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Thread: The Writer's Smash'n Grab: Point of Honor

  1. #1
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    The Writer's Smash'n Grab: Point of Honor

    "The Point of Honor" is currently being read by this reader so that he may backward engineer it and learn to write better for himself. Any discoveries will be posted here shortly.

    The Writer's Smash'n Grab
    The Point of Honor by Joseph Conrad


    It seems like whenever a list of prose stylists is compiled it commonly has two names near the top, regardless of who ranked it. The first is overwhelmjngly Vladmir Nabokov who is the metaphorical "top dog" (though this reader much prefers Joyce, who seldom gets mentioned at all when considering prpse stylistics- very strange!). The second is Joseph Conrad who is largely remembered for "Heart of Darkness" rather than his short stories.

    But chapter one of "The Point of Honor" has delivered. Admittedly slow to start (and a bit antiquated in style- such a debt is owed to Hemingway, Faulkner and Joyce), it successfully asserts something as large as Napoleon's war into the realm of a personal feud between two quarreling lieutenants. For all it's details, which are plentiful and enriching yet only rarely impede the flow, it is quite readable. There were only two or three spots where the reader had to grind the gears to get the imagery.

    But what can a contemporary writer smash'n grab from this? Firstly, chapter one is a set-up for later action (indeed, Feraud has the surgeon inform the room-arrested D'Hubert that he intends to 'finish' the duel). But in this rising action is tension wrought from the differences of characters; petty, cool-headed D'Hubert greatly conflicts with manic Feraud.

    In a way, D'Hubert's collectedness is the set-up for Feraud's mania. And it's during the manic sword fight that chapter one is at its best. Mostly Conrad demonstrates masterful escalation; D'Hubert tries and tries to honorably decline but he is deftly coerced into a fight he has no interest in winning or losing (though by all accounts he had it coming). Conrad specifically uses the means of contrasting the previous scenes of etiquette and manners wjth tge savage business of a duel. There is a moment where Feraud first 'flips' or loses his cool- this is where it begins; this is where the reader cannot read the prose fast enough due to eagerness.
    Last edited by Jack of Hearts; 01-20-2011 at 11:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User bortleman's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    As a military man myself, I enjoyed the difference in personality types that Conrad relates. These two types of people clash heads all the time in the military and it was easy for me to make the jump to the French army. As always, Conrad is a tough read to get through at times, but it always pays off in the end when you have time to reflect. The idea of honor being this iron clad like religion that everyone is forced to abide by aids the story well and helps to illustrate the plight of the protaganist. I plan on adding additional commentary on chapter one after a few more read throughs.

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