A Conrad Companion by Norman Page (auth.)

By Norman Page (auth.)

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It is also instructive to read Conrad's 'Congo Diary', first published in a limited edition in 1926 and included in the same year in Last Essays, for its graphically detailed account of part of Conrad's journey. The following quotations, from the first of what Curle describes as the 'two small black penny notebooks', suggest something of the nature of the experience: [7 July] ... Walking through long grass for I! hours. Crossed a broad river about I 00 feet wide and 4 deep ... walking along an undulating plain towards the Inkandu market on a hill.

This generalizing, non-specifying tendency is glossed by Conrad's own remark to Richard Curle that 'explicitness ... is fatal to the glamour of all artistic work, robbing it of all suggestiveness, destroying all illusion'. A full account of the interplay of fact and fiction in 'Heart of Darkness' is given in Norman Sherry's Conrad's Western World. It is also instructive to read Conrad's 'Congo Diary', first published in a limited edition in 1926 and included in the same year in Last Essays, for its graphically detailed account of part of Conrad's journey.

Moreover, most of his time was Conrad's World 45 inevitably spent in the loneliness of the ocean, and his experiences of life ashore must have been quite limited. For all that, brief glimpses and even second-hand gossip were enough to initiate a process that, years later, produced the novels and stories with an Eastern setting.

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