Short Tales of Joseph Conrad

Notes

  1. ^ In a 14 February 1901 letter to his namesake Józef Korzeniowski, a librarian at Kraków's Jagiellonian University, Conrad would write, partly in reference to some Poles' accusation that he had deserted the Polish cause by writing in English: "It is widely known that I am a Pole and that Józef Konrad are my [given] names, the latter being used by me as a surname so that foreign mouths should not distort my real surname – a distortion which I cannot stand. It does not seem to me that I have been unfaithful to my country by having proved to the English that a gentleman from the Ukraine can be as good a sailor as they, and has something to tell them in their own language." Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, pp. 311–12.
  2. ^ Rudyard Kipling felt that "with a pen in his hand he was first amongst us" but that there was nothing English in Conrad's mentality: "When I am reading him, I always have the impression that I am reading an excellent translation of a foreign author." Cited in Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: A Biography, p. 209. Cf. Zdzisław Najder's similar observation: "He was... an English writer who grew up in other linguistic and cultural environments. His work can be seen as located in the borderland of auto-translation [emphasis added by Wikipedia]." Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007, p. IX.
  3. ^ The title of Rushdie's Joseph Anton: A Memoir conflates the given names of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, two of Rushdie's favourite authors. "Meeting Salman Rushdie", BBC, 17 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Russia's defeat by Britain, France and Turkey [in the Crimean War] had once again raised hopes of Polish independence. Apollo celebrated his son's christening with a characteristic patriotic–religious poem: "To my son born in the 85th year of Muscovite oppression". It alluded to the partition of 1772, burdened the new-born [...] with overwhelming obligations, and urged him to sacrifice himself as Apollo would for the good of his country: 'Bless you, my little son: Be a Pole! Though foes May spread before you A web of happiness Renounce it all: love your poverty... Baby, son, tell yourself You are without land, without love, Without country, without people, While Poland - your Mother is in her grave For only your Mother is dead - and yet She is your faith, your palm of martyrdom... This thought will make your courage grow, Give Her and yourself immortality.'" Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, p. 10.
  5. ^ Zdzisław Najder, Conrad under Familial Eyes, Cambridge University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-521-25082-X.
  6. ^ It was still an age of exploration, in which Poles participated: Paweł Edmund Strzelecki mapped the Australian interior; the writer Sygurd Wiśniowski, having sailed twice around the world, described his experiences in Australia, Oceania and the United States; Jan Kubary, a veteran of the 1863 Uprising, explored the Pacific islands.
  7. ^ Conrad's own letters to his uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski were destroyed during World War I. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007.
  8. ^ Joseph Spiridion's full name was "Joseph Spiridion Kliszczewski" but he used the abbreviated form, presumably from deference to British ignorance of Polish pronunciation. Conrad seems to have picked up this idea from Spiridion: in his fourth letter, he signed himself "J. Conrad" — the first recorded use of his future pen name. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, pp. 103–104.
  9. ^ A comprehensive account of Conrad's Malay fiction is given in Robert Hampson, Cross-Cultural Encounters in Joseph Conrad's Malay Fiction, Palgrave, 2000.
  10. ^ After The Mirror of the Sea was published on 4 October 1906 to good, sometimes enthusiastic reviews by critics and fellow writers, Conrad wrote his French translator: "The critics have been vigorously swinging the censer to me.... Behind the concert of flattery, I can hear something like a whisper: 'Keep to the open sea! Don't land!' They want to banish me to the middle of the ocean." Najder 2007, p. 371.
  11. ^ Serialization in periodicals, of installments often written from issue to issue, was standard practice for 19th- and early-20th-century novelists. It was done, for example, by Charles Dickens in England, and by Bolesław Prus in Poland.
  12. ^ Najder argues that "three factors, national, personal, and social, converge[d] to exacerbate his financial difficulties: the traditional Polish impulse to cut a dash even if it means going into debt; the personal inability to economize; and the silent pressure to imitate the lifestyle of the [British] wealthy middle class to avoid being branded... a denizen of the abyss of poverty..." Najder 2007, p. 358.
  13. ^ Conrad renounced the grant in a 2 June 1917 letter to the Paymaster General. Najder 2007, p. 495.
  14. ^ "Although Konrad had been absolutely certain of accompanying Captain Escarras on his next voyage, the Bureau de l'Inscription forbade him to go on the grounds of his being a 21-year-old alien who was under the obligation of... military service in his own country. Then it was discovered... he had never had a permit from his [c]onsul – the ex-Inspector of the Port of Marseilles was summoned who... had [certified] the existence of such a permit – he was... reprimanded and nearly lost his job – which was undoubtedly very unpleasant for Konrad. The whole affair became... widely known, and all endeavors by... Captain [Escarras] and the ship-owner [Jean-Baptiste Delestang] proved fruitless... and Konrad was forced to stay behind with no hope of serving on French vessels. However, before all this happened another catastrophe – this time financial – befell him. While still in possession of the 3,000 fr[ancs] sent to him for the voyage, he met his former captain, Mr. Duteil, who persuaded him to participate in some enterprise on the coasts of Spain – some kind of contraband! He invested 1,000 fr[ancs] in it and made over 400, which pleased them greatly, so... on the second occasion he put in all he had – and lost the lot. ... Duteil... then went off to Buenos Aires. ... Konrad was left behind, unable to sign on for a ship – poor as a church mouse and, moreover, heavily in debt – for while speculating he had lived on credit... [H]e borrows 800 fr[ancs] from his [German] friend [Richard] Fecht and sets off for... Villefranche, where an American squadron was anchored,... inten[ding to] join... the American service. He achieves nothing there and, wishing to improve his finances, tries his luck in Monte Carlo and loses the 800 fr[ancs] he had borrowed. Having managed his affairs so excellently, he returns to Marseilles and one fine evening invites his friend the creditor [Fecht] to tea, for an appointed hour, and before his arrival attempts to take his life with a revolver. (Let this detail remain between us, as I have been telling everyone that he was wounded in a duel....) The bullet goes... through... near his heart without damaging any vital organ. Luckily, all his addresses were left on top of his things so that this worthy Mr. Fecht could instantly let me know... ... Apart from the 3,000 fr[ancs] which [Konrad] had lost, I had to pay as much again to settle his debts. Had he been my own son, I wouldn't have done it, but... in the case of my beloved sister's son, I had the weakness to act against [my] principles... Nevertheless, I swore that even if I knew that he would shoot himself a second time – there would be no repetition of the same weakness on my part. To some extent, also, I was influenced by considerations of our national honor, so that it should not be said that one of us had exploited the affection, which Konrad undoubtedly enjoyed, of all those with whom he came into contact.... My study of the Individual has convinced me that he is not a bad boy, only one who is extremely sensitive, conceited, reserved, and in addition excitable. In short, I found in him all the defects of the Nałęcz family. He is able and eloquent – he has forgotten nothing of his Polish although, since he left [Kraków], I was the first person he conversed with in his native tongue. He appears to know his profession well and to like it. [He declined Bobrowski's suggestion that he return to Poland, maintaining that he loved his profession.]..." Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 65.
  15. ^ Conrad, who suffered frequent depressions, made great efforts to change his mood; the most important step was to move into another house. His frequent changes of home, according to Najder, were usually signs of a search for psychological regeneration. Najder 2007, p. 419.
  16. ^ Fifteen years earlier, in 1899, Conrad had been greatly upset when the novelist Eliza Orzeszkowa, responding to a misguided article by Wincenty Lutosławski, had expressed views similar to Dłuska's. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, pp. 292–95.
  17. ^ Conrad's enthusiasm for Prus contrasted with his low regard for other Polish novelists of the time, including Eliza Orzeszkowa, Henryk Sienkiewicz and Stefan Żeromski. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007, pp. 463, 403, 454.
  18. ^ Conrad's own letters to his uncle in Ukraine, writes Najder, were destroyed during World War I.
  19. ^ Conrad had sailed in 1887 on the Highland Forest under Captain John McWhir, a 34-year-old Irishman; in Typhoon Conrad gave the same name, with an additional r, to the much older master of the Nan-Shan. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007, p. 114.
  20. ^ Another inspiration for "Amy Foster" likely was an incident in France in 1896 when, as his wife Jessie recalled, Conrad "raved... speaking only in his native tongue and betraying no knowledge of who I might be. For hours I remained by his side watching the feverish glitter of his eyes that seemed fixed on some object outside my vision, and listening to the meaningless phrases and lengthy speeches, not a word of which I could understand.... All that night Joseph Conrad continued to rave in Polish, a habit he kept up every time any illness had him in its grip." Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 227.
  21. ^ The book was Frederick Benton Williams, On Many Seas: The Life and Exploits of a Yankee Sailor (1897). Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, p. 391, note 14.
  22. ^ In Nostromo, echoes can also be heard of Alexandre Dumas' biography of Garibaldi, who had fought in South America. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 330.
  23. ^ Conrad's wife Jessie wrote that, during Conrad's malaria attack on their honeymoon in France in 1896, he "raved... speaking only in his native tongue and betraying no knowledge of who I might be. For hours I remained by his side watching the feverish glitter of his eyes... and listening to the meaningless phrases and lengthy speeches, not a word of which I could understand." Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, pp. 146–47.
  24. ^ Fidanza is an Italian expression for "fidelity".
  25. ^ Conrad's acquaintance George Bernard Shaw says it well: "A man can no more be completely original than a tree can grow out of air." (An essay by Shaw, not immediately identified.)
  26. ^ According to Conrad's relative and Polish translator Aniela Zagórska (who would die in 1943), he pronounced Prus "better than Dickens"—Dickens being a favorite author of Conrad's. Najder, Zdzisław. Conrad under Familial Eyes. p. 215. 
  27. ^ This may have been Conrad's central insight that so enthralled Lady Ottoline Morrell and Bertrand Russell. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007, pp. 447–48.
  28. ^ At this juncture, Conrad attempted to join the U.S. Navy. Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 65.
  29. ^ Still, Conrad retained a fluency in Polish and French that was more than adequate for ordinary purposes. When at a loss for an English expression, he would use a French one or describe a Polish one, and he often spoke and corresponded with Anglophones and others in French; while speaking and corresponding with Poles in Polish. Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 441 et passim.
  30. ^ Some shortcomings of English (which had earlier been noted by writers and scholars including Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster, Melville Dewey and George Bernard Shaw) have been described by linguist Mario Pei: "English spelling is by far the worst, the most inconsistent, of all spellings on earth.... Other defects of English are its uncertain syllabification and unpredictable stress." Mario Pei, The Story of Language, p. 455. The atrocious spelling of English, stems from the language's promiscuous construction from elements of French, Latin and Germanic languages. On the other hand, Conrad's knowledge of French, Latin, German – the root stocks of the English language – and of Polish (since the Middle Ages, much-calqued on Latin) would have been a great assist to him in acquiring the English language (except, notoriously, for its pronunciation). Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, pp. 46–47. Conrad's knowledge of Polish, an essentially phonetic language, would have helped him master French and English spelling, much as Mario Pei's knowledge of Italian gave him an "advantage to be able to memorize the written form of an English word in the phonetic pronunciation that such a written form would have had in my native Italian." Mario Pei, The Story of Language, p. 422. This ability would, of course, by itself have done nothing to ensure Conrad's command of English pronunciation, which remained always strange to Anglophone ears; it is difficult to master the pronunciation of an unfamiliar language after puberty, and Conrad was 20 before he first stepped onto English soil.
  31. ^ Jeffrey Meyers remarks: "[T]he [Nobel] Prize [in literature] usually went to safe mediocrities and Conrad, like most of his great contemporaries... did not win it." Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: A Biography, 1991, p. 355.
  32. ^ Five of Conrad's close friends had accepted knighthoods, and six others would later do so. On the other hand, Rudyard Kipling and John Galsworthy had already declined knighthood. Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: A Biography, 1991, p. 355.
  33. ^ Conrad subtly acknowledged his Polish heritage by using his Nałęcz coat-of-arms as a cover device on an edition of his collected works. Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, p. 551.
  34. ^ The title of Rushdie's Joseph Anton: A Memoir conflates the given names of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov, two of Rushdie's favourite authors. "Meeting Salman Rushdie", BBC, 17 September 2012.

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