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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Magritte, inspired by Joseph Conrad

- René Magritte: Almayer's Folly -

Kaspar Almayer is a Dutch merchant taken under the wing of the wealthy Captain Lingard. Desirious of one day inheriting Captain Lingard's wealth the young Almayer agrees to marry his adopted Malay child and run Lingard's trading post in Sambir in the jungles of Borneo. The marriage is loveless, Captain Lingard loses much of his fortune searching for a hidden treasure, and Almayer's ventures continually fail-most notably an expansive trading house that no one comes to trade in, which is why it is soon called Almayer's Folly. However a child named Nina is begotten from Almayer and his wife. The rest of the novel concerns Almayer's conflicting desires. His love for his daughter and trying to keep her from the Malayian influence of her mother and Almayer's desire for money and self-redemption take center stage. A Malay prince called Dain enters Sambir. Though Almayer tries to use the prince to help him find the treasure long sought after by Lingard, instead Dain is betrothed to Nina and leaves Sambir with his daughter and his aid but not his blessing. The loss of Nina and potential wealth stuns Almayer and he spends the rest of his days in the empty trading house he built as his sanity slips away (the first novel of Joseph Conrad, Almayer's Folly: a story of an Eastern river - as was summarized in Wikipedia).

And Magritte made an etching of Almayer's Folly. I saw it at Galerie Lareuse in Georgetown. The galerie was closed by the time I passed by; the etching was on display on the window, together with another of Magritte's: The Music Lesson - pretty weird, isn't it? while actually making perfect sense form the logical point of view :).

(Galerie Lareuse)

(René Magritte)



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