Just a minute left in Joseph Conrad's 150th birthday. We started Heart of Darkness in the evening Humanities section tonight. Nothing seemed to impress them so much as the coincidence of its being Conrad's birthday. The symmetry in this semester is planned: We started out with Civilization and Its Discontents and are ending with analysis of HoD, considering whether it's the same argument in the form of narrative. (More successful and more "earned"--you can see why Conrad didn't care for Freud.)
It's funny how like Mann Conrad is. I remember suddenly realizing sometime back that The Goat was Albee's Death in Venice; of course HoD is DiV, too, only that much darker. These are metamorphosis stories--along with Kafka's actual Metamorphosis--where the central character encounters some sublime force that makes it impossible to live as he once did. It seems like they ought to be all over the place; that every bildungsroman should be a transformation, but they're not; they're relatively rare, compared to takes in which the change is just a melodramatic readjustment to the norm. The real ones are sort of grim, earnest, and religious in implications, like Diary of a Country Priest and Le diable, probablement, The Counterfeiters, Young Torless, Demian.