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Anne Carson, 5 March 2020

... his eyes on me, off me. He had a furtive tinge and a swank black overcoat – I thought at once of Joseph Conrad, as he is in formal photographs, with the not-quite-Western eyes and virtuosic goatee.Once I attended a christening at a farmhouse in a country far away. I saw a stack of white bread on a table in sunlight. It made me dream about Europe and ...

Homage to Marginality

Tony Tanner, 7 February 1980

Joseph ConradThe Three Lives 
by Frederick Karl.
Faber, 1008 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11386 9
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... and certainly achieves size – deserves to be examined with care. There has been no biography of Conrad since 1960, when Jocelyn Baines published the result of many years of painstaking research. But a considerable amount of biographical material has emerged since then: the indispensable Conrad’s Polish ...

Doughy

John Sutherland: Conrad’s letters, 4 December 2003

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. VI: 1917-19 
edited by Laurence Davies, Frederick R. Karl and Owen Knowles.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £80, December 2002, 0 521 56195 7
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... Virginia Woolf (six vols), Thomas Hardy (seven vols) and Katherine Mansfield (four vols). The Conrad project, begun in 1983, is moving to its close with this, the sixth instalment of what will be an eight-volume set. These compilations are among the most expensive and least remunerative ventures in the scholarly profession. And (be warned, tyro) the least ...

JC’s Call

J.I.M. Stewart, 2 April 1981

Joseph ConradTimes Remembered 
by Joseph Conrad.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £10.50, March 1981, 0 521 22805 0
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... Joseph Conrad died at the age of 67 on 3 August 1924, the day following the 18th birthday of his younger son, John Conrad, the author of the present book. John’s memories, which reach astonishingly far back into his earliest childhood, begin with his family living in poverty in a tiny cottage, ‘a dark and gloomy place’, at Aldington in Kent ...

Where did he get it?

P.N. Furbank, 3 May 1984

Joseph ConradA Chronicle 
by Zdzislaw Najder, translated by Halina Carroll-Najder.
Cambridge, 647 pp., £19.50, February 1984, 0 521 25947 9
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Conrad under Familial Eyes 
edited by Zdzislaw Najder, translated by Halina Carroll-Najder.
Cambridge, 282 pp., £19.50, February 1984, 9780521250825
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... opposite of all that he has named “himself”.’ The theory certainly most beautifully fits Conrad, that least stoical, most volatile and hypochondriacal of men, who nevertheless created imperishable images of phlegmatic endurance and unquestioning fidelity. ‘One admires what one lacks,’ he wrote with self-knowledge to his Polish ...

In the Golfo Placido

P.N. Furbank, 9 October 1986

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. II: 1898-1902 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 483 pp., £27.50, August 1986, 0 521 25748 4
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... concealed in the unaccommodating phrase ‘writer’s block’. Reading the anguished letters of Joseph Conrad, who was frequently ‘blocked’ during the fruitful years which produced Youth, Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, you ask yourself why he did not shoot himself, or rather begin to wonder, nervously, whether he may not try to. The laments about ...

Conrad and Prejudice

Craig Raine, 22 June 1989

Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1967-87 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £10.95, January 1988, 0 435 91000 0
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... Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist.’ This quotation is taken from ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’, a lecture delivered by the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe as long ago as 1974 and now collected in Hopes and Impediments. In City Without Walls, W ...
Joseph ConradA Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Murray, 320 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 7195 4910 8
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Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper 
by Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan.
Oxford, 218 pp., £30, August 1991, 9780198117858
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... and now find a place in the story. The greasy trilby hat Ford Madox Ford put to dry in Jessie Conrad’s oven, provoking the only outburst of wrath ever seen on the part of that placid lady; the ‘good sandwiches’ which the soon-to-be-cast-off Hadley Hemingway promised to make for her husband’s outing to the races at Longchamps; ‘black-eyed ...

Conrad’s Complaint

Frank Kermode, 17 November 1983

The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. I: 1861-1897 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 446 pp., £19.50, September 1983, 0 521 24216 9
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... A great many Conrad letters have already been published, notably in Jean-Aubry’s Life and Letters, but also in smaller collections containing his correspondence with one or more persons – for example, Edward Garnett, William Blackwood and Cunninghame Graham. Early letters to Polish friends and relations have been translated, and a series of about a hundred to Marguerite Poradowska appeared in the original French ...

Bringing it home to Uncle Willie

Frank Kermode, 6 May 1982

Joseph ConradA Biography 
by Roger Tennant.
Sheldon Press, 276 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 85969 358 9
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Edward Garnett: A Life in Literature 
by George Jefferson.
Cape, 350 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 224 01488 9
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The Edwardian Novelists 
by John Batchelor.
Duckworth, 251 pp., £18, February 1982, 0 7156 1109 7
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The Uses of Obscurity: The Fiction of Early Modernism 
by Allon White.
Routledge, 190 pp., £12, August 1981, 0 7100 0751 5
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... A biography of Conrad that makes no claim to add to the voluminous information already on record, but runs amiably and quite deftly over the course, may have its uses. Not everybody has the time or the desire to tackle the thousand pages of Karl’s Joseph Conrad, or the shelf of books – Jocelyn Baines, Norman Sherry, Zdzislaw Najder, Eloise Knapp Hay – that would provide a richer and more chaotic account of this mostly painful career; and not everybody will be put off by Mr Tennant’s not saying anything very interesting about the fictions, of which he thinks Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness are the best ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... topic and occasion. It might be said that the period covering the lives of Shaw (1865-1950) and Conrad (1857-1924) was not only the last age of letter-writing – the telephone was slowly taking over – but also its great age, a terminal flowering of the genre. It was still necessary to write letters and still possible to discourse fluently and informally ...

Nuvvles

Stephen Wall, 16 March 1989

The Art of the Novel 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Linda Asher.
Faber, 165 pp., £9.95, June 1988, 0 571 14819 0
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Adult Pleasures: Essays on Writers and Readers 
by Dan Jacobson.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 233 98204 3
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... to offer. Ford’s chatty and opinionated The English Novel from the Earliest Days to the Death of Joseph Conrad (1930) contains many sweeping and unscholarly judgments, but its fundamental conviction that ‘the art of the novel is so difficult a thing that unless a man’s whole energies are given to it he had much better otherwise occupy himself’ is ...

What are we at war about?

Isaac Land: Nelson the Populist, 1 December 2005

The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson 
by Roger Knight.
Allen Lane, 874 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 7139 9619 6
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Admiral Lord Nelson: Context and Legacy 
edited by David Cannadine.
Palgrave, 201 pp., £19.99, June 2005, 1 4039 3906 3
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... Writing for the centenary celebrations of the Trafalgar victory one hundred years ago, Joseph Conrad produced a remarkable, and peculiar, essay arguing that Nelson was a great, and a modern, artist. His genius was to revolutionise ‘not the strategy or tactics of sea-warfare, but the very conception of victory itself ...

Dark Pieces on Dark Places

Malcolm Deas, 3 July 1980

The Return of Eva Peron with The Killings in Trinidad 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Deutsch, 227 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 233 97238 2
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... on the Michael X murders in Trinidad, five on Argentina and Uruguay, one on the Congo and one on Joseph Conrad – are held together by Conradian preoccupations. They represent an ‘effort of thought and sympathy’, an effort that ‘does not stop with the aspect of the land. It extends to all men in these dark and remote places who, for whatever ...

Open to Words

Svetlana Alpers: Vermeer and Globalisation, 26 February 2009

Vermeer’s Hat: The 17th Century and the Dawn of the Global World 
by Timothy Brook.
Profile, 272 pp., £18.99, July 2008, 978 1 84668 112 7
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... century, there is more than a little of the world – economic and also human – set forth by Joseph Conrad in Nostromo (1904), a novel circling about a fictional South American silver mine, and bound up with international politics and finance. Vermeer’s Hat shows that something like the world Conrad describes ...

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