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335 his past into a piece of literature. This process accounts for discrepancies between the facts of his life and what is in his works as well as what is in his letters. Najder suggests that for Conrad the making ot these selves was therapeutic, that literary activity helped to make up what was lacking in his life. And Najder also supplies the results of careful research to demonstrate that this "auto-mythologizing" does no more than to clarify a new element in understanding Conrad's character. Conrad's Polish background undoubtedly held a strong influence on his interest in political matters, a point which Najder clarifies. "Autocracy and War" (19Ub) begins with a statement about Russia's political and governmental limitations and some thoughts on Europe's recent past and its contemporary condition. Conrad saw the Russian state as a monster that crushed its subjects and lacked any historical justification and any prospect for revolutionary development. He considered the formation of a representative government as impossible and foresaw a turn from autocracy to dictatorship. Conrad saw, in fact, Russia as torn by antagonistic trends caused by economic rivalry and commercial selfishness, and he thought that it would be useless for a Russian revolution to seek advice or help from the materialistic, egoistic nations of Europe that were arming themselves for more brutal wars than those of the past. "Autocracy and War" demonstrated that, as Najder puts the matter, Conrad's political values were "national dependence, continuity of traditions, unconstrained development of institutional forms, and the subordination of economic affairs to moral ideas." And Conrad saw no possibility of all his postulates being realized in the foreseeable future. Since the prevailing mood in European politics at this time was optimistic, Conrad's attitude was "quite atypical." Najder's exemplary narration of the events of Conrad's life in strict chronological order supplies a firm sense of what did happen and what did not happen, of exactly what Conrad said, for example, to and about compatriots, a vital matter in the light of the entire complex of loyalty and betrayal which is central to his works. Lacunae remain in Najder's account: we cannot know for sure when and why Conrad came to write; we know that his French and Polish were not at all perfect and not viable choices as literary languages. But now it is possible to start afresh on further studies of Conrad which Najder has made available. Containing a preface and acknowledgements, four maps, a note on genealogical names, genealogies, ample notes, and a generous bibliography, this work provides new life for Joseph Conrad and serves as a major achievement for Zdzislaw Najder. Bruce E. Teets, Emeritus Central Washington University 6. CONRAD'S LETTERS Joseph Conrad. The Col Iected Letters of Joseph Conrad, Vol 1, 1861-1897. Frederick R. Karl and Lawrence Davies, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1983. $39.50 336 This edition, which is to be published in eight volumes, will bring together for the first time all the extant letters of Joseph Conrad. At present the editors have collected well over 3,500 letters, about 1,500 heretofore unpublished. They are written in English, French, and Polish. Professor Karl and Davies have conveniently translated all of those in French. English translations of Polish texts are taken from Halena Carroll's versions in Z. Najder's Conrad's Polish Background (Oxford, 1964). It is regretable that the originals of most of the Polish letters have been lost, particularly those to Conrad's uncle Tadeuz Bobrowski, though the uncle's letters to his nephew are extant. It is from these that we learn of Conrad's life in Marseilles from 1874-1878. Much more information and a better understanding of Conrad's state of mind during those years could have been gained were his letters to Bobrowski available. In his excellent "General Editors Introduction," Karl notes that the traditional three main periods of Conrad's career (Polish background; French and English maritime career; and novelist's achievement) break down in the letters under five main headings: 1. personal exchanges; 2. letters of biographical interest; 3. letters of literary/ historical import; 4. letters pertaining to aesthetic matters...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 335-338
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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