Tag Archives: Conrad


Arnold Bennett on Joseph Conrad

Having first met Joseph Conrad “toward the end of the last century” at the house of H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett recalled the older man in the pages of the Evening Standard, a few years after Conrad’s death: Even then, from the way he talked, one could perceive at once and all the time that creative […]


The Anarchism of Joseph Conrad

In his 1961 novel, Mother Night, author Kurt Vonnegut famously paraphrased Nietszche, writing: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” Vonnegut’s American protagonist, Howard W. Campbell, Jr., opens Mother Night by describing himself as a Nazi “by reputation.” During World War II, he has served […]


Friday Fun: Apocalypse Now

Long before he ruined liberals for real presidential candidates, Martin Sheen (as Captain Benjamin L. Willard) made his way into the jungles of Vietnam on a mission to terminate (“with extreme prejudice”) Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in the 1979 adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Though the novel is a classic work that speaks […]


Friends with Words

Just after the turn of the century, Joseph Conrad partnered with Ford Madox Ford to write three novels, beginning with The Inheritors: An Extravagant Story. They’re not great novels, nor were they received as such on publication. Conrad would later dub the partnership the “fatal collaboration.” The friendship would flame out by 1909, and both […]


Stolen Lives

It should be clear by now that Henry James and Upton Sinclair are hardly the only 20th century authors to enjoy generous, wide-ranging afterlives in contemporary works. On the spectrum of life-to-lit authenticity, author Lawrence Thornton’s fictional treatment of Joseph Conrad falls somewhere between Chris Bachelder’s wildly imaginative rumpus with Sinclair, U.S.!, and two relatively […]


Friday Fun: Hit by a Bus

In 2009, Slate’s Explainer asked and answered: “When did getting “hit by a bus” become the standard image of unexpected catastrophe?” They credit Joseph Conrad, more specifically his protagonist (of sorts), Mr. Verloc, with the earliest accident-related usage: But just try to understand that it was a pure accident; as much an accident as if […]


Conrad on Writing

From Conrad’s short 1905 essay on Books: To be hopeful in an artistic sense it is not necessary to think that the world is good. It is enough to believe that there is no impossibility of its being made so. If the flight of imaginative thought may be allowed to rise superior to many moralities […]


Life in Brief: Joseph Conrad

3 Dec. 1857:         Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski born in Berdichev, Ukraine to a Polish family 1861:                      His father Apollo is arrested by Russian authorities in Warsaw and exiled to Vologda 1865:                      His mother Ewelina dies of tuberculosis 1869:                  … becomes an orphan at age 11 when Apollo dies in Kraków, Poland 1874:                  … travels to Marseilles to sail after failing […]

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Quotable: Joseph Conrad

Troubled thoughts from a stormy mind, venting itself in an 1894 letter to distant cousin, fellow writer and confidant Marguerite Poradowska: But you are afraid of yourself; of the inseparable being forever at your side – master and slave, victim and executioner – who suffers and causes suffering. That’s how it is! One must drag […]


1907: The Secret Agent

Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent may have begun as “a simple tale,” words incorporated into the novel’s full title, but in less than a year it grew into something more complex and enduring, because of its Ukrainian-born, Polish author’s unusual, circuitous literary talents – English was his third language – and a topic that continues […]