t i v e techniques which, i f not i n t h i s case a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the n o v e l i n g e n e r a l , are c e r t a i n l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h much of h i s own w r i t i n g . A l b e r t Guerard goes § oef aaro as atoaebs erves t h at "The :S§ca?efeeAgehtAifsnini s ever a l ways an a s t o n i s h i n g leap i n t o an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t k i n d of a r t " (Guerard, 226). For Guerard, t h i s " l e a p " i s p r i n c i p a l l y i n d i c a t e d by what he r e f e r s t o as the " i r o n i c " o r "detached" 154 s t y l e of the n o v e l , which c o n t r a s t s markedly w i t h Conrad's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c and h i g h l y s u c c e s s f u l use of c h a r a c t e r -n a r r a t o r s , of whom Marlow i s the best-known example: "We have i n s t e a d a ' v o i c e ' which i s an a t t i t u d e , and which c o n t r o l s to an unusual degree i t s d i s t a n c e from the m a t e r i a l . " The r e s u l t , a c c o r d i n g to Guerard*s judgement, i s e q u a l l y s u c c e s s f u l , and . . . t h i s c o n t r o l l e d and r e l a t i v e l y bare s t y l e d i d f u n c t i o n f o r Conrad as a c o n g e n i a l p o i n t of view or n a r r a t i n g consciousness; s t y l e became, as i t were, an i n t e r p o s e d n a r r a t o r ! I t s a t i s f i e d the needs pr o v i d e d f o r i n e a r l i e r novels by l i t e r a l removal i n time and space or by the s c r e e n i n g M a r l o v i a n v o i c e [Guerard, 228]. Where I would agree completely w i t h the frequent o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t Conrad maintains complete and c l o s e s t y l i s -t i c c o n t r o l over h i s m a t e r i a l i n The S e c r e t Agent, I b e l i e v e t h a t the o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t t h i s s t y l e i s fundamentally " i r o n i c , " and thereby "detached" from the substance or s u b j e c t which i t p r e s e n t s , needs to be q u a l i f i e d . The s t y l e i s i n p a r t i r o n i c , and does allow a form of detachment, but to l e a v e i t at t h i s p a r t i a l l y obscures the s t y l i s t i c f u n c t i o n as a whole. Irony i m p l i e s a degree of emotional disengage-ment and dependence upon i n t e l l e c t u a l response which cannot be s a t i s f a c t o r i l y r e c o n c i l e d w i t h the experience of The  S e c r e t Agent. The presence of i r o n y and detachment are important t o the s t y l e of The S e c r e t Agent, but only i n p a r t , and f o r a 155 more complete co n c e p t i o n of the s t y l e i t i s necessary to take account of what seems t o be an o p p o s i t e e f f e c t : a f r e q u e n t l y d i s t u r b i n g and c e r t a i n l y ambivalent emotional engagement w i t h the m a t e r i a l , o f t e n accompanied by a l o s s of the i n t e l -l e c t u a l and r a t i o n a l framework. The s t y l e , no l e s s than the s t r u c t u r e , i s permeated w i t h d e l i b e r a t e gaps and d i s c r e p a n -c i e s , and we are f a c e d w i t h a n a r r a t i v e or s e t of techniques designed to s i m u l t a n e o u s l y c o n t r o l and d i s o r i e n t the m a t e r i a l , and the reader's p e r c e p t i o n of and response t o the m a t e r i a l . While the s t y l e allows f o r a sense of i r o n y and d i s t a n c e on the one hand, i t i s a l s o t r u e t h a t t h i s apparent "detachment" f r e q u e n t l y turns a g a i n s t i t s e l f , or d i s s o l v e s , promoting a sense of i n c o n g r u i t y and d i s o r i e n t a t i o n . T h i s p a r a d o x i c a l c a p a b i l i t y o f a c t i n g toward o p p o s i t e ends s i m u l t a n e o u s l y i s the essence of the grotesque s t y l e . Norman H o l l a n d , l i k e A l b e r t Guerard, focuses on the s h i f t from n a r r a t o r to s t y l e or " v o i c e , " but goes beyond Guerard i n s u g g e s t i n g the d u a l p o t e n t i a l of t h i s s t y l e : In The S e c r e t Agent, Conrad put a s i d e the margin of s a f e t y the n a r r a t o r r e p r e s e n t e d . . . . He c r e a t e d a comic, i r o n i c s t y l e t h a t swings between an i n v o l v e d p e r i p h r a s i s , almost n e o - c l a s s i c i n manner, and sudden, grimy, r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s [Holland, 229]. Were these "sudden, grimy, r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l s " s o l e l y a f u n c t i o n of the m a t e r i a l , then t h e r e would be no need t o look f u r t h e r than the technique of i r o n y and comedy as the s t y l i s t i c bases of p r e s e n t a t i o n . T h i s i s not, however, the 15 6 case. The m a t e r i a l i s , i n many i n s t a n c e s , i n h e r e n t l y d i s -t u r b i n g i n v a r i o u s ways, and the s t y l e does serve as a means of d i s t a n c i n g and detachment. But on the other hand, i t soon becomes apparent t h a t i n many cases the s t y l e a c t u a l l y serves t o aggravate normally "harmless" m a t e r i a l , or to f u r -t h e r provoke i n h e r e n t l y d i s t u r b i n g or p o t e n t i a l l y d i s t u r b i n g m a t e r i a l , thereby p r e s e n t i n g i t i n an uncomfortably " r e a l i s -t i c " l i g h t . The S e c r e t Agent may d i f f e r i n v a r i o u s s i g n i f i c a n t ways both from Conrad's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s e t of n a r r a t i v e t e c h n i q u e s , and from the n a r r a t i v e e x p e c t a t i o n s surrounding the novel i n g e n e r a l , but these d i f f e r e n c e s aire, I b e l i e v e , evidence o f h i s attempt t o reach the o b j e c t i v e toward which a l l of h i s w r i t i n g i s aimed, namely "the profound r e a d j u s t -ment of h i s re a d e r s ' p e r s p e c t i v e toward the f a m i l i a r , commonplace worl d around them, whether by s e r i o u s o r comic means" (Axton, 153). As Knoepflmacher p o i n t s out i n h i s a n a l y s i s of The S e c r e t Agent: . . . the r e are no o v e r t g u i d e l i n e s t o s o r t out the experiences we observe a t f i r s t hand. The j u x t a -p o s i t i o n s of scenes, symbols, phrases, words, f o r c e the reader i n t o a s s e s s i n g the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f each of the d e t a i l s t o which he i s exposed. Knoepflmacher goes on to quote Conrad's famous credo: "My task which I am t r y i n g t o achieve i s by the power of the w r i t t e n word, to make you hear, to make you f e e l — i t i s , b e f o r e a l l , t o make you see," p o i n t i n g out t h a t t h i s 157 statement "places the burden on the p e r c e p t i v e n e s s of h i s rea d e r s " (Knoepflmacher, 243). Knoepflmacher, l i k e Guerard and H o l l a n d , i s l e d t o a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of. the s u b t l e t y of " v o i c e " which d i s t i n g u i s h e s the s t y l e , and to a f u r t h e r c o n s i d e r a t i o n of t h i s v o i c e , or s t y l e , as the mediator between the author and h i s m a t e r i a l , between m a t e r i a l and reader, and between author and reader. T h i s s t y l i s t i c mediator serves not onl y t o s e t up the sense of order and the e x p e c t a t i o n s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h i s o r d e r , but a l s o t o j a r those same e x p e c t a t i o n s and, consequently, to c h a l l e n g e the sense of order and the assumptions upon which they are based. T h i s i s suggested i n Knoepflmacher's remarks t h a t Conrad's n a r r a t i v e method presupposes an a b s o l u t e a l e r t n e s s from the reader. Although the n a r r a t o r ' s i r o n i c v o i c e s e t s the tone f o r the s t o r y , t h i s v o i c e i s disembodied; d e s p i t e h i s omniscience, the n a r r a t o r e f f a c e s h i m s e l f and f o r c e s us t o hear and see only those d e t a i l s he has c a r e f u l l y screened and s e l e c t e d . His suppressions o f f e n d our y e a r n i n g f o r o r d e r , c o n t i n u i t y , and e x p l a n a t i o n . The reader, i r r i t a t e d by the n a r r a t o r ' s e l u s i v e v o i c e , almost f e e l s l i k e a p o s t r o p h i z i n g him much i n the way t h a t Mr. V l a d i m i r a p o s t r o p h i z e s V e r l o c : "Voice won't do. We have no use f o r your v o i c e . We don't want a v o i c e . We want f a c t s — s t a r t l i n g f a c t s — d a m n you!" [Knoepflmacher, 242-243]. 158 The d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s , i n c o n g r u i t i e s , and n a r r a t i v e "gaps" which are p r e s e n t a t the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r a l l e v e l , and which c h a r a c t e r i z e the n a r r a t i v e content, are a l s o apparent as f e a t u r e s of the p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e of The S e c r e t Agent. The techniques u n d e r l y i n g these v a r i o u s n a r r a t i v e l e v e l s are grotesque i n f u n c t i o n and e f f e c t . The same de s i g n governs a l l . The s i g n i f i c a n c e of c e r t a i n comic techniques (espe-c i a l l y those r e l a t e d to c a r i c a t u r e and adapted t o the drama-t i c mode) and c e r t a i n "cinematographic" techniques t o the p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e of the grotesque was d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r ; t h i s s i g n i f i c a n c e becomes even c l e a r e r upon examination of the techniques of s t y l e and p e r s p e c t i v e i n a work such as The S e c r e t Agent. The S e c r e t Agent has been adapted to both stage and s c r e e n . Conrad h i m s e l f was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the stage adapta-t i o n , and although the f i l m v e r s i o n had to w a i t f o r A l f r e d H i t c h c o c k , Ian Watt notes t h a t "Conrad was a l s o i n t e r e s t e d i n the cinema, and indeed c o l l a b o r a t e d with P i n k e r on a f i l m s c e n a r i o of 'Gasper RuizJJ, which i s i n the Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a r y " (Casebook, 83). I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o compare the adaptations of The S e c r e t Agent w i t h each o t h e r and w i t h the novel i t s e l f . With r e g a r d to the s t a g e - p l a y , Watt w r i t e s t h a t Conrad's 159 . . . d r a m a t i s a t i o n of The S e c r e t Agent e x i s t s i n two forms, t h a t i n f o u r a c t s p r i v a t e l y p r i n t e d i n 1921, and t h a t i n t h r e e a c t s which was produced at the Ambassadors' Theatre on 2 November 1922 [Casebook, 82]. The apparent "dramatic" q u a l i t i e s of the n o v e l e v i d e n t l y f a i l e d t o m a i n tain t h e i r v i g o u r once transposed to the stage, however: Watt s t a t e s t h a t "The p l a y was not s u c c e s s f u l , and ran only to 11 November. I t f a i l e d w i t h most of the c r i t i c s , as w e l l as w i t h the p u b l i c " (Casebook, 82). The e x t e n t to which the f a i l u r e was due t o the p r o d u c t i o n r a t h e r than to the m a t e r i a l i s d i f f i c u l t to determine, but apparently the "play f o l l o w e d the novel c l o s e l y , and used much of the d i a l o g u e " (Casebook, 83). Because of s t a g i n g d i f f i c u l t i e s , c e r t a i n changes became necessary, among these b e i n g the removal of the outdoor scenes i n v o l v i n g V e r l o c ' s walk to the Embassy and home again. The ending i s even more r a d i c a l l y r e - w r i t t e n ; on the whole, however, the f a i l u r e can probably be a t t r i b u t e d to the f a c t t h a t the s t r e n g t h of the n a r r a t i v e i s dependent upon the p o i n t of view, the one element t h a t i s c o n s i s t e n t l y l a c k i n g i n the p l a y : "The e s s e n t i a l d i f f e r e n c e between the n o v e l and the p l a y , " s t a t e s Watt, ". . . i s the absence of the w r i t e r ' s i r o n i c commentary" (Casebook, 83). Once e x t r a c t e d from the c o n t r o l of Conrad's n a r r a t i v e s t y l e , the m a t e r i a l s of the s t o r y were l e f t i n an unredeemable s t a t e of melodrama. Watt r e f e r s to Conrad's own r e c o g n i t i o n of t h i s l o s s , r e g i s t e r e d i n the "Author's Note" to the n o v e l : 160 . . . l a t e l y , circumstances . . . have compelled me to s t r i p t h i s t a l e of the l i t e r a r y robe of i n d i g n a n t s c o r n i t has c o s t me so much t o f i t on i t d e c e n t l y , years ago. I have been f o r c e d , so t o speak, t o look upon i t s bare bones. I confess t h a t i t makes a g r i s l y s k e l e t o n [ x i v - x v ] . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t the element of s t y l e or p e r s p e c t i v e c o n s p i c u o u s l y absent i n the stage a d a p t a t i o n of The S e c r e t Agent becomes perhaps too conspicuous i n the s c r e e n v e r s i o n of the s t o r y . The f i l m v e r s i o n was d i r e c t e d by A l f r e d H itchcock and r e l e a s e d i n 19 36 as Sabotage i n England and A Woman Alone i n the U n i t e d S t a t e s (the f i l m t i t l e s were changed from the.novel's t i t l e due to the f a c t t h a t Hitchcock had a l r e a d y made a f i l m c a l l e d The S e c r e t Agent, based on Somerset Maugham's Ashenden s t o r i e s ) . The a d a p t a t i o n t o the s c r e e n proved more s u c c e s s f u l than the d r a m a t i z a t i o n of the s t o r y , but encountered c e r t a i n problems of i t s own. D i r e c t comparisons between the n o v e l and f i l m are made somewhat d i f f i c u l t because, as Watt p o i n t s out, "The s c e n a r i o and s e t t i n g were very d i f f e r e n t from Conrad's." T h i s , i f Watt's b r i e f summary of the f i l m i s a f a i r i n d i c a - " t i o n , i s a d r a s t i c understatement: V e r l o c (Oscar Homolka) manages a s m a l l cinema, and Heat employs a handsome d e t e c t i v e (John Loden) who c o u r t s Winnie ( S y l v i a Sidney) so t h a t he can keep an eye on V e r l o c . There i s a somewhat improb-able happy ending: a t i m e l y e x p l o s i o n a f t e r the murder des t r o y s the evidence a g a i n s t Winnie, who then f i n d s happiness i n the d e t e c t i v e ' s arms. Even w i t h a l l of these changes o f p l o t t o s u i t the more 161 w i s h f u l e x p e c t a t i o n s of the audience, a c e r t a i n t e n s i o n between medium and s u b j e c t - m a t t e r was s t i l l apparent: As a f i l m Sabotage i s , as H i t c h c o c k remarked, "a l i t t l e messy." One of the reasons i s c e r t a i n l y t h a t the s q u a l o r of the o r i g i n a l s t o r y would be much too s t r o n g when presented through the r e a l i s m of the camera. Thus the f i l m , l i k e the p l a y , draws a t t e n t i o n t o how u t t e r l y dependent Conrad's t a l e i s on the mode of t e l l i n g . For i n s t a n c e , the blowing-up of S t e v i e i n the f i l m was much "resented" by the audience; as F r a n g o i s T r u f f a u t puts i t : "Making a c h i l d d i e i n a p i c t u r e i s a r a t h e r t i c k l i s h matter; i t comes c l o s e t o an abuse of c i n e m a t i c power" [Casebook, 84] . The dramatic and c i n e m a t i c adaptations of the n o v e l are t h e r e f o r e i n t e r e s t i n g f o r v a r i o u s reasons. F i r s t of a l l , they p o i n t t o an a f f i n i t y between the techniques of The S e c r e t Agent and the techniques of drama and c i n e m a — o r a t l e a s t t o a p r e d i s p o s i t i o n toward s i m i l a r t e c h n i q u e s . Of course a n o v e l need not make use of any cinematographic techniques i t s e l f i n order to become s u i t a b l e m a t e r i a l f o r a s c r e e n p l a y — n o v e l s w r i t t e n long b e f o r e the cinema and i t s techniques were f i r s t conceived have been made i n t o h i g h l y s u c c e s s f u l f i l m s (many of them more s u c c e s s f u l , from both a c r i t i c a l and popular p o i n t of view, than Sabotage). S i m i -l a r l y , i t might w e l l be argued t h a t the r e a l a f f i n i t y between The S e c r e t Agent and the stage, on one hand, and the screen on the o t h e r , i s l e s s an a f f i n i t y of s t r u c t u r e and technique than of s u b j e c t and content. The melodramatic and sensa-t i o n a l i s s p e c i f i c a l l y what Hitchcock would be l o o k i n g f o r i n a p o t e n t i a l l y f i l m a b l e n a r r a t i v e . However, I don't o f f e r 1 6 3 The e v e n t s o f The S e c r e t A g e n t o c c u r w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f a c a r e f u l l y d e l i n e a t e d r e a l i s t i c e n v i r o n m e n t . The e v e n t s t h e m s e l v e s a r e r e n d e r e d i n a w e a l t h and p r e c i s i o n o f d e t a i l ; l i k e W i n n i e ' s own v i s i o n s , t h e y o c c u r i n " s u c h p l a s t i c r e l i e f , s u c h n e a r n e s s o f f o r m , [and] s u c h a f i d e l i t y o f s u g g e s t e d d e t a i l " ( 2 4 4 ) , t h a t t h e r e w o u l d a p p e a r t o be a c o m p l e t e r e s i s t a n c e t o d i s t o r t i o n . Y e t t h i s o b j e c t i v i t y and a t t e n t i o n t o r e a l i s t i c d e t a i l f r e q u e n t l y s e r v e s as a p r i m e v e h i c l e o f t h e g r o t e s q u e i n t h e n o v e l . As t h e n a r r a t o r o f The S e c r e t A g e n t h i m s e l f r e m a r k s : " t o e x a g g e r a t e w i t h judgement one must b e g i n by m e a s u r i n g w i t h n i c e t y " ( 2 4 9 - 2 5 0 ) . The t e c h n i q u e s h e r e u s e d t o combine t h e r e a l i s m o f o b j e c t i v i t y and d e t a i l w i t h t h e p e r s p e c t i v e o f g r o t e s q u e d i s t o r t i o n and d i s c r e p a n c y b e a r a c l o s e r e s e m b l a n c e t o c e r t a i n t e c h n i q u e s and p e r s p e c t i v e s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h e c i n e m a . I n s i g n i f i c a n t d e t a i l s s u d d e n l y i n t r u d e upon t h e n a r r a t i v e , and a r e g i v e n a d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e s i g n i f i c a n c e by t h e i r mere p r e s e n c e , a p r e s e n c e u n j u s t i f i e d by t h e i r c o n t e n t : "Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s hand c l a s p e d t h e a n k l e r e p o s i n g on h i s k n e e . The s o c k was o f d a r k b l u e s i l k " ( 2 1 ) ; o r , a t a moment o f d r a m a t i c i n t e n s i t y , i t i s o b s e r v e d t h a t "Mrs. V e r l o c t o u c h e d t h e b a c k o f h e r h a i r . I t was i n p e r f e c t o r d e r " ( 2 0 3 ) . T h i s 162 the adaptations as pr o o f s of s i m i l a r techniques i n h e r e n t i n the novel i t s e l f , but r a t h e r as i n d i c a t i o n s . The d i f f e r e n c e s are even more s i g n i f i c a n t . Whereas the d r a m a t i z a t i o n o f the n o v e l l o s t the sharp impact o f the n a r r a t i v e ' s grotesque v o i c e and p e r s p e c t i v e (what Watt r e f e r s t o as "the absence o f the w r i t e r ' s i r o n i c commentary"), the f i l m v e r s i o n acted i n p r e c i s e l y the o p p o s i t e manner, empha-s i z i n g the o b j e c t i v e power of the p e r s p e c t i v e ( " i t comes c l o s e t o an abuse of ci n e m a t i c power") and consequently l o s i n g the necessary human, or s u b j e c t i v e , c o n t a c t w i t h the m a t e r i a l . Watt's remark t h a t "the f i l m , l i k e the p l a y , draws a t t e n t i o n t o how u t t e r l y dependent Conrad's t a l e i s on the mode of t e l l i n g " p o i n t s t o the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the d u a l r o l e which the "mode of t e l l i n g " p e r f o r m s — n o t only does i t serve t o o b j e c t i f y and detach the reader from the c h a r a c t e r s and m a t e r i a l of the s t o r y , but i t a l s o i n v o l v e s the reader w i t h the c h a r a c t e r s and m a t e r i a l , o f t e n i n a d i s c o m f o r t i n g and ambivalent manner. F u r t h e r , and p a r a d o x i c a l l y , the d u a l i t y i s f r e q u e n t l y simultaneous, a source of a d d i t i o n a l ambivalence. T h i s mode of t e l l i n g , o r s t y l e , i s maintained throughout The S e c r e t Agent; w h i l e i t gains i t s p e c u l i a r power and e f f e c t through i t s a d a p t a t i o n of dramatic and cinematographic techniques, t h i s mode i s e s s e n t i a l l y n a r r a -t i v e , and any attempt t o i s o l a t e one aspect of the s t y l e d e s t r o y s the e f f e c t of the whole. 164 sense of d i s p r o p o r t i o n i s a l s o achieved through the " c l o s e -up" : "On r e p e a t i n g t h i s l a s t word Mr. V l a d i m i r l a i d a l o ng white f o r e f i n g e r on the desk"; or s i m i l a r l y , "the r a i s i n g of a shapely, l a r g e white hand a r r e s t e d him" (22, 30). Such i s o l a t e d shots serve a l s o t o "blow-up" the o b j e c t i n a d i s -t u r b i n g manner, and where the d e t a i l or o b j e c t i n q u e s t i o n i s normally a p a r t of a l a r g e r whole, i t may appear t o take on an independent e x i s t e n c e . The grotesque e f f e c t of such d i s t o r t i o n s i s w h i m s i c a l l y ( l e s s so from V e r l o c 1 spp©ihtr>6f view) suggested by the remark t h a t "To be crushed, as i t were, under the t i p of a f o r e f i n g e r was an unpleasant experience" (85). Thick knees, f l e s h y f i s t s , and " l a r g e , white, plump hands" f r e q u e n t l y i n t r u d e or pass across the scene, as do v a r i o u s o t h e r o b j e c t s , animate and inanimate a l i k e . Joseph I. F r a d i n r e f e r s t o The S e c r e t Agent as a " n a t u r a l s c e n a r i o " which i s f i l l e d w i t h "images whose content y i e l d s i t s e l f more r e a d i l y t o a s e n s i b i l i t y shaped by the moving-picture than by the p r i n t e d page." F r a d i n c o n t i n u e s : The juxtaposed image i n the scene between the P r o f e s s o r and Ossipon, f o r e x a m p l e — t h e unknown couple going up the s t a i r s , the piano p-laying by i t s e l f , the o v e r - l i g h t e d r e s t a u r a n t , the g h a s t l y r u b b i s h , the m u t i l a t e d c o r p s e s — w h i c h capture the whole i r r a t i o n a l v i o l e n c e of the world, are l i k e a sequence out of a f i l m by Jean-Luc Godard. In g e n e r a l Conrad i s very cinematographic i n The  S e c r e t Agent, o f t e n working l i k e the camera i n the " n o u v e l l e vague" f i l m . The camera p i c k s up a face or a form as i t moves i n t o range, watches i t f o r a 165 moment without i d e n t i f y i n g i t or the p o i n t of view, and l e t s i t d r i f t away—another nameless atom i n the f l u x . Or i t moves from the i d e n t i f i e d — b u t no more r e a l l y known-—man t o the u n i d e n t i f i e d , commits them to a common f a t e as anonymous fragments a c c i -d e n t a l l y a s s o c i a t e d f o r a moment, and cooly drops them [ F r a d i n , Everyman, 1 0 3 2 ] , Such a p e r s p e c t i v e serves to l e v e l d i s t i n c t i o n s between the human and non-human realms, or between what i s humanly s i g -n i f i c a n t and i n s i g n i f i c a n t . Normally unimportant " t h i n g s " or aspects normally r e l e g a t e d to the background are i n v e s t e d w i t h momentary importance o r r a i s e d t o the foreground, and the human i s reduced t o a fragmented or p e r i p h e r a l e x i s t e n c e The grotesque emerges through a d i s r u p t i o n of the temporal as w e l l as the s p a t i a l dimension of the n a r r a t i v e . The e x p l o s i o n takes p l a c e a t Greenwich, the temporal and s p a t i a l c e n t r e of the e a r t h , and i t manifests i t s e l f through out the n a r r a t i v e as "sudden holes i n space and time" ( 8 5 ) . The d i s c r e p a n c y between time as "temps" and time as "duree" i s one of the main themes i n The S e c r e t Agent, and forms the b a s i s of v a r i o u s o t h e r d i s c r e p a n c i e s i n the n o v e l . These temporal d i s c r e p a n c i e s and dissonances are even more adaptable to cinematographic techniques than the s p a t i a l i n c o n g r u i t i e s . The "slow-motion" scene of V e r l o c ' s death i s the most obvious example i n which an i n c o n g r u i t y between c h r o n o l o g i c a and s u b j e c t i v e time, as w e l l as between thought and a c t i o n , i s m a nifested. Knoepflmacher o f f e r s a s u c c i n c t d e s c r i p t i o n 166 of t h i s scene and i t s unique e f f e c t : j As i n a slow-motion f i l m , Conrad f o r c e s us to behold d e t a i l s t h a t c o u l d not have been p e r c e i v e d through a more r a p i d p r e s e n t a t i o n . He devotes an e n t i r e paragraph to the thoughts f l a s h i n g through V e r l o c ' s mind d u r i n g the b r i e f moment t h a t e l a p s e s w h i l e the arm moves back and down. V e r l o c ' s body cannot c a r r y out the e l a b o r a t e "plan of defense" concocted by h i s b r a i n . The i n e r t i a which has c h a r a c t e r i z e d him i n l i f e a l s o c h a r a c t e r i z e s him i n t h i s l a s t moment b e f o r e death. The grotesque, s e n s u a l man pays f o r h i s l i f e l o n g i n a b i l i t y t o be moved [Knoepflmacher, 258]. As w e l l as r e g i s t e r i n g the d i s c r e p a n c y between thought and a c t i o n , t h i s p a r t i c u l a r a d a p t a t i o n of n a r r a t i v e prose t o the temporal c o n t i n g e n c i e s of the event b e i n g n a r r a t e d i s one of the b e t t e r examples of the process I o u t l i n e d e a r l i e r : the attempt t o l i t e r a l l y r e g i s t e r the e f f e c t s of the e x p l o s i o n t h a t occurs i n the c e n t r e of the n a r r a t i v e . The S e c r e t Agent not o nly records or t r a n s c r i b e s events, i t embodies them. Th i s attempt to fuse n a r r a t i v e and event at the l e v e l of language, s t y l e , and s t r u c t u r e i n The S e c r e t Agent i s p e r c e p t i v e l y r e l a t e d by R. W. S t a l l m a n to a statement made by Marlow i n Lord Jim; says S t a l l m a n : Where Marlow i n Lord Jim e x p l a i n s — " A l l t h i s happened i n much, l e s s time than i t takes to t e l l , s i n c e I am t r y i n g t o i n t e r p r e t f o r you i n t o slow  speech the instantaneous e f f e c t of v i s u a l impres-s i o n s " — d e s c r i b e s p r e c i s e l y what Conrad c r e a t e s i n the slow prose of the murder s c e n e — a sense of time suspended [Stallman, 247]. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t h a t the more r a p i d the flow of p e r c e p t u a l impre s s i o n s , the "slower" the pace of the prose (or i n Marlow's terms, the "speech") t h a t i s r e q u i r e d t o capture 167 the f u l l e f f e c t of such i m p r e s s i o n s . At a c e r t a i n p o i n t i n such a process time appears to become suspended, and even the most r a p i d s u c c e s s i o n of instantaneous events can be recorded. Perhaps t h i s i n v e r s e r e l a t i o n s h i p between n a r r a t i v e pace and the flow of events i s what For d Madox Ford, i n Joseph Conrad; A P e r s o n a l Remembrance r e f e r s t o as "progres-s i o n d ' e f f e t . " Ford s t a t e s t h a t : In w r i t i n g a n o v e l we [Ford and Conrad] agreed t h a t every word s e t on p a p e r — e v e r y word s e t on p aper—must c a r r y the s t o r y forward and, t h a t as the s t o r y p r o g r e s s e d , the s t o r y must be c a r r i e d forward f a s t e r and f a s t e r and w i t h more and more i n t e n s i t y . That i s c a l l e d " p r o g r e s s i o n d ' e f f e t , " words f o r which there i s no E n g l i s h e q u i v a l e n t . ° 3 Although the scene of V e r l o c ' s murder i s the most memorable example of "slow prose" and the phenomenon of "pro-g r e s s i o n d ' e f f e t , " there are other scenes and d e s c r i p t i o n s which p r o v i d e i n t e r e s t i n g v a r i a t i o n s on t h i s p r o c e s s . The c a b - r i d e i n chapter e i g h t , which " o b l i t e r a t e d every s e n s a t i o n of onward movement" (163) , i s a noteworthy i n s t a n c e . So a l s o i s the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n of a s i n g l e moment i n the i n t e r v i e w between Heat and the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner: A t the l i t t l e laugh of C h i e f I n s p e c t o r Heat's he [the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner]' spun s w i f t l y on h i s h e e l s , as i f w h i r l e d away from the window-pane by an e l e c t r i c shock. He caught on the l a t t e r ' s f a c e not only the complacency proper f o the o c c a s i o n l u r k i n g under the moustache, but the v e s t i g e s of experimental watchfulness i n the round eyes, which had been, noddoubt, f a s t e n e d on h i s back, and now met h i s glance f o r a second b e f o r e the i n t e n t 168 c h a r a c t e r o f t h e i r s t a r e had the time t o change t o a merely s t a r t l e d appearance [114-115]. A sense of " f r o z e n time" i s c r e a t e d by the d i s c r e p a n c y between sudden a c t i o n and delayed r e a c t i o n , enhancing the e q u a l l y grotesque e f f e c t of the sudden a c t i o n o c c u r r i n g a g a i n s t a s t a t i c background (the essence of the " g e s t i c " s t y l e important t o the dramatic q u a l i t y o f the n a r r a t i v e t o which I w i l l r e f e r below). This suspended or " f r o z e n " shot or "hold" c r e a t e s a sense of the "pregnant moment," chargi n g the scene w i t h a l a t e n t t e n s i o n , and "with a weight of profound menace" (Hagan, 153). This sense of menace and t e n s i o n i s achieved i n other ways as w e l l . Extended gaps f r e q u e n t l y occur between percep-t i o n and c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n , as i n the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n of S i r E t h e l r e d : A s l i g h t j e r k y movement of the b i g body h a l f l o s t i n the gloom o f the green s i l k shades, of the big; head l e a n i n g on the b i g hand, accompanied an i n t e r m i t t e n t s t i f l e d but powerful sound. The g r e a t man had laughed [220]. Often these gaps are q u i t e prolonged, and the atmosphere i s f u r t h e r charged by the t i m e l y i n t r o d u c t i o n of oth e r grotesque images, the t e n s i o n seeming t o invoke the grotesque and the grotesque s e r v i n g to amp l i f y the t e n s i o n . F o l l o w i n g Mr. V e r l o c ' s r e t u r n home on the day of the e x p l o s i o n , f o r example, Mrs. V e r l o c i s s i t t i n g i n the p a r l o u r when, j u s t as she i s about to r i s e and e n t e r the k i t c h e n , . . . a s l i g h t , very s l i g h t , and r a p i d r a t t l i n g 169 sound grew upon her h e a r i n g . B i z a r r e and incompre-h e n s i b l e , i t a r r e s t e d Mrs. V e r l o c ' s a t t e n t i o n . [That something i s askew i s here b e i n g announced i n a manner i d e n t i c a l t o the "announcement" of the e x p l o s i o n by the piano i n chapter four.] Then as i t s c h a r a c t e r became p l a i n t o the ear she stopped s h o r t , amazed and concerned. S t r i k i n g a match on the box she h e l d i n her hand, she turned on and l i g h t e d , above the p a r l o u r t a b l e , one of the two gas burners, which, b e i n g d e f e c t i v e , f i r s t w h i s t l e d  as i f a s t o n i s h e d , and then went on p u r r i n g comfort-ably l i k e a c a t [emphasis mine]. The focus then s h i f t s t o Mr. V e r l o c , and another e n t i r e para-graph i s taken up i n a somewhat i r r e l e v a n t and g r a t u i t o u s d e s c r i p t i o n of h i s p o s i t i o n , d e t a i l i n g the l o c a t i o n of h i s hat, f e e t , head, hands, body, and overcoat ("It was l y i n g on the s o f a " ) / b e f o r e the cause of the " r a p i d r a t t l i n g sound" i s f i n a l l y r e v e a l e d : "His t e e t h r a t t l e d w i t h an ungovernable v i o l e n c e . . ." (191). The event i s h a r d l y momentous i n i t s e l f , y e t by r e v e a l i n g the e f f e c t p r i o r t o the cause, and by d e l a y i n g the r e v e l a t i o n f o r the d u r a t i o n of two paragraphs, the common scene and d e t a i l i s charged w i t h t e n s i o n , and g i v e n an o b l i q u e t w i s t which allows i t to come a l i v e i n the form of w h i s t l i n g and p u r r i n g gas burners, which i n t u r n f u r t h e r i n t e n s i f y the scene. We f i n d t h i s technique used i n an even more d i s t u r b i n g manner i n the scenes i n v o l v i n g V e r l o c ' s murder and Winnie's encounter w i t h Comrade Ossipon. F o r example, i n the sequence r e l a t i n g Winnie's s t a b b i n g of V e r l o c , a strange sound i s d e s c r i b e d but the e x p l a n a t i o n of i t s o r i g i n i s t e m p o r a r i l y w i t h h e l d : 170 Nothing moved i n the p a r l o u r t i l l Mrs. V e r l o c r a i s e d her head sl o w l y and looked a t the c l o c k w i t h i n q u i r i n g m i s t r u s t . She had become aware of a t i c k i n g sound i n the room. I t grew upon her ear, w h i l e she remembered c l e a r l y t h a t the c l o c k on the w a l l was s i l e n t , had no a u d i b l e t i c k . What d i d i t mean by b e g i n n i n g to t i c k so l o u d l y a l l of a sudden? I t s f f a c e i n d i c a t e d ten minutes to n i n e . Mrs. V e r l o c cared nothing f o r time, and the t i c k i n g went on. She concluded i t c o u l d not be the c l o c k , and her s u l l e n gaze moved along the w a l l s , wavered, and became vague, w h i l e she s t r a i n e d her h e a r i n g t o l o c a t e the sound. T i c , t i c , t i c [264]. As i n the e a r l i e r example, an i n e x p l i c a b l e n o i s e i s i n t r o -duced, and then the screw i s turned, as i t were, f i r s t by p r o l o n g i n g the r e v e l a t i o n of the source of the n o i s e , and secondly by t a k i n g advantage of the heightened t e n s i o n t o i n t r o d u c e f u r t h e r grotesque images and i m p r e s s i o n s : A f t e r l i s t e n i n g f o r some time Mrs. V e r l o c lowered her gaze d e l i b e r a t e l y on her husband's body. I t s a t t i t u d e of repose was so homelike and f a m i l i a r t h a t she c o u l d do so w i t h o u t f e e l i n g embarrassed by any prolonged n o v e l t y i n the phenomena of her home l i f e . Mr. V e r l o c was t a k i n g h i s h a b i t u a l ease. He looked comfortable [264]. The n a r r a t o r then c o n t i n u e s , and h i s d e l i b e r a t e r e f u s a l to a n t i c i p a t e the d i s c o v e r y a w a i t i n g Winnie i s made even more apparent i n the f o l l o w i n g l i n e s : By the p o s i t i o n of the body the face o f Mr. V e r l o c was not v i s i b l e t o Mrs. V e r l o c , h i s widow. Her f i n e , s l e e p y eyes, t r a v e l l i n g downward on the t r a c k of the sound, became contemplative on meeting a f l a t o b j e c t of bone which protruded a l i t t l e beyond the edge of the s o f a . I t was the handle of the domestic c a r v i n g k n i f e w i t h n o t h i n g strange about i t but i t s p o s i t i o n at r i g h t angles to Mr. V e r l o c ' s w a i s t c o a t and the f a c t t h a t something drip p e d from i t [264-265] . By t h i s p o i n t , suspension has p r a c t i c a l l y become an i n f i n i t e 171 s e r i e s of r e g r e s s i o n , a d i s t a n c e matched by the almost in h u -manly detached o b j e c t i v i t y of p e r s p e c t i v e . However, i n s t e a d o f b r e a k i n g p e r c e p t i o n down i n t o y e t s m a l l e r and more o b j e c t i v e l y t r a n s c r i b e d components, the cause i s f i n a l l y r e v e a l e d , and the concept of the e n t i r e s i t u a t i o n allowed to form: Dark drops f e l l on the f l o o r - c l o t h one a f t e r another, w i t h a sound of t i c k i n g growing f a s t and f u r i o u s l i k e the p u l s e of an insane c l o c k . At i t s h i g h e s t speed t h i s t i c k i n g changed i n t o a c o n t i n u -ous sound of t r i c k l i n g . Mrs. V e r l o c watched t h a t t r a n s f o r m a t i o n w i t h shadows of a n x i e t y coming and going on her f a c e . I t was a t r i c k l e , dark, s w i f t , t h i n . . . Blood! [265]. Here the acute temporal and p e r c e p t u a l d i s c r e p a n c i e s rendered by the s t y l e are the s u b j e c t of the scene as w e l l . V a r i o u s other i n c o n g r u i t i e s and dissonances are achieved by s i m i l a r means: d i s c r e p a n c y between appearance and r e a l i t y , cause and e f f e c t (which are o f t e n r e v e r s e d as w e l l ) , p e r c e p t i o n and concept, and foreground and background. L i k e a f i l m maker [writes Knoepflmacher] t h i s n o v e l i s t achieves h i s e f f e c t s through abrupt changes i n pace, placement, and focus; he enlarges one s u b j e c t , f o r e s h o r t e n s another, and b l u r s a t h i r d . Time i s f r o z e n , c u t up, and broken [Knoepflmacher, 246]. Thus the same temporal and p e r c e p t u a l d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s which operate at the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r a l l e v e l s of The S e c r e t Agent a r e e e q u a l l y p r e v a l e n t w i t h i n s i n g l e scenes, paragraphs, and even sentences, and are i n s t i t u t e d by s p e c i f i c s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e s . Information i s n a r r a t e d i n d i r e c t l y , or suppressed 172 t e m p o r a r i l y , or omitted a l t o g e t h e r , or r e l e a s e d i n fragments, and events are juxtaposed, or j o l t e d out of c h r o n o l o g i c a l sequence. The d u r a t i o n of a f l a s h b a c k might be momentary, or i t might comprise an e n t i r e chapter. These s t y l i s t i c and s t r u c t u r a l "gaps" might be r e l a t e d t o what Wolfgang I s e r terms "gaps of indeterminacy." At the -larger s t r u c t u r a l l e v e l of the chapter, f o r example, I s e r contends t h a t Each chapter prepares the " h o r i z o n " f o r the next, and i t i s the process of r e a d i n g t h a t p r o v i d e s the c o n t i n u a l o v e r l a p p i n g and interweaving o f the views presented by each of the c h a p t e r s . The reader i s s t i m u l a t e d i n t o f i l l i n g the "empty spaces" between the chapters i n order t o group them i n t o a coherent w h o l e . e n A s i m i l a r process occurs at the l e v e l of the scene, paragraph, and sentence, and the e f f e c t i n each case i s u l t i m a t e l y the same: t o d i s o r i e n t and s i m u l t a n e o u s l y r e o r i e n t the percep-t i o n s and assumptions of the reader by means of a consonance which i s achieved through m o d i f i c a t i o n , d e l a y , s u p p r e s s i o n , or d i s c o n f i r m a t i o n of e x p e c t a t i o n and a n t i c i p a t i o n . The obvious e c c e n t r i c i t y of p e r s p e c t i v e i s f u r t h e r i n t e n s i f i e d by the dramatic q u a l i t y of The S e c r e t Agent. F. R. L e a v i s focuses upon t h i s aspect of the novel's s t y l e , o b s e r v i n g t h a t "the whole i s so d r a m a t i c a l l y r e a l i z e d t h a t we are h a r d l y aware of s h i f t s t o d e s c r i p t i o n , stage d i r e c t i o n ; stage d i r e c t i o n s or r e p o r t e d thoughts: i t a l l seems t o be enacted b e f o r e us" ( L e a v i s , 241). I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t h a t A l b e r t Guerard c r e d i t s the dramatic q u a l i t y o f the n a r r a t i v e 173 t o the s h i f t from "the s c r e e n i n g M a r l o v i a n v o i c e " t o a s i t u -a t i o n i n which " s t y l e became . . . an i n t e r p o s e d n a r r a t o r . " Because of t h i s t r a n s i t i o n , maintains Guerard, Conrad was able t o c a r r y through f o r almost the f i r s t time long dramatic scenes o c c u r r i n g i n a f i c t i o n a l p r e s e n t ; t o achie v e , even, e x c e l l e n t scenes o f v i o l e n t a c t i o n , v i o l e n t emotion, and v i o l e n t comic d i s c o v e r y [Guerard, 228]. The dramatic immediacy of the n a r r a t i v e i s a primary source o f c e r t a i n grotesque elements and e f f e c t s . Kayser r e f e r s t o the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y " g e s t i c s t y l e " o f the grotesque, whereby a s t a t i c or f r o z e n scene suddenly g i v e s way t o movement or g e s t u r e . There i s i n The S e c r e t Agent a constant focus upon ge s t u r e , f a c i a l e x p r e s s i o n , sudden and e c c e n t r i c movement. As i n the encounter between the A s s i s -t a n t Commissioner and C h i e f I n s p e c t o r Heat S i t e d above, sudden movement w i t h i n an otherwise " s t a t i c " c ontext serves to d i s o r i e n t and c r e a t e t e n s i o n ; the frequent i n c o n g r u i t y of such movement (which i s normally a s s o c i a t e d w i t h such comic dramatic forms as the "commedia d e l l ' a r t e , " the mime, the f a r c e , and burlesque) a l s o adds a note of l u d i c r o u s n e s s t o the scene. Almost every encounter between the c h a r a c t e r s i n The S e c r e t Agent i n v o l v e s i n s t a n c e s of g e s t i c movement or e x p r e s s i o n . The i n t e r v i e w between V e r l o c and V l a d i m i r e a r l y i n the novel p r o v i d e s abundant i n s t a n c e s of t h i s , as when Mr. V l a d i m i r "turned, and advanced i n t o the room wit h such d e t e r m i n a t i o n t h a t the very ends of h i s q u a i n t l y o l d - f a s h i o n e d 1 7 4 bow n e c k t i e seemed t o b r i s t l e w i t h unspeakable menaces" (24); i n the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n o f the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner, the g e s t i c c o n t r a s t i s made e x p l i c i t : "The A s s i s t a n t Commis-s i o n e r uncrossed h i s le g s suddenly. The b r i s k n e s s of t h a t movement c o n t r a s t e d w i t h the c a s u a l way i n which he threw out a sug g e s t i o n " (121). Related to the dramatic q u a l i t y o f the n a r r a t i v e i s the s t r u c t u r a l importance o f the " i n t e r v i e w " which seems t o pro v i d e the core s i t u a t i o n f o r many o f the scenes. T h i s i s d i s c u s s e d by John Hagan, J r . i n h i s essay, "The Design of Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent." Hagan p o i n t s out t h a t The most remarkable f e a t u r e of the s t r u c t u r e of The S e c r e t Agent i s t h a t i t i s made up of a s e r i e s of i n t e r v i e w s — n o t merely "scenes" i n James's g e n e r a l sense o f the term, but of more or l e s s o f f i c i a l i n t e r v i e w s between two persons which are co n f i n e d i n space and run t o no g r e a t e r l e n g t h than the a c t u a l time i t takes t o read them. There a r e , to be exact, seventeen such i n t e r v i e w s of v a r y i n g l e n g t h o f importance . . . [Hagan, 149]. I t might be added t h a t these i n t e r v i e w s are f o r the most p a r t p l a y e d out w i t h i n the context o f c a r e f u l l y d e l i n e a t e d c l o s e d " s e t s , " ranging from the V e r l o c household, through the o f -f i c e s of the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner, Mr. V l a d i m i r , and S i r E t h e l r e d , t o the S i l e n u s Restaurant, the drawing room of M i c h a e l i s ' s " lady patroness , " anditRe'cBrofessorisfcbiarr.en '.room. Although an i n t r i c a t e and e l a b o r a t e web of r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n t e r c o n n e c t s these v a r i o u s scenes, the appa r e n t l y indepen-dent nature of each i s maintained by frequent s h i f t s i n time 175 and f o c u s , p a r t i c u l a r l y when such s h i f t s r a d i c a l l y d i s l o c a t e the c h r o n o l o g i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p of one to the o t h e r . T h i s e x p l a i n s i n p a r t the apparent s t r u c t u r a l " d i s u n i t y " of what i s i n f a c t a t i g h t l y i n t e g r a t e d sequence of scenes. These c l o s e d s e t s c o n t r i b u t e t o the o v e r a l l sense of dramatic immediacy and " r e a l i s t i c " p e r s p e c t i v e which together p r o v i d e an i d e a l c ontext f o r the grotesque. The transforma-t i o n and estrangement of the everyday world i s b e s t conducted w i t h i n such an environment. This i s suggested by Kayser's remark t h a t "In l i t e r a t u r e the grotesque appears i n a scene or an animated t a b l e a u , " impressing i t s e l f "upon the observer as a scene or a l a t e n t l y dynamic image" (Kayser, 184, 163); i n s h o r t , a c c o r d i n g to Kayser: "As soon as one focuses upon s p e c i f i c s e t t i n g s , f requent o c c a s i o n f o r the grotesque a r i s e s " (Kayser, 111-112). The sense of a " v e r b a l " grotesque, as d i s c u s s e d i n the f i n a l s e c t i o n of P a r t I I , i s a l s o r e l e v a n t t o The S e c r e t  Agent. The language, d i a l o g u e , and r h e t o r i c of the n a r r a t i v e are f r e q u e n t l y e x p l o i t e d a t p r e c i s e l y those p o i n t s which are p a r t i c u l a r l y s u s c e p t i b l e t o the exaggerations, d i s t o r t i o n s , and disharmonies of the grotesque. The grotesque e f f e c t i s f r e q u e n t l y based upon f i g u r a t i v e language and m e i o s i s , puns 176 and double entendres, i n c o n g r u i t i e s between speaker, d i a l o g u e , and s i t u a t i o n , and o f t e n upon a p l a y f u l m a n i p u l a t i o n of the language i t s e l f . Conrad e x p l o r e s the d i s q u i e t i n g p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f the s i m i l e and the "as i f " formula on v a r i o u s o c c a s i o n s , w i t h r e s u l t s r anging from the l u d i c r o u s l y feoothe ominously grotesque. The r e d u c t i v e , or m e i o t i c , q u a l i t y o f these f i g u r a t i v e equations i s e s p e c i a l l y apparent when the " v i c t i m " of the equ a t i o n i s one of the c h a r a c t e r s i n the s t o r y . Many of the examples of grotesque c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i n The S e c r e t  Agent t h a t were c i t e d e a r l i e r . h a v e t h e i r sources i n f i g u r a -t i v e d i s t o r t i o n : M i c h a e l i s ' s elbow, f o r i n s t a n c e , appears " l i k e a bend i n a dummy's limb" (42); Ossipon's " t h i c k l e g s " are " s i m i l a r t o b o l s t e r s " (43); V e r l o c ' s " t h i c k arms r e s t e d abandoned on the o u t s i d e o f the counterpane l i k e dropped weapons, l i k e d i s c a r d e d t o o l s " (179). Such examples c o u l d e a s i l y be m u l t i p l i e d , f o r the process of d i s f i g u r e m e n t and d i s t o r t i o n i s widespread, and c a r r i e d out i n a v a r i e t y of ways. The f r e q u e n t use of the "as i f " formula lends an e c c e n t r i c i t y o f p e r s p e c t i v e t o a g r e a t d e a l of the a c t i o n i n The S e c r e t Agent. Once again, t h i s e c c e n t r i c i t y i s most e v i d e n t i n those p a r t s of the s t o r y charged w i t h the g r e a t e s t t e n s i o n , as i n the scenes immediately p r i o r t o and f o l l o w i n g Winnie's d i s c o v e r y o f S t e v i e ' s untimely and v i o l e n t death. 177 Moments a f t e r Heat has confronted Winnie w i t h S t e v i e ' s coat-l a b e l , V e r l o c r e t u r n s and ushers the C h i e f I n s p e c t o r i n t o the p a r l o u r : The door was h a r d l y shut when Mrs. V e r l o c , jump-i n g up from the c h a i r , ran t o i t as I f to f l i n g i t open, but i n s t e a d of doing so she f e l l on her knees, w i t h her ear to the keyhole [208, emphasis mine]. For a moment i t i s as though we o u r s e l v e s are unable t o com-prehend the meaning or p r e d i c t the outcome of the a c t i o n we are w i t n e s s i n g , a s e n s a t i o n which i s a l s o c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the sudden g e s t i c movement which i s the s u b j e c t of the d e s c r i p t i o n . I t i s a l s o s i m i l a r t o the e f f e c t o f the gap between p e r c e p t i o n and c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n which r e s u l t s from the cinematographic o b j e c t i v i t y of c e r t a i n a c t i o n s , such as the d e s c r i p t i o n of E t h e l r e d ' s laugh. The same sense of g e s t i c movement, given an a d d i t i o n a l t w i s t toward o d d i t y by the e c c e n t r i c i t y of p e r s p e c t i v e , i s p r e s e n t i n the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n (here the "as i f " i s r e p l a c e d by " I t a l l had the appearance of . . .," but the technique i s i d e n t i c a l — t h a t of naive s p e c t a t o r — a n d the e f f e c t i s b r i l l i a n t ) : Mr. V e r l o c caught h o l d of h i s w i f e ' s w r i s t s . But her hands seemed glued f a s t . She swayed forward b o d i l y to h i s tug, and n e a r l y went o f f the c h a i r . S t a r t l e d t o f e e l her so h e l p l e s s l y limp, he was t r y i n g t o put her back on the c h a i r when she s t i f f e n e d suddenly a l l over, t o r e h e r s e l f out of h i s hands, ran out of the shop, across the p a r l o u r , and i n t o the k i t c h e n . T h i s was very s w i f t . He had j u s t a glimpse of her face and t h a t much o f her eyes t h a t he knew she had not looked at him. 178 I t a l l had the appearance of a s t r u g g l e f o r the p o s s e s s i o n of a c h a i r , because Mr. V e r l o c i n s t a n t l y took h i s w i f e ' s p l a c e i n i t [234-235]. The grotesque d i s j u n c t u r e between appearance and r e a l i t y i n s t i t u t e d by t h i s f i n a l o b s e r v a t i o n i s extremely powerful, s e r v i n g both t o i n c r e a s e the a b s u r d i t y of the s i t u a t i o n , and thereby the t e n s i o n , and t o r e l e a s e t e n s i o n i n the form of l a u g h t e r — o r at l e a s t through the apprehension of the comic. The o v e r a l l e f f e c t i s one of ambivalence. The gap between p e r s p e c t i v e and a c t i o n i s made p r a c t i c a l l y analogous t o the gap between Winnie and V e r l o c . And i t i s a gap which goes beyond t h a t o f i r o n i c detachment: i t i s d i r e c t e d at the reader as much as the c h a r a c t e r . I t i s our p e r s p e c t i v e which i s be i n g r a d i c a l l y d i s o r i e n t e d . Such r a d i c a l f i s s u r e s between d i a l o g u e and c h a r a c t e r or d i a l o g u e , a c t i o n , s i t u a t i o n , and p e r s p e c t i v e underly the grotesque e f f e c t o f oth e r scenes i n the no v e l as w e l l ; t h i s i s t r u e of the c o n v e r s a t i o n between Winnie and Ossipon i n the f i n a l scenes, and i s a l s o apparent i n the p a r o d i c speeches of M i c h a e l i s and Yundt i n chapter three which I c i t e d e a r l i e r as examples of grotesque d i s c o u r s e . The grotesque e x p l o i t a t i o n of puns and double enten-dres i s a l s o p r e s e n t i n The S e c r e t Agent, examples of which were g i v e n e a r l i e r . The pervasi v e n e s s of such d e v i c e s r e f l e c t s a frequent p l a y f u l n e s s and f r i v o l i t y executed w i t h i n the language i t s e l f . F r a d i n and C r e i g h t o n , i n "The 179 Language of The Secret Agent: The Art of Non-Life," go so far as to assert that language is in fact "the ultimate secret agent in the novel" (Fradin and Creighton, 23). They point out that "the play of language" manifests i t s e l f in other ways as well; such "play" might take the form of an over-extended metaphor, such as, for example, the metaphor of "the world as drained aquarium," which "involves a whole complex of water and fish references found throughout the novel both on and under the surface" (Fradin and Creighton, 24). The proliferation of terms along such a tangent quickly becomes grotesque in effect, particularly i f the image or metaphor being extended is inherently grotesque to begin with, therefore adding to the overall levelling effect of the language. Fradin and Creighton declare that: The very frolicking of the language contributes to the process by which man's affairs are made in-significant, just as the element of gratuitousness makes the characters' lives even more hopeless, diminished beyond any reduction of men to animals [Fradin and Creighton, 26]. It i s not always possible to distinguish between the degree to which the grotesque is purely a function of language, as distinct from the subject, content, or per-spective, and in most instances the grotesque is reflected in a l l of these aspects of the narrative. Nevertheless, i t is apparent that certain types of discourse, images, figura-tive turns, and extensions or exaggerations of language are 180 e s p e c i a l l y s u i t e d t o the mode of the grotesque, and t h a t i n The S e c r e t Agent they both produce and r e f l e c t the grotesque v i s i o n . 181 3. THE SECRET AGENT; THE GROTESQUE VISION "'Man i s amazing, but he i s not a masterpiece'. . .'Perhaps the a r t i s t was a l i t t l e mad. Eh? What do you t h i n k ? ' " — - S t e i n i n Lord Jim, p. 20 8. I have t r i e d t o demonstrate t h a t the d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s and i n c o n g r u i t i e s which are p r e s e n t i n the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r a l p a t t e r n s o f The S e c r e t Agent a l s o govern the v a r i o u s i n n e r h i e r a r c h i e s of p e r s p e c t i v e and s t y l e , and t h a t these formal elements correspond to the s u b j e c t - m a t t e r and c o n t e n t — t h e c h a r a c t e r s , s e t t i n g , events, and i m a g e s — s o t h a t a s i n g l e v i s i o n or c o n c e p t i o n may be s a i d t o permeate the n o v e l . I have a l s o attempted to demonstrate t h a t t h i s p a r t i c u l a r v i s i o n s i s s e s s e h t i a l l y r g r o t e s q u " e f f e c t , and t h a t each of the component l a y e r s of t h i s v i s i o n , from the s t r u c t u r a l t o the s u b s t a n t i a l , i s a l s o grotesque i n f u n c t i o n and e f f e c t . My emphasis so f a r has been upon the formal i m p l i c a -t i o n s o f the g r o t e s q u e — a n emphasis which i s a t t r i b u t a b l e t o the f a c t t h a t the grotesque i n The S e c r e t Agent i s a f u n c t i o n l e s s of s u b j e c t and content than of the r a d i c a l manner i n which t h i s s u b j e c t - m a t t e r i s presented. N e v e r t h e l e s s , although the v i s i o n , or p r o c e s s , of estrangement i s p r i m a r i l y e f f e c t e d through the grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e , the substance o f 182 the n a r r a t i v e cannot be dismissed as i n c i d e n t a l t o t h i s v i s i o n and p r o c e s s . In f a c t , a problem of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n between s t y l e and content a r i s e s i n t h i s c o n n e c t i o n . Whereas the e s t r a n g i n g or a l i e n a t i n g p r o p e r t i e s of the grotesque s t y l e are r e a d i l y d i s c e r n e d i n the s u b j e c t and content, the " r e s t r u c t u r i n g " p r o p e r t i e s of the s t y l e do not seem to f i n d t h e i r analogues i n the substance of the s t o r y . In f a c t , the movement of the s t o r y would seem to r e s o l u t e l y oppose any p o s s i b i l i t y of r e s t r u c t u r i n g , or l i b e r a t i o n , i n the n a r r a t i v e . We f o l l o w Winnie V e r l o c ' s s t o r y , says Conrad i n the P r e f a c e t o The S e c r e t Agent, "to i t s a n a r c h i s t i c end of u t t e r d e s o l a t i o n , madness and d e s p a i r . . . " (xv). And madness, observes Kayser, i s "the c l i m a c t i c phase of e s t r a n g e -ment from the world" (Kayser, 74) . I f , i t might be asked, Conrad's aim was a c t u a l l y to r e a d j u s t our p e r s p e c t i v e t o the f a m i l i a r w o r l d around us, to make us see a f r e s h , why then d i d he choose a s u b j e c t and substance which would appear to deny such a purpose? The s t o r y has i t s redeeming f e a t u r e s , but these are r e l e n t l e s s l y undercut by the end of the n o v e l ; the estrangement i s provoked as w e l l as a l l a y e d by the form and p e r s p e c t i v e of the n a r r a t i v e , which tends to r u l e out the p o s s i b i l i t y of comic and i r o n i c detachment; how, then, are we t o a v o i d the c o n c l u s i o n reached by c e r t a i n c r i t i c s t h a t The  S e c r e t Agent pres e n t s a n i h i l i s t i c v i s i o n , t h a t "What Conrad wants 'to h o l d up b e f o r e the mental v i s i o n ' of the readers 183 of The S e c r e t Agent i s the v o i d which l i e s a t the h e a r t of l i f e " ( F r a d i n and C r e i g h t o n , 23)? These que s t i o n s r e q u i r e an answer i f the " r e s t r u c t u r i n g " c a p a b i l i t i e s of the grotesque s t y l e are t o be re c o g n i z e d and j u s t i f i e d . They may be combined w i t h a s i m i l a r q u e s t i o n put forward by Ian Watt: There i s one other important q u e s t i o n which, as i t seems t o me, i s not s a t i s f a c t o r i l y answered i n the body of c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g about The S e c r e t Agent. How i s i t t h a t a t a l e so deeply d e p r e s s i n g on the fac e of i t , a t a l e i n which every p o s s i b l e c a r d i s stack e d a g a i n s t human freedom and happiness, should be, f o r some readers a t l e a s t , t o n i c r a t h e r than d e p r e s s i v e i n i t s f i n a l e f f e c t [Casebook, 77]? J . H i l l i s M i l l e r sees the purpose of The S e c r e t Agent as b e i n g "to b r i n g about . . . a l i b e r a t i o n f o r the reader by e f f e c t i n g i t f o r the c h i e f c h a r a c t e r s o f the n o v e l , " f o r , acc o r d i n g t o M i l l e r , . . . the o b j e c t s o f Conrad's " i n s p i r i n g i n d i g n a t i o n and u n d e r l y i n g p i t y and contempt" are not only the r e v o l u t i o n i s t s of the s t o r y , but a l l men, h i s readers t o o, trapped, l i k e the c h a r a c t e r s of the s t o r y , i n a b l i n d b e l i e f i n what i s a human f a b r i -c a t i o n and a l i e [ M i l l e r , 44]. I agree w i t h M i l l e r ' s c o n t e n t i o n t h a t The Se c r e t Agent i s u l t i m a t e l y l i b e r a t i n g i n i t s e f f e c t upon the reader; I do not agree, however, w i t h h i s view as to how t h i s l i b e r a t i o n i s achieved. L i b e r a t i o n i s only e f f e c t e d f o r the main char-a c t e r s o f the s t o r y i n a very n e g a t i v e sense, f o r although t h e i r "human f a b r i c a t i o n s " a a - r e exploded, nothing i s o f f e r e d them i n the way of replacement, and " l i b e r a t i o n " i s t h e r e f o r e tantamount t o d e s t r u c t i o n . True l i b e r a t i o n r e q u i r e s not onl y 184 the breakdown, but also the reformation of the relationships between man and the world. The problem remains: how are we liberated by a process that sends the characters i n the narrative to an ending of madness, despair, and death? I would argue that the l i b e r a t i o n of the reader i s , as M i l l e r suggests, effected through the characters—but only i n part, for i t i s a l i b e r a t i o n attained through t h e i r s a c r i f i c e , not t h e i r corresponding l i b e r a t i o n . The grotesque characterization, possessing the same simultaneous duality and ambivalence as the grotesque image, serves to create the tension which surrounds the characters, and i s r e f l e c t e d i n t h e i r visions of and reactions to t h e i r world, while at the same time i t serves to detach the reader from the ine v i t a b l e consequences of t h i s grotesque provocation. As Michael Steig maintains i n his a r t i c l e on the psychological dynamics of the grotesque, i t serves both to create and l i b e r a t e o r . a l l a y anxiety simultaneously. This basic paradox of the grotesque i s also emphasized by Thomson, who recognizes both i t s " l i b e r a t i n g " and " i n h i b i t i n g , " tension-producing e f f e c t , and points out that whereas the " h o r r i f y i n g or disgusting aspect cuts across our amusement," i t might also be said that "our response to the h o r r i f y i n g i s undercut by the comic side of the grotesque," acting therefore as a "disarming mechanism." Therefore the sense of malice, d i s s o l u t i o n , and absurdity which permeates the novel i s allayed by being 185 d i r e c t e d a t c h a r a c t e r s from whom we are a b l e to detach our-s e l v e s by means of the more i r o n i c , s a t i r i c , and c a r i c a t u r a l aspects of the grotesque c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n ; on the other hand, i t i s the tendency of these aspects t o s h i f t over i n t o the grotesque, and thereby t o i n v o l v e us i n the i n c o n g r u i t i e s o f the v i s i o n i n unexpected and i n e x p l i c a b l e ways, t h a t i s largeiy r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the f e l t sense of menace, d i s s o l u t i o n , and a b s u r d i t y i n the f i r s t p l a c e . T h i s p a r a d o x i c a l q u a l i t y of the grotesque i s exempli-f i e d throughout The S e c r e t Agent. The scenes which focus on the death of S t e v i e and on the consequent madness of Winnie are the most i n t e n s e not o n l y i n terms of r e p u l s i v e n e s s and a heightened sense of f e a r , suspense, a b s u r d i t y , and menace, but a l s o i n terms of the comic. The e s s e n t i a l i n c o n g r u i t y and paradox of the grotesque may o f t e n be t r a c e d to t h i s "co-presence of the laughable and something which i s i n c o m p a t i b l e w i t h the laughable" (Thomson, 3 ) . The image of S t e v i e ' s "mangled remains" i s p l a c e d i n a sequence of i n c o m p a t i b l e c o n t e x t s , each o f which serves to provoke and accentuate the more inhuman and a g g r e s s i v e aspects of the image, but which a l s o serves to r e l e a s e t h i s t e n s i o n through comic channels. The b l a s t e d body i s seen both i n the r e p u l s i v e terms of "an accumulation of raw m a t e r i a l f o r a c a n n i b a l f e a s t " (86) , and i n terms of the p o l i c e c o n s t a b l e ' s l u d i c r o u s remark 1: "'He's a l l t h e r e . Every b i t of him" 1 (87). The presence of t h i s 186 r i d i c u l o u s policemen ("He ran between the t r e e s toward the Observatory. 'As f a s t as my legs would c a r r y me,' he repeated twice") and the i n t e l l e c t u a l b a f f l e m e n t of Heat -d u r i n g these proceedings combine w i t h the image of the "man-gl e d remains" to produce an e f f e c t which i s n e i t h e r p u r e l y r e p u l s i v e nor p u r e l y comic, but an ambivalent f u s i o n of both, each component enhancing y e t a l l a y i n g the e f f e c t of the o t h e r . T h i s same e f f e c t c o u l d be i l l u s t r a t e d i n v a r i o u s other scenes i n the n o v e l , p a r t i c u l a r l y those scenes i n which Ossipon and Winnie are t o g e t h e r at the V e r l o c abode f o l l o w i n g the murder of V e r l o c . Ian Watt p o i n t s to these scenes as evidence f o r h i s view t h a t i t i s the comic humour of The  S e c r e t Agent which p r o v i d e s the primary c o n t r o l of the v i s i o n : Only t h a t I t h i n k can b e g i n t o e x p l a i n why a t-1 -: tarehinhwhiehyeyeryipossib.le c a r d t i s k s f i a e k e d n a g a i n s t human freedom and happiness should be t o n i c r a t h e r than d e p r e s s i v e i n i t s f i n a l e f f e c t . ^ Again, however, the e f f e c t i s not pure comedy; as C l a i r e R o s e n f i e l d notes: "No matter how comic the f i n a l meeting w i t h Ossipon may appear, t h e i r complete i n a b i l i t y t o comprehend each other turns what might be sheer f a r c e i n t o a grotesque v i s i o n of t r u t h . " The e f f e c t i s one of ambiguity and ambivalence, and t h i s e s s e n t i a l ambivalence r e f l e c t s the d u a l nature o f the grotesque. This ambivalence may even be a s c r i b e d t o the c e n t r a l symbol of the grotesque i n The S e c r e t Agent: the e x p l o s i o n . The e x p l o s i o n so f a r has been seen p r i m a r i l y as a l i t e r a l , 187 m e t a p h o r i c a l , and s y m b o l i c a l c e n t r e of d i s o r d e r , d i s t o r t i o n , and d e s t r u c t i o n ; i t might a l s o be seen as a means, and metaphor, of o r d e r — o r at l e a s t of a r e - o r d e r i n g and r e -s t r u c t u r i n g . T h i s paradox i s supported by Avrom Fleishman's a s s e r t i o n t h a t "The novel's v i s i o n of the modern world as fragmented i s an attempt t o r a d i c a l l y r e o r d e r i t s substance, to t u r n i t i n the o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n , toward an i d e a l , o r g a n i c community" (Fleishman, 189). Knoepflmacher makes a s i m i l a r a s s e r t i o n , s t a t i n g t h a t Conrad's d i s r u p t i o n of the time scheme of a novel centered around V l a d i m i r ' s attempts to have V e r l o c blow up Greenwich Observatory, the f i r s t m e r i d i a n which lends order to the motions of a c i v i l i z a t i o n r u l e d by time, serves h i s purpose i n more ways than one. V l a d i m i r wants t o u n s e t t l e t h i s impassive, o r d e r l y world and shake i t s optimisms through "an ac t o f d e s t r u c t i v e f e r o c i t y so absurd as to be i n -comprehensible, i n e x p l i c a b l e , almost u n t h i n k a b l e (chap. 2). The n o v e l i s t , however, i s l e s s n i h i l -i s t i c i n h i s aims. Although he too wants t o j a r the reader's complacency, he explodes time so t h a t he can order h i s f i c t i o n a l u n i v e r s e by c o n t r o l l i n g and g r a d u a l l y widening our understanding of i t s nature [Knoepflmacher, 247]. Thus i t i s p o s s i b l e t o harness the c r e a t i v e p o t e n t i a l i m p l i c i t i n the s u b v e r s i v e nature of the grotesque, so t h a t , as G. K. C h e s t e r t o n has suggested, the grotesque may be employed as a means of p r e s e n t i n g the world i n a new l i g h t w ithout f a l s i f y i n g i t ; o r , as Thomson puts i t : . . . i t may be a f u n c t i o n of the grotesque t o make us see the (real) w o r l d anew, from a f r e s h perspec-t i v e which, though i t be a strange and d i s t u r b i n g one, i s n e v e r t h e l e s s v a l i d and r e a l i s t i c [Thomson, 17] . 188 The grotesque may be approached i n terms of i t s forms and eContents w i t h i n the work of a r t i t s e l f , i n the r e a c t i o n i t produces, and " s p e c u l a t i v e l y , " adds Thomson, " i n the c r e a t i v e temperament and p s y c h o l o g i c a l make-up of the a r t i s t " (Thomson, 20). As Thomson suggests, one can o n l y s p e c u l a t e on the c r e a t i v e motives of the a r t i s t , and any attempt t o i s o l a t e one s p e c i f i c motive, whether p s y c h o l o g i c a l , p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , or e s t h e t i c , runs the r i s k of b e ing extremely r e d u c t i v e as w e l l . However, based on a thorough a n a l y s i s of the substan-t i a l evidence w i t h i n the work of a r t i t s e l f , and i n the context of o t h e r works s i m i l a r i n mode and e f f e c t , such s p e c u l a t i o n i s f a r from i d l e , and w i l l serve a t l e a s t t o supplement the d e s c r i p t i o n of the grotesque i n The S e c r e t  Agent. Of Kayser's t r i p a r t i t e d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque, two of the t h r e e p a r t s r e f e r t o the c r e a t i v e impulse, or motive, u n d e r l y i n g the work: "The grotesque i s a p l a y w i t h the absurd," and "an attempt t o invoke and subdue the demonic aspects of the world" (Kayser, 187, 188). Such motives are much more e a s i l y d i s c e r n e d , and form a much more v a l i d p a r t of the a n a l y s i s , when the c e n t r a l f i g u r e of the s t o r y i s an a r t i s t . The " a r t i s t - h e r o " p l a y e d an important r o l e i n 189 Romantic l i t e r a t u r e ; i n the t a l e s of E. T. A. Hoffmann, f o r example, . . . i t i s the a r t i s t who p r o v i d e s the p o i n t of c o n t a c t between the r e a l world and the ominous f o r c e s , and who l o s e s h o l d of the world because he i s able to p e n e t r a t e the s u r f a c e of r e a l i t y [Kayser, 7 4 - 7 5 ] . The presence of such heroes o b v i o u s l y accounts i n l a r g e p a r t f o r the emphasis on the two aspects of Kayser's d e f i n i t i o n mentioned above. Such a d e f i n i t i o n can h a r d l y be assumed w i t h the same confidence i n the case of The S e c r e t Agent, which not only l a c k s an " a r t i s t - h e r o , " but l a c k s a hero of any type. On the other hand, although The S e c r e t Agent does not have a c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r , i t does have c e r t a i n p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r s ; s i m i l a r l y , although the main i n c i d e n t (the ex-p l o s i o n ) i s not n a r r a t e d d i r e c t l y , we can p i e c e i t t o g e t h e r and r e c o n s t r u c t i t from i t s fragmentary m a n i f e s t a t i o n s throughout; and w h i l e no " a r t i s t - h e r o " ( i n the u s u a l sense of the concept) e x i s t s , t h e r e are e x p l i c i t r e f e r e n c e s to a r t i s t s made i n connection w i t h c e r t a i n of the c h a r a c t e r s — and however fragmentary, incomplete, o b l i q u e , or p a r o d i c these r e f e r e n c e s and a l l u s i o n s a r e , I b e l i e v e i t i s p o s s i b l e to c o n s t r u c t a composite sense of the a r t i s t i c motives u n d e r l y i n g the n a r r a t i v e as a whole. The two c h a r a c t e r s most f r e q u e n t l y p o i n t e d t o as being r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s i n any way of the author's own a t t i t u d e s are 190 S t e v i e and the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner. S t e v i e i s e x p l i c i t l y r e f e r r e d t o as an a r t i s t , and h i s c i r c u l a r c r e a t i o n s are r e f e r r e d t o as a r t . The d e s c r i p t i o n of S t e v i e engaged i n h i s u s u a l occupation could w e l l serve as an o b l i q u e l y metaphori-c a l d e s c r i p t i o n of Conrad h i m s e l f at work on The Secret . Agent, i n which " c i r c l e s " abound: S t e v i e , seated very good and q u i e t at a d e a l t a b l e , drawing c i r c l e s , c i r c l e s , c i r c l e s ; innumer-able c i r c l e s , c o n c e n t r i c , e c c e n t r i c ; a c o r u s c a t i n g w h i r l of c i r c l e s t h a t by t h e i r tangled multitude of repeated curves, u n i f o r m i t y of form, arid confusion of i n t e r s e c t i n g l i n e s suggested a rendering of cosmic chaos, the symbolism of a mad a r t attempting the i n c o n c e i v a b l e . The a r t i s t never turned h i s head . . . [45] . S t e v i e , l i k e the Romantic a r t i s t ^ h e r o i n one sense at l e a s t , i s i n d i r e c t contact w i t h forces which have, i n Fleishman's words, "moral p o s s i b i l i t i e s of both the most d e s t r u c t i v e and the most e x a l t e d s o r t " (Fleishman, 196). What S t e v i e lacks i s c o n t r o l — o r r a t h e r , inner c o n t r o l , f o r the attempts t o impose e x t e r n a l c o n t r o l s upon him e v e n t u a l l y hasten h i s d e s t r u c t i o n i n s t e a d of preventing i t . Paradoxi-c a l l y , S t e v i e embodies not only the p o t e n t i a l f o r d e s t r u c t i o n and d i s o r d e r , but a l s o , i n s o f a r as h i s r o l e i s seen t o p p a r a l -l e l t h a t of the a r t i s t , of c r e a t i o n and order. This paradox i s i m p l i c i t i n the view of Stanton de Voren Hoffman, who says a t one p o i n t t h a t The Secret Agent . . . deals w i t h the elemental, the passions under-l y i n g a s u p e r f i c i a l order and existence,atand b a s i c a l l y d e s t r u c t i v e to t h a t order. Stevie—who 191 d i f f e r s from a l l the other c h a r a c t e r s of the n o v e l — i s the symbol f o r t h i s ; and at another p o i n t , t h a t " . . . S t e v i e i s the symbol f o r the form and a r t i s t r y of the n o v e l " (Hoffman, 112, n. 24; 118, n. 41). T h i s paradox should not t r o u b l e the reader who views the n a r r a t i v e i n the context of the grotesque; t h a t Hoffman h i m s e l f does not allow f o r t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y or paradox i s e v i d e n t i n h i s c o n c l u s i o n t h a t " S t e v i e , by being a h a l f - w i t , undercuts the form," and t h e r e f o r e t h a t "Conrad, i n other words, allows nothing to remain, even form and technique as a value i s destroyed" (Hoffman, 118, n. 41). On the c o n t r a r y : through the grotesque, form and technique are g i v e n even g r e a t e r depth and v a l u e . C e r t a i n l y S t e v i e i s not Conrad, but the d i f f e r e n c e does not undercut form and technique; r a t h e r , i t i m p l i e s the need f o r something i n a d d i t i o n t o what S t e v i e r e p r e s e n t s i n order t h a t the f o r c e s i n q u e s t i o n be turned t o c r e a t i v e i n s t e a d of d e s t r u c t i v e ends. The f i g u r e of the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner might serve t o p r o v i d e an a d d i t i o n a l aspect, i n t h a t he has been compared t o both S t e v i e and Conrad. He i s connected t o S t e v i e , f o r i n s t a n c e , by Avrom Fleishman, who p o i n t s out t h a t of a l l the f i g u r e s i n The S e c r e t Agent, " S t e v i e and the A s s i s t a n t Com-mi s s i o n e r stand out as the o n l y l e a n ones" (Fleishman, 196). T h i s shared leanness suggests the more important b a s i s of comparison t o Fleishman: the " q u i x o t i c " q u a l i t y of "moral i d e a l i s m . " I t i s on t h i s b a s i s t h a t Fleishman goes on t o 192 make the f u r t h e r comparison w i t h Conrad h i m s e l f . Conrad, as Fleishman notes, had been r e f e r r e d t o as "an i n c o r r i g i b l e , hopeless Don Quixote" when young; the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner, whose d e s c r i p t i o n b e f i t s t h a t of Quixote, i s e x p l i c i t l y r e f e r r e d t o as " l o o k i n g l i k e the v i s i o n of a c o o l r e f l e c t i v e Don Quixote" (147); S t e v i e , a c c o r d i n g to Fleishman, . . . i s i n the t r a d i t i o n of the comic j e s t e r who i s f r e e t o r e v e a l the madness and c o r r u p t i o n of a s o c i e t y w i t h impunity. F u r t h e r , h i s i d e a l i s m renders him a f o o l of a s p e c i a l s o r t — t h e Quixote who i s out of touch w i t h the p r a c t i c a l r e a l i t i e s o f the world but who reaches the h e a r t o o f i t s moral c o n d i t i o n by h i s awareness of i t s divergence from a l o s t i d e a l s t a t e [Fleishman, 196]. Fleishman r e f e r s t o these t h r e e q u i x o t i c f i g u r e s as "the author, the f o o l , and the hero." Of course the A s s i s -t a n t Commissioner i s a hero only i n a very l i m i t e d sense. He i s more aware o f , and b e t t e r able t o cope w i t h , the r e a l -i t i e s o f h i s s i t u a t i o n than any other c h a r a c t e r i n the s t o r y . He i s of "an adventurous d i s p o s i t i o n , " and i s a "born detec-t i v e , " and although the " r u l e s of the game" d i c t a t e t h a t he remain t i e d t o h i s desk, he n e v e r t h e l e s s assumes a d i s g u i s e and i s a b l e to "become unplaced" i n the darkness of the c i t y , where he r e l i v e s the adventures of h i s e a r l i e r j u n g l e a s s i g n -ment: "He f e l t l i g h t - h e a r t e d , as though he had been ambushed a l l alone i n a j u n g l e many thousands of m i l e s away from departmental desks and o f f i c i a l i n k s t a n d s " (150). In a d d i t i o n t o h i s "adventures," the A s s i s t a n t Commis-s i o n e r has an even g r e a t e r l o v e (and means of e s c a p e ) — " h i s 193 d a i l y w h i s t p a r t y . " To the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner, t h i s d a i l y d i v e r s i o n r e p r e s e n t s "the most comforting h a b i t of h i s l i f e , as though the game were a b e n e f i c e n t drug f o r a l l a y i n g the pangs of moral d i s c o n t e n t " (102). By i n v e n t i n g r o l e s f o r h i m s e l f , by b e i n g able t o r e l i v e the sense of adventure, and by engaging i n games and p l a y , the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner i s able t o t r a n s f o r m and transcend—however i l l u s o r y and temporary the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n may b e — h i s otherwise entrapped and harassed e x i s t e n c e . As i n the case of S t e v i e , the s i m i l a r i t i e s between the motives and a c t i o n s of the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner and those of the author n e i t h e r reduce the author t o the l i m i t a t i o n s of the c h a r a c t e r nor r a i s e the c h a r a c t e r to the s t a t u r e of "hero," s i n c e along with the s i m i l a r i t i e s some fundamental d i f f e r e n c e s e x i s t — p a r t i c u l a r l y the s e l f - s e e k i n g a t t i t u d e which l i e s behind most of the A s s i s t a n t Commissioner's a c t i o n s . The "play-urge" has f r e q u e n t l y been c i t e d as a com-ponent of a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y where grotesque a r t i s concerned. Kayser d e f i n e s the grotesque i n p a r t as "a p l a y w i t h the absurd" (Kayser, 187), and Thomson makes r e f e r e n c e t o "the p l a y f u l or c a p r i c i o u s grotesque" and t o the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t . . . the p l a y - u r g e , the d e s i r e t o i n v e n t and experiment f o r i t s own sake, i s a f a c t o r i n a l l a r t i s t i c c r e a t i o n , but we can expect t h i s f a c t o r 194 to be more than u s u a l l y s t r o n g i n grotesque a r t and l i t e r a t u r e , where the b r e a k i n g down and r e s t r u c t u r -i n g of f a m i l i a r r e a l i t y p l a y s such a l a r g e p a r t [Thomson, 64]. The e n t i r e sequence of events i n The S e c r e t Agent takes on the appearance of an e l a b o r a t e game, wit h the c i t y d i v i d e d i n t o "Squares, P l a c e s , Ovals, Commons," and a l i m i t e d number of c h a r a c t e r s (of v a r i o u s ranks and powers) moving through a s p e c i f i e d number of " c i r c l e s " i n a v a r i e t y of combinations. And as i n most games, chance p l a y s i t s p a r t — S t e v i e " s death i s a c c i d e n t a l , w h i l e s t a n d i n g a t the same time as the c e n t r a l l i n k i n the c h a i n of events commencing w i t h V l a d i m i r ' s demand f o r an a n a r c h i s t i n c i d e n t and ending w i t h Winnie's s u i c i d e and Ossipon's pending madness and d e s p a i r . From t h i s p o i n t of view, the a c t i o n of The S e c r e t Agent i s b e s t d e s c r i b e d i n the P r o f e s s o r ' s terms as a s e r i e s of "counter moves i n the same game" (69). The P r o f e s s o r h i m s e l f , although r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from the author i n most ways, bears a c e r t a i n resemblance i n terms of motives which have been assigned to each. The P r o f e s s o r has detached h i m s e l f from the i n s t i t u t i o n s and laws of s o c i e t y , and b e l i e v e s t h a t a " c l e a n sweep and a c l e a r s t a r t f o r a new c o n c e p t i o n of l i f e " i s necessary (73). T h i s a t t i t u d e might be compared t o t h a t of Conrad as r e v e a l e d i n one of h i s l e t t e r s to Edward Garnett: Where do you t h i n k the i l l u m i n a t i o n — t h e s h o r t and v i v i d f l a s h of what I have been b o a s t i n g to you 195 came from? Why! From your words, words, words. They exploded l i k e s t o r e d powder b a r r e l s — w h i l e another man's words would have f i z z l e d out i n speak-i n g and l e f t darkness u n r e l i e v e d by a f o r g o t t e n s p u r t of f u t i l e s parks. An e x p l o s i o n i s the most l a s t i n g t h i n g i n the u n i v e r s e . I t leaves d i s o r d e r , remembrance, room to move, a c l e a r space.^7 Fleishman makes e x p l i c i t the c o n n e c t i o n between Conrad and the P r o f e s s o r suggested here, n o t i n g t h a t The l e t t e r ' s d e s c r i p t i o n o f the l i b e r a t i n g r e s u l t s of an e x p l o s i o n i s q u i t e c l o s e to the i images o f l i b e r a t i n g n e g a t i o n put f o r t h by the P r o f e s s o r ; i t i n d i c a t e s an i m a g i n a t i v e i d e n t i f i c a -t i o n by the author w i t h h i s most b i z a r r e c h a r a c t e r . Conrad's need f o r a " c l e a r space" i n the a r t i s t i c realm i s the c o u t e r p a r t of the n i h i l i s t ' s d e s i r e f o r "the d e s t r u c t i o n of what i s , " as the P r o f e s s o r puts i t [Fleishman, 188]. The " i m a g i n a t i v e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " i s , of course, one of o b l i q u e analogy, and opposing s e t s of values are i n v o l v e d , although the p a t t e r n s run p a r a l l e l . The d i f f e r e n c e between the P r o f e s s o r ' s aims and those of the author i s not one of pure d e s t r u c t i o n versus pure c r e a t i o n ; t h e r e i s a s i m i l a r i t y as w e l l . Where the P r o f e s s o r ' s aims are d e s t r u c t i v e , and end i n d e s t r u c t i o n , Conrad's a r t " d e s t r o y s " or breaks down i n order to r e s t r u c t u r e . The d i a m e t r i c a l l y o p p o s i t e con-. sequences are due t o the d i f f e r e n t "means of e x p r e s s i o n " employed by each. The P r o f e s s o r depends upon r e a l bombs; Conrad's c l e a r space i s c r e a t e d by "words, words, words," the e x p l o s i v e power of which i s u l t i m a t e l y much more e f f e c t i v e . The l i m i t a t i o n of r e a l e x p l o s i v e s and the p o s s i b i l i t i e s open t o the a r t i s t are suggested i n Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s w i s h f u l 196 s p e c u l a t i o n : '"Since bombs are your means of e x p r e s s i o n , i t would be r e a l l y t e l l i n g i f one c o u l d throw a bomb i n t o pure mathematics•" (33). Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s s p e c u l a t i o n s are worth c o n s i d e r i n g i n f u r t h e r d e t a i l . So too are h i s motives i n connec t i o n w i t h h i s a s s i g n i n g V e r l o c the task of c r e a t i n g an a n a r c h i s t i n c i d e n t . For the e n t i r e sequence of events, as mentioned e a r l i e r , o r i g i n a t e s w i t h Mr. V l a d i m i r . V l a d i m i r ' s motive f o r demanding "a s e n s a t i o n a l i s t a n a r c h i s t demonstration" are e s p e c i a l l y i n t e r e s t i n g i n t h a t he i s anything but an anar-c h i s t h i m s e l f . By causing an apparent a n a r c h i s t outbreak, V l a d i m i r hopes,to prompt the p o l i c e t o i n c r e a s e t h e i r " v i g -i l a n c e , " and t o clamp down upon a n a r c h i s t and r e v o l u t i o n a r y groups i n the area, thereby r e n d e r i n g h i s own rea c t i o n a r y -e x i s t e n c e even s a f e r than b e f o r e . I would suggest t h a t t h i s same motive may be seen as an analogue of one important, motive i n f o r m i n g the con c e p t i o n of The S e c r e t Agent as a whole, namely, the "attempt t o invoke and subdue the demonic aspects o f the world" (Kayser, 188), which Kayser o f f e r s as the f i n a l p a r t of h i s d e f i n i t i o n of the grotesque. We are t o l d t h a t Mr. V l a d i m i r ' s "wit c o n s i s t e d i n d i s c o v e r i n g d r o l l connections between incongruous i d e a s " (19), c e r t a i n l y a p r i n c i p a l t r a i t of the grotesque imagina-t i o n . I t might be mentioned i n t h i s r e s p e c t t h a t Dickens r e f e r r e d t o h i s own tendency "to fancy or p e r c e i v e r e l a t i o n s . 197 i n things . . . not apparent generally" (quoted i n Axton, 28-29). This element of incongruity c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the grotesque i s partly responsible for the ambivalence of response i t creates, a feature which i s further enhanced by the r a d i c a l manner i n which the subject-matter i s presented. As Mr. Vladimir so aptly phrases i t : "'the attack must have a l l the shocking senselessness of gratuitous blasphemy'" (33). Kayser's assertion that the i n t r u s i o n of the grotesque "must remain incomprehensible, inexplicable, and impersonal" (Kayser, 185) i s echoed by Vladimir's remark: "But what i s one to say to an act of destructive f e r o c i t y so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inex-p l i c a b l e , almost unthinkable; i n f a c t , mad? Madness alone i s t r u l y t e r r i f y i n g , inasmuch as you cannot placate i t either by threats, persuasions, or bribes" [33]. Mr. Vladimir's abstractions do eventually e l i c i t t h e i r concrete correlatives i n the shape of madness (also symbol-ized by Stevie's c i r c l e s ) : the madness of Winnie Verloc. As mentioned e a r l i e r , madness represents "the climactic phase of estrangement from the world" (Kayser, 74). Knoepflmacher's reference to the p a r a l l e l s of motive between the author and Vladimir i s q u a l i f i e d by the statement that The novelist . . . i s less n i h i l i s t i c i n his aims.- Although he too wants to j a r the reader's complacency, he explodes time so that he can order his f i c t i o n a l universe by c o n t r o l l i n g and gradually widening our understanding of i t s nature [Knoepfl-macher, 247]. 198 The a c t i o n s of Conrad and V l a d i m i r are analogous, but as i n the case of the P r o f e s s o r , the d i f f e r e n c e i n "means" r e s u l t s i n t o t a l l y o p p o s i t e r e s u l t s . Conrad too i s a r e v o l u t i o n a r y , but i n a c r e a t i v e r a t h e r than d e s t r u c t i v e sense: I have no doubt, however, t h a t t h e r e had been moments d u r i n g the w r i t i n g of the book when I was an extreme r e v o l u t i o n i s t , I won't say more con-v i n c e d than they but c e r t a i n l y c h e r i s h i n g a more concentrated purpose than any of them had ever done i n the whole course of h i s l i f e [ x i v ] . Each of these c h a r a c t e r s — S t e v i e , the A s s i s t a n t Com-mi s s i o n e r , the P r o f e s s o r , and Mr. V l a d i m i r — t h e r e f o r e shares, i n fragmented, o b l i q u e , reduced, and o f t e n p a r o d i c ways, c e r t a i n motives, a t t r i b u t e s , and a c t i o n s t h a t e i t h e r belong or appear t o belongigtotfche author o f The S e c r e t Agent h i m s e l f . The sum t o t a l of the f e a t u r e s of the c h a r a c t e r s i n q u e s t i o n does not add up t o , or e x p l a i n i n f u l l , the motives and methods of the author, but the composite c e r t a i n l y suggests i n t e r e s t i n g p a r a l l e l s t o them. These same motives and methods are perhaps e q u a l l y apparent without the support of such s p e c u l a t i o n s , but the support o f f e r e d helps a t l e a s t t o c o n f i r m the more " l e g i t i m a t e " o b s e r v a t i o n s made on the b a s i s of content, s t y l e , and e f f e c t . With or w ithout these r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the c h a r a c t e r s and the author however, The S e c r e t Agent possesses e x t e n s i v e grotesque f e a t u r e s a t a l l l e v e l s , from s u b j e c t and content through to s t r u c t u r e , p e r s p e c t i v e , and tone; 199 a c c o r d i n g l y , I b e l i e v e i t i s v a l i d t o r e f e r t o t h e n a r r a t i v e as b e i n g g r o t e s q u e i n s t y l e , and t o The S e c r e t A g e n t as b e i n g g r o t e s q u e i n mode. 200 CONCLUSION I t i s p o s s i b l e t o d e s c r i b e and d e f i n e the grotesque as a mode which i s predisposed toward s p e c i f i c s u b j e c t s , m o t i f s , forms, images, a c t i o n s , and types o f c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n ; as c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s p e c i f i c techniques of p e r s p e c t i v e , s t r u c t u r e , and s t y l e ; as having a unique e f f e c t upon and t h e r e f o r e e l i c i t i n g unique responses from the reader; and s p e c u l a t i v e l y , as being rooted i n c e r t a i n c r e a t i v e motives and temperaments. In s h o r t , i t i s v a l i d to speak of the grotesque as a d i s t i n c t l i t e r a r y genre or mode embodying s p e c i f i c and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t y l i s t i c t e c h n i q u e s . The development of a mature and complete grotesque mode depends upon the p r i o r development of a r e l a t e d s e t of techniques capable o f p r o v i d i n g a n a r r a t i v e w i t h a c o n s i s -t e n t grotesque p o i n t o f view. The p r o v i s i o n of such a p o i n t of view, or p e r s p e c t i v e , f r e e s the mode from a dependence upon a l i m i t e d number of s p e c i f i c and s p e c i a l images and m o t i f s , and enables the grotesque t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of even the most o r d i n a r y and r e a l i s t i c s i t u a t i o n s . T h i s s h i f t i n the source o f the g r o t e s q u e — f r o m what i s presented t o the way i n which i t i s p r e s e n t e d — i s the most s i g n i f i c a n t s t e p i n the development of the modern grotesque s t y l e . T h i s development i s i n s e p a r a b l e from the ad a p t a t i o n of the grotesque t o the genre of the n o v e l w i t h i t s conventions o f r e a l i s m and p e r s p e c t i v e . By the end of the n i n e t e e n t h century, the 201 grotesque was f u l l y capable of s e r v i n g as the dominant s t y l e i n a given n o v e l . The S e c r e t Agent can be r e l a t e d t o and m e a n i n g f u l l y d e s c r i b e d i n terms of the grotesque at a l l l e v e l s of the n a r r a t i v e . The content of the n o v e l i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the grotesqueness of i t s s u b j e c t , imagery, a c t i o n s , s e t t i n g , and c h a r a c t e r s . Both the c i t y - s e t t i n g and the main i n c i d e n t (the e x p l o s i o n ) c o u l d w e l l be termed "meta-images" of the grotesque, and are r e l a t e d to t r a d i t i o n a l grotesque m o t i f s . The grotesque v i s i o n presented by The S e c r e t Agent i s l e s s a f u n c t i o n of the grotesque s u b j e c t and content, however, than of the way i n which the m a t e r i a l i s d e s c r i b e d and p r e sented. A d i s t i n c t but complex p e r s p e c t i v e i s c o n s i s t e n t l y maintained throughout. The d i s t i n c t n e s s and c o n s i s t e n c y are suggested by the sense of a " v o i c e " which v a r i o u s c r i t i c s have noted i n r e f e r e n c e to the tone and p o i n t of view. The complexity i s a f u n c t i o n of the m u l t i p l i c i t y of technique which c o n s t i t u t e s , and the m u l t i p l i c i t y of e f f e c t which i s enacted by, t h i s "grotesque" p e r s p e c t i v e : a f r e q u e n t l y u n p r e d i c t a b l e , d i s t o r t i n g , provoking, b i z a r r e , p l a y f u l , and e s s e n t i a l l y ambiguous l i g h t i s c a s t over every-t h i n g , and the stance i s as prone to sudden estrangement as i t i s t o c a s u a l detachment. There i s l i t t l e t o i n d i c a t e t h a t Conrad was c o n s c i o u s -l y aware of or c o n s c i o u s l y a p p l i e d the mode o f the grotesque; 2 0 2 nor do I wish t o suggest such a conscious a p p l i c a t i o n . The a d j e c t i v e "grotesque" i s employed (and a c c u r a t e l y a p p l i e d from an e s t h e t i c standpoint) on a t l e a s t f o u r occasions i n The S e c r e t Agent, but t h i s can be a t t r i b u t e d to normal usage, as the term i s by no means r e s t r i c t e d t o e s t h e t i c terminology. The f a c t t h a t The S e c r e t Agent can be r e l a t e d t t o the grotesque at a l l l e v e l s of n a r r a t i v e does suggest, however, the a f f i n i t y o f the grotesque mode to the p a r t i c u l a r motives u n d e r l y i n g the work, the a f f i n i t y of the grotesque m a t e r i a l to the p a r t i c u l a r v i s i o n embodied i n the n a r r a t i v e , and the a f f i n i t y of the grotesque p e r s p e c t i v e t o the p a r t i c u l a r manner i n which t h i s v i s i o n i s presented. F u r t h e r , the a f f i n i t y f o r the grotesque a t the v a r i o u s n a r r a t i v e l e v e l s suggeststthe i n t e r r e l a t e d n e s s , c o n s i s t e n c y , and u n i t y o f the nov e l as a whole. As w e l l as suggest i n g the e s s e n t i a l c o n s i s t e n c y or decorum of motive and method i n The S e c r e t Agent, the perva-s i v e n e s s of the grotesque al'lows a meaningful d e s c r i p t i o n of each n a r r a t i v e l e v e l or aspect i n terms of the o t h e r s . T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y f r u i t f u l w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h i s p a r t i c u l a r n a r r a t i v e i n d e s c r i b i n g the i n t e r p l a y between p e r s p e c t i v e and content. I have t r i e d t o b r i n g i n t o q u e s t i o n the frequent c r i t i c a l c o n t e n t i o n t h a t the p r i n c i p a l mode governing the r e l a t i o n s h i p between p e r s p e c t i v e and content, and u l t i m a t e l y between s t y l e and substance, i s t h a t of i r o n y . The techniques, 203 stances, e f f e c t s , and motives usually associated with the i r o n i c mode are often i n a p p l i c a b l e — a n d , i n f a c t , are f r e -quently subverted; the i n t e l l e c t u a l detachment and r a t i o n a l framework of response i n t r i n s i c to irony i s frequently removed, leading to an ambiguous and di s o r i e n t i n g emotional engagement with the material; and the perspective actually serves at times to further provoke rather than detach from the discomforting aspects of the material or s i t u a t i o n , and therefore increases rather than curbs the e c c e n t r i c i t y and discrepancy of the narrative. By i l l u s t r a t i n g these aspects of the narrative, I have attempted to show the need for a more feasi b l e description of both method and motive i n The  Secret Agent, and to demonstrate that the grotesque mode provides the basis for such a des c r i p t i o n . Various of the techniques and motifs Conrad employs i n the creation of his grotesque perspective and s t y l e are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of grotesque art and l i t e r a t u r e p r i o r to The  Secret Agent; at the same time, however, certain of the techniques and strategies used by Conrad are turned to gro-tesque ends for perhaps the f i r s t time. This i s e s p e c i a l l y true of the many "cinematographic" techniques of perspective and temporal manipulation which are used to create discrepan-cies and d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s i n the dimensions of time, thought and action, perception and conceptualization, and proportion. Conrad's moulding of these techniques into powerful instruments 204 of the grotesque might account i n part for t h e i r p r o l i f e r a -tion i n a great deal of modern grotesque.literature, with the narratives of Joyce, Faulkner, and O'Connor providing abundant instances (the l a t t e r two e x p l i c i t l y acknowledge t h e i r s t y l i s t i c debt to Conrad). The Secret Agent i s dis.tihcttf fommConrad' s other novels and tales i n cer t a i n of i t s thematic and s t y l i s t i c pursuits; these d i s t i n c t i o n s , however, represent extensions of, rather than departures from, the overriding concern for s t y l e and the p r i n c i p a l thematic concerns which characterize Conrad's writing as a whole. The Secret Agent i s not a "retreat into s t y l e " ; on the other hand, neither i s s t y l e subordinated to subject, content, or theme: subject, content, theme, structure, perspective, and s t y l e generate and inform each other. Conrad strove to create a l i t e r a r y s t y l e f l e x i b l e enough to convey the immediate r e a l i t y of sense experience while simultaneously r e g i s t e r i n g the subtle nuances of emo-tion and f e e l i n g which accompany such experience; he sought a s t y l e which would not merely represent, but would re-enact experience, and which would therefore allow the reader to experience a f r e s h — t o see as i f for the f i r s t time—and to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the process of giving form to a s p e c i f i c v i s i o n . Thessingular focus and metaphorical richness of the choice of subject, s e t t i n g , and plo t i n The Secret Agent 205 pro v i d e d Conrad w i t h an i d e a l context and content w i t h which to embody t h i s purpose, and the f a c t t h a t the n o v e l , in"terms o f r b o t h f i t s s t h e m a t i c concerns and i t s manner of p r e s e n t a t i o n , i s as r e l e v a n t today as i n 1907, t e s t i f i e s t o Conrad's s u c c e s s f u l combination of motive, m a t e r i a l , and method. 206 NOTES Wolfgang Kayser, The Grotesque i n A r t and L i t e r a t u r e , t r a n s . U l r i c h W e i s s t e i n (New York, Toronto: McGrawrHill", 19 66). Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Kayser. 2 Ren6 Wellek and A u s t i n Warren, Theory of L i t e r a t u r e (New York: Harcourt, 1949), p. 260. 3 George G i b i a n , "The Grotesque i n Dostoevsky," Modern  F i c t i o n S t u d i e s , 3-5 (1957-59), p62262. 4 P h i l i p Thomson, The Grotesque (London: Methuen & Co., 1972) , p. 21. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Thomson. 5 Pe t e r S t e e l e , "Dickens and the Grotesque," Quadrant, 17:2 (March-April 1973), p. 20. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as S t e e l e . ^Northrop F r y e , "Myth, F i c t i o n , and Displacement," Fables of I d e n t i t y : S t u d i e s i n P o e t i c Mythology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 19 63T, p. 21. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as F r y e . 7 E. H. Gombrich, A r t and I l l u s i o n : A Study i n the  Psychology of P i c t o r i a l R e p r e s e n t a t i o n , 2nd ed. ( P r i n c e t o n , N. J . : P r i n c e t o n Univ. P r e s s , 1961). Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Gombrich. p M a r t i n P r i c e , "The F i c t i o n a l C o n t r a c t , " i n L i t e r a r y  Theory and S t r u c t u r e : Essays i n Honor of W i l l i a m K. Wimsatt, ed. Frank Brady, John Palmer, and M a r t i n P r i c e TNew Haven and London: Y a l e Univ. P r e s s , 1973). Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as P r i c e , FC. 9 Leonard B. Meyer, Music, The A r t s , and Ideas: P a t t e r n s and P r e d i c t i o n s i n Twentieth-Century C u l t u r e (Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago P r e s s , 1967), p. 7. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Meyer. "^ M a r t i n P r i c e , "The I r r e l e v a n t D e t a i l and the Emer-gence of Form," i n Aspects of N a r r a t i v e : S e l e c t e d Papers  from the E n g l i s h I n s t i t u t e , ed. J . H i l l i s M i l l e r (New York and London: Columbia Univ. P r e s s , 1971), p. 70. Subsequent-l y r e f e r r e d t o as P r i c e , ID.. "^Frank Kermode, The Sense o f an Ending: S t u d i e s i n  the Theory of F i c t i o n (London: Oxford Univ. P r e s s , 1966). Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Ending. 207 12 . . . Meyer d i s t i n g u i s h e s t h r e e p r i n c i p a l types of such " d e v i a t i o n , " o r , to borrow the A r i s t o t e l i a n term used by Kermode, " p e r i p e t e i a " : (1) The normal, or probable, consequent event may be delayed. Such a delay may be p u r e l y temporal or i t may a l s o i n v o l v e r e a c h i n g the conse-quent through a l e s s d i r e c t r o u t e , p r o v i d e d t h a t the d e v i a t i o n i s understandable as a means to the end i n view. (2) The antecedent s i t u a t i o n may be ambiguous. That i s , s e v e r a l e q u a l l y probable con-sequents may be envisaged. When t h i s takes p l a c e , our automatic h a b i t responses are inadequate, f o r they are attuned o n l y to a c l e a r d e c i s i o n about p r o b a b i l i t i e s . And (3) there may be n e i t h e r delay nor ambiguity, but the consequent event may be unexpected—improbably i n the p a r t i c u l a r c ontext [Meyer, 10]. 13 Frank Kermode, Novel and N a r r a t i v e (Glasgow: Univ. of Glasgow P r e s s , 1972), p. 25. 14 U. C. Knoepflmacher, Laughter and D e s p a i r : Readings  i n Ten Novels of the V i c t o r i a n Era" (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: Univ. of C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1971), pp. 242-243. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Knoepflmacher. 15 E l l i o t t B. Gose, J r . , " ' C r u e l Devourer of the World's L i g h t " : The S e c r e t Agent," Nineteenth-Century F i c -t i o n , 15 (1960-61), p. 42. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Gose. 16 A l b e r t Guerard, Conrad the N o v e l i s t (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. P r e s s , 1958), p. 226. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Guerard. 17 C. B. Cox, "Joseph Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent: The I r r e s p o n s i b l e Piano," The C r i t i c a l Q u a r t e r l y , 15 (Autumn 1973), p. 205. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Cox. 18 George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty: Being the  O u t l i n e s of A e s t h e t i c Theory (New York: The Modern L i b r a r y , 1955) , p. 241. 19 G. K. C h e s t e r t o n , The Man Who Was Thursday: A N i g h t - mare (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1937), p. 57. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Thursday. 20 C h a r l e s Dickens, Our Mutual F r i e n d (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1971), p. 89. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as OMF. 208 21 Tony Tanner, "Reason and the Grotesque: Pope's 'Dunciad'," C r i t i c a l Q u a r t e r l y , 7 (1965), p. 151. Subse-q u e n t l y r e f e r r e d t o as Tanner. 22 A l a n B. Howard, "Huck F i n n i i n the House of Usher: The Comic and Grotesque Worlds of The Hamlet," Southern  Review, 5:2 (June, 1972), pp. 126-127. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Howard. 23 F l a n n O'Brien, The T h i r d Policeman (New York: Lancer Books, 1967), pp. 15-16. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as O'Brien. 24 Donald Fanger, Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism: A Study of Dostoevsky i n R e l a t i o n t o B a l z a c , Dickens, and ~~ Gogol (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. P r e s s , 1965), p. 21. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Fanger. 25 A r i e h Sachs, ed., The E n g l i s h Grotesque: An A n t h o l -ogy from Langland to Joyce (Jerusalem: I s r a e l U n i v e r s i t i e s P r e s s , 1969), pp. x x x i - x x x i i . Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Sachs. 2 6 Walter Bagehot, "Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning; or Pure,. Ornate and Grotesque A r t i n E n g l i s h Poetry," The  C o l l e c t e d Works o f Walter Bagehot, ed. Norman S t . John-Stevas (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. P r e s s , 19 65), I I , p. 353. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Bagehot. 27 I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note t h a t the " i m p l i e d i d e a l " i s met w i t h i n c e r t a i n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of The S e c r e t Agent. Avrom Fleishman, f o r example, s t a t e s t h a t D e s p i t e i t s i r o n i c s k e p t i c i s m , the n o v e l c a r r i e s w i t h i t c e r t a i n i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r conduct. I t does not amount to a p o l i t i c a l program, to be sure, any more than i t suggests an i d e a l of s o c i a l order by i t s very r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of a w o r l d w i t h o u t order [Avrom Fleishman, Conrad's P o l i t i c s : Community and  Anarchy i n the F i c t i o n of Joseph Conrad (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins P r e s s , 1967) , p. 212] . Fleishman, r e c o g n i z e s , however, t h a t although the world of The S e c r e t Agent i s m o r a l l y c o r r u p t , and i m p l i e s an i d e a l , formmoral conduct, t h e r e i s n e v e r t h e l e s s no p o s s i b i l i t y f o r redemption o f f e r e d . 2 8 A r t h u r Clayborough, The Grotesque i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a -t u r e (London: Oxford Univ. P r e s s , 1965), p. 45. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Clayborough. 209 29 Thomas Mann, "Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent," i n The A r t of Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Symposium, ed. R. W. S t a l l m a n TEast Lansing: Michigan S t a t e Univ. P r e s s , 1960), p. 231. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Mann. 30 Frances K. Barasch, " I n t r o d u c t i o n : The Meaning of the Grotesque," i n A H i s t o r y o f C a r i c a t u r e and Grotesque i n L i t e r a t u r e and A r t , by Thomas Wright (New York: F r e d e r i c k Ungar P u b l i s h i n g Co., 1968), p. v i i i . 31 . W i l l i a m F. Axton, C i r c l e of F i r e : Dickens' V i s i o n &_ S t y l e & The Popular V i c t o r i a n Theater ( P r i n c e t o n , N. J . : P r i n c e t o n Univ. P r e s s , 1964), p. 28. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Axton. 32 John Ruskin, "Grotesque Renaissance," The Stones of  V e n i c e , 3 v o l s (New York: The Kelmscott S o c i e t y ) , I I I , p. 126. 33 Kayser's fundamental o r i e n t a t i o n toward German Romanticism u n d e r l i e s and informs h i s assumption r e g a r d i n g the nature of the grotesque, and t h i s b i a s i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r h i s r e f u s a l t o r e - o r i e n t h i m s e l f toward the d e f i n i t e s h i f t i n p e r s p e c t i v e o f f e r e d by E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e . T h i s i s i m p l i c i t i n Kayser's assessment of Russian l i t e r a t u r e which f o l l o w s h i s statement on E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e : S u r p r i s i n g l y enough, a s u p e r f i c i a l glance at Russian l i t e r a t u r e seems to i n d i c a t e t h a t here the e v o l u t i o n from the Romantic to the " r e a l i s t i c " grotesque was c l o s e l y p a t t e r n e d a f t e r the German development. T h i s i s l e s s s u r p r i s i n g i f one con-s i d e r s how s t r o n g l y dependent Russian l i t e r a t u r e was upon German Romanticism as l a t e as the eighteen t h i r t i e s [Kayser, 123], 34 C h a r l e s Dickens, Bleak House (Harmondsworth, Middle-sex, England: Penguin, 1971), p. 364. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Bleak. 3 5 A l f r e d A p p e l , J r . , "The Grotesque and the G o t h i c , " A Season of Dreams: The F i c t i o n o f Eudora Welty (Baton Rouge: L o u i s i a n a S t a t e Univ. P r e s s , 19 6 5 T , p. 75. 3 6 C h a r l e s Dickens, O l i v e r Twist (Harmondsworth, Middle-sex, England: Penguin, 1969), p. 186. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as O l i v e r . 37 W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r , The Hamlet (New York: Vintage Books, 1940), pp. 174-176. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Hamlet. 210 3 8 James Joyce, U l y s s e s (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1968), p. 429. 39 Wylie Sypher, " I n t r o d u c t i o n " and "Appendix: The Meanings of Comedy," i n Comedy (Garden C i t y , New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956), p. 193. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Comedy. 40 Ruby Gohn, "Terms of the Tragicomic M i x t u r e , " Drama  Survey, 5 (1966-67) , pp. 186-194. 41 . Ian Watt, Conrad: "The S e c r e t Agent": A Casebook (Toronto: MacMillan P r e s s , 1973), pp. 78-79. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Casebook. 42 M i c h a e l S t e i g , " D e f i n i n g the Grotesque: An Attempt at S y n t h e s i s , " J o u r n a l o f A e s t h e t i c s and A r t C r i t i c i s m , 29 (1970-71), pp. 253-260. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as S t e i g . 43 Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust (New York: New D i r e c t i o n s , 1962), p. 82. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as L o c u s t . 44 Lewis A. Lawson, "The Grotesque-Comic i n the Snopes T r i l o g y , " L i t e r a t u r e and Psychology, 15-16 (1965-66), pp. 45-46. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Lawson. 45 Norman Sherry, Conrad's Western World (London: Cambridge Univ. P r e s s , 1971), p. 229. 46 I r v i n g Howe, P o l i t i c s and the Novel (New York: M e r i -d i a n Books, 1957), p. 96. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Howe. 47 . . J . H i l l i s M i l l e r , Poets o f R e a l i t y : S i x Twentieth- Century W r i t e r s (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. P r e s s , 1965) , p. 41. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as M i l l e r . 48 John Hagan, J r . , "The Design of Conrad's The S e c r e t  Agent," ELH: A J o u r n a l o f E n g l i s h L i t e r a r y H i s t o r y , 22 (1955), 162. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Hagan. 49 Avrom Fleishman, Conrad's P o l i t i c s : Community and  Anarchy i n the F i c t i o n of Joseph Conrad (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins P r e s s , 1967), p. 212. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Fleishman. 50 Norman N. H o l l a n d , " S t y l e as C h a r a c t e r : The S e c r e t Agent," Modern F i c t i o n S t u d i e s , 12 (1966), p. 224. Subse-qu e n t l y r e f e r r e d t o as H o l l a n d . 211 51 Leo Gurko, "The S e c r e t Agent; Conrad's V i s i o n of M e g a l o p o l i s , " Modern F i c t i o n S t u d i e s , 4 (1958), p. 309. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Gurko. 52 Stanton de Voren Hoffman, Comedy and Form i n the  F i c t i o n of Joseph Conrad (The Hague, Mouton & Co., 1969), p. 124, n. 52. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Hoffman. 53 Wylie Sypher, Loss of the S e l f i n Modern L i t e r a t u r e  and A r t (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), p. 73. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Sypher, Loss. 54 Nathanael West, Miss L o n e l y h e a r t s (New York: New D i r e c t i o n s , 1962), pp. 10-11. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as L o n e l y h e a r t s . 55 Joseph I. F r a d i n , "Conrad's Everyman: The S e c r e t Agent," Texas S t u d i e s i n L i t e r a t u r e and Language, 11 (1969-70), p. 1031. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as F r a d i n , Everyman. 5 6 J o s e p h I . F r a d i n and Jean W. C r e i g h t o n , "The Lan-guage of The S e c r e t Agent: The A r t of Non-Life," Conradiana, 1 (1968-69), p. 23. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as F r a d i n and C r e i g h t o n . 57 P a t r i c i a Morley, "Conrad's V i s i o n of the Absurd," Conradiana, 2 (1969-70), p. 57. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Morley. 5 8 Frank Kermode, "Novel, H i s t o r y and Type," Novel: A Forum on F i c t i o n , 3 (1967-68), p. 235. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to as Kermode, H i s t o r y . 59 Statement by Andrzej Busza as r e c a l l e d from a seminar d i s c u s s i o n of The S e c r e t Agent i n 1972 at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. R. W. S t a l l m a n , "Time and The S e c r e t Agent," i n The  A r t of Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Symposium, ed. R. W. S t a l l -man TEast L a n s i n g : Michigan S t a t e Univ. P r e s s , 1960), p. 246. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as S t a l l m a n . 61 F. R. L e a v i s , The Great T r a d i t i o n : . George E l i o t , Henry James, Joseph Conrad (1948; r p t . Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1972), pp. 240, 244, 246. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as L e a v i s . 6 2 J o c e l y n B a i n e s , Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Biography (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin^ 1960) , p. 40 8. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as Baines. 212 fi 3 Ford Madox Fo r d , Joseph Conrad: A P e r s o n a l Remem-brance (London: Duckworth & Co., 1924), p. 210. Subsequently r e f e r r e d to.as Ford. ft A Wolfgang I s e r , "Indeterminacy and the Reader's Response i n Prose F i c t i o n , " i n Aspects of N a r r a t i v e : S e l e c t e d  Papers from the E n g l i s h I n s t i t u t e , ed. J . H i l l i s M i l l e r (New York and London: Columbia Univ. P r e s s , 1971), p. 39. Subsequently r e f e r r e d t o as I s e r . 6 5 I a n Watt, "Conrad's S e c r e t Agent," The L i s t e n e r , 83 (1970) , p. 476. ^ 6 C l a i r e R o s e n f i e l d , P a r a d i s e of Snakes: An A r c h e t y p a l  A n a l y s i s of Conrad's P o l i t i c a l Novels~y"Chicago and London: U n i v e r s i t y o f Chicago P r e s s , 1967), p. 121. ^Edward Garnett, ed. , L e t t e r s from Joseph Conrad: 1895-1924 ( I n d i a n a p o l i s : The Bo b b s - M e r r x l l Company, 1928), p. 24. 213 LIST OF WORKS CITED Appel, A l f r e d , J r . "The Grotesque and the G o t h i c , " A Season  of Dreams: The F i c t i o n o f Eudora Welty. Baton Rouge: L o u i s i a n s S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1965, pp. 73-103. Axton, W i l l i a m F. C i r c l e o f F i r e : Dickens' V i s i o n & S t y l e _& The Popular V i c t o r i a n Theater. P r i n c e t o n , N. J . : P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 19 64. Bagehot, Walter. "Wordsworth, Tennyson and Browning; or Pure, Ornate and Grotesque A r t i n E n g l i s h P o e t r y . " The  C o l l e c t e d Works of Walter Bagehot, ed. Norman S t . John-Stevas. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1965. I I , pp. 321-366. Baines, J o c e l y n . Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Biography. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1960. Barasch, Frances K. " I n t r o d u c t i o n : The Meaning of the Grotesque," A H i s t o r y of C a r i c a t u r e and Grotesque i n L i t e r a t u r e and A r t , by Thomas Wright. New York: F r e d e r i c k Ungar P u b l i s h i n g Co., 1968, pp. v i i - l v i i . C h e s t e r t o n , G. K. The Man Who Was Thursday. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1937. Clayborough, A r t h u r . The Grotesque i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e . London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1965. Cohn, Ruby. "Terms of the Tragicomic M i x t u r e , " Drama Survey, 5 (1966-67), pp. 186-191. Conrad, Joseph. "Author's P r e f a c e , " The S e c r e t Agent: A Simple T a l e . London: The Gresham P u b l i s h i n g Co. L t d . , 1925. . Lord Jim: A T a l e . London: The Gresham P u b l i s h i n g Co. L t d . , 1925. . " P r e f a c e , " The Nigger of the " N a r c i s s u s " ; A T a l e of the Sea. London: The Gresham PubHiishrnhgnCo. L t d . , 1925. . The S e c r e t Agent: A Simple T a l e . London: The Gresham P u b l i s h i n g Co. L t d . , 1925. . Under Western Eyes. London: The Gresham P u b l i s h i n g Co. L t d . , 1925. 214 Cox, C. B. "Joseph Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent: The I r r e s p o n -s i b l e Piano," The C r i t i c a l Q u a r t e r l y , 15 (Autumn 1973), pp. 197-212. Dickens, C h a r l e s . Bleak House. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1971. . O l i v e r Twist. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1969. . Our Mutual F r i e n d . Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 19 71. Fanger, Donald. Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism: A Study of  Dostoevsky i n R e l a t i o n t o Balzac., Dickens, and Gogol. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1965. Fa u l k n e r , W i l l i a m . The Hamlet. New York: Vintage Books, 1940. Fleishman, Avrom. Conrad's P o l i t i c s : Community and Anarchy  i n the F i c t i o n of Joseph Conrad. B a l t i m o r e : The Johns Hopkins P r e s s , 19 67. Ford, Ford Madox. Joseph Conrad: A P e r s o n a l Remembrance. London: Duckworth & Co., 1924. F r a d i n , Joseph I . "Conrad's Everyman: The S e c r e t Agent," Texas S t u d i e s i n L i t e r a t u r e and Language, 11 (1969-70) , pp. 1023-1038. , and Jean W. C r e i g h t o n . "The Language of The S e c r e t Agent: The A r t of N o n - L i f e , " Conradiana, 1 (1968-697~| pp. 23-34. F r y e , Northrop. "Myth, F i c t i o n , and Displacement," F a b l e s  of I d e n t i t y : S t u d i e s i n P o e t i c Mythology. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963, pp. 21-38. Garn e t t , Edward, ed. L e t t e r s from Joseph Conrad: 1895-1924. I n d i a n a p o l i s : The Bobbs-Merri11 Company, 19 28. G i b i a n , George. "The Grotesque i n Dostoevsky," Modern  F i c t i o n S t u d i e s , 3-5 (1957-59), pp. 262-270. Gombrich, E. H. A r t and I l l u s i o n : A Study i n the Psychology  of P i c t o r i a l R e p r e s e n t a t i o n . 2nd ed. P r i n c e t o n , N. J . : P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1961. 215 Gose, E l l i o t t B., J r . ' " C r u e l Devourer of the World's L i g h t ' : The S e c r e t Agent," Niheteenth-Centu r y F i c t i o n , 15 (1960-61), pp. 39-51. Guerard, A l b e r t J . Conrad the N o v e l i s t . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1958. Gurko, Leo. "The S e c r e t Agent: Conrad's V i s i o n of Megalo-p o l i s ," Mojlej^ ^ 4 (1958), pp. 307-318. Hagan, John, J r . "The Design of Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent," ELH: A J o u r n a l of E n g l i s h L i t e r a r y H i s t o r y , 22 (1955), pp. 148-164. Hoffman, Stanton de Voren. Comedy and Form i n the F i c t i o n  of Joseph Conrad. The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1969. H o l l a n d , Norman N. " S t y l e as C h a r a c t e r : The S e c r e t Agent," Modern F i c t i o n S t u d i e s , 12 (1966), pp. 221-231. Howard, A l a n B. "Huck F i n n i n the House of Usher: The Comic and Grotesque Worlds o f The Hamlet," Southern Review, 5:2 (June, 1972), pp. 125-146. Howe, I r v i n g . P o l i t i c s and the Novel. New York: M e r i d i a n Books, 1957. I s e r , Wolfgang. "Indeterminacy and the Reader's Response i n Prose F i c t i o n , " Aspects of N a r r a t i v e : S e l e c t e d Papers  from the E n g l i s h I n s t i t u t e , ed. J . H i l l i s M i l l e r . New York and London: Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 19 71, pp. 1-45. Joyce, James. U l y s s e s . Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 196 8. Kayser, Wolfgang. The Grotesque i n A r t and L i t e r a t u r e , t r a n s . U l r i c h W e i s s t e r n . New York, Toronto: McGraw-H i l l , 1966. Kermode, Frank. Novel and N a r r a t i v e . Glasgow: U n i v e r s i t y of Glasgow P r e s s , 1972. ' ' ' . "Novel, H i s t o r y and Type," Novel: A Forum on . F i c t i o n , 3 (1967-68), pp. 231-238. • The Sense of an Ending: S t u d i e s i n the Theory of F i c t i o n . London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1966. 216 Knoepflmacher, U. C. Laughter and Despair: Readings i n Ten  Novels of the V i c t o r i a n E r a . B e r k e l e y , Los Angeles, London: U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1971. Lawson, Lewis. "The Grotesque-Comic i n the Snopes T r i l o g y , " L i t e r a t u r e and Psychology, 15-16 (1965-66), pp.1107-119. L e a v i s , F. R. The Great T r a d i t i o n : George E l i o t , Henry James, Joseph Conrad. 1948; r p t . Harmondsworth, Mid d l e -sex, England: Penguin, 1972. Mann, Thomas. "Conrad's The S e c r e t Agent," The A r t o f Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Symposium, ed. R. W. S t a l l m a n . East L a n s i n g : Michigan S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1960, pp. 227-234. Meyer, Leonard B. Music, The A r t s , and Ideas: P a t t e r n s and  P r e d i c t i o n s i n Twentieth-Century C u l t u r e . Chicago and London: U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago P r e s s , 1967. M i l l e r , J . H i l l i s . Poets of R e a l i t y : S i x Twentieth-Century  W r i t e r s . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1965. , ed. Aspects of N a r r a t i v e : S e l e c t e d Papers from the E n g l i s h I n s t i t u t e . New York and London: Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1971. Morley, P a t r i c i a A. "Conrad's V i s i o n o f the Absurd," Conradiana, 2 (1969-70), pp. 59-68. O'Brien, F l a n n . The T h i r d Policeman. New York: Lancer Books, 1967. P r i c e , M a r t i n . "The F i c t i o n a l C o n t r a c t , " L i t e r a r y Theory  and S t r u c t u r e : Essays i n Honor of W i l l i a m K. Wimsatt, ed. Frank Brady, John Palmer, and M a r t i n P r i c e . New Haven and London: Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1973, pp. 151-179. . "The I r r e l e v a n t D e t a i l and the Emergence of Form," Aspects of N a r r a t i v e : S e l e c t e d Papers from the E n g l i s h  I n s t i t u t e , ed. J . H i l l i s M i l l e r . New York and London: Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1971, pp. 69-91. R o s e n f i e l d , C l a i r e . P a r a d i s e of Snakes: An A r c h e t y p a l  A n a l y s i s of Conrad's P o l i t i c a l Novels. Chicago and London: U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago P r e s s , 1967. 217 Ruskin, John. "Grotesque Renaissance," The Stones of V e n i c e , 3 v o l s . New York: The Kelmscott S o c i e t y . I l l , pp. 112-165. Sachs, A r i e h , ed. The E n g l i s h Grotesque: An Anthology from  Langland t o Joyce. Jerusalem: I s r a e l U n i v e r s i t i e s P r e s s , 1969. Santayana, George. The Sense of Beauty:.Being the O u t l i n e s  of A e s t h e t i c Theory• New York: The Modern L i b r a r y , 1955. Sherry, Norman. Conrad's Western World. London: Cambridge U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1971. Stallman , R. W., ed. The A r t of Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l  Symposium. E a s t L a n s i n g : Michigan S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1960. . "Time and The S e c r e t Agent," The A r t of Joseph Conrad: A C r i t i c a l Symposium, ed. R. W. Stallman. E a s t L a n s i n g : Michigan S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1960, pp. 234-254. S t e e l e , P e t e r . "Dickens and the Grotesque," Quadrant, 17:2 (M a r c h - A p r i l , 1973), pp. 15-23. S t e i g , M i c h a e l . 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