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Notes on Life and Letters   By: (1857-1924)

Book cover

First Page:

NOTES ON LIFE & LETTERS

Contents:

Author's note

PART I Letters

BOOKS 1905. HENRY JAMES AN APPRECIATION 1905 ALPHONSE DAUDET 1898 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 1904 ANATOLE FRANCE 1904 TURGENEV 1917 STEPHEN CRANE A NOTE WITHOUT DATES 1919 TALES OF THE SEA 1898 AN OBSERVER IN MALAYA 1898 A HAPPY WANDERER 1910 THE LIFE BEYOND 1910 THE ASCENDING EFFORT 1910 THE CENSOR OF PLAYS AN APPRECIATION 1907

PART II Life

AUTOCRACY AND WAR 1905 THE CRIME OF PARTITION 1919 A NOTE ON THE POLISH PROBLEM 1916 POLAND REVISITED 1915 FIRST NEWS 1918 WELL DONE 1918 TRADITION 1918 CONFIDENCE 1919 FLIGHT 1917 SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE LOSS OF THE TITANIC 1912 CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE ADMIRABLE INQUIRY INTO THE LOSS OF THE TITANIC 1912 PROTECTION OF OCEAN LINERS 1914 A FRIENDLY PLACE

AUTHOR'S NOTE

I don't know whether I ought to offer an apology for this collection which has more to do with life than with letters. Its appeal is made to orderly minds. This, to be frank about it, is a process of tidying up, which, from the nature of things, cannot be regarded as premature. The fact is that I wanted to do it myself because of a feeling that had nothing to do with the considerations of worthiness or unworthiness of the small (but unbroken) pieces collected within the covers of this volume. Of course it may be said that I might have taken up a broom and used it without saying anything about it. That, certainly, is one way of tidying up.

But it would have been too much to have expected me to treat all this matter as removable rubbish. All those things had a place in my life. Whether any of them deserve to have been picked up and ranged on the shelf this shelf I cannot say, and, frankly, I have not allowed my mind to dwell on the question. I was afraid of thinking myself into a mood that would hurt my feelings; for those pieces of writing, whatever may be the comment on their display, appertain to the character of the man.

And so here they are, dusted, which was but a decent thing to do, but in no way polished, extending from the year '98 to the year '20, a thin array (for such a stretch of time) of really innocent attitudes: Conrad literary, Conrad political, Conrad reminiscent, Conrad controversial. Well, yes! A one man show or is it merely the show of one man?

The only thing that will not be found amongst those Figures and Things that have passed away, will be Conrad en pantoufles . It is a constitutional inability. Schlafrock und pantoffeln ! Not that! Never! . . . I don't know whether I dare boast like a certain South American general who used to say that no emergency of war or peace had ever found him "with his boots off"; but I may say that whenever the various periodicals mentioned in this book called on me to come out and blow the trumpet of personal opinions or strike the pensive lute that speaks of the past, I always tried to pull on my boots first. I didn't want to do it, God knows! Their Editors, to whom I beg to offer my thanks here, made me perform mainly by kindness but partly by bribery. Well, yes! Bribery? What can you expect? I never pretended to be better than the people in the next street, or even in the same street.

This volume (including these embarrassed introductory remarks) is as near as I shall ever come to deshabille in public; and perhaps it will do something to help towards a better vision of the man, if it gives no more than a partial view of a piece of his back, a little dusty (after the process of tidying up), a little bowed, and receding from the world not because of weariness or misanthropy but for other reasons that cannot be helped: because the leaves fall, the water flows, the clock ticks with that horrid pitiless solemnity which you must have observed in the ticking of the hall clock at home. For reasons like that. Yes! It recedes. And this was the chance to afford one more view of it even to my own eyes.

The section within this volume called Letters explains itself, though I do not pretend to say that it justifies its own existence... Continue reading book >>




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