The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad Cover

The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

By John Stape

Pantheon, Hardcover, 9781400044498, 400pp.

Publication Date: March 11, 2008


The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad is the first new biography in more than a decade of one of modern literature’s most important writers--whose work remains widely read and acutely relevant eighty years after his death. In this authoritative, insightful book, we see Joseph Conrad as a man who consistently reinvented himself. Born in 1857 in Berdichev, Ukraine, he left home early and worked as a sailor out of Marseilles; traveled to the Far East and Africa with the British merchant navy; and, finally, in 1891, settled in England, beginning a precarious existence as an novelist and family man. Here is a Conrad for our moment: a man with a deep sense of otherness; a writer with multiple cultural identities who wrote in his third language and whose fiction became the cornerstone of literary Modernism.
With his exceptional knowledge and understanding of Conrad, and drawing on unpublished letters and documents, John Stape succeeds in casting an illuminating new light on the life of a willfully enigmatic man who remains one of the greatest writers of his, and our, time.

Praise For The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

"John Stape has brought Joseph Conrad so much to life--a working writer, a man subject to pain and vicissitude, not a 'study,' not a statue--that inevitably one suffers with him. Jessie Conrad, too, is alive in these pages, and their son Borys so much so that Stape can't help wanting to give him a good thrashing. Especially striking in the scope of this superb biography is its organic human trajectory, the evolution of Conrad from where he began to what he became. The undistinguished young Conrad could really be anyone at all; the old Conrad is Conrad, and not because the image is so familiar--those omniscient creases fanning out of all-seeing eyes that have known dread. One finishes reading in something like a state of personal mourning: a life that is as sad as it is triumphant."
--Cynthia Ozick, author of Heir to the Glimmering