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Book Reviews passages documenting the feud, vividly evoking the emotions and issues of the relationship. Crawford has gathered a volume that eloquently reminds us of Shaw's commitment to the world beyond the theatre, but one that also shows how such concerns led him back to his greatest arena of creativity and insight—the stage. While, as is always the case with a volume of this sort, some essays prove more informative or persuasive than others, each item has merit and offers the reader either new material or a new perspective on the ever-fresh art of this playwright. "Shaw Offstage" in 1989, yes, but sure to return to the footlights next year in Shaw 10. Bruce Henderson Ithaca College Conrad and the Publishing World Cedric Watts. Joseph Conrad: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. ix + 156 pp. $35.00 AT THE OUTSET of his brief study of Conrad's literary career, Cedric Watts states that he wrote this volume to suit the specific guidelines established by the general editor of the series. Thus, his book passes over interesting issues in literary criticism to examine Conrad's intellectual background and his publishing context, and therefore provides an "informed historical reading" of the novelist. In keeping with this policy of factual emphasis, Watts concentrates on matters of publication, serialization, and other conditions under which Conrad labored throughout his literary career. To be sure, Watts understandably chafes at the bit now and again, digressing from the rectilinear course imposed upon him to present salient commentary on Conrad's artistic strategies, and thus preventing the book from becoming a tediously brief history of Conrad's publications. The biographical chapter (consisting of a detailed chronology of Conrad's life and an overview of the financing of his maritime and writing careers) provides an informative starting point, although readers of the monumental biographies by Karl and Najder will find that Watts's commentary generally covers familiar territory. As Watts traces Conrad's early years, he shows how the young sailor's spendthrift tendencies set the pattern for the novelist's series of financial crises, which ended only with the popular acceptance of Chance by the British reading public. As a young sailor, Conrad used his uncle Tadeusz Bobrowski as his "financial safety-net"; when 491 ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 Bobrowski died prior to the publication of Almayer's Folly, Conrad was deprived of a vital source of financial security, yet his extravagances continued. He did, however, eventually find another "safety-net" in J. B. Pinker, the literary agent he hired at the turn of the century. At the opening of his chapter on Conrad's cultural influences, Watts maintains that the novelist attempted to resolve in his early fiction the conflict within himself between his father's revolutionary temperament and his uncle's pragmatic sensibility. (As Conrad matured as a literary artist, he became more conservative, with an emphasis on the value of solidarity gradually replacing the corrosive skepticism that characterizes works such as "Heart of Darkness" and Lord Jim.) Watts offers detailed examples of how much Conrad depended on his reading of Polish authors—specifically Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Sienkiewicz, and Zeromski—to create his own distinctive fiction. From these sources Conrad derived material he later employed in Nostromo, Under Western Eyes, Victory, and numerous short stories. Conrad's debt to French literature is understandably more familiar to English-speaking readers, and Watts gives a concise overview of the novelist's admiration for Flaubert, Maupassant, and Anatole France. Among British writers, Watts singles out Dickens for special attention , paralleling The Secret Agent with Dickensian depictions of London. Occupying 80 pages of text (roughly three-fifths of the book), Watts's chapter on the "Phases in Conrad's Literary Development" presents a chronological narration of the novelist's contacts with the publishing world. Watts chronicles Conrad's dealings with T. Fisher Unwin, his first publisher, which led to his lifelong friendship with Edward Garnett, Unwin's reader. Mounting debts prompted Conrad to seek larger royalties for his fiction, and once again Garnett was the agent of fortune, introducing him to the publishing firm of William Heinemann, which brought out The Nigger of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 491-494
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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