The Comic Subtext of Conrad's Under Western Eyes
This study attempts to examine the comic layer underneath the overt tragedy of Under Western Eyes (1911) as instances of comedy repeatedly burst through the tragic darkness. Razumov himself has called himself a victim in a “comedy of errors.” To appreciate the humor, one must recognize the incongruities and absurdities that Conrad multiplies in the novel, and incongruity has long been recognized as a key ingredient of comedy from Schopenhauer, to Kant, and to Eastman. In the novel, the comically incongruous frequently derives from the morally incongruous. In addition to verbal play and explicit instances of laughter, sight gags related to percipience and comic misinterpretations of the physical abound. This comic thread unifies the opening and the “jarring” conclusion.
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