questions of man’s inner life.nBoth writers experienced exclusionnand alienation. Marquand had a sensenof being unjustly excluded in youthnfrom the elite society of Newburyportnand Harvard. Millicent Bell demonstratesnthat this became the compellingnmotive of his life. He erected a mythnof his own disadvantage that, psychicallynspeaking, became his reality. Butnin his life and writing this motivenscarcely transcends the Cinderella motif:nhe and his characters dream ofncoming home the Big Success—theynwant recognition where they had knownnexclusion. The note of self-vindicationnand spite is unmistakable.nConrad, orphaned at age 11, exilednfrom his native land, never fully acceptednin English society, knew a goodndeal about loss and alienation. He strugglednmore painfully than did Marquandnto discover his own way of coming tonimaginative terms with his experiences,nprobably because his experiences werenmore psychologically acute than werenMarquand’s. The principal differencenbetween their responses to feeling isolatednis indicated in Watt’s statementnthat Conrad “knew that his sense of lossnwas not merely familial, social, and national;nalienation was a much morenuniversal condition, and one with deepnroots in the romantic imagination, andnall the echoing dissonances of his civilization.”nMarquand rarely perceivednsuch larger connections.nThis same difference in perceptionsnis seen in the way the two authors madenuse of their travel. Marquand travelednconsiderably more extensively than didnConrad. He was fascinated by the Orientnand returned there several times. Butnaside from his Mr. Moto novels, he madenno real use of this extensive travel. Henwrote novels of manners and felt henwould have to know a place and its peoplenintimately to write about them. Hisnfocus was on surface detail, and henknew the contours of New England societynbest. Contrast what Conrad didnwith his exotic settings, particularlynin Heart of Darkness.nIt is easy to multiply these contrasts.nFor example, Conrad was confident innhis determination to achieve a reputationnbut feared he would be unable tonmake money. Marquand knew he couldnmake money but doubted that he wouldnachieve recognition as a serious writer.nThere is basically little that is new innMarquand’s fictional methods, whilenConrad is the least derivative of writers:nhis experiments in method are partnof his genius, part of what puts him innthe first rank of modern literature.nDespite such contrasts, Marquandnand Conrad share the experience of beingnabused by a modern criticism thatnfails to do justice to their fiction. Thisncriticism, dominantly formalistic, viewingnliterature as autonomous, dismissesnMarquand’s novels because they lacknintriguing and sophisticated patternsnof images and symbols. And this samencriticism applies its subjective and overlyningenious methods to Conrad to producensubtle, elaborate, cryptographicninterpretations that distort or ignore thenauthor’s ideological commitments.nThe kinds of trends which dominatencontemporary criticism are indicatednin a recent editor’s column in PMLA,nthe organ of the Modern Language Association.nA member of the editorialnboard proposed acceptance of an essaynon the basis of “its boldly unconventionalnapproach: ‘It does not,’ he pointednout, ‘contain a single reference tonNorthrop Frye.’ ” An earlier editor remarkednthat at times “it seems thatnauthors feel their articles would not bengiven serious consideration without anquotation from Frye, preferably in thenopening paragraph.”nFrye’s work is wide-ranging and hasnbeen influential in many ways, but hennnis particularly characteristic of recentncriticism in his insistence that “literaturenhas no consistent connection withnordinary life, positive nor negative”;nthat literature cannot be lifelike—it cannonly be “literature like”; and that “nonwork of literature is better by virtuenof what it says than any other work.”nSuch antimimetic notions about literaturenand the radical aesthetics theynhave spawned have been perceptivelynsurveyed and criticized by Gerald Graffnin Literature Against Itself (Universitynof Chicago Press, 1979). Graff argues:n”As important as it was for critics tonlearn that literature and language arensystems of humanly created conventionsnand not simple mirrors or photographicncopies, it is now at least as importantnthat we rescue some sense in whichnthese conventions are accountable tonsomething beyond themselves.”nIan Watt’s Conrad in the NineteenthnCentury is a landmark work in that processnof rescue. This fine book is as significantnfor what it says about the naturenof modern literature and criticism as itnis for what it tells us about Conrad.nWatt believes “the modern critical tendencynto decompose literary works intona series of more or less cryptic referencesnto a system of non-literal unifyingnmeanings is in large part a misguidednresponse to a very real problem in theninterpretation of much modern literature.”nThe problem is that modernismnno longer finds in the literal reproductionnof actuality, in the system of socialnmimesis that was a motive impulsenfor realistic fiction, an adequate meansnof representation. Not finding in naturenitself an adequate subject for expressionnof artistic intention, the modernist novelistnuses it as the raw materials out ofnwhich, through method of presentation,ndistortion and rearrangement, he createsnmeaning individual to himself.nThe critic “is faced with the task ofnexplaining to the public in discursivenexpository prose a literature whose expressivenidiom was intended to be inaccessiblento exposition in any concep-nJanttary/Fcbruary 1981n