THE TWO LIVES OF JOSEPH CONRAD by Leo Gurko

THE TWO LIVES OF JOSEPH CONRAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Two Lives here refer to Conrad the sailor and Conrad the author, but multiple divisions could have been made for the extraordinary range of experiences in his existence. He was born in Poland in 1857, and from 1863-69 he lived in exile with the rest of his family in a Russian prison camp. When he was 16 he joined the French navy and his involvement with the Carlists led to several escapades. When he was 20 he at last went to England and joined the British merchant marine. Then began the series of trips to the Orient and to Africa, which heavily influenced his novels; at the same time Conrad opted for British citizenship, and adopted the English language. He was almost 32 when he began to write his first book, Almayer's Folly, and it took him five years to finish. The events of his life and all the elements of adventure and his personality showed all the introspective concern that characterizes his writing. This might have been a stronger, more readable book if it had concentrated more on straight biographical detail--they are both gripping and revealing. What is primarily offered here is background and some analysis of each of Conrad's stories. As such it is a useful, highly competent concomitant to the English Lit unit on Conrad, which is generally popular with both teachers and students.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1965
Publisher: Crowell