- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
- Online publication date: October 2014
- Print publication year: 2014
- Online ISBN: 9781139547451
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139547451
Joseph Conrad's centrality to modern literature is well established. The New Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad provides essential guidance to varied developments in the field of Conrad studies since the publication of The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad (1996). The volume's thirteen chapters offer diverse perspectives on emergent areas of interest, including canon formation, postcolonialism, gender, critical reception and adaptation. Likewise, chapters on Conrad's autobiographical writings, Heart of Darkness and 'The Secret Sharer', consider recent trends in both literary and cultural studies. A chronology and an updated guide to further reading serve to provide essential orientation to a large and complex field. This volume is the ideal starting point for students new to Conrad's work as well as for scholars wishing to keep abreast of current issues.
Jeremy Hawthorn - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Roger D. Sell Source: Notes and Queries
Dauntingly varied in their range and quality, books, articles and notes about Conrad’s life and work have appeared regularly since the 1940s when he was discovered by academe. The bibliographies listed here provide guidance about an ever-growing body of writing, which invariably reflects the critical trends and fashions of a given moment. In addition to listing basic reference sources, the following list offers a selective chronological guide to the major criticism and scholarship. Emphasis falls on full-length studies written or published in English dealing with Conrad’s achievement as a whole or with selected aspects of it. The notes to the chapters of the present volume refer to studies of particular relevance to the works they consider or to the broader topics in their purview.
Dent’s Collected Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad. London: Dent, 1946–55. A complete edition but lacking the dramatizations and The Nature of a Crime (written with Ford). A re-issue of Dent’s Uniform Edition of 1923–8, this edition’s pagination is identical to it and to that of the numerous collected ‘editions’ (in fact, issues) published in the United States throughout the 1920s. The texts are mostly those of the first editions, but have no special authority and their usefulness lies only in their wide availability.
Opere. Ed. Ugo Mursia. 5 vols. Milan: Mursia, 1967–82. Thematic arrangement of the complete works, with erudite commentaries and useful explanatory notes. In Italian.
Oeuvres. Ed. Sylvère Monod. Pléiade edition. 5 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1982–92. Monod’s general introductions offer valuable critical perspectives, while frequently illuminating ‘Notices’ appear on individual works by their translators or other critics. The informative explanatory notes are authoritative on Conrad’s Gallicisms, French borrowings and French literary connections. In French.
Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000s. Photo-offset reprintings, purged of the printer’s errors of many of the volumes of Dent’s Collected Edition, first produced in the 1980s. These were replaced in the 2000s by re-set texts augmented by critical introductions, a chronology of Conrad’s life, a selected bibliography, a note on the text, maps and explanatory notes.
Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1990s–. Using various copy-texts, this collection presents most of Conrad’s fiction in a format similar to that of Oxford’s World’s Classics series. In 2007, several volumes were issued with fresh introductions and notes, giving a random publishing venture a coherence not previously an aim in this series.
The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990–. A critical edition of the canon providing a detailed discussion of sources, a history of composition, revision, publication and reception. Textual variants and extensive explanatory and textual notes give the scholar and advanced student a full view of a particular work in context.
Conrad First: The Joseph Conrad Periodical Archive (conrad.net), comp. Stephen Donovan. A comprehensive digitized collection of Conrad’s works in serial form. An invaluable resource for the study of the various markets in which many of the novels and short fiction first appeared. The print collection itself, housed at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, may be consulted by contacting its Centre for the Study of Joseph Conrad (smuc.ac.uk/joseph-conrad-studies/index.htm).
The standard canon is supplemented by:
Of the many paperback and separate re-issues of Conrad’s work a few merit special mention:
Conrad’s wife and friends saw into print collections of his letters as early as the 1920s, but all are casual in their textual transcriptions and overly protective. (Sensitive topics such as his finances and allusions to persons then living occasioned editorial deletions.) Collections based on scholarly principles were published beginning in the late 1950s and in the wake of Jocelyn Baines’s 1960 biography. The earliest collections have now been superseded by the Collected Letters.
The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. General editors and , with , and . 9 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983–2007. Presents reliable texts of the some 5,000 extant letters, including those in French and translations of those in Polish. Each volume provides a detailed chronology of the years covered, an introduction, short biographies of Conrad’s correspondents, a description of editorial procedures, illustrations, annotations and indices. The final volume includes a cumulative index and extensive corrigenda and addenda. Letters discovered after the publication of the last volume appear, by arrangement with the Conrad Estate, in The Conradian (see Journals).
Of the separately published volumes of letters, the following remain important:
Conrad’s correspondence is supplemented by two selections of letters addressed to or principally about Conrad:
As early as the 1920s, Conrad’s extraordinary life attracted the attention of biographers. His friend Jean-Aubry preserved material that might otherwise have been lost, but he produced a poor and sometimes unreliable life. A genuinely scholarly approach to Conrad’s biography was essayed only some three decades after his death.
The unusual shape of his life and career has demanded research into his Polish background, acquaintances and fellow writers in England. Documentary materials are scattered in public archives and private collections in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. The biographer must also cope with lacunae caused by the depredations of time, in particular, the destruction of records and crucial collections of letters during the Russian Revolution and the Second World War. Archival work undertaken during the past two decades has now securely established the main outline of Conrad’s life, although the challenging conditions mentioned do not disallow further discoveries.
Specialized biographical works concentrate on selected aspects of or particular approaches to Conrad’s life:
The following works complement the scholarly biographies:
Following Conrad’s death, his reputation suffered a decline. In the 1940s, in both England and America a revival of interest consolidated his reputation as a major writer and roughly coincided with the decline of the impressionistic essay and the rise of academic criticism. The major fiction has now been subjected to intense investigation for several decades, and even some of his minor writings have been extensively, possibly exhaustively, analyzed. Criticism of Conrad’s work has invariably reflected critical fashions. (These are ably surveyed in Knowles’s bibliography listed above.) Only essential work can be mentioned here for the earlier decades, while an attempt has been made to suggest the range and diversity for more recent criticism.
The recovery of Conrad’s reputation in England began with general surveys by Edward Crankshaw and Muriel Bradbrook, and gained momentum and sophistication under the impetus of F. R. Leavis. At the same time, in America, John Dozier Gordan and Morton Dauwen Zaubel were laying the foundations for an increasingly nuanced perception of Conrad’s achievement by closely examining its sources. Influenced by post-war preoccupations and urged on by the expansion of post-secondary education, a new professionalism among university teachers, and the then-emergent New Criticism, the serious academic revaluation and interpretation of Conrad’s writings was underway during the 1950s.
The criticism of the 1960s pursued the arguments suggested by Moser and Guerard and was influenced by the archetypal approach generated by Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism (1957). Likely the more lasting critical achievements of this period were original discussions of Conrad’s philosophical orientations and politics and his relationship to dominant nineteenth-century ideologies. His continental context also became an area of interest. The 1960s, particularly in doctoral theses in the United States, also witnessed a dawning awareness of the deficiencies of Conrad’s received texts and the beginnings of serious textual scholarship. Conferences held in Texas, Miami, Canterbury and San Diego to observe the fiftieth anniversary of Conrad’s death marked a watershed in Conrad studies, confirming Conrad’s status as a writer of world stature diversely investigated by a far-flung community of scholar-critics. In addition to refining the insights of the previous two decades of criticism, they announced an interest in rhetoric and narratology.
In addition to assimilating the work of the previous decade, including major biographies, increasingly refined textual studies and much original criticism, recent students of Conrad have had to take into account newly emergent critical trends, including post-structuralism, New Historicism and feminism, which emphasize extrinsic approaches to the study of literature. While scholarship continued to pursue traditional interests – aesthetics, contextualization, the discovery and preservation of documents – recent criticism has inevitably reflected the crosscurrents of interpretive debates. A number of recent studies often explicitly or implicitly attempt revaluations of a given work or of the canon.
The criticism of the early twenty-first century follows what became fairly well-established trends and tends to view Conrad’s works through the prism of various theories, several influenced by philosophy, sociology, linguistics and the postcolonial, gender and popular culture approaches to literature. The decline of publishers’ interest in producing volumes collecting conference papers means that, unlike the 1960s and 1970s, most papers of this kind have found their way into the journals devoted to the writer. Areas previously neglected – Conrad’s forays into the drama and the complexity and diversity of his early reception – garnered attention.
Articles on Conrad are to be found in a number of academic journals. The four specialist journals listed publish scholarship and criticism concerned with all aspects of his life and work and provide information about regular and occasional conferences.