This paper is an attempt to establish a theory of problematically reliable narrative in modern fiction. I choose to restrict my focus to a single narrative problem posed by the works of three novelists: James's The Turn of the Screw, Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Ford's The Good Soldier. There is a problem of the reliability of their first-person narrators: among them James' s much-maligned governess, Conrad's Marlow, and Ford's Dowell. By concentrating on the fiction of the three novelists, this paper tries to problematize the aporia of reliable narrators. For nothing characterizes the development of modern fiction from Thackeray to Joyce more clearly than the gradual disappearance of the author from his place of editorial omniscience above the text. In addition. I have not been persuaded by those contemporary approaches to narrative which insists upon the text's hermeneutic indeterminacy as its primary formal feature. Whatever the merits of structuralism and deconstruction as metaphysics, I do not believe that writers like James, Conrad and Ford asked of their readers a free play of interpretive activity. My commitment, which admittedly denies me access to a certain interesting responses to the literary text, is to a reinvigoration of an older way of understanding literature.