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Together with The Mirror of the Sea, Joseph Conrad’s A Personal Record (1911) is one of his two openly autobiographical books. A short volume of reminiscences, it was written originally for an ambitious literary periodical.
Conrad was born in Poland, moving to live in France in 1874. He subsequently joined the British merchant navy, and did not begin writing novels until he was nearly forty. In this book he describes his cultural heritage, and the central motives in his life as a seaman and a writer separated from the country where he was born. Events of his life are shown in sudden flashes of reflection, sometimes playful, but more often serious and definitive.
This is a captivating and moving book, which gives us illuminating insights into Joseph Conrad’s real past; his family and national background, and his persistent quest to impose on his life a meaning consistent with the exacting demands of the moral principles he had formulated and in which he strongly believed.
‘Those who read me know my conviction that the world, the temporal world, rests on a few very simple ideas; so simple that they must be as old as the hills. It rests notably, amongst others, on the idea of Fidelity.’
(from A Personal Record)
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