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2¿i5 REVIEWS 1. A CONRAD REPRINT: THE SISTERS Joseph Conrad, The Sisters. With an Introduction by Ford Madox Ford. Edited by Ugo Mursla. Milan: U. Mursla, I968. Distributed by Conradlana Bookshop, Abilene, Tex. $7.50. The Sisters, an uncompleted novel set aside by Joseph Conrad in I896, was published in The Bookman (NY) four years after Its author's death and reprinted in book form by Crosby Galge that same year in a limited edition. Copies of the Galge edition being rare, many of Conrad's admirers, and even some Conrad scholars, have not read this fragment of some eight thousand words. Until now, no other edition of The Sisters has appeared. Sr. Mursla, a Conrad enthusiast and Italian publisher, restores not only the text of The Sisters, but also Ford Madox Ford's introduction, a document that offers a glimpse into Ford's creative intellect, if not Conrad's, because Ford, remarking that Conrad once confided in him an intention to use the theme of Incest, assumes that such was Conrad's aim In The Sisters. Jocelyn Balnes, Conrad's biographer, dismissed Ford's assumption. He pointed out that Ford failed to recognize obvious similarities In character and Incident between The Sisters and The Arrow of Gold. Ford, of course, may have Ignored these resemblances - had he not read The Arrow of Gold he surely had read the "Tremolino " episode In The Mirror of the Sea - and chosen to tell what he as a writer would have done with Conrad's materials. Nearly every word Ford ever wrote Is In some way an enunciation of his own artistic creed, but he Is a most unreliable guide for Conrad's. Although Balnes considered The Sisters to be overwritten, and in his biography of Conrad quoted some passages that, out of context, seem overwrought, the Impression I receive from reading the work Is less a straining for effect, as oftentimes seems to characterize the stories of Tales of Unrest, and more a search for precision of utterance. Ford, Incidentally, claims that the MS revisions suggest such an attempt. Nevertheless, Edward Garnett persuaded Conrad to adopt a simpler style, deriving plots from personal experience and hearsay. Conrad set aside The Sisters to write The Nigger of the "Narcissus." After Nigger, as Conrad's readers know, the novelist's style became less exotic and more precise. Nevertheless, Conrad returned to one of the novels he set aside In the 'nineties. The Rescue. Perhaps he also wrote The Arrow of Gold as an act of contrition for having abandoned The Sisters twenty years before. What did Conrad Intend to do with his material? The center of consciousness In The Sisters Is the Slavic painter Stephen who. It Is made clear, was not Intended to survive to the end of the novel. Rita, of The Arrow of Gold. Is easily recognizable by both name and temperament; so are her uncles, the priest and the fruit wholesaler of the "Tremollno" episode. In the seven chapters of the fragment, no M. George, nor a J. M. K. B., for that matter, emerges. The question of Conrad's Intentions Is unanswerable, and fortunately Ford did not, as Crosby Galge asked him to do, complete The Sisters. 246 Probably, had Conrad finished the work, his artistic career would have taken a different direction from the one It actually took. The reprint of The Sisters is welcome. The book seems physically a part of a more opulent age than ours. It is bound in leather, the top edge gilded and the title stamped in gold, and seems to be printed on hand-made paper. The only defect Is that, with the edition limited to 950 copies, only 15 more copies than the 1928 edn., the Mursla Sisters may become as rare as the Crosby Galge, Book collectors will be reluctant to part with such a beautiful volume. The University of Texas at Arlington John S. Lewis 2. CONRAD: A SON ON HIS FATHER Borys Conrad, My Father: Joseph Conrad. Lond: Calder 4 Boyars, 1970. $4.20. Borys Conrad's book adds little to what is already known of Conrad 's life and career, but it does offer a portrait...


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