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by Joseph Conrad,Martin Ray

"Chance" was Conrad's first commercial success after nearly 20 years as a writer, and his first novel to have a happy ending. It tells the story of Flora de Barral, the abandoned daughter of a bankrupt tycoon, and her long struggle to find happiness and dignity.
Download Chance epub
ISBN: 0192836374
ISBN13: 978-0192836373
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Joseph Conrad,Martin Ray
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press (1999)
Pages: 474 pages
ePUB size: 1322 kb
FB2 size: 1839 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 877
Other Formats: lrf doc lrf mbr

Уou ll never walk alone
This is one of the few Conrads that I had not read before. From the descriptions I had gotten a wrong impression and had stayed away in the past. I expected a sombre rumination of female problems. Wrong expectations!

It is Marlow's last performance, and it is more land-based than his 3 previous tales; but not entirely! Marlow has matured and has broader interests, he is looking into society, describes a strangely modern financial fraudster, takes up women's movement as a subject, with less than full enthusiasm.

Marlow has changed his sense of humour, he is an ironist now. Past Marlows were entirely un-humorous, to the extent that I mistook him for Conrad and was surprised how funny some of Conrad's non-Marlow tales are. Take Secret Agent!
Chance is as funny as Secret Agent. And yet it is also a Victorian standard plot, a damsel in distress story as any of the wildest romances of the previous century. If one would want to summarize the 'plot', it would sound very pedestrian, so I don't do it.

Like Lord Jim, this novel started as a short story, initially called Dynamite. Like Rescue, Chance was interrupted and took years to be completed. Like Victory, it was an amazing commercial success for a writer who was a typical writer's writer: high reputation, little business. This book sold like hot cakes in the US and gave Conrad a comfortable last decade of his life.
One might suspect the bestseller status was due to a misunderstanding, and the introduction to this edition presumes that Chance was a very unread bestseller. I am not so sure. The novel is quite entertaining. While the plot (fraudster's daughter in existential trouble gets rescued by sailor after going through all kinds of other people's schemes) is nothing spectacular, the manner of telling it is a very amusing way of the Marlow narration style: he collects bits and pieces from several sources and the tale's story is happening over 17 years. It is never a difficult structure and Marlow's ponderous style in, say, the Heart, is replaced by light-handed banter.

I found it very enjoyable.
'Luckily people are for the most part quite incapable of understanding what is happening to them; a merciful provision of nature to preserve an average amount of sanity.'
There’s a good reason why you never knew Conrad wrote this novel: it’s a minor work. The writing quality is high but also needlessly dense and repetitive too much of the time. The story line is interesting but takes forever to play out. I almost gave up out of boredom thrice but stayed the course hoping it would improve, which it didn’t. This is another of Conrad’s less successful efforts. It’s certainly no Lord Jim or Heart of Darkness.
This is an interesting and entertaining book which is very unlike Conrad's sea tales, although it involves sailors, including the familiar "Marlowe" of "Heart of Darkness" fame. I started reading this in a battered paperback which fell apart faster than I could read, so I ordered this hard cover, large-type edition.
The book is well made and it is large enough that there are about as many words on a page as there are in a paperback. I find many large-type books to be annoying because one is rapidly turning pages due to the small number of words on each page.
I recommend this book both as literature and as a good well-made book.
The Kindle version of this was fine. The novel itself was just OK. Based on other reviews, I expected to enjoy it more. The conceit of the story being told by "Marlow" from interactions with the novel's characters wears very thin after a few chapters: I don't find Marlow's supposed verbal narration of the action at all believable. I'll have to reread Heart of Darkness...
Chance contains many of the themes found in Conrad's more critically acclaimed work: the role of womanhood in the Empire (HOD), the pressure of external events on personal relations, (The Secret Agent), the psychological struggle for dominance as well, often found in Conrad's shorter sea tales, but where Chance succeeds is in its narrative misdirection geared toward the reader. We at first assume that the novel will settle on some misadventure that is flashed back by Powell, and then we discover Marlow at the table, and discover it with a sinking feeling, and then get sucked into a series of narratives within narratives, a technique for which Modernism owes Conrad a great debt. We have the unnamed narrator who tries to contain Marlow, and Marlow who has to contain the Fynes, who have to contain Flora de Barral and her comically dim-witted father, whose narrow intelligence later becomes monstrous toward the novel's end; but this multi-layered technique is also the story's greatest weakness. Conrad weighs even minor characters down with a wee bit too much pressure: One expects a consequence from the second Mr. Powell and Flora's embittered governess, a consequence that never quite materializes given the effort Conrad puts into their backstories. It is mildly anti-climatic, and had it been shorter would have amounted to less labor for the amusingly frustrated spectators we are invited to be as Flora moves through her various stages of despair and then making terms with the world. The final picture we have of her, as a virtual goddess about to be united with the salt of the earth, relieves the burden the faithful reader carries along.
Conrad has a wide English vocabulary and sentences are complex. But his insights are terrific. He wrote as he was very ill and dying.

I have read nearly all his work. I place it near his best, even better than Lord Jim. Critics rate it lower.
I guess I read this first as a college freshman and became a big Conrad fan. With the Kindle versions now available, I can go back and reread some of the GreatsSome of these classics. It's a lot of fun, and yet i'm amazed at the pedantic, turgid style of writing from way back when. I should do so well....