Talk:Joseph Conrad

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It will strike anyone who has read more than a smattering of Conrad's works - i.e. the usual material that appears on High School and college syllabuses, which seems to include Heart of Darkness and precious little else - as extremely odd that a section labelled 'Criticism' only includes a commentary on Achebe's opportunistic and facile criticism of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which in itself was based upon a selective reading of HOD and failed, with a myopia almost becoming of one of Conrad's myriad colonial administrators, to consider the broadly satirical and ironic treatment received by Europeans in most of Conrad's novels and short-stories. He also wrote a story of his life.

Is this really the only 'criticism' of Conrad? Are libraries not filled with entire sections of secondary criticism and analysis? Was not Conrad a key figure in the modernist movement of English-language literature?

If, as it normally in these days of the post-1960s apologetic academic world, Achebe's sidenote on Conrad must be wheeled out in a page about such a great and influential author, the section should at least be labelled 'Achebe's Criticism of Conrad', not 'Criticism', as if that were the only thing anyone every said about Conrad, and as if racial commentary were the only feature available for analysis in Conrad's work.

Gunstar hero 17:38, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

It would seem ridiculous, but I invite you to delve into the actual critical literature on Joseph Conrad and see for yourself. Unfortunately, Achebe's racial commentary dominates the field to the point where papers have been written entirely about this state of affairs. siafu 19:15, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

I would not like to offend you by suggesting that what you say is wrong, but one could spend years studying Conrad without even needing to consult Achebe's criticism, based on notions of 'blankness' and the rhetorical device of the 'enigmatic' Africa which were touched upon by many critics prior to the 1970s. Achebe's notion is famous first because it was written by a prominent black author, and secondly because it was so incredibly scathing.
'Race' in its broadest sense is undoubtedly a major Conradian theme, appearing in Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Nigger of the Narcissus, Almayer's Folly and many of Conrad's short stories in large quantities. Again, the debate on this began prior to Achebe and has developed in myriad ways after it. Gender studies in Conrad, for example, have been a topic of major attention in the 1990s. Talking about race in Conrad may not even involve touching on Heart of Darkness, although, admittedly, it has become the most famously 'racial' of Conrad's novels in light of Achebe, making allowance for Narcissus, whose title alone has gained it notoriety.
In illustration of my point consider a search I just performed on the Cambridge University library catalogue online. I am willing to guess that this is among the world's leading academic libraries. In a keyword search for 'Joseph Conrad', none of the first fifty entries were explicitly concerned with race (although I admit that some of the texts offering 'critical response' to Conrad would have dealt somewhere with race). Conrad's narrative style and technique are much more popular topics.
I think what you are saying, in conclusion, is true to an extent: the most 'public' criticism of Conrad is certainly Achebe, and Heart of Darkness is definietly Conrad's most popular novel, thanks in no small measure to the fact that Apocalypse Now was based on it (it's true! Ask younger people how they got around to reading it!). However this is by no means the height of critical debate on Conrad, and Wikipedia - to mount my soap box for a moment - should be providing a more collected and mature assessment than this. 22:49, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
The above entry ^^^ was mine, by the way. I forgot to log in the first time! Gunstar hero 22:50, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Gunstar hero and further suggest that pointing to the fact that "Achebe's racial commentary dominates the field" does not militate against a cry for diversity of subject matter. In my opinion, the academic community is drinking very deeply of the groupthink cup so it should be no surprise they gather around this sole issue. You can't really say: "Groupthink is OK because we all agree it's OK." In addition, the section purports to restate in large part Conrad's own views, which I doubt he ever expressed. These would have to be interpreted from the literature itself and so would be nonfactual and rather questionable. Also, Achebe's comment sounds like outright criticism, whereas there is a vast field of literary criticism out there. By the way, do we criticize Shakespeare for being "pro-monarchy" and therefore anti-democratic? The charge of "racism" is inherently a charge of intentional racism. Guernseykid 07:30, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Someone has taken a rather irresponsible tack on this debate and expanded the "criticism" to include a lot of innuendo and less than precise ideas. A lot of POV. Here it is in its entirety:

Chinua Achebe has argued that Conrad's language and imagery is inescapably racist, perhaps in part due to his first few novels, which show little insight into the natives he describes. Conrad associated 'the wild' with despair, death, savagery, and inhuman acts; nevertheless, in his depiction of London and industrial man he paints a similarly gloomy picture. He uses this symbolism in many of his novels, but most powerfully in Heart of Darkness. In Heart of Darkness Conrad is equates ancient northern Europeans with modern Africans — thereby suggesting that all humans must pass through a similar process of historic development. This thinking is inevitably ethnocentric. It makes specific development of Europe as though it were a universal process, that every culture will and ought to go through. However, one man is not the measure of all things. Therefore, the assessment other civilizations and cultures on the basis of European historical experience - by placing them on a scale of temporal distance vis a vie the European condition does not give any insight into these Others in their own right.

This thinking remains attractive because it imagines Europe as being more 'advanced' than the non-Western world, thereby providing for better, but usually for worse, a fertile ground for legitimating all sorts of Western interventions - racist, imperial - in the name of 'development'. Conrad is deeply ambivalent towards colonial interventions. Conrad's journal from his 1890 trip to Belgian Congo (his experience there formed the basis for the novel) reflects a keen awareness of the frequently brutal treatment of Africans at the hands of white men. In Heart of Darkness, 'savage' Africa is presented as almost attractive and superior to modern European civilization (hence Marlow's dejection on returning to Europe). Conrad seems to imply that what Imperial Rome once did to northern Europe, imperial Europe was doing to the whole world; whether this was a good or a bad thing, remains ambiguous in Conrad's assessment of history. However, Heart of Darkness is thoroughly pervaded by a imagery of wilderness and savagery and a pseudo-evolutionist view of history that Conrad inevitably shares with the racist ideologies of his time. This creates a representation of Africa that tells one nothing about Africa itself, but more about European concerns about it.

What can be said about Heart of Darkness is that, despite its location, it represents European preoccupations and concerns about the colonization of Africa to other Europeans. Africans themselves are but silent objects of discussion. What can be commended about it is that it continues to remind not only Europeans, but others, of the horrors that took place in that time of history.

I'M EDITING THIS DOWN. Guernseykid 03:54, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Here's the new version:

Chinua Achebe has, now famously, argued that Conrad's language and imagery in Heart of Darkness is inescapably racist. {An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"."[1]} In the lecture that formed the basis of the essay, Achebe branded Conrad "A bloody racist" and in the essay he emphasized the implicit and explicit statements of the inferiority of African people to the white explorers. In Heart of Darkness Conrad seems to equate ancient northern Europeans with modern Africans — thereby suggesting that all humans must pass through a similar process of historical development.

From a literary standpoint, Conrad associates 'the wild' with despair, death, savagery, and inhuman acts. Yet, in the novel the brutality is mainly effectuated by Europeans, and in his depiction of London and industrial man he paints a problematic and gloomy picture which offers little alternative. Conrad exhibits primarily a deep ambivalence towards colonial rule. His journal from his 1890 trip to Belgian Congo, which experience formed the basis for the novel, reflects a keen awareness of the frequently brutal treatment of Africans at the hands of white men. Moreover, in Heart of Darkness, 'savage' Africa is presented as often more attractive than, even superior to, modern European civilization (hence Marlow's dejection on returning to Europe). Conrad seems to imply that what Imperial Rome once did to northern Europe, imperial Europe was doing to the whole world; whether this was a good or a bad thing, remains ambiguous in Conrad's assessment of history.

This is an article on the life and literature of an author, not a polemic on racism. Guernseykid 04:38, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

The more I read of this debate, the more it occurs to me that much of this information, with all of its various prejudices and 'POV's, should be placed in the Wikipedia article for 'Heart of Darkness' itself. A lot of what is being said here about what 'Conrad' does in his work, or how 'Conrad' perceives things, is actually discussing Heart of Darkness, and is rather ignorant of anything else Conrad may have written. Until somebody takes the time to write a section on the general development of criticism discussing Conrad, and reads something other than Chinua Achebe or Heart of Darkness, I don't think the section as it stands is very informative at all a propos of the author himself. Gunstar hero 14:19, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I just didn't want to be the one to take the step. It will leave a vacuum that should, thankfully, be filled. Guernseykid 03:18, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Conrad and Racism[edit]

This is a very touchy subject. The section on "Criticism" and accusation that Conrad was a racist does not belong here. In Heart of Darkness Conrad painted a very negative picture of colonialism. Yes, by today's standards his text regarding Africans is most definitely crude, however, this is reflective of the state of affairs at the time -- We should not make insane assumptions about Conrad's character simply because he was honest about how the Africans were treated. If he were to have written the story any differently then it would not accurately reflect history. Was Conrad being derogatory towards Blacks, or was he being derogatory towards Whites? I would say the latter. I think it's quite obvious that his words are aimed to hurt the oppressors, and not the oppressed.

From reading Conrad's stories you can come to a lot of different conclusions -- and I think to avoid conflict on this one it's probably best to not have a section on Conrad being a racist. The old section not only said he was a racist, but also implied that the general consensus is that he was a racist -- This is simply not true -- certainly not in the acedemic circles I am active in. Let's not create false/unprovable truths through mass misinformation and selective presentation of opinions.

In order to label him a racist one would have to possess real proof -- such as letters he sent to friends or family, in which he was openly racist -- do we have these? I don't think so. An essay written which takes words and phrases out of context in order to push a biased agenda does not qualify as proof -- but rather is better qualified as 'opinion'. Can we honestly say that Conrad was a racist based on some guy's opinion? I don't think so.

Does it matter what the critics say? I don't think it does. Let's let people read Conrad's material and come to their own conclusions. Injecting pre-conceived notions in to their minds will only cause them to look for problems that may or may not exist.

So let's just leave this section out, okay? It's misleading and really takes away from an otherwise good article.

--Animus9 22:25 May 19, 2005

The fact of the matter is that the debate regarding Conrad's racism or lack thereof (the section as I wrote was intentionally NPOV on the actual determination) has eclipsed almost all other discussion regarding Heart of Darkness and Conrad as a whole. I suggest for starters that you read Achebe's essay; the version I have linked unfortunately is the "revised" version later toned down by the author (I can't find the original online), but is still the "essay heard round the world". You will also find in there that Achebe did, in fact, cite letters and Conrad's personal journal, the "real proof" you're referring to.
Clearly, labelling Conrad a racist is an opinion. The criticism section does not do that, it simply refers to an ongoing debate and a POV which is labelled as a POV. Failing to mention it is, while not NPOV in itself, clearly omitting important information from the article and more misleading than its inclusion.
Do not mistake me; I'm not myself posessed with the need to interpret Conrad's work exclusively in the light of race relations. However, I have to acknowledge that this is currently the most debated element of the man's work. I myself researched extensively on Heart of Darkness (wrote a thesis on it), and dug into more than forty sources across the whole of the 20th century, and can vouch for the unfortunate fact that the debate is both real and overwhelmingly prevalent. As such, I believe this article needs to include some information on the topic; if you want to work with me on just what that information needs to be, I'm open to discussion. As it stands, I'm going to restore the section in question. siafu 07:40, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Intentionally NPOV? Excuse me, but you have intentionally changed the last statement which clearly labelled him a racist:
"Whether or not Conrad was a racist, however, seems rather clear in that he was; whether or not he was more racist than the average of his time is less clear, and the debate is far from settled."
This certainly was NOT NPOV. It had an agenda, and still does. Calling someone a racist carries with it as much weight as actually being racist. It is not something to toss around lightly.
Achebe's essay is weak. There is NOT adequate proof (in the essay) to claim Conrad was racist. Much of it is based entirely upon readingly deeply into subtle word meanings. The 'real' proof is not real proof at all. It is a couple out of context sentences.
Controversy about whether or not Conrad was racist is mainly popular due to misinformation and ignorance. Wikipedia should not be participating in these shenanigans. The proof is inadequate, therefore the section should not exist. This is not a tabloid for gossip or questionable information. Animus9 8:21 May 20, 2005

It's implicit in the sentence now; I thought you would find it more palatable. It is not a matter of gossip, misinformation and ignorance to say that this is a big deal, because it is. Since 1975, almost every single paper on HoD makes mention of Achebe's essay. Whether or not YOU think Achebe is on to something is up to you, but it is a popular argument; whether or not you want that to be true is also not relevant.
Conrad was a racist. This should surprise no one; he grew up in anti-semitic Poland, and lived in Victorian England. There were relatively few people in either place who were not what we would label in the modern day as "racists". This is widely accepted; the debate centers on whether he was more posessed of these ideas than was average for his time and place. Therefore, the original sentence was not POV, but you labelled the entire thing as misleading, so I changed it to sit better with your objections.

(sorry, but in those times, and many previous ages, there was no so Jewish-friendly countries like Poland. That is why so large amount of Jews decided to live in Poland. Please, belive me, There are fiew contemporary Jewish organizations, who need to prove anti-semitism in Poland to withdraw money from this poor country, and they need that kind of propaganda. I can tell You, most of Jews survive holocaust because of Polish help, help despite of this, if Germans found hided Jews in f.e. basement of polish house, whole polish familly got shut.)

I'm not trying to push an agenda. The fact is that the essay is an incredibly big deal, and as such we need to call it a big deal. The fact is that Conrad thought less of black people than he did of Europeans. I'm willing to not say that explicitly because there are a lot of other similar facts that aren't mentioned, so pointing this one out could be misleading (as you said), and this itself is not a big deal (as mentioned, pretty common for the time). But it's not POV to point these things. I would suggest that if you see this as "gossip" or a "shenanigan" that you do some research; go to an academic library and search under literary criticism for "heart of darkness". The results will bear out the reality of this debate. siafu 16:27, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Nobody is saying the debate doesn't exist. The argument is whether or not it is worth mentioning. Anybody that writes an essay accusing a well known author of being racist is going to create quite a stir -- but the importance of the essay or its convictions should not be based on how big of a stir it creates, but rather whether or not its arguments are valid. I don't think they are valid -- in fact I think the arguments are rather weak. Your point of view is that they are valid -- but you base this mainly upon the fact that people are stirred up about it -- so what? How many people are going to take the stance that the essay is BS? Not very many.. you know why? because they will be accused of being a racist.
I have read the essay, I have read many essays about Heart of Darkness. It seems many of these essays either repeat the same themes or are essentially essays about prior essays. So what? The essay writers are just rehashing the same material and justifying the existence of their arguments based on the fact that all the other essay writers are saying the same.
Let me remind you that these essays are a subjective analysis, and the conclusions drawn have little to do with the reality of Conrad the man. Neither you, nor I knew Conrad personally, so we cannot say he was racist -- and I think you're crossing an awfully blurry line when you start using the popularity of an argument to justify its existence. Let's not forget that "the earth is flat" argument used to be rather popular.
The problem with the Criticisms section is that you can't really be neutral about calling someone a racist. You've reworded the section so that it is more subtle but it is still flawed. You are providing a single POV. Where are the links to the essays arguing against Achebe's essay? How do we know that Achebe's essay is "the single most famous piece of criticism on Joseph Conrad" ...? are there statistics indicating this? or is it only famous because people think it's famous?
The Criticisms section in its current state is flawed. My own personal opinion is that we could save a whole lot of trouble just by removing it and letting people come to their own conclusions, however, in the spirit of compromise I will see if I can come up with something a little more neutral. -- 17:48, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
The essay exists. It should be mentioned; but not at the present length in an article this size which includes relatively little other criticism or political assessment of Conrad. Omitting the contemporary reception of Conrad - as a blow at Belgian and European colonialism - is disingenuous; asserting "Conrad is racist" as fact is POV; as this discussion should prove. Septentrionalis 20:17, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
Right, I don't disagree. Mentioning it is one thing, in fact I intentionally left the essay in the external links when I removed the section. However, in its current state the section gives the reader the wrong impression. --Animus9 17:00, 20 May 2005
Unfortunately, the fact is that Achebe's essay is probably to most influential critical work on Conrad in the last fifty years. It sparked a firestorm of debate, and it's said firestorm that the section refers to. Moving the section is fine, but it seems that I've been fighting an uphill battle here to demonstrate that what is a rather big deal is not just "gossip" or a "shenanigan". I'm not reporting these things because I want them to be true, I wrote the section because the debate is an overwhelming (overwhelmingly stupid) fact. I myself have done a great deal of research on HoD; I don't personally think it's very productive or informative to see Conrad as merely a racist, or his book as related to racial politics.
As to Conrad himself being a racist, this is not the strong claim it's being taken to be in this discussion. Saying Conrad was a racist is to point out that he was at least of the common POV of the era; he was certainly no sort of egalitarian in the modern sense. It would be exceptional for him to have not been a racist, and unfortunately this has given a great deal of ammunition to Achebe and those who support his POV. siafu 23:36, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
"he grew up in anti-semitic Poland" could you explain that please?--Witkacy 20:39, 20 May 2005 (UTC)
I Concur with Witkacy. Anti-semitic Poland? That is an extremely wrong, hurtful and ignorant statement, esp. since Poland had the largest population of Jews and with the most rights. Please do research before making blatantly offensive and wrong statements such as these. --Vegalabs 02:03, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately it's not wrong, and I'm sorry if you find it hurtful. Poland in the 19th century, along with much of Eastern and Central Europe, was the site of a great deal of religious persecution against Jews. Even the pogroms, the most heinous anti-semitic acts perpetrated before the holocaust, found their way into Poland. siafu 12:42, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately it is. First of all, there was no "Poland" on the maps in 19th century. Polish people couldn't perform religious persecutions on anybody, as they themselves were under the oppressive rule of foreign empires at that time (lutheran Prussia and orthodox Russia vs. catholic polish people).

You specifically used the vague phrase "...along with much of Eastern Europe".

This is manipulation - even if not deliberate (which I believe is the case). This is not the right place for discussing European history (no connection to Joseph Conrad). But if I were you, I'd read a bit - starting with the article about pogroms on Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:56, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Pogroms in XIXc. Russian Empire had their origin in russian police actions. Russians supported them to keep busy the labourers, which were revoliting against the low standards of living, and to prevent people from joining polish independence movements(also by finding a common 'enemy'). One more thing, comparing pogroms to holocaust is extremly unfair, just like making Poles a nation of anti-Semites(which they never were). Going back to Korzeniowskis rasism. His views on African nations was much more humanist then the beliefs of an average European. The writer did infact wrote about superiority of Europeans, but also observed the similarities between resident of both continents. Just read carefuly Heart Of Darkness, you'll find it all there. Concluding, I strongly suggest to judge Korzeniowski in the realities of his times.

Also, why exactly are criticisms regarding Heart of Darkness on the general page of Joseph Conrad? Shouldn't these criticisms be within the article for Heart of Darkness itself? --Animus9 22:29, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

"Heart of Darkness" isn't about racism or colonialism, and anyone who thinks so has misunderstood the book. It is about the human "heart of darkness", across all races and cultures. --philhirn 22:04, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

It is naive to read the book and not consider race or colonialism. Kingturtle 08:44, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
That is an interpretation that I disagree very strongly with. While saying that Heart of Darkness was purely about colonialism is crazy, it is also not purely a psychological journey. --Saforrest 18:53, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

-Conrad might have been a bit crude in his depictions of blacks, but, he still had some sympathy to see them as human beings being abused. For a person from a time period where the beliefs of non-white people's were rarely taken into consideration without insult, this is quite an accomplishment. In fact, Joseph Conrad can sometime be regarded as liberal and tolerant compared to writers like, say, Rudyard Kipling.

The fact of the matter is that the debate regarding Conrad's racism or lack thereof ... has eclipsed almost all other discussion regarding Heart of Darkness and Conrad as a whole. >>siafu<< in this section above.
Groupthink! I declare. The more people there are who think the same way we do the more clear it becomes that we are all right and they are all wrong. Nothing like the stinging lash of "racism" to herd people into a cohesive formation of unthinking bovines in a slaughterhouse corral. Life is so much easier if all we have to think about is being on the correct side of the racism debate ... I know I feel better -- and somehow much more free to go about my unrewarding 9 to 5 existence. I'm HAPPY! Welcome to the Brave New World folks, if I may mix my literary references. If Orwell didn't invent Groupthink, he should have. Achebe's criticism has some minor validity, but overall it is superficial and weak and mainly serves to deny the reader the opportunity to read a fine piece of literature from a fresh and unspoiled vantage point.
Get a clue, people! Conrad was attacking the very institutions Achebe so reviled. 08:21, 22 June 2006 (UTC)
Um, don't understand the whole discussion. Surely saying that Conrad is racist by today's standards is like saying that he was also "sexist". It's pretty much a given, since that was the world he lived in. Surely the interesting thing about him is whether, within the context of his time, his views were radical: not whether those views are a perfect match for 1975 / 2006 understandings of "race"?
I'm not a lit crit person and haven't read Achebe's essay, but it sounds like a reaction to a trumpeting of Conrad as anti-racist. Conrad can be both annoyingly racist to a late-C20th reader, and an important challenger of opinion to his intended early C20th audience. And, er, how is any of this news? Come on guys, describe the debate briefly and move on - or I'll fill the damn article with feminist references! JackyR | Talk 23:00, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
You don't understand the discussion-page debate or the discussion in the article itself? If your question is, why do people go on at such length here on the discussion page, the answer is probably that we've all been trained to react compulsively to charges of racism and this is one way of working out the demons. If you want to edit down the treatment in the article go ahead. Read Achebe's essay, though. I don't think there was any notion in 1975 that Conrad was a champion of equality in race relations, nor is there today. At a guess, Achebe may have been disturbed that so many young readers were being exposed to unvarnished "colonial" attitudes without the "benefit" of a modern interpretive lens. It isn't clear to me that he is aware of Conrad's thorough irony in the piece, nor is it clear that he makes a very good case even if everything is taken at face value. "The question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art. My answer is: No it cannot." (Achebe) This is just idiotic, since the novel does not celebrate dehumanization any more than it acts as a cheerleader for race relations. 08:21, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

No they were not inhuman. Well, you know that was the worst of it -- this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped and spun and made horrid faces, but what thrilled you, was just the thought of their humanity -- like yours -- the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. (Achebe quoting HoD)

Yes, indeed, a cheerleader for race relations! Who are you people? The obtuseness apparent in the comments on this discussion page, it is truly phenomenal! I feel as if I've slipped into the 19th century here. Shall we all blather on about "unreasoning" "buck niggers", as per Conrad, to "cheerleader for race relations"? The "prehistory" that is the Negro, is that right?
It was a rhetorical flourish in which Achebe called C a racist; Achebe believed that Conrad's was the "dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination", the norm, but no less morally reprehensible for its normalcy, and no less damaging to living Africans. The point wasn't that Conrad was a bad guy, merely that the fruits of his labors showed signs of decay; that that sort of creepy stupidity and ethnic hostility impairs the text aesthetically.DBaba 21:45, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
That is a quote from Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness. It is not a quote from Conrad and should be taken in the context of the novel as a whole.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:28, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

The Lagoon[edit]

The Lagoon, by Conrad, isn't on Gutenberg; also a Google search for probable keywords didn't return a useful text. There is a link to eBooks@Adelaide ,but it requires another out-of-wikipedia link to get to the story. The Lagoon also has no Wikipedia article and no Wikisource source. I just wanted to note that.

Is it permissable for a user to simply write-out The Lagoon as a text file and upload it? I'm not sure what copyright issues are involved, but as it constitutues Conrad's shortest work it would not really take very long to copy. Gunstar hero 14:22, 2 July 2006 (UTC)


Never mind the racism debate-why is this article so short? This is a piss-poor representation of one of the greatest english-writing novelists ever! He even had an extraordinary life before his writing career. Someone give Conrad his due treatment, as every other author I've looked up on wikipedia gets. Someone besides me that is.

I would agree with your sentiments. The racism debate seems to be fairly irrelevant in the light of the absence of any serious consideration of the continued themes of Conrad's work. Surely this article can be expanded by someone who has studied Conrad to a high level. (not sure how to sign this properly, sorry)

Completely agree with the comments that the article is almost ridiculously short and inadequate for such an important writer. I just finished the huge job of rewriting Henry James up to featured article status, though, so I can see why nobody wants to do a major Conrad rewrite. While we're on Leavis' "great tradition", Jane Austen and George Eliot also need a lot of help. Halfway seriously, maybe we could start a great-tradition collaboration on Wikipedia. Casey Abell 15:27, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Please note that the racism debate refers to a revert war which has been settled for ten months. Septentrionalis 02:30, 9 March 2006 (UTC)


Hi, I would like to add an external link to the World of Biography entry

  • probably the most famous portal of biography to this article. Does anybody have any objections?
Stop hand.png

please do not add this to the article, and please read the incident report before giving the go-ahead. This is spam and not link-worthy under WP:EL; the articles contain many distortions, lack citations, and contain nothing that wouldn't fit directly in the wiki article. a link to worldofbiography has been placed on over 70 talk pages by User:Jameswatt. thanks. --He:ah? 20:57, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Edit Reversion (23 September 2006)[edit]

Tonight reverted Ford Madox Ford (as I had put originally, changed to Maddox). Both names link to the correct article, but Madox is the spelling ... at least it is on the book I'm looking at. I also dropped the definite article from in front of Heart of Darkness, because that's how I've always seen it and it's the way it links to the article. --Sordel 20:36, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Badly vandalised page[edit]

This page used to be pretty good and has obviously been badly vandalised - the current style section for example is just a single word. Looking back through the history there are repeated vandalistic attacks from what look like new fake users. I will try to correct but request vigilance from other editors. Goodness knows why a great novelist of 100 years ago should attract such nonsense. A shame as we have recently pointed to this from the United Kingdom page literature section as one of the great foreign writers working from the UK. MarkThomas 22:10, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Most recent attack seems likely to have come from a young person, possibly a school child studying a Conrad set text - with limited appreciation - and venting disrespect. If repeated from the same DNS there are steps that could be taken, but a bit drastic if this turns out to be a school server, as one suspects. --Balliol 17:21, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Yes, perhaps it's dying down a bit now, thanks for your thoughts Balliol. Shaping up to be a much better page again now - good to see someone of Conrad's stature well represented on Wikipedia again. MarkThomas 19:21, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Conrad's coat of arms[edit]

I notice Logologist has reverted my correction of the coat of arms caption. Respectfully suggest reconsideration as all family arms are hereditary, thus superflous to describe them as such. In fact it would not be possession of arms that caused one to decline a knighthood in such circumstances but what they signify, namely nobility. --Balliol 21:56, 22 October 2006 (UTC

I have now raised this with Prof. A S Ciechanowieki who states that Conrad did not possess a "Polish hereditary knighthood", and that the reason for declining a British knighthood was not due to entitlement to Polish arms. Accordingly I have deleted references to these points. Prof Ciecnowiecki has put me in touch with the leading Conrad authority and biographer, Prof. Zdzislaw Najder for a definitive explanation of the declined British knighthood, which I will add in due course--Balliol 22:26, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

The Polish Wikipedia article, "Joseph Conrad," states his being "of the coat-of-arms, Nałęcz." I have also seen him listed in reference works as "Teodor Józef Konrad Nałęcz-Korzeniowski." If a "herb" (Polish for "coat-of-arms") means anything, then Conrad was certainly entitled to the use (if he so wished) of the Nałęcz coat-of-arms. logologist|Talk 00:20, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Quite so. It is not his entitlement to bear arms which is disputed, but the suggestion of an hereditary knighthood. I have actually not seen this suggestion elsewhere though that may well say more about the limits of my reading. A coat of arms suggests no more than gentle birth, possibily noble but does not, of course, imply an aristocratic or chivalric title. Prof. Ciechanowicki described the arms born by Conrad as essentially being those of a clan.-- Balliol 20:17, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
The "clan" analogy is misleading. "Clan" members, elsewhere, were not necessarily nobles; Polish szlachta members were.
Poland's szlachta (nobility) comprised ten percent of the country's population—a substantially larger proportion than in other countries.
Poland had no native aristocracy. The Radziwiłłs, Lubomirskis and Czartoryskis owed their aristocratic titles to foreign courts.
Every Polish szlachcic (nobleman) was the equal of every other. An impoverished nobleman might live a peasant's life, yet boast a coat-of-arms and—if he could make it to the electoral convention—vote for the next king at the free election.
This being the case, what could motivate Joseph Conrad to accept a nonheritable British knighthood, when he already possessed an ancient Polish coat-of-arms that passed automatically as well to his sons? logologist|Talk 03:37, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Rather than speculate on Conrad's motives I will put the question to Prof. Zdzislaw Najder. I think it will be worth waiting for his answer. --Balliol 17:39, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
Would you consider expanding the article? It's pretty anemic, for an author worthy of a knighthood. logologist|Talk 20:30, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, agree he deserves better. I do have some material of my own and from friends which I will happily add as soon as I have finished the Anthony Powell and A Dance to the Music of Time entries. May need to touch base with the Financial Times and Conrad Society for consents first. There was a suggestion earlier that some good material had been vandalised, the implication being that it had not been fully restored . . . -- Balliol 17:46, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

May I suggest using a reference to solve this? Would we have any reference that having Polish CoA was the reason he declined British? Or is it just our speculation?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  02:37, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Prof. Ciechanowieki believes the knighthood issue is addressed in Najder's forthcoming book, part of the draft of which he has seen. Am pursuing. --Balliol 17:46, 29 October 2006 (UTC)
It's only a guess, but Polish nobility with all its privileges was abolished after WWI when the Second Republic was created. Since then people have used their CoA traditionally, but generally the old titles of their families have no other meaning but the sentimental one. Quite differently to how it is in the UK. So indeed his Polish title might have not been the reason, however, if he was of the same opinion that Polish politicians he might have rejected an English title just in support of democracy.--SylwiaS | talk 01:42, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
I am new to this discussion, but if Conrad declined on the grounds that it was not hereditary, then surely a man of his stature (one of the greatest living novelists of the time) could have intimated that a baronetcy would have been more to his liking, carrying as it does a hereditary title of "Sir" or "Dame"? I would be very interested to hear of his true reasons for declining it. --Harlsbottom 19:03, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Conrad's biographer, Professor Zdzisław Najder, has kindly replied to my enquiry on this question. I quote his conclusions with consent "There could have been various reasons: from his awareness that the British govt. had been much less than friendly to re-born Poland in 1918 and 1920 - to his general reticence in participating in British political life (he never voted in parliamantary elections) and his unwillingness to accept official honours (he refused several honorary doctoral degrees). But to me the simplest and the most likely reason was his awareness that he belonged to a noble family with roots reaching back at least to the XVIth C. He was acutely conscious of having broken the line of patriots serving his home country; accepting the knighthood could have seemed to him as a confirmation of his own desertion."

I feel this vindicates both Logologist's original argument and much of the subsequent debate, and accordingly would suggest that the present wording of the entry might stand. For those interested page 488 of Prof. Najder's biography refers. -- Balliol 15:10, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Emotional Development[edit]

I have added a subsection on Conrad's failed love affair in Mauritius recounted in his novella, The Smile of Fortune. Compared to the present length of the whole Conrad entry this may seem over long; however the intention is to do justice to him by expanding the entire entry. -- Balliol 23:18, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Nice addition—and in no way too long. logologist|Talk 00:56, 5 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your encouragement. I wonder if we might not standardise on UK English following Wiki guidelines, this being a British writer, albeit naturalised (not sure how many of us could negotiate Polish spelling)?
Incidently a distinguished Polish-American academic, Dr S. Klimczuk, has just complimented the entry for its handling of the Polish dimension. Not my doing, but I pass the laurel on. -- Balliol 16:28, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
By all means. Please rectify any UK-English-usage transgressions on my part, inadvertent or otherwise. And again, my compliments on your work with this subject. logologist|Talk 02:38, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Latest additions nicely streamline the entry. Dr Klimczuk suggests that the missing element is a subsection on Conrad's technique and its evolution. Not something I feel qualified to attempt but perhaps Logologist or another contributor would consider undertaking this? --Balliol 20:38, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Excellent subsection on Style, Logolist. The quotations at the conclusion are telling. The entry is greatly strengthened by recent additions, I think -- Balliol 23:30, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

This section needs some rewriting and explanation. What is exactly "the suffering of Alice". Neither cited reference, the story or biography by Naijder, gives any clue. And what foundation is there for claiming a biographical genesis for this story? The vague "Something of his feelings is considered to permeate the recollections of the captain" does not provide any concrete evidence. Who "considers" here and on what basis? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:44, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

Age of learning English?[edit]

I have modified the statement that Conrad did not learn English until he was 21. In 'A Personal Record' he states that his first introduction to the English language was at the age of eight. Perhaps he did not become fully proficient until 21? --Balliol 22:44, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm no Conrad expert, but good call as far as I know - his father Apollo Korzeniowski was an aristocrat and a poet and translator of English and French literature, so presumably from early childhood the young Conrad was immersed in languages including English. MarkThomas 22:03, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Issues with his name[edit]

Which name did he use in British documents? Has he ever changed his name or was Conrad only his pen name? Xx236 14:50, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

According to my sources he has never changed his name to Joseph Conrad. The article suggests he has. Either my sources are wrong or the article is POV. Xx236 16:14, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Where does it imply in the article that he did change his name? Or are you talking about the page name? The page name is using (for the English language edition) the name he is most widely known as in the world, and then correctly giving his full Polish name in the lead section. MarkThomas 16:21, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

In the Polish edition, the corresponding article likewise appears under the same title — "Joseph Conrad." logologist|Talk 05:49, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I mean born Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski. Doesn't it at least suggest that he changed his name? See Mark Twain : Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain. Xx236 09:59, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Are you suggesting that he himself deliberately used the pen-name "Joseph Conrad" and that this should be mentioned in the article? My understanding was that he was just generally known by this anglicisation and therefore that is what he is known as internationally. However, it would agreed be interesting to know if this was foisted on him by the publishers and reluctantly agreed to by him, or positivily agreed. I will go back to my Penguin Classic Conrads and see if there's anything in the notes about it! MarkThomas 10:02, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

The article says that the first part of his name is “Teodor Józef”, but I thought it was “Józef Teodor” (as indeed the audio file of his Polish name shows). Maybe clarification is in order. Firen Drakendorf 16:52, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Polish Wikipedia gives "Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski." You might want to take it up with them. logologist|Talk 00:23, 15 December 2006 (UTC)


Indeed he never changed his name, Joseph Conrad was only his pen-name. His full name was: Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. Nałecz is only a name of coat of arms, it was never used as part of the surname. Jakub_Poplwaski 23:24, 3 January 2009 (CET) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jakub Poplawski (talkcontribs)

Brando did read HoD[edit]

I removed the reference to Marlon Brando being the only star of Apocalypse Now not to read Heart of Darkness, because he did. Eventually. Francis Ford Coppola recalls: "I said, "You said you had read [the book]," and he said, "I lied." He had read it that night and shaved his head the next morning." (see ). Leberquesgue 23:11, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Photo of Joseph Conrad[edit]

Does anyone know why his photo was deleted from the Commons? Surely the copyright would have run out? logologist|Talk 04:45, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I've located and restored Conrad's photograph. If it was deleted from the Commons, it's there now. logologist|Talk 05:58, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Samulili has improvidently deleted the classic photo of Joseph Conrad that used to grace this article. It would be good if a replacement could be found, in lieu of the pen-and-ink sketch that is keeping its place warm for now. Nihil novi 23:39, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

proposed External Link[edit]

I'd like to add a link like:

to the External Links section. This links to a list of Conrad works that you can download to read on a cell phone. I have read quite a few from this site and got a lot of value out being able to read the PD texts away from the PC.

The texts are Public Domain in the US, just like Project Gutenberg, they are packaged with the reader and available under a creative commons licence (share if (attribution, non-commercial, no derivative) ). The site is non-commercial without registration, subscription, or advertising. The texts as packaged together with the reader as a java program that runs on cell phones, this is a way for people to access the authors work that adds to the range in the existing external links (hopefully translating to more reading going on).

I checked WP:EL and the link seems appropriate:

  • What should be linked: '...should link to a site hosting a copy of the work if none of the "Links normally to be avoided" criteria apply.'
  • Links normally to be avoided: it seems only #8 might apply; 'Direct links to documents that require external applications (such as Flash or Java) to view the relevant content...'. The site lets you download java programs that only run on a J2ME environment, this means most/all current cell phones. So although they are limited to being read on a phone they do add an access method to all the others in the existing External Links, in the same way that LibriVox adds a format but requires an mp3 player.

Filomath 08:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Inconsistencies, dates[edit]

"The Secret Sharer" is included in both the novel and the short-story list (with different dates in each), as is "Freya of the Seven Seas." Llajwa 19:18, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

It says in the article he is Polish born but in the side bar that he was born in the Ukraine ??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:55, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Good catches both! I clarified The Secret Sharer as it has a confusing publication history. It looks like some people consider "Freya" a short story and others a novella. I'm unsure if there's a scholarly consensus. As for his birth, also confusing: his family was Polish, but he was born in modern day Ukraine which was then part of the Russian Empire. --JayHenry 22:17, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Deathbed conversion?[edit]

Is there a reference for this: Shortly before his death, he took last rites and asked to be buried as a Roman Catholic, the faith in which he had been raised and which during adulthood he had abandoned for atheism.. From this link it seems like there is no cross or religious references on his grave: 09:58, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

This was a comment by me, I have made myself a wiki user and have removed the text, I think there should be a reference for something like that. Belgianatheist 13:34, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree. I've never seen mention of such an incident. Thank you. Nihil novi 17:15, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Tadeusz Bobrowski[edit]

When I search for a Wikipedia article on Joseph Conrad's maternal uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowski, I get shunted to the article on his nephew, Joseph Conrad. I wanted to write an article on Bobrowski but am unable to because of this weird link. Can anybody clear it, so the "Tadeusz Bobrowski" article can get written? Nihil novi (talk) 00:29, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Problem resolved, Bobrowski article written. Nihil novi (talk) 04:22, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Short story or novella[edit]

I'm wondering how Wikipedia classifies some of his works. For example the article classifies "The End of the Tether" as a short story, but it is longer than either Heart of Darkness or The Nigger of the Narcisus, which are of course rightly called novellas. Likewise The Secret Sharer is classified as a novella, but it is shorter in comparison to many of his "short stories". Any help appreciated. (talk) 00:15, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

The Oxford Reader's Companion to Conrad explicitly classes End of the Tether as a novella - it was written under contract as a serial publication along with two other stories, but was published over six issues of Blackwoods and comes to 55,000 words. The first of the set was Youth, 13,000 words in one issue, and the second was Heart of Darkness, 40,000 words in three issues - I'd definitely argue both the latter count as novellas, and EoT probably slipped through simply due to its general obscurity. Shimgray | talk | 09:02, 10 October 2011 (UTC)


Forgive me if i'm going about this incorrectly, but as this page was vandalised earlier (yes, by the 'Avril Troll'), using what i'm guessing is some kind of injection attack, making it difficult to remove the vandalism, i copied the text from the edit box, cleared the page completely, saved it, then edited it again, this time pasting the copied text back into the edit box, then saved the page again. The vandalism is gone, but i noticed some of the formatting was slightly off. If anybody has a better method of removing these specific vandalisms, i'm all ears...

Thank you.

J. Brandon Loberg (talk) 19:39, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

The issue of Conrad's nationality.[edit]

Shouldn't Conrad be considered as an polish writer, writing in english? As far as I can remember from literature classes, he always was proud of his polishness. He never voted in english elections, he also declined english knighthood in favor of polish. Not to mention the facts, that he wanted to return to Poland in his last years, and finally he insisted to have his real name to be engraved on his resting place. Jakub Poplawski (talk) 23:17, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

Why is there a drawing of T.E. Lawrence on this page?[edit]

A single quote by T.E. Lawrence on Conrad's writing gets him a pen-and-ink image? This seems a bit off-topic, doesn't it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Daisystanton (talkcontribs) 17:08, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

Be bold and remove it.--Commander Keane (talk) 00:49, 24 August 2009 (UTC)


"Nałęcz" was Joseph Conrad's family coat-of-arms, which his family shared with hundreds of other families. It was not strictly part of his name. While "Nałęcz" appears in some sources as if it were part of Joseph Conrad's name, it does not appear so in Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition, 2005, volume 3, p. 547; Encyklopedia powszechna PWN (PWN Universal Encyclopedia), volume 1, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1973, p. 488; Polski słownik biograficzny (Polish Biographical Dictionary), volume XIV, Wrocław, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1968-69, p. 173; or in the Polish Wikipedia, which simply notes that "Nałęcz" was his family coat-of-arms. Nihil novi (talk) 05:17, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

definition - again[edit]

Please do not use political correctness in descibing historical figures. Conrad was a Pole - there never was and I couldn't imagine there ever will be any controversy about it. However, he was and is in the history of literature an English writer. Not a Polish British as stated in the preasmble to the article here. This is nonsense. Please see a an article on this topic on plwiki (and Poles are known for jealously guarding their 'polishness'). 'Polish British writer' is a new terminology. Writer's 'homeland' is the language he/she uses as a tool. Most of the time it is the language of his/her nationality - but not always as is the case with Conrad. yours, --Emanek (talk) 21:23, 3 December 2010 (UTC).

    • One of the main system of categorization of writers in wiki is its language origin (Polish writer, British writer, Russian wreitwer, German writer and so on). It should be stated in the first sentence. It is not his source of notability if and when he become a "British subject'. That could be mentioned later in a a specific section. Conrad's notability stems from being a writer, novelist. And he was an English writer (or British). I just checked other language versions of Wikipedia - almost all describe him as either British or English novelist/writer. What is being done here escapes reason and for what purpose? yours, --Emanek (talk) 07:59, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Nautical language[edit]

From Conrad's "The Mirror of the Sea" (from, at the beginning of chapter VII: "... looking through a newspaper of sound principles, but whose staff will persist in “casting” anchors and going to sea “on” a ship (ough!) ..."

This page too makes Conrad go to sea "on" ships, instead of "in" them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Beautiful article, worthy of its subject[edit]

I am not a fan of Wikipedia generally but whoever wrote this article has done Conrad a good service. The quote from Lawrence is searingly beautiful and apposite; hard to imagine a better summation of Conrad's towering gifts!!!

Thank you anonymous collaborators, very nice to see this gem among all the depressing 15000-word exegeses on television programs, comic books etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:01, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Conrad's coat of arms[edit]

The description of Conrad as 'noble' and the szlachta as 'nobility' is misleading if not downright incorrect. The class were the equivalent in English of the gentry (or in some cases, country gentry) and distinguished from the nobility as such (princes, counts, etc). In England, the equivalent would be the title 'Esquire', rather a far cry from the aristocratic class. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nooc (talkcontribs) 16:06, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

True, Poland had no native aristocracy. But it is not incorrect to term its szlachta "nobility." Nihil novi (talk) 18:50, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

What is the notion of 'nobility' in English? For most it involves a title and is equivalent to the aristocracy. Conrad's origins were considerable more humble than this level, and it is like saying, for the general public, that he was 'from Poland', which does not conjure up the Ukraine. Precision is useful, and cross-cultural accommodations have to be made in order for comment to be useful. In this context, then, I stand by my comment: translating szlachta as aristocrat or noble is not useful, particularly for an American audience, and especially for an English one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:08, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

The Wikipedia article on "gentry" states that "'Gentry' in its widest connotation refers to people of good social position connected to landed estates (see 'Manorialism'), including various ranks of nobility, clerical upper crust and 'gentle' families of long descent who never obtained official right to bear a coat of arms."
Thus it would be misleading to call Poland's szlachta "gentry," since by definition Polish szlachcice did bear coats-of-arms. Nihil novi (talk) 01:14, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Issues With Article[edit]

This article is lacking in many areas compared to other Wikipedia articles.

1. There is no legacy topic. I find it hard to believe that such a large portion is devoted to the question of racism, while the subject of his influence is ignored.

2. Nostromo should be added to the notable works section in the profile. It is considered by many to be his greatest work. I am sure many on Wikipedia would also agree.

3. The page is way to short for such a giant of English literature.

Devote more time to the biography, writing, and legacy of his works. It's really a disgrace to Wikipedia when someone likes Conrad gets such a low quality article.-- (talk) 14:31, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the constructive feedback. Here's an invitation: sign up for a user account and dig in! ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 23:58, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

If someone had a coat of arms, they were definitely considered nobility in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, even if impoverished -- not gentry by any means. Gentry would be store owners.

Conrad the conservative[edit]

There are several problems with the following sentence that has been reintroduced, by an anonymous contributor, into the article's "Politics" section:

In his letters, he [Conrad] voices support for the British Conservative Party[1] and further disparages socialism: "the International Socialist Association are triumphant, and every disreputable ragamuffin in Europe feels that the day of universal brotherhood, despoliation and disorder is coming apace, and nurses daydreams of well-polished pockets amongst the ruin of all that is respectable, venerable and holy."[2]

  1. ^ Peters, John Gerard (2009). A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad. Oxford University Press. p. 111. 
  2. ^ Peters, John Gerard (2009). A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad. Oxford University Press. p. 113. 

In the first place, the Conrad quotation is inaccurately cited:

1. It should be "Associations", in the plural
2. It is not "well-polished" but "well-plenished pockets"

Secondly, the representativeness of this Conrad quotation as an expression of his mature and candid political thought, is questionable. Zdzisław Najder (Joseph Conrad: A Life, 2007, p. 105) notes that Conrad's 19 December 1885 letter from Calcutta, from which the quotation is taken, "seems... obviously 'programmed' by its addressee's [Joseph Spiridion's] views".

Najder further remarks (p. 106) that the 28-year-old first mate's "ignorance of certain contemporary political events is striking: he identifies Joseph Chamberlain with the social democrats, does not know that the First International has been inactive for nine years — what is more he does not even remember its name."

Najder traces Conrad's fear of anarchistic, destructive rabble to "his own experiences with the urban and port mobs he later described with contempt in The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'. Conflicts with the rabble and a decline in the discipline of work among sailors were, it seems, the main reason for the then generally unfavorable attitude of merchant officers towards the incipient trade unions and socialist agitation."

One need hardly be a "conservative" to be concerned about indiscipline, anarchism and destructiveness.

Does John Gerard provide Conrad quotations in support of the assertion that Conrad "voices support for the British Conservative Party"? I would be grateful if you could quote them here, and provide their contexts in the period and in Conrad's vicissitudes. (If they are also cited in Najder's 2007 biography, could you kindly give the beginnings and ends of the quotations, and the page numbers?)

Regards, Nihil novi (talk) 07:13, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Your credibility as an impartial judge on this matter was shot with your shameless attempt to rewrite Najder's words and the omission of information that you found inconvenient. It's obvious where your biases are. The revisions are saved on Wiki, so don't even bother denying them unless you want to have your dishonesty exposed.

Conrad's leanings towards the Conservative Party are documented in the source I provided, which can be found through a google search, John Gerard's A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad. The relevant pages are 111 through 133. I am not going to type out them out in their entirety.

The discrepancies you point out in the quotes from Conrad's letters (Association in the plural, "well-plenished" instead of "well-polished") are, to any sane person, minor. They do not alter the meaning in the slightest.

That the young Conrad might have been misinformed about certain political facts does not prove he did not sincerely cleave to his convictions. Furthermore -- aside from a deepening pessimism and fatalism, the germs of which are already apparent in the above excerpts -- Conrad's Weltanschaaung changed little from that which he held during the 1880s. Najder's suggestion that Conrad's fervid hostility to Socialist and revolutionary doctrines in his letters to Spiridion is tailored to his addressee is ridiculous given the consistency with which Conrad expressed these views. To name one specific example, he politely rebuked his friend R.B. Cunninghame Graham for his Socialism in 1897, which is close to the time when he began writing the novels on which his fame rests. And Najder himself remarks that Conrad even took pride in warning university students not to be inveigled by the Socialists. As the son of a revolutionary, Conrad could sometimes separate the man from the doctrine, but his opposition to the major left-wing doctrines of his time never wavered. He saw the British Empire as a bulwark against these trends.

Najder's argument that Conrad's fear of demagoguery is evidence that he wasn't a conservative indicates that Najder isn't very familiar with conservative thought, because one of the most frequent criticisms of democracy made by conservatives is that it often leads to demagoguery and corruption. He unwittingly makes the case for Conrad's conservatism stronger. As Najder admits -- and which you tendentiously attempted to elide, partisan hack that you are -- the majority of Conrad scholars agree that his politics were fundamentally conservative. Najder represents a minority view and, for the reasons I just pointed out, not a terribly convincing one. I was fair enough to allow his passage to remain since he is nevertheless a credible source, but it must be emphasized that he has no more authority than the numerous respected Conrad scholars who disagree with him.

Deal with it. As with many great writers, Conrad was a conservative on almost all of the major issues of his time and place, allowing for some idiosyncrasies which are characteristic of all thoughtful people regardless of political affiliation.

I am re-adding Conrad's gibes against the Socialists because they illustrate his thoughts on the matter well. I'm sorry if they hit too close to home, but do not delete information that is backed up with reliable sources.

But I am removing the part about "Amy Foster" because this is a subjective interpretation of a fictional work, which cannot be used to determine biographical information about the author. It does not belong on an encyclopedia.

Edward Said[edit]

I'm astonished that there is not even a word about Edward Said's commentary on Conrad in this article. From his first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography, to the end of his life, Said never ceased to engage with Conrad's writings, offering a far more nuanced view than Achebe, who is discussed at length. Does anyone feel competent to add a section on this?

Conrad vs. Konrad[edit]

Throughout the article the spelling of his name changes, sometimes between successive paragraphs. Since searching for "Joseph Konrad" does not work, I suggest changing all of the instances of "Konrad" to "Conrad", except where they relate directly to Polish.

To everyone who has entered "Konrad": any arguments against this change? (talk) 13:16, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

I agree with the suggestion, which seems very sensible. I've been making a few such changes myself. :-) Vacarme (talk) 13:30, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
Polish family and friends called him "Konrad" (not "Józef"—the Polish for "Joseph"—his actual first name). It would make sense to switch from the Polish version to the English ("Conrad") at the point in his expatriate life when he himself did. References to that change appear in the article's text. Nihil novi (talk) 03:39, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
I think a single indication in the first line that Konrad was his birth name will suffice. For the rest, and for consistency, the use of Conrad is appropriate. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 02:08, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Article needs splitting?[edit]

This article is getting very long (and is now even listed in Special:Longpages). I suggest that one of the sections, probably Merchant Navy, is split into a separate article. Vacarme (talk) 07:42, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

What would be the purpose of separating out Conrad's merchant-marine career? It is now covered in some detail because Conrad biographies and autobiographies have been rife with mythologizing and self-mythologizing. The reader who is not interested in Conrad's merchant-marine career can skip those parts. The reader who wants to have a more complete understanding of his background can read them. Separating out a substantial part of the man's life is like cutting out an appreciable part of his body. I really see no benefit to the proposal. Nihil novi (talk) 02:29, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I've been watching this article balloon over the last several months with some alarm. As seen here it now stands at 170 KB & 25,148 words. Article size guidelines say " > 100 kB: almost certainly should be divided". It certainly has attention span issues. So it needs to be reduced somewhere and I think this section is as good a candidate as any. Splitting is better than deleting. If the reader wants more on the merchant-marine stuff it will be one click away. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 16:11, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
By the "attention-span" argument, no one should ever produce a story, musical composition, film or work of scholarship that cannot be taken in at one brief sitting: no novels, symphonies, feature films, or scholarly monographs. Perhaps we should give Wikipedia's readers a bit more credit than that. Nihil novi (talk) 07:37, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
That's going far afield of what we are talking about here. This is an encyclopedia which, by its very nature, is a tertiary source, summary in nature. Having the option of getting into more detail on a sub-page is actually an advance on traditional encyclopedia's like Brittanica. I like this ability. Don't you? Have you read WP:DETAIL? It might provide some insight on why this article may need to be split. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 00:46, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Alcmaeonid, you may recall a reader's remarks above ("Issues with article", 22 July 2011): "The ["Joseph Conrad"] page is way to[o] short for such a giant of English literature.... It's really a disgrace... when someone like Conrad gets such a low-quality article."
You invited that reader to help expand the article.
It has since been expanded — too much so, it appears, for your taste.
My concern is lest, through careless abridgment, the present moderately detailed portrait of Conrad be turned into a caricature.
A sometimes undervalued Wikipedia policy is "Ignore all rules". Including rules of article length. Nihil novi (talk) 05:10, 18 October 2012 (UTC)
Ok it's not fair to say that this has anything to do with my personal taste. I'm assuming you've read the links I inserted above and I hope you realize that what we're talking about is the very real issue of article readability. Conrad admirers like you and I can't get enough detail. Unfortunately the average reader (our litmus test) can easily become overwhelmed by it and simply give up very quickly. Remember we're not talking about elimination but organization of material. And that to suit the different kinds of reader. It's very well laid out under the WP:DETAIL guidance, in particular the third bullet that says "some readers need a lot of details on one or more aspects of the topic (links to full-sized separate articles)." You've done a lot of good work here. Congratulations and thanks! I'm hoping you will come to understand that your work will actually reach more people if it is organized in a more functional way. Nobody wants a "careless abridgment"! This article should be nominated for the peer review/GA track very soon. One of the first concerns will surely be its size. Please take this into consideration. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk)

The point of separating out Conrad's merchant-marine career (but still leaving a short summary) is to make the article more readable, as per Wiki good practice; the article is simply too long. As for "cutting out" part of his life, having a separate article on the Merchant Navy is no different to having separate articles on each of his books, as is currently the case. In fact, if the merchant navy section were separated out, there could then be more discussion about his books in the main article, which is probably the subject that interests most readers. Also, a new 'Conrad in the merchant navy' article would presumably be the place to discuss the "mythologizing and self-mythologizing" to which you refer. Vacarme (talk) 21:33, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

It is common practice to provide a separate article on an artist's book, musical composition or film. It does not appear to be common practice to excise an important part of the biography that conditioned the individual's work.
Wikipedia has an article of comparable length about a person whom Conrad admired, Józef Piłsudski. So far no one seems to have suggested separating out the sections on Piłsudski's early life, his role in World War I, his role in the Polish-Soviet War, or his post-May 1926 Coup d'État political career, leaving only simplistic summaries in their place. Nihil novi (talk) 07:27, 17 October 2012 (UTC)
I think Nihil novi that you have become rather too 'attached' to this article and are no longer being objective. This is a wikipedia article not an abridged version of Najder's biography (from which you have copied large amounts of text). The fact remains that the article is now too long and according to wiki policy it should be split. Clearly you disagree so let's wait and see what other editors think. Vacarme (talk) 22:46, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

It seems to me that there would be much improvement if Wikipedia were able to divide single articles over multiple pages, but they were still considered a single article. Real encyclopedias have very long articles when the topic warrants it. Wikipedia is basically not allowed to do that, and it's stupid. john k (talk) 20:27, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

Polish or British?[edit]

Conrad wasn't "of Polish descent". Someone who's great grandparents were Polish is "of Polish descent". Conrad was simply Polish - but he chose to write in English (same way I do). Describing Conrad as a Polish author who wrote in English follows basic common sense as well as established Wikipedia practice (see James Joyce etc - as mentioned by Nihil Novi).

Same goes for Nabakov and his "Russian-ness" btw. More generally I really don't see a point on insisting on this and creating drama of something which is so well established.

Finally, threatening editors in edit summaries and referring to their edits as "vandalism" is not likely to help resolve a disagreement. Volunteer Marek  06:20, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Conrad became a British citizen in 1886. I have provided a reference in the article. Futasoku (talk) 06:34, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Nobody's disputing that - but it's irrelevant here. He was Polish. We're talking about his ethnicity not his citizenship, unless you think that between 1795 and 1914 "Polish people" simply didn't exist. Volunteer Marek  06:38, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
It's a fact that Conrad was naturalized in the UK. And Wikipedia should contain this fact. There's no point in trying to hide it. Futasoku (talk) 06:42, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict). One more time. Nobody's disputing the fact that he was naturalized. The article already contains that fact. Nobody's "trying to hide it". But that's not what you are trying to do. You are simply removing the fact that he was Polish from the article, which is, frankly, strange.
Here's some sources, there is oodles and oodles more:
"Polish author's command of English"
"Polish author Joseph Conrad"
"Polish author of novels with nautical themes"
"Polish author who advanced the art of English literature"
The original language in the article: was a Polish novelist who wrote in English, after settling in England, describes succinctly and accurately the issue with his Polish--ness and English-ness and it certainly doesn't "hide" anything. There's no need to change it nor is there a need to try and remove the fact that he was Polish.
 Volunteer Marek  06:50, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Sorry for iterating, but It's a FACT that Conrad was naturalized in the UK. And Wikipedia should contain this fact. There's no point in trying to hide it. Other sources can be misled, possibly by this Wikipedia page on him which is constantly manipulated by User:Volunteer Marek and User:Nihil novi both of whom are closely interested in Poland or Poles themselves, which can lead to bias. They might be the same person as well. Futasoku (talk) 02:03, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
About Conrad's 1886 British naturalization, please read the article's "Citizenship" section:
"Conrad was a Russian citizen, having been born in Ukraine, in the Russian part of what had once been the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In December 1867, with the Russian government's permission, his father Apollo had taken him to the Austrian part of the former Commonwealth, which enjoyed considerable internal freedom and a degree of self-government. After the father's death, Conrad's uncle Bobrowski had attempted to secure Austrian citizenship for him — to no avail, probably because Conrad had not received permission from Russian authorities to remain abroad permanently and had not been released from Russian subjection. Conrad could not return to Ukraine, in the Russian Empire — he would have been liable to many years' military service and, as the son of political exiles, to harassment.
"In a letter of 9 August 1877, Conrad's uncle Bobrowski broached two important subjects: the desirability of Conrad's naturalization abroad (tantamount to release from Russian subjection) and Conrad's plans to join the British merchant marine. "[D]o you speak English?... I never wished you to become naturalized in France, mainly because of the compulsory military service... I thought, however, of your getting naturalized in Switzerland..." In his next letter, Bobrowski supported Conrad's idea of seeking citizenship of the United States or of "one of the more important Southern Republics."
"Eventually Conrad would make his home in England. On 2 July 1886 he applied for British nationality, which was granted on 19 August 1886. However, having become a subject of Queen Victoria, Conrad had not ceased to be a subject of Tsar Alexander III. To achieve the latter, he had to make many visits to the Russian Embassy in London and politely reiterate his request. He would later recall the Embassy's home at Belgrave Square in his novel The Secret Agent. Finally, on 2 April 1889, the Russian Ministry of Home Affairs released "the son of a Polish man of letters, captain of the British merchant marine" from the status of Russian subject."
As you can see, contrary to your statement, Conrad's application for, and receipt of, British nationality is discussed in the article. You would save everyone, yourself included, cosiderable time if you actually read the article before making wild assertions. Nihil novi (talk) 04:53, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

I don't feel strongly either way on this issue, but 'Polish novelist who wrote in English' sounds more appropriate to me. Also, for what it's worth, I think most people reading the This Day in History reference (just added), which says Conrad was born in Poland and his father was a "Polish poet and patriot", will probably say to themselves, "oh, so Conrad was Polish really". Vacarme (talk) 07:02, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

This issue was also raised several years ago (see Talk:Joseph_Conrad#The_issue_of_Conrad.27s_nationality.) and supports what is/was the original ('Polish novelist who wrote in English') wording. Vacarme (talk) 11:46, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I think there is a legitimate confusion here re: the phrase "Polish novelist". I may be wrong, but the bibliography shows that he wrote no novels in Polish. The implication as it now stands is that he wrote novels in Polish then switched over to English, much the same way as Nabokov did in Russian. His nationality, of course, needs to be (and is) established as Polish. But it needs to be clarified with more precise language re: his "novelist" identity. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 14:47, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I think the "who wrote in English" part covers that. We could change it to "author", per sources above, if you think that'd be better. Volunteer Marek  14:54, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't recall George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce or Samuel Beckett having written in Gaelic, yet each — though he wrote his plays, novels or poems in English — is described by Wikipedia as an "Irish" writer. By that logic, Conrad is a "Polish" writer. Nihil novi (talk) 15:25, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
That's different. They predominantly lived in Ireland, writing works in the English language, which is the predominant language of the country. Don't try to mislead others or mitigate. Conrad did not live in Poland most of the time and he didn't wrote in Polish. He mainly wrote in English. Futasoku (talk) 02:08, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
You're wrong again. These 3 Irish writers who wrote in English, famously spent little of their lives in Ireland. George Bernard Shaw lived in England 1876-1950 — the last 74 of his 94 years. James Joyce lived in Trieste, Zurich and Paris 1904-41 — the last 37 of his 58 years. Samuel Beckett (writing in English and French) lived in France 1927-30 and 1939-89 — 53 of his 83 years. Nihil novi (talk) 05:55, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
And Beckett's most important works were originally written in French (Waiting for Godot, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, Endgame). john k (talk) 14:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
Sorry for being emotional. But Wikipedia isn't your blog. By your logic, all immigrants who are listed on Wikipedia should be listed as a national of the country they left, not the one they chose to come and live in. For example, Sergey Brin would be a Russian entrepreneur, not an American entrepreneur by your logic. I understand that you want to give people the impression that Conrad was a Pole, you can't change the history. He became a British citizen. That is what happened and Wikipedia should list it as an encyclopedia. Even if you love Poland and it's people, Wikipedia isn't the place for it. It should be clarified in the head of the article just as articles of other people who were immigrants. Conrad himself chose to become British and he died British. Try to respect his own will. Futasoku (talk) 23:38, 25 October 2012 (UTC)
Conrad never ceased being Polish. If you read his Wikipedia biography, you will discover that one of the things that drove him out of his homeland was the same thing that prompted him to apply for British citizenship: the need to free himself of his Russian citizenship, which made him liable to Russian military service and prevented him from visiting his native land. Even his tombstone provides evidence of Conrad's Polish self-identification usque ad finem. Nihil novi (talk) 00:02, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
What you claim about him is unsupported. Then why did he write in English language? Original research is forbidden on Wikipedia. WP:NOR Please provide references to your claim. Not just vague 'read his biography on the page we are editing'. Futasoku (talk) 01:57, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
"What [I] claim" is supported. Please see the extensive quotation from the article's "Citizenship" section, above, and also the article's "Death" section. Nihil novi (talk) 05:12, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
I fail to see exactly which part of that sections supports you claim. Stop trying to be elusive. Even if you provide the reference, it is a fact that Conrad later became a British citizen. And it had been an important factor in his life. Thus Wikipedia should incorporate it. He wrote in English, NOT' Polish. He is regarded as one of the prominent writers of the English literature, not Polish literature. Futasoku (talk) 07:43, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

All this stuff about naturalization and citizenship is beside the point. "Polish author writing in English" is the most accurate and succinct way of describing him, AND it is supported by sources.  Volunteer Marek  05:26, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

No. It is obviously that you and Nihil novi are Poles themselves or interested in Poland. Anyone can see that by going through your user contributions pages. It is obvious you are biased. If you should list Conrad as a Pole, then every article of immigrants on the English Wikipedia should be fixed as well. Sergey Brin would be a Russian entrepreneur, Jeremy Lin would be a Chinese basketball player, Isabel Allende would be a Chilean writer, etc. I understand that you want people to believe that Conrad was a Pole just like you two, but you cannot change a fact. Joseph Conrad became a British citizen. And it played a great role in his life and work. Thus it should be noted at the head of the article. That's my point. Wikipedia isn't your personal homepage. Futasoku (talk) 07:43, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
It isn't your homepage either, which is why the ignorant alterations you have tried to make have been reverted. Funnily enough, Conrad himself was also acutely "interested in Poland" for tragic reasons you apparently aren't aware of. He never relinquished his Polish identity:

And please let me add, dear Sir (for you may still be hearing this and that said of me), that I have in no way disavowed either my nationality or the name we share for the sake of success. It is widely known that I am a Pole...

— Letter, 14 February 1901
He would have been very shocked and angered by the erasures which you have tried to impose. Xanthoxyl < 12:56, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
Even if he said so, it is a fact that he acquired the British citizenship. It is a fact thus is a part of history regarding this individual. Futasoku (talk) 00:15, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
You're suffering from a bad case of WP:IDIDN'THEARTHAT. For the fourth time: no one is denying that he acquired British citizenship. No one is trying to remove that from the article. That is not the issue and by now you know this very well. It is irrelevant. Stop it. Volunteer Marek  02:20, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

There's a biography of Conrad here that gives some interesting and useful information about Conrad writing in Polish, some of which could usefully be added to the this article. I quite like the "Polish noble, English writer" description at the start, which finds an echo in Russell's "aristocratic Polish gentleman to his fingertips". Reading the biography (and I'm not Polish by the way), I think it's clear that Conrad's 'Britishness' was really incidental to his life. Vacarme (talk) 09:15, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Incidental seems too strong. john k (talk) 14:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

What a silly debate. Wouldn't Polish-British or Polish-born British be fine with everyone? Zloyvolsheb (talk) 21:45, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

This is his entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Joseph Conrad, original name Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (born Dec. 3, 1857, Berdichev, Ukraine, Russian Empire [now Berdychiv, Ukraine]—died Aug. 3, 1924, Canterbury, Kent, Eng.), English novelist and short-story writer of Polish descent, whose works include the novels Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), and The Secret Agent (1907) and the short story “Heart of Darkness” (1902).

I think something along these lines would do well. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 23:06, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
What Zloyvolsheb said below, and let me add that I already presented several sources above which explicitly refer to him as a Polish author. Volunteer Marek  02:20, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
Okay, but I am sure that Polish encyclopedias define Conrad as more than just a "British writer." He was not merely of Polish descent; he was a Pole who wrote in English but did not even master the English language until reaching maturity, which is a fact that literary critics consistently point out. Would you agree with beginning the article by saying that Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer? Zloyvolsheb (talk) 00:23, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
Please, Polish Wikipedians. Don't try to manipulate the contents of the article according to your will. Wikipedia should contains facts, not biased opinions. The Japanese Wikipedia lists him as a British writer who had Polish ancestry. I understand your (Poles) love and affection for this great writer, but that does not mean that you can keep him within the border of Poland. History should be written down. That's the case here. Futasoku (talk) 00:25, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
Please do not play the ethnic card. Not everyone who disagrees with you is therefore a Polish nationalist, and we do not happen to know which editor is Polish, which editor is English, and who is Japanese or a Japanese Anglophile. If Conrad wasn't Polish before he became a British citizen, he would have been Russian or Ukrainian. That's pretty ridiculous, and every Conrad specialist identifies him as being a Pole born in the Russian Empire. The fact that he was born a Russian subject in what was then Russia and is now Ukraine is irrelevant per WP:OPENPARA, whereas his Polish origin is universally considered an important aspect of his biography. If you object to "Polish-British writer [who wrote in English, etc.]", please explain why this concise formulation is unnacceptable for the introduction, so that everyone can understand that and try to move forward from a constructive point. Zloyvolsheb (talk) 00:55, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
One of the editors identified himself as a Pole. Anyway, I just need to list the fact that he later became a British citizen at the head of the article. It's all about consistency. He was a immigrant. He was never a Polish national and later became a British citizen. That's why I keep insisting on the expression a British novelist of Polish ancestry. This is the least misleading description of his identity. If you list him as a British, you are ignoring the fact that his father was a Pole. But if you list him as Polish, it can give an impression that he was a national of Poland, which didn't even exist by the time. I'm trying to list the fact in a clear way. That's all. Futasoku (talk) 02:38, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
One of the editors identified himself as a Pole. - the point is that the ethnicity of the editors is irrelevant to the discussion nor has it any bearing on the validity of the arguments. Saying "you only think this because you are Polish" is the same as telling someone "you only think this because you're Black". On the talk page for Langston Hughes or something. It's a form of prejudice. Volunteer Marek  02:48, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
I'd be fine with "Polish-British writer who wrote in English" etc. though I see nothing wrong with the original "Polish writer who wrote in English". Volunteer Marek  02:20, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

I think that "Joseph Conrad... was a Polish author who wrote in English, after settling in England" satisfactorily addresses all the concerns. Nihil novi (talk) 04:34, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

How about "….was a Polish author who wrote in English, after settling in England. He was granted British nationality in 1886 but always considered himself a Pole." Everybody happy? Vacarme (talk) 07:55, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Nihil novi (talk) 08:07, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
It seems to me this whole dispute is a confusion over the words used for language vs. ethnicity. In this context "English" means language not citizenship or ethnicity. The word "author" or "novelist" should be qualified by what language he wrote in. Then his ethnicity should be identified. Just as the EB did it above. I'm sure they encountered this same problem when they sat down to write their lede. "English writer of Polish ethnicity" is the essence of what we're trying to get at here. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 13:59, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
"Of Polish descent," as Britannica uses, seems bad to me. Dan Rostenkowski was of Polish descent. Conrad was actually born and grew up in Poland - "of Polish descent" implies less of a connection than there actually was. "Of Polish ethnicity" is a bit better, but still, I think, implies that he was from England and only ethnically Polish. I'm not sure what the best way to put it is "a Polish novelist writing in English who became a naturalized British citizen" might be clearest. john k (talk) 14:13, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

I'm fine with either Vacarme's or John K's formulation and I agree strongly with John K that the phrasing "of Polish descent" or "of Polish ancestry" implies that only his parents or grandparents were Polish, while he himself wasn't, which would be incorrect. Volunteer Marek  16:40, 27 October 2012 (UTC)

Okay. I'm fine with the current description which states his British nationality in the first (head) paragraph of the article. Futasoku (talk) 06:31, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

An aristocrat born to Polish parents in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), speaking mostly French and especially reading most of the literature in French, can choose to be whoever he wants to be (an Englishman, a Pole, or a Frenchman). He was an English writer (writer in English -- only), one of the greatest. He was a British citizen for most of his life, and worked on British ships. He chose to be an English writer. He might have had some strong feelings toward Poland, but he was British -- a person is technically whatever their nationality is, in most cases, or whichever nationality they want to be identified with. Conrad never wrote in Polish, changed his name to an English one, married an English woman, almost never mentioned Poland in his books, his children did not speak Polish. All those apologizes were most likely just to calm down some of his relatives. There is no evidence that he wanted to be called a Polish writer. He did not even want to be called a Slavic writer, but rather a European, or an English writer. This article is very inaccurate. This one of the greatest writers in the English language is being accused of so many untrue things and baseless flaws. "It was impractical to write in English" (who cares -- he loved English), He is accused of racism, conservatism, not portraying the Jews accurately, and many other absurd things, which are simply products of some critics' imagination and have nothing to do with Conrad's life, the research based exclusively on text (novels, letters). Conrad loved writing in English -- no-one would be able to write like him in a language emotionally neutral. I think this article should be redone -- most of it. As to nationality again -- a person's whatever their nationality is, not where they were born, or whatever they consider themselves. - Comment byUser:LynnBow(moved and sig added by VM)

I am don't think he is wrong at all. Conrad is considered a British, or an English novelist by most of the serious sources, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, and most other sources -- except some Polish research mostly done during the communist era.(even if done abroad -- with some unfathomably intension to portray Conrad as Polish writer, which he was not. There is nothing about his identification with Poland as the only country he would like to be identified with in his works. As to Nabokov -- he also wrote in Russian -- quite successful pieces, maybe even better than in English. I am not sure what he wanted to be called -- probably a Russian-American writer. - Comment by IP (moved by VM)

The very first thing that the article claims about the subject is essentially that his British citizenship is a technicality. It's mentioned that he acquired it and that's immediately followed with a "but". Even if true this is surely something that should be fleshed out in the body of the article; in the lead it is surely undue weight on the point. At issue is how the majority of quality sources would introduce the subject. On that count "Polish-born English", or "Polish-British" or a variant thereof is quite common whereas many uses of "Polish author" alone appear to be tied to to this Wikipedia article's use of that styling. Encyclopedia Britannica's rendering is far more encyclopedic. One reason why citations in the lead are not generally encouraged is because it normally should not be necessary to make such contentious claims in the lead that a citation is required. Could the current reading stand unchallenged without a citation? No. That should be a flag that a less contentious phrasing is needed.--Brian Dell (talk) 08:46, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the "but" is highlighting a potentially contentious issue at the outset, but I think it's absolutely necessary because the matter of his ethnicity and/or nationality is a contentious subject, not just in this wiki article but in many of those "quality sources". For example, take Leavis (included in the Encyclopedia Britannica Bibliography) who of course regards Conrad as one of the very great English novelists (in The Great Tradition) and who says, "we have to stress his foreignness – that he was a Pole". Or Ian Watt who writes that "Conrad once insisted to Edward Garnett that he must be understood not as a Slav, but as a Pole." Or Geoffrey Harpham who argues that "the force with which Poland determines Conrad's work is directly proportional to its literal nonappearance within it". Or Richard Curle's " no more completely English in his art than he is in his nationality". Or Virginia Woolf: "Mr Conrad is a Pole: which sets him apart". And so on. Therefore being Polish was undeniably intrinsic to Conrad's character regardless of his nationality, something that "British novelist of Polish descent" or a similar label, utterly fails to reflect. I agree that the opening sentences could perhaps be phrased even more neutrally. "Polish-born English author …" is perhaps a less contentious formulation. Vacarme (talk) 12:18, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
The quotations you cite above strike me as very insightful. Would you consider placing them in the article's "The man" section, perhaps in a "Nationality" subsection following the "Politics" subsection? Nihil novi (talk) 21:51, 12 January 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. I'll see what I do. Vacarme (talk) 11:36, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Joseph Conrad Library[edit]

Where is the Joseph Conrad Library, as mentioned in the following book? Is it at POSK in Hammersmith? Eccentric London by Benedict Le Vay (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:28, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

The POSK library has a Joseph Conrad collection so almost certainly yes. Vacarme (talk) 18:03, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Saunders correspondence[edit]

I've just started an article (User:Doug butler/A. T. Saunders, or later A. T. Saunders) on the South Australian amateur historian Alan Thomas Saunders which may be of interest. He had some correspondence with Conrad, one letter from Conrad is quoted in the article as transcribed from a newspaper article. Any aditional information, corrections etc. would be welcomed. Doug butler (talk) 15:13, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

B-class review[edit]

Failed for WPPOLAND due to insuffient inline citations. Thhat said, the article is not far off B-class, and GA would be a reasonable option after some fixes. I'll probably get around to working on this article in the next, oh, two or so years. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 07:29, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Conrad did not introduce a tragic sensibility into English literature[edit]

I've deleted "tragic" from the claim that Conrad brought a new "non-English tragic sensibility into English literature." The claim makes no sense. English literature was not wanting for tragic sensibility before Conrad - King Lear, anyone? - and his older contemporary Hardy was nothing if not (1) English and (2) tragic in sensibility. --Tbanderson (talk) 16:03, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Aniela Zagórska and Karola Zagórska[edit]

The article has this image:

Conrad; Aniela Zagórska (left), Karola Zagórska, Conrad's nieces. Aniela translated Conrad into Polish.

The Polish language pl:Aniela Zagórska article also has this image and identifies the subjects from left to right as Aniela Zagórska, Karola Zagórska, and Joseph Conrad.

The problem is the image description on WP:COMMONS is "Polish-British writer Joseph Conrad and two unidentified women". The image source is the New York Public Library Archives which has:

  • Image 483470 is the one we currently have on WP:COMMONS. It's title is "J. Conrad (with family members?)".
  • Image 483469 is similar and is titled "Joseph Conrad (with family members?)"

I have updated image caption in this article to be "Joseph Conrad and two unidentified women".

Semi related is the New York Public Library has this gallery of Joseph Conrad images. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:50, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your interest in Joseph Conrad.
Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, Rochester, New York, Camden House, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57113-347-2, has a 32-page album of photos, between pp. 360 and 361, including one of "Conrad with Aniela Zagórska (daughter)", one of "Joseph Conrad and Karola Zagórska", and one of "Joseph Conrad and Karola Zagórska at Oswalds, 1923". The two sisters are obviously identical with the two "unidentified women" in the New York Public Library Archives photo that appears in our Conrad article. Najder's photo collection also includes a photo of "Aniela Zagórska [mother] with daughters Aniela and Karola"; even at their tender ages, the two daughters are clearly recognizable as the same two sisters.
I am restoring the identities of Conrad's two nieces.
Nihil novi (talk) 03:10, 14 November 2014 (UTC)
I have updated the image description on Commons. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:54, 15 June 2015 (UTC)


I will soon try to improve this article using the Conrad entry in the Polski Slownik Biograficzny published in Tome XIV (1968-1969); unfortunately it is rather short (4 pages). On the bright side, the entry was written by Zdzisław Najder who seems to be an expert on Condrad (Zdzisław_Najder#Conrad_scholarship). I would assume that his Joseph Conrad: a life would be the ultimate source text for this article. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:59, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

Najder's Joseph Conrad: A Life (2007), which has provided much—but by no means all—of the material for our Wikipedia article, followed by 4 decades his Conrad entry in PSB vol. XIV (1968–69). The PSB entry is thus not the newest source on Conrad, but you may still, perhaps, find of interest Najder's comment (p. 174) that "Most [Conrad] scholars agree in finding, in a guilt over having left his country and over writing in a foreign language, one of the hidden motors of Conrad's creative work."
Also (in the same PSB entry, p. 175):

Conrad was, after Dostoyevsky [whom Conrad loathed, as he did all Russian authors except for Turgenev], the European writer who was the most deeply concerned with moral norms and with the crisis of their value in the contemporary world. Pride of place in his oeuvre is held by social-moral questions conceived in categories of responsibility, duty and fidelity, and also by the divide between the world of man and the world of nature. Conrad's typical hero is a lonely, often alienated individual who is subjected to a test of his convictions and strength of will. Conrad adopted the concept of such an individual, and of the moral question, partly from Polish Romantic literature. Hence Conrad's understandable influence on Poland's young generation, especially during World War II and the Warsaw Uprising. The artistic structure of his novels and short stories, which was strongly influenced by the French realists, particularly Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant, also contains elements of Romanticism (in the descriptions of nature) and of Symbolism.

Nihil novi (talk) 23:23, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

Ethnic composition of Conrad's hometown?[edit]

Currently the article states:

"Though the vast majority of the area's inhabitants were Ukrainians, the land was almost completely owned by the Polish szlachta (nobility) that Conrad's parents belonged to. Polish literature, particularly patriotic literature, was held in high esteem by the area's Polish population."

This somewhat vague reference to "the area's inhabitants" (without defining the "area") is highly misleading. According to the article on Berdychiv the town was, in 1789, 75% Jewish and a hundred years later about 80% Jewish. This should be reflected in the article. Albrecht Conz (talk) 03:00, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

I have added this.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:36, 15 July 2015 (UTC)


There is no doubt that Conrad was ethnically Polish - as discussed above. However, the claim, made in that debate, that he was born and grew up in Poland is surely false. His birthplace, Berdychiv/Berdyczów, is clearly part of Ukraine, and in fact not far from Kiev. However, the article describes his birthplace as:

Berdyczów, in Podolia, a part of modern Ukraine that had belonged to the Kingdom of Poland before the 1793 Second Partition of Poland.

Berdychiv is situated in the Zhytomyr Oblast (province), 44 km from the city of Zhytomyr. In the interests of simplicity, I have excerpted this history of Zhytomyr from its article:

Zhytomyr was one of the prominent cities of Kievan Rus'... In 1320 Zhytomyr was captured by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania... After the Union of Lublin (1569) the city was incorporated into the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and in 1667, following the Treaty of Andrusovo, it became the capital of the Kiev Voivodeship. In the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 it passed to Imperial Russia and became the capital of the Volhynian Governorate.

It should be noted that the "Kingdom of Poland" in the relevant period was actually the "Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania", commonly known as the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, with Berdychiv notionally belonging to Lithuania. Hence, it is misleading to imply Berdychiv was historically Polish territory. In Conrad's time, Berdychiv was majority Jewish, and the surrounding countryside was majority Ukrainian. It was then part of the Russian Empire, as it had been since 1793. So why call it by its Polish name? In addition, it does not appear that Berdychiv is in Podolia. After being born, Conrad lived in various places in the Russian and Austrian Empires, some of which are now in Poland, and went to France when he was 16, but that doesn't really matter as the article does not currently say he grew up in Poland. However, the article does say he "drew on his native Poland's national experiences". Firstly, I think it's hard to say he was native to Poland. Secondly, how did he draw on these experiences? Are any of his stories set in Poland? Well, Under Western Eyes deals with Russia, I guess. And The Secret Agent, perhaps... I will amend the article.--Jack Upland (talk) 11:13, 15 July 2015 (UTC)

"It should be noted that the "Kingdom of Poland" in the relevant period was actually the "Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania", commonly known as the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, with Berdychiv notionally belonging to Lithuania." - I think you are mistaken here. Volhynia, Podolia, Bratslav, and Kiev were ceded to Poland under the terms of the Lublin Union in 1569. Since then Berdichiv/Berdyczów (in Kiev voivodship) had been part of the Polish Kingdom in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
e.g. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1997, vol. 2, p. 120.:
Berdychiv, Russian berdichev, or berdicev, city, Zhytomyr oblasl (province), northwestern Ukraine. Founded in 1482 as a Lithuanian fortress, Berdychiv was Polish from 1569 until 1793. Hedviberit (talk) 00:40, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, you are right there.--Jack Upland (talk) 02:24, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Well The Secret Agent is certainly rather vauge about the actual countries involved. Although it is set in London (Soho in fact), the agent Verloc has been employed "by an unnamed embassy", etc, etc. Martinevans123 (talk) 11:28, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
I think he does show his Eastern European background in some of his stories, in contrast to the other writers in English at the time. Nostromo is another example. Not because it has anything to do with Eastern Europe, but because it deals with revolution and tyranny, which were not normal subjects in English literature of the period. Also, I think his writings always have an international flavour, which reflects his life. But not specifically Poland.--Jack Upland (talk) 12:28, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
PS At the risk of re-running the previous debate, it doesn't seem right to say that he is a "Polish author who wrote in English after settling in England". Firstly, it sounds like he wrote in Polish before settling in England. Secondly, he began writing Almayer's Folly before he was living in England on a permanent basis. He wrote in English because he had joined the British merchant navy. But I'm not sure how to amend the text. Relatedly, it is significant that in the quotation given in "note 1" he describes himself as a Pole from the Ukraine.--Jack Upland (talk) 13:43, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
In the "Early years" section, paragraph 2, you have modified a sentence to read: "Though the vast majority of the surrounding area's inhabitants were Ukrainians, and the vast majority of the population of Berdychiv was Jewish, the land was almost completely owned by the Polish szlachta (nobility) from which Conrad had descended." This could be understood to mean that Conrad himself was not a member of the Polish nobility (the szlachta). In fact, he was acutely aware of his membership in that 10% of the Polish people; and at the end of his life he declined a British knighthood on the ground that he already possessed an ancient hereditary Polish coat-of-arms (with which he emblazoned the covers of a multi-volume collected edition of his writings).
His "Polish heritage" includes, prominently, a profound, pervasive awareness of his country's dismemberment by three neighboring empires, and of the societal weaknesses that had made his country vulnerable vis-a-vis more autocratic polities. Many other Polish writers of the day shared a similar preoccupation with politics and statecraft, including his favorite Polish novelist, Bolesław Prus, author of the political historical novel, Pharaoh. Nihil novi (talk) 04:30, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
I'd also have to disagree rather strongly with the change to "Conrad drew on his Polish heritage", as that term is far too bland, and somewhat misleading in this context (particularly to anyone ignorant of Polish history). As someone involved in heritage issues, I find that most people seem to associate the term "heritage" with the preservation of historic buildings; other people might associate it with their own familial or ethnic cuisine. In both these contexts the word can have connotations of nostalgia, of seeking comfort and identity by looking backwards to a lost world, often through rose-tinted glasses. One reason I myself have only been able to read a few of Conrad's novels is that I find them so unsettling - the very opposite of nostalgia - Conrad's perspective and "starkly lucid view of the human condition" are a product of the socio-political conditions of his milieu and family background, and his lived experience as a voluntary exile. The original wording - "Conrad drew on his native Poland's national experiences" - might not be literally correct, in the sense that he didn't write historical novels based in Poland, but it is quite apt in how those "national experiences" shaped his outlook (Weltanshauung). Bahudhara (talk) 06:32, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Nobleman: Conrad was not a nobleman in the sense that he did not have an estate, but he had a noble background. Wikipedia describes his father as a "impoverished nobleman". He seems to be a member of the intelligentsia to me. What is the basis for saying his noble family is why Conrad declined the knighthood? It seems to come from Najder, who said:
I suppose that a sufficient reason was his consciousness of coming from an old noble family; Conrad may have felt that accepting a new title would look like a renunciation of that ancient heritage. (p 570)
Najder goes on to say that Conrad might have been "averse to public honours in general" and had declined honorary degrees also. It is only a supposition on Najder's part. Stape, for example, doesn't say that.
Heritage: If the word offends, take it out. (But see the Najder quote above!) The problem with the previous wording was that it wasn't exactly his "native" Poland, and, yes, it is misleading to say he drew on the "national experiences". What is the source for this statement?--Jack Upland (talk) 12:52, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Membership in the Polish nobility (szlachta) did not depend on possession of an estate, but on membership in a coat-of-arms. Notoriously, many impecunious Polish nobles differed from peasants only in possessing a hereditary coat-of-arms.
There was no conflict in Poland between being a noble and being a member of the intelligentsia. Many nobles became inteligenci, sometimes after they had squandered away their estates or had had them confiscated by partitioning powers. Nihil novi (talk) 09:17, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Regarding the influence of Polish "national experiences" on Conrad: "Conrad was passionately concerned with politics. [I]t is confirmed by several of his works, starting with Almayer's Folly.... Nostromo revealed his concern with these matters more fully; it was, of course, a concern quite natural for someone from a country where politics was a matter not only of everyday existence but also of life and death. Moreover, Conrad himself came from a social class that claimed exclusive responsibility for state affairs, and from a very politically active family. Norman Douglas sums it up: 'Conrad was first and foremost a Pole and like many Poles a politician and moralist malgré lui [French: "in spite of himself"]. These are his fundamentals.' [What made] Conrad see political problems in terms of a continuous struggle between law and violence, anarchy and order, freedom and autocracy, material interests and the noble idealism of individuals... was Conrad's historical awareness. His Polish experience endowed him with the perception, exceptional in the Western European literature of his time, of how winding and constantly changing were the front lines in these struggles." Zdzisław Najder, Joseph Conrad: A Life, translated by Halina Najder, Rochester, New York, Camden House, 2007, ISBN 1-57113-347-X, p. 352. Nihil novi (talk) 10:42, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm not particularly concerned about the wording regarding the nobility, but the previous wording about national experiences is very misleading. We are not talking about what formed his outlook on life, but what he "drew on" in writing fiction. I don't think any of his major works even mention Poland.
With regard to his nationality, here are some Conrad quotes from John Stape's book, Several Lives:
  • "When speaking, writing or thinking in English the word Home always means for me the hospitable shores of Great Britain." (p 48)
  • Writing to a friend: "I am more British than you are. You are only British because you could not help it." (p 48)
  • With regard to his tie to Britain: "it was dear to me not as an inheritance, but as an acquisition, as a conquest in the sense in which a woman is conquered--by love, which is a sort of surrender." (p 164) (From "Poland Revisited").
  • His comment that he didn't want to be seen as "a sort of freak, a bloody amazing furriner writing in English" (p 164)
The opening sentence of this article ("a Polish author...") is misleading and has no consensus to support it.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:37, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
For perspective, I'll quote my authority, Conrad's chronicler, Najder (2007): In 1886, in a letter to his Polish friend Joseph Spiridion, according to Najder (pp. 104-5), Conrad "was left with a painful sense of the hopelessness of the Polish problem and an acceptance of England as a possible place of refuge. Possibly his statements were meant to harmonize to some degree with the opinions or attitudes of the addressee; he did this quite often in his letters." Nihil novi (talk) 09:24, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
The first quote I gave was a letter to Spiridion in 1885. Conrad seems to have been genuinely (and understandably) upset by the suggestion that he wasn't British (Stape, pp 163-4). Authors (such as Najder, who is obviously eager to accentuate Conrad as a Pole) seem to pick evidence that will "harmonize" with their own opinions. I think it is obvious that Conrad had a dual national identity, and the article should reflect that. (In fact, whatever he thought at various times, the strongest influence on Conrad seems to have been the experience of being an outsider. Most of his major characters are migrants or expatriates.)--Jack Upland (talk) 10:21, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
The sentence about Berdychiv that I originally took issue with has now been restored. Firstly, the article on Podolia does not list Berdychiv as one of its towns. Secondly, Conrad himself called the area Ukraine - both in the letter referred to in note 1 and in A Personal Account. Thirdly, in an article like this I don't think we need to know that Berdychiv was in the Kingdom of Poland before Conrad's parents were born. In addition, further details about his family have been added in. His father already has an article of his own. In general, information relating to Poland is being given undue weight. For example, there are five paragraphs about Conrad's trip to Poland in 1914.--Jack Upland (talk) 06:33, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
"The sentence about Berdychiv that I originally took issue with has now been restored. Firstly, the article on Podolia does not list Berdychiv as one of its towns"
The list of the towns is unreferenced. Here is the full quote from Zins : The future great English writer was born of patriotic Polish gentry on December 3, 1857 at Berdyczow (Berdichev) in Podolia in the eastern part of old Polish monarchy, which was incorporated into the Russian Empire during the Second Partition of Poland in 1793. In Podolia like in two other formerly Polish provinces, Volhynia and Kiev, the vast majority of the population were Ukrainians, but the Polish gentry owned nearly half of manorial land there. In Podolia, for instance, there were according to 1897 surveys, which tended to lower the real Polish percentage, 75. 1 percent Ukrainians, 12.3 Jews and 8.8. Poles who owned 41 percent of manorial land. Landowning gentry and magnates  apart, the Poles were frequently also administrators, even of Russian estates, and tenants. They constituted a sizable proportion of the lawyers, doctors, and industrialists. More than half of intelligentsia in those eastern parts of the old Polish Kingdom was Polish in the time of Conrad's early life. (Henryk Zins, Joseph Conrad and Africa, Kenya Literature Bureau, 1982, p. 12.)
"Secondly, Conrad himself called the area Ukraine - both in the letter referred to in note 1 and in A Personal Account." - Ukraine as a region, not as a country. But I'm not against changing: "a part of modern Ukraine" to "a part of Ukraine".
"Thirdly, in an article like this I don't think we need to know that Berdychiv was in the Kingdom of Poland before Conrad's parents were born." - How else will reader understand Conrad's family background - why his father fought for the restoration of pre-partition borders of Poland and why most of the land was owned by the Polish nobility in the Russian Empire, despite the fact that most of the population in the area was Ukrainian? And what was Polish family doing in Ukraine? You yourself made a mistake thinking that the town was previously Lithuanian and not Polish.
"In addition, further details about his family have been added in. His father already has an article of his own."
It's only one sentence about him in the body of the article, and it clarifies this claim: "Because of the father's attempts at farming and his political activism, the family moved repeatedly". It tells us what "kind of political activism" his father engaged in and why he was a member of anti-Russian resistance. There is also a link between: "Though the vast majority of the surrounding area's inhabitants were Ukrainians,... almost all the countryside was owned by the Polish szlachta", the fact that his father was a member of the faction that advocated land reform and the abolition of serfdom, and Conrad's attitude towards slavery.
To understand Conrad, you need to know details about his family and these are inseparable from Polish history. As far as I know, all his biographies have a chapter about his Polish childhood/Polish background or his Polish background is covered extensively. Meyers:
  • Conrad was significantly influenced by his father's works... he repeated the arguments of Apollo's polemic "Poland and Muscovy" in his own essay "Autocracy and War". Though Apollo died when Conrad was only eleven years old, they established an intense, even harrowing relationship, and the father had the profoundest impact on the son. (Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, Cooper Square Press, 2001, p. 8.)
  • Conrad's refusal to follow his father's exhortation and example, and his voluntary exile from Poland in 1874, were a source of lifelong guilt. (Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, Cooper Square Press, 2001, p. 11.) - This clearly influenced his perception of himself as an eternal outsider.
  • Conrad writing to his Russophile friend Edward Garnett and attempting, as always, to distinguish Poles from other Slavs, contrasted Poland's "delirium of the brave" with Britan's confident expectation of victory: "you seem to forget I am a Pole, You forget that we have been used to go to battle without illusions. It's you Britishers that 'go in to win' only. We have been 'going in' these last hundred years repeatedly, to be knocked on the head only". (Jeffrey Meyers, Joseph Conrad: a Biography, Cooper Square Press, 2001, p. 18.) -
Here he refers to the Polish uprisings. Polish history was his point of reference and influenced his perception, from Zins:
Conrad made English literature more mature and reflective because he called attention to the sheer horror of political realities overlooked by English citizens and politicians. The case of Poland, his oppressed homeland, was one such issue. The colonial exploitation of Africans was another. His condemnation of imperialism and colonialism, combined with sympathy for its persecuted and suffering victims, was drawn from his Polish background, his own personal sufferings, and the experience of a persecuted people living under foreign occupation. Personal memories created in him a great sensitivity for human degradation and a sense of moral responsibility. (H.S. Zins, "Joseph Conrad and British critics of colonialism, Pula, Vol. 12, nos. 1&2, 1998, p. 63.) Hedviberit (talk) 08:52, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Hedviberit, you have articulated beautifully the points that Bahudhara and I have also been trying to make. As Bahudhara wrote on 16 July 2015, "The original wording - 'Conrad drew on his native Poland's national experiences' - might not be literally correct, in the sense that he didn't write historical novels based in Poland, but it is quite apt in how those 'national experiences' shaped his outlook (Weltanshauung)."
Could you add Zins, with full bibliographical information, to the article's references? If this source has a Polish title, give that and I'll be glad to try rendering it into English. Nihil novi (talk) 22:35, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for adding the two Zins items to the "Secondary sources". (I'm finding that when I click on the last item in that section—now a Zins source—it temporarily disappears. I've never seen such a thing. I tried reversing the two Zins items.)
Please consider adding citations from the very insightful Zins sources to the article. Nihil novi (talk) 04:46, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I note the edit-warring about Conrad's nationality is continuing. I still think this article gives undue weight to his Polish background, but it is certainly better than it was.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:20, 19 January 2016 (UTC)


There are many sources that give his name as "Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski". (For example Polonica zagraniczne.)

Is there an authoritative version? Are both legitimate? And should we mention it in the article?

All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 00:05, 17 October 2015 (UTC).

Conrad's biographer Zdzisław Najder writes in a 2-page on-line article, [2]] "Jak się nazywał Joseph Conrad?" ("What Was Joseph Conrad's Name?"):
... When he was baptized at the age of two days, on 5 December 1857 in Berdyczów, no birth certificate was recorded because the baptism was only "of water." And during his official, documented baptism (in Żytomierz) five years later, he himself was absent, as he was in Warsaw, awaiting exile into Russia together with his parents.
Thus there is much occasion for confusion. This is attested by errors on tablets and monuments. But examination of documents—not many, but quite a sufficient number, survive—permits an entirely certain answer to the title question.
On 5 December 1857 the future writer was christened with three given names: Józef (in honor of his maternal grandfather), Teodor (in honor of his paternal grandfather) and Konrad (doubtless in honor of the hero of part III of Adam Mickiewicz's Dziady). These given names, in this order (they appear in no other order in any records), were given by Conrad himself in an extensive autobiographical letter to his friend Edward Garnett of 20 January 1900 (Polish text in Listy J. Conrada [Letters of J. Conrad], edited by Zdzisław Najder, Warsaw, 1968).
However, in the official birth certificate (a copy of which is found in the Jagiellonian University Library in Kraków, manuscript no. 6391), only one given name appears: Konrad. And that sole given name was used in their letters by his parents, Ewa, née Bobrowska, and Apollo Korzeniowski, as well as by all members of the family.
He himself signed himself with this single given name in letters to Poles. And this single given name, and the surname "Korzeniowski," figured in his passport and other official documents. For example, when "Joseph Conrad" visited his native land after a long absence in 1914, just at the outbreak of World War I, the papers issued to him by the military authorities of the Imperial-Royal Austro-Hungarian Monarchy called him "Konrad Korzeniowski."
Nihil novi (talk) 05:20, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, that helps explain what's going on. For the time being I have merely added a redirect from Konrad Korzeniowski which might be called his "official name", as opposed to his "full name". All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 15:02, 18 October 2015 (UTC).
Thanks for raising the question, and for providing the redirect.
As an aid to any confused readers, I've added Zdzisław Najder's exegesis as a note to the article. Nihil novi (talk) 21:15, 18 October 2015 (UTC)