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The New Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad
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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.


'The New Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad complements rather than replaces the 1996 Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad … The first [Companion] set a very high standard. Its successor has lived up to that standard - both in terms of the quality of its articles and also in terms of the impeccable editing skills of J. H. Stape. This is a book that can be recommended warmly and without reservation. Order it for the library and buy an extra copy for your own bookshelf: you will want to refer to it in the days that come.'

Jeremy Hawthorn - Norwegian University of Science and Technology

'… provides a wide-ranging introduction to Conrad, together with a very helpful guide to further reading.'

Roger D. Sell Source: Notes and Queries

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Further Reading

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 (, 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 (

The standard canon is supplemented by:

‘Congo Diary’ and Other Uncollected Pieces. Ed. Zdzisław Najder. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978. Includes the Congo notebooks, the unfinished novel The Sisters, The Nature of a Crime and uncollected minor pieces. Now largely surpassed by the critical edition of Last Essays in the Cambridge Edition.

Of the many paperback and separate re-issues of Conrad’s work a few merit special mention:

The Portable Conrad. Ed. Michael Gorra. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 2007. The latest incarnation of this handy compendium for the general reader beginning to explore Conrad includes The Secret Agent, selections of short fiction and letters as well as some occasional prose. It first appeared edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel (New York: Viking, 1947), and a revised edition appeared edited by Frederick R. Karl in 1969. Classic introduction by Zabel.
Norton Critical Editions. New York: Norton. Heart of Darkness, ed. Robert Kimbrough, 1963; 3rd edn. 1988; Lord Jim, ed. Thomas Moser, 1968; 2nd edn. 1996; The Nigger of theNarcissus’, ed. Robert Kimbrough, 1970. While boasting ‘authoritative texts’, the series reprints the corrupt Heinemann Collected Edition texts of 1920–21. (Lord Jim’s 2nd edn. reprints the first English.) The volumes offer selections of criticism reflecting trends of their moment and background materials on Conrad’s sources.
Selected Literary Criticism and ‘The Shadow-Line’. Ed. Allan Ingram. London: Methuen, 1986. Provides a setting for the novella in extracts from Conrad’s letters and Author’s Notes.
‘Heart of Darkness’: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: Bedford Books of St Martin’s Press, 1989. Reprints the Heinemann Edition’s defective text without explanatory notes, but offers a kaleidoscopic view of critical trends in five essays covering the psychoanalytic, reader-response, feminist, deconstructive and New Historicist perspectives.


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 Frederick R. Karl and Laurence Davies, with Owen Knowles, J. H. Stape and Gene M. Moore. 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:

Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters, edited by G. Jean-Aubry (London: William Heinemann; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1927). Now of interest only as the first attempt to present and contextualize Conrad’s correspondence.
Joseph Conrad: Letters to William Blackwood and David S. Meldrum. Ed. William Blackburn. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1958. Supplements Conrad’s letters of the period of the Youth volume and Lord Jim with correspondence from the files of the Blackwood firm.
Conrad’s Polish Background: Letters to and from Polish Friends. Ed. Zdzisław Najder. Trans. Halina Carroll. London: Oxford University Press, 1964. Presents translations of the letters Conrad’s uncle and guardian Tadeusz Bobrowski addressed to him as well as other correspondence translated from Polish. An invaluable biographical source.
Joseph Conrad’s Letters to R. B. Cunninghame Graham. Ed. C. T. Watts. Cambridge: Cambrige University Press, 1969. The texts have been replaced by Collected Letters, but a solid introduction and informative notes situate an important friendship.

Conrad’s correspondence is supplemented by two selections of letters addressed to or principally about Conrad:

A Portrait in Letters: Correspondence to and about Conrad. Ed. J. H. Stape and Owen Knowles. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996.
‘My Dear Friend’: Further Letters to and about Joseph Conrad. Ed. Owen Knowles. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008.


Joseph Conrad: Contemporary Reviews. 4 vols. General editors: Allan H. Simmons, John G. Peters, J. H. Stape, with Richard Niland, Mary Burgoyne and Katherine Isobel Baxter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. The contemporary reviews of the novels, short story collections and non-fiction in the English, American and colonial press. Replaces Conrad: The Critical Heritage, ed. Norman Sherry (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973) and allows for a comprehensive view of Conrad’s work as seen by his contemporaries.


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.

Baines, Jocelyn. Joseph Conrad: A Critical Biography. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960. Rpt. Penguin Books, 1971. First significant full-length biography based on scholarly research. Repays reading despite its now very outdated discussion of the fiction. Later scholarship has fully pursued Baines’s major revelations.
Sherry, Norman. Conrad’s Eastern World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966. Traces models and sources for Conrad’s Eastern fiction in his actual experience and wide reading. Influential in showing how Conrad altered his sources and in having stimulated further biographical research.
Conrad’s Western World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Continues the approach of Sherry’s first volume, covering Heart of Darkness, Nostromo and The Secret Agent.
Conrad and His World. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972, rpt. 1988; New York: Scribner’s, 1977. Handsomely illustrated and well-informed brief summary of the main events of Conrad’s life and literary career. Excellent starting-point for the student new to Conrad.
Karl, Frederick R. Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives – A Biography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; London: Faber & Faber, 1979. An ungainly organization and factual inaccuracies mar this volume which none the less contains information about Conrad’s career and finances that at the time of writing was otherwise unprinted.
Najder, Zdzisław. Joseph Conrad: A Life. Trans. Halina Carroll-Najder. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2007. (A revised and updated version of Joseph Conrad: A Chronicle. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.) Renamed to take advantage of interest in the 150th anniversary of Conrad’s birth, a reliable and painstaking account of the facts of Conrad’s life based on ardent archival research. If not especially readable, it is unlikely to be surpassed on Conrad’s Polish context.
Batchelor, John. The Life of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. Traverses highly familiar biographical territory but sensitively relates Conrad’s writings to his life in balanced readings of the major fiction and short stories.
Fletcher, Chris. Joseph Conrad. The British Library Writers’ Lives series. London: The British Library, 1999. A richly illustrated and genially written brief life, supplementing Sherry’s Conrad and His World (1972).
Stape, J. H. The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad. London: Heinemann, 2007; New York: Knopf, 2007. Attempts in a brief compass to recuperate neglected aspects of Conrad’s life – going beyond the tripartite division of Pole, writer and seaman – and to de-mythify aspects of it. Presents much new information about his wife’s family and his two sons.

Specialized biographical works concentrate on selected aspects of or particular approaches to Conrad’s life:

Allen, Jerry. The Sea Years of Joseph Conrad. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965; London: Methuen, 1967. Pioneering study of Conrad’s maritime career, seriously marred by relying upon the fiction as a biographical source.
Meyer, Bernard C. Joseph Conrad: A Psychoanalytical Biography. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967. Discusses Conrad’s psychology and writings from a Freudian perspective but occasionally eludes its orientation’s straitjacket.
Villiers, Peter. Joseph Conrad, Master Mariner. Dobbs Ferry, NY, 2006. An account of Conrad’s maritime career and of his ships, focussing also on the conditions of late nineteenth-century shipping.
Watts, Cedric. Joseph Conrad: A Literary Life. London: Macmillan, 1989. Foreshortened account of the historical and economic circumstances of the writing career, covering such topics as serialization and Conrad’s relations with his agent and publishers. Suggests some of the formal consequences of marketplace pressures but is marred and incomplete by its neglect of unpublished materials and archival sources.

The following works complement the scholarly biographies:

Najder, Zdzisław, ed. Conrad under Familial Eyes. Trans. Halina Carroll-Najder. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Presents documents and letters related to Conrad’s family and early years as well as reminiscences by Polish relatives and friends.
Knowles, Owen. A Conrad Chronology. London: Macmillan; Boston: Hall, 1989. Highly readable annual and sometimes day-by-day account of Conrad’s life and writing career in the form of crisply written diary entries.
Ray, Martin, ed. Joseph Conrad: Interviews and Recollections. London: Macmillan, 1990. A wide-ranging and generously annotated selection of reminiscences by family, friends, acquaintances and fellow writers.
Moore, Gene M., Allan H. Simmons and J. H. Stape, eds. Conrad between the Lines: Documents in a Life. Amsterdam: Rodopi: 2000. Collection of documents related to Conrad’s life and career.
Ray, Martin, ed. Joseph Conrad: Memories and Impressions – An Annotated Bibliography. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007. Canvasses and engagingly describes widely scattered recollections of the writer by family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances.


William R. Cagle’s scholarly primary bibliography of Conrad’s œuvre, begun in the 1960s, remains unpublished. (Photocopies may be obtained at cost from: The Institute of Bibliography and Editing, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, 44242–0001 USA). A number of descriptions of major collections and more wide-ranging compilations serve advanced researchers.
Wise, T. J., ed. A Bibliography of Joseph Conrad. 2nd edn. London: Richard Clay & Sons, 1921. Describes Wise’s large personal collection of manuscripts, typescripts, limited-edition pamphlets and signed first editions, now mostly in the British Library’s Ashley Collection.
Keating, George T., ed. A Conrad Memorial Library: The Collection of George T. Keating. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1929. Catalogues the largest single collection of original materials and other Conradiana, now in Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Ehrsam, Theodore G., comp. A Bibliography of Joseph Conrad. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1969. A comprehensive, if flawed, listing of first editions, contemporary reviews, translations and miscellanea including obituaries, memoirs and early auction records.
Fagnani, Flavio, comp. Catalogo della collezione Conradiana di Ugo Mursia. Milan: Mursia, 1984. Lists holdings of the Ugo Mursia Memorial Collection at the Universitá di Pisa (see Study Centres).
Moore, Gene M., comp. ‘A Descriptive Location Register of Conrad’s Literary Manuscripts’. The Conradian 27, no. 2 (2002), 1–93. Building upon the foundational work of Gordon Lindstrand (‘A bibliographical survey of manuscripts of Joseph Conrad’. Conradiana 2.1 (1969–70), 23–32; 2.2 (1969–70), 105–14; 2.3 (1969–70), 153–62) and other scholars offers a comprehensive listing of extant holographs and typescripts. Updated and amended version housed on the website of The Joseph Conrad Society (UK).
Criticism and scholarship in English and other major languages has been carefully recorded and/or evaluated in a number of bibliographical surveys:
Teets, Bruce E., and Helmut E. Gerber, comp. Joseph Conrad: An Annotated Bibliography of Writings about Him. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1971. A guide up to 1966 of reviews, criticism, scholarship and doctoral theses.
Secor, Robert and Debra Moddelmog, comp. Joseph Conrad and American Writers: A Bibliographical Study of Affinities, Influences, and Relations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985. A useful listing of comparative and influence studies, but making somewhat exaggerated claims for affinity.
Teets, Bruce E., comp. Joseph Conrad: An Annotated Bibliography. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1990. An updating of and supplement through 1975 to Teets and Gerber’s earlier volume.
Knowles, Owen, comp. An Annotated Critical Bibliography of Joseph Conrad. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1992. A critically sophisticated and judiciously selective guide to criticism from 1914 to 1990. The main emphasis is on books and articles published from 1975 to 1990.
Perczak, Wanda, comp. Polska Bibliografia Conradowska, 1896–1992. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Universytetu Mikołaj Kopernika, 1993. A comprehensive listing of translations and of books and articles in Polish. Also lists works in English about Conrad’s Polish experience, influence and reception.
Peters, John G.A Bibliography of Books, Pamphlets, and Broadsides about Joseph Conrad’. Part 1: 1910–79; Part 2: 1980–2010. The Conradian 36, no. 1 (2011), 98–118 and 37, no. 1 (2012), 84–106. A useful listing of criticism and scholarship, covered chronologically and by topic, for the years covered.
Peters, John G. Joseph Conrad’s Critical Reception. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. A chronologically organized description of the reception of Conrad’s work from his own day through to modern scholarly appraisals. Useful for anyone wishing to make a judicious overview of the large body of critical writings.


Daleski, H. M. Joseph Conrad: The Way of Dispossession. London: Faber & Faber; New York: Holmes & Meier, 1977. A discriminating and subtle account of philosophical issues in the major fiction. For the advanced student.
Berthoud, Jacques. Joseph Conrad: The Major Phase. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978. Offers nuanced and informed discussions of the fiction from The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ to Under Western Eyes that remain valuable despite advances in theory.
Watts, Cedric. A Preface to Conrad. London: Longman, 1982; rev. edn. 1993. A brief treatment of Conrad’s biographical and cultural circumstances and of Conradian narrative techniques with particular attention given to Nostromo.
Middleton, Tim. Joseph Conrad. London: Routledge, 2006. Offers for the beginning student an orientation to Conrad’s life and canon and surveys contemporary criticism.
Peters, John G. The Cambridge Introduction to Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Covers much of the same terrain as the previously listed title and as the next entry, Simmons, with all three works appearing in the same year and addressed to the same market.
Simmons, Allan H. Joseph Conrad. Critical Issues Series. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Critically informed and engagingly written in-context discussion ranging over the canon. Offers sound guidance to the major works and short fiction.
Joseph Conrad in Context, ed. Allan H. Simmons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Offers thirty-two brief essays about facets of Conrad’s writings and life, offering further detail and updating some of the angles covered in the Oxford Reader’s Companion (2000). An excellent starting-point for the scholar and advanced student.


Tutein, David W. Joseph Conrad’s Reading: An Annotated Bibliography. West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press, 1990. An alphabetical list of titles. Surveys an important and previously neglected subject but suffers from inadequate documentation. For more on the topic of Conrad’s reading, see The Open University’s website UK Red: The Experience of Reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945 ( index.php)
Marle, Hans van. ‘A novelist’s dukedom: from Conrad’s library’. The Conradian 16, no. 1 (1991), 55–78. Adds numerous additional titles to Tutein’s census and establishes a scholarly approach to researching Conrad’s reading.
Knowles, Owen, and Gene M. Moore. Oxford Reader’s Companion to Joseph Conrad. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. A vividly written essential source for all topics of Conradian interest, ranging over the writer’s canon, life, literary and intellectual contexts and circle. A ‘must’ for any Conrad library and a highly recommended starting-point for students at all levels of expertise.


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 1930s to the 1950s

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.

Crankshaw, Edward. Joseph Conrad: Some Aspects of the Art of the Novel. London: John Lane, 1936; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1963. An appreciative treatment by a friend of Ford Madox Ford. Mainly of historical interest.
Gordan, John Dozier. Joseph Conrad: The Making of a Novelist. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1940. Pace-setting study of documentary sources and composition history. The foundation for much subsequent scholarly work.
Bradbrook, M. C. Joseph Conrad: England’s Polish Genius. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; New York: Macmillan, 1941; rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965. General overview. Mainly of historical interest.
Leavis, F. R.Revaluations: Joseph Conrad’. Scrutiny 10.1 (1941), 22–50 and 10.2 (1941), 157–81. Reprinted in The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad. London: Chatto & Windus; New York: G. W. Stewart, 1948. An enormously influential revisionist essay placing Conrad in the line of the major English realists.
Hewitt, Douglas. Conrad: A Reassessment. Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1952; 3rd edn. Bowes & Bowes and Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1975. A brief but perceptive discussion consolidating the upward movement of Conrad’s reputation.
Moser, Thomas C. Joseph Conrad: Achievement and Decline. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957; rpt. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1996. Long influential in its negative assessment of the late fiction and for its thesis that Conrad could not treat sexual psychology convincingly. Considerably challenged by revisionist trends after the 1980s, now mainly of historical interest.
Guerard, Albert J. Conrad the Novelist. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958.
rpt. 1979. An influential psychological and myth-oriented study that, despite its occasional reductiveness, provides stimulating readings of individual works.

The 1960s and 1970s

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.

Hay, Eloise Knapp. The Political Novels of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963; rev. edn. 1981. A detailed treatment of selected fiction with an emphasis on Conrad’s emerging political viewpoints.
Watt, Ian. ‘Joseph Conrad: alienation and commitment’. The English Mind: Studies in the English Moralists Presented to Basil Willey. Ed. Hugh Sykes Davies and George Watson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964, pp. 257–78. A seminal essay brilliantly situating Conrad’s response to philosophical and political ideas, including conservatism, existentialism and Marxism.
Busza, Andrzej. ‘Conrad’s Polish literary background and some illustrations of Polish literature on his work’. Antemurale 10 (1966), 109–255. Identifies Conrad’s debts to the Polish literary tradition, traces sources and sensitively treats the inter-cultural dimensions of his aesthetics.
Miller, J. Hillis. Poets of Reality: Six Twentieth-Century Writers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966. Highly influential phenomenological approach to Conrad, highlighting The Secret Agent.
Fleishman, Avrom. Conrad’s Politics: Community and Anarchy in the Fiction of Joseph Conrad. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967. Traces Conrad’s political thought in his familial and cultural circumstances and analyzes his publicistic writings.
Kirschner, Paul. Conrad: The Psychologist as Artist. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1968. Pioneers the exploration of Conrad’s continental influences in studying his borrowings from Maupassant and Anatole France. Offers suggestive close readings of individual works focussing on the self and society.
Graver, Lawrence. Conrad’s Shorter Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. The first full-length study of the short fiction, presenting some individually illuminating insights and a useful overview of Conrad as a writer of short stories and novellas. Now mostly superseded.
Thorborn, David. Conrad’s Romanticism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974. Intelligently places Conrad in the context of English literary Romanticism.
Sherry, Norman, ed. Joseph Conrad: A Commemoration. London: Macmillan; New York: Barnes and Noble, 1976. A richly varied and stimulating selection of papers from the 1974 Canterbury Conference.
Hawthorn, Jeremy. Joseph Conrad: Language and Fictional Self-Consciousness. London: Arnold; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. Explores relationships between narrative technique, language and ideology from a Marxist perspective.
Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979; London: Chatto & Windus, 1980. Gathers up and considerably extends Watt’s substantial work on Conrad’s literary and intellectual contexts and offers an original study of his methods. Widely regarded as the most important full-length critical study of the early fiction.

The 1980s

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.

Senn, Werner. Conrad’s Narrative Voice: Stylistic Aspects of his Fiction. Berne: Francke Verlag, 1980. A detailed study of Conrad’s style and its relationship to his aesthetic and philosophical positions.
Hunter, Jefferson. Edwardian Fiction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982. Contains an important chapter situating Conrad in his Edwardian context and dealing with his responses to adventure fiction and imperialism.
Hunter, Allan. Joseph Conrad and the Ethics of Darwinism: The Challenges of Science. London: Croom Helm, 1983. Addresses an important subject but unconvincingly asserts specific debts.
Berthoud, Jacques. Introductions to The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ and Almayer’s Folly. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984, 1992. Introductions to The Shadow-Line and Chance. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. 1986, 1996. Critically ambitious and stimulating essays that, as a group, represent an acute and impressive understanding of Conrad’s literary and historical contexts, the discussion of which informs an analysis of the formal aspects of individual works.
O’Hanlon, Redmond. Joseph Conrad and Charles Darwin: The Influence of Scientific Thought on Conrad’s Fiction. Edinburgh: Salamander Press; Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1984. Despite its title, concentrates only on Lord Jim, and, like Hunter, over-eagerly assigns specific influences.
Parry, Benita. Conrad and Imperialism: Ideological Boundaries and Visionary Frontiers. London: Macmillan; Topsfield, MA: Salem Academy/Merrimack Publishing, 1984. Drawing on modern ideological criticism, eschews historical and contextual perspectives for a critically eclectic and comprehensive reading of the colonial fiction.
Purdy, Dwight H. Joseph Conrad’s Bible. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984. Identifies and analyzes the rhetorical and ideological consequences of Conrad’s extensive use of biblical allusion.
Watts, Cedric. The Deceptive Text: An Introduction to Covert Plots. Brighton: Harvester; Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1984. Concentrates on Conrad’s fiction in investigating narratorial duplicity and ambiguous plotting.
Conroy, Mark. Modernism and Authority: Strategies of Legitimation in Flaubert and Conrad. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Informed by Jameson’s Marxism and influenced by Foucault, takes on the Modernist writer’s legitimation of his work for a bourgeois capitalist audience.
Fogel, Aaron. Coercion to Speak: Conrad’s Poetics of Dialogue. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985. Draws on Bakhtinian discourse theory to analyze the functions of dialogue.
Murfin, Ross C., ed. Conrad Revisited: Essays for the Eighties. University: University of Alabama Press, 1985. Selected conference papers on, among other topics, colonialism and the late fiction, both typical concerns of recent criticism.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Joseph Conrad: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Reprints classic essays and includes feminist and post-structural studies. Seriously fails to represent the range and quality of contemporary criticism in limiting itself to work published in the United States. Similar volumes are available for Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Nostromo (all 1987). Marlow (1982), in Chelsea House’s Major Literary Characters series, ranges more widely in its choice of critics.
Raval, Suresh. The Art of Failure: Conrad’s Fiction. London: Allen & Unwin, 1986. Analyzes and pursues the implications of the radical scepticism informing Conrad’s major fiction.
Billy, Ted, ed. Critical Essays on Joseph Conrad. Boston: Hall, 1987. Useful compendium of trends, reprinting articles published during 1971–84.

The 1990s

Hamner, Robert D., ed. Joseph Conrad: Third World Perspectives. Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1990. Conveniently reprints articles dealing with Conrad’s African, Asian and South American worlds and includes evaluations from non-Western viewpoints.
Hawthorn, Jeremy. Joseph Conrad: Narrative Technique and Ideological Commitment. London: Arnold, 1990. Extends the implications of Hawthorn’s earlier volume and offers a detailed and nuanced analysis of free indirect style.
Erdinast-Vulcan, Daphna. Joseph Conrad and the Modern Temper. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Informed by Bakhtinian discourse theory, targets fissures and ambiguities, focussing on Conrad’s notorious unevenness.
Hervouet, Yves. The French Face of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Illuminates Conrad’s position in the history of the aesthetics of the novel through abundant evidence of his extensive borrowings from French authors. Discusses the influence of Flaubert, Anatole France and Maupassant.
Nadelhaft, Ruth L. Joseph Conrad. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press; Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991. A reductively partisan feminist study, unconvincing and now looking very dated in its revisionist programme.
Smith, David R., ed. Joseph Conrad’s ‘Under Western Eyes’: Beginnings, Revisions, Final
Forms – Five Essays. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1991. A well-edited cluster of essays focussing on the composition and personal and cultural sources of a novel that moved to the centre of the Conrad canon during and in the wake of the Cold War.
Henricksen, Bruce. Nomadic Voices: Conrad and the Subject of Narrative. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992. A deconstructionist study of narrative technique in the major works.
Moore, Gene M., ed. Conrad’s Cities: Essays for Hans van Marle. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1992. Well-edited and wide-ranging gathering of biographical, historical and interpretive essays exploring the several influences on Conrad’s fiction of the various cities he knew.
Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. One of Us: The Mastery of Joseph Conrad. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. A stimulating reading of Conrad’s ideological concerns through a distinctly contemporary prism but, ultimately, more about ‘us’ than about a late-Victorian/early Modernist writer.
Moore, Gene M., ed. Conrad on Film. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. A baker’s dozen of critical essays survey the some eighty films, from the first to the 1990s, based on or inspired by Conrad’s fiction, with a valuable filmography and film bibliography.

The 2000s

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.

Watt, Ian. Essays on Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Brings together the scattered writings of one of the major modern critics of the novel and of one of Conrad’s most probing, balanced and engaging commentators.
Bock, Martin. Conrad and Psychological Medicine. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2002. An innovative and thoroughly researched study of Conrad’s medical conditions, particularly his neurasthenia and the ways in which illness affected his life and is portrayed in his work.
Kaplan, Carola M., Peter Lancelot Mallios and Andrea White, ed. Conrad in the Twenty-First Century: Contemporary. New York: Routledge, 2005. A collection of sixteen essays by scholars alert to trends announced during the previous decade, particularly colonialism, feminism, globalization and textuality. Includes an interview with Edward Said by Peter Mallios.
Hand, Richard J. The Theatre of Joseph Conrad. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. A thorough, lovingly detailed and carefully researched account of the genesis and production of Conrad’s plays.
Donovan, Stephen. Conrad and Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Traces the presence in and influence of various aspects of popular culture on Conrad’s writings.
Fothergill, Anthony. Secret Sharers: Joseph Conrad’s Reception in Germany. Bern: Peter Lang, 2006. Covers German literary and popular responses to Conrad, including those of Thomas Mann and the work in Nazi-dominated Germany. A stimulating viewpoint, marred by some organizational issues, with the book coming off more as a collection of individual essays and losing some coherence thereby.
Lothe, Jakob, Jeremy Hawthorn and James Phelan, eds. Joseph Conrad: Voice, Sequence, History, Genre. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2008. A finely edited and strong collection of twelve stimulating essays on narrative issues, bringing together papers delivered at a colloquium held in Oslo in 2005.
Goonetilleke, D. C. R. A. Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. London: Routledge, 2007. Focussed on contexts, the contemporary and critical reception, and offering reliable guidance for further reading, an engaging and useful guide to the novella for students.
Ruppel, Richard. Homosexuality in the Life and Work of Joseph Conrad: Love between the Lines. New York: Routledge Press, 2008. A product of gender and queer theory examining homoeroticism in Conrad’s work and (not convincingly) in his life.
Baxter, Katharine Isobel, and Richard J. Hand, eds., Joseph Conrad and the Peforming Arts. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2009. Engaging collection of eight essays surveying facets of the theatrical, including Shakespeare, film and opera, in and around Conrad’s writings.
Mallios, Peter. Our Conrad: Constituting American Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010. An original, wide-ranging discussion of Conrad’s critical fortunes in the United States in the early twentieth century that established him as a major writer, with particular attention to important commentators such as H. L. Mencken.
Hampson, Robert. Conrad’s Secrets. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Canvasses areas of Conrad’s life – his sexual experience and finances, for instance – about which fact is frustratingly absent and traverses selected works to bear upon this exploration.

Study Centres

The Center for Conrad Studies. Institute for Bibliographical and Editing, Kent State University. The centre holds a wide variety of primary and secondary materials (in both print and digital forms) amassed to support the editing of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad originally housed in it (and now at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London). Scholars desiring to consult the collection should contact The Director, The Institute for Bibliography and Editing, Kent State University, The Library, Kent, Ohio 44242–0001, USA.
The Ugo Mursia Memorial Collection. Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy. Extensive non-lending collection of first editions and later states of Conrad’s texts. Large holdings of standard critical monographs and also of Conrad criticism in Italian. (For the collection’s catalogue, see Bibliographies). Scholars desiring to consult the collection should contact the University’s Department of English.


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.

The Conradian: Journal of The Joseph Conrad Society (UK), issued twice yearly, publishes essays and notes on all aspects of Conrad and, by arrangement with the Conrad Estate, is the journal of record for unpublished letters. Reviews appear on the society’s website ( Subscriptions are available from: The Honorary Secretary, The Joseph Conrad Society (United Kingdom), c/o The Polish Social and Cultural Association, 238–246 King Street, London W6 0RF, UK. Also available through JSTOR:
Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies, issued twice yearly, publishes articles, notes, reviews. Subscriptions are available from: Texas Tech Press, Sales Office, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409–1037, USA. Also available through Project Muse:
Joseph Conrad Today: The Newsletter of the Joseph Conrad Society of America, issued twice yearly, publishes brief notes and reviews, announcements about and reports on the Society’s sessions at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association of America and other news of interest to Conradians. Includes news about other scholarly conferences. Subscriptions are available from:
L’Époque Conradienne, issued annually, publishes articles, conference proceedings and reviews mainly in English. Subscriptions are available from: Société Conradienne Française, Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, Campus Universitaire de Limoges-Vanteaux, 39E rue Camille-Guérin, 87036 Limoges, France.