By Maurice Blanchot
Le narrateur évoque des événements qui lui sont arrivés en 1938. 'J., Collette, Simone et Nathalie, les quatre jeunes femmes de cet étrange récit, furent en même temps messages et messagères, ou plutôt l'occasion, pour le narrateur, de découvrir qu'il était lui-même le messager malheureux d'une vérité à sa mesure, qu'il aimait cette vérité, qu'il n'aimait qu'elle.'.
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This is Oakfield's reaction to it: I like it better than I expected, or rather dislike it less. 19 Take the majority of officials in this country: their vigour, their strong sense, their prompt and business-like dexterity, have earned for them as a class, a justly honourable distinction. These are what may be called the commercial virtues. But except good men of business what are they? 20 As E. M. Forster thinks, the novel 'has the Arnold integrity'. 21 Its brave and knowledgeable exposure of Anglo-India in mid-Victorian times has a value.
Here he analyses mass psychology. The portrayal of Wait here also demands attention. Earlier Conrad had suggested that he was ill but less so than he pretended to be; he knew this fact, but not the others. And the author did not indicate the exact degree of sickness. The situation is the same during the storm. But after it dies down, he clearly shows, as in this instance, that Wait is wasting away. He offers himself for duty when he is 'near enough to the pay table and smells the shore'. At this very time, he is more sick than he think he is, and the crew observe this; his imminent death, formerly a pretext, becomes a reality.
The two major problems, Wait and the storm, interpenetrate. Thereby Conrad makes the problems of the seamen as acute as possible in the given context and tests the very essentials of their character, of their values. Wait continues his kind of dissembling, the ordinary seamen continue to be caught in their complex of feelings, Old Singleton and the officers continue to be unaffected by the negro. Conrad's comparative immaturity as an artist shows in his tendency to render these insights rather too much through description and analysis, at the expense of drama, yet the analytic descriptions are themselves acutely penetrating in their use of physical detail to embody moral qualities: Jimmy's steadfastness to his untruthful attitude in the face of the inevitable truth had the proportions of a colossal enigma - of a manifestation grand and incomprehensible that at times inspired a wandering awe; and there was also, to many, something exquisitely droll in fooling him thus to the top of his bent.
L'Arrêt de mort by Maurice Blanchot