"There’s a long and noble tradition of literary critics misunderstanding Joseph Conrad. Partly that’s because he is such a complicated, dense and fascinating writer. Far more words have been written about him than he ever wrote himself – and not everyone can get it right all the time. Especially when you throw combustible postcolonial issues into the mix." [Sam Jordison - The Guardian] [more inside]
"We know that Conrad was an admirer of Stevenson’s work, and in fact that he thought more highly of Stevenson’s South Seas nonfiction writings than of his novels, at least according to Colvin, who knew both men. To my knowledge, however, no one has connected the next set of dots, not just from Stevenson’s writing to Conrad’s, but from Stevenson’s Samoan persona to Kurtz. Why not consider whether Stevenson’s grandiose island life influenced Conrad’s masterpiece?" Where Did Kurtz Come From? [single page], Matthew Pearl for Slate. Related: Conrad’s 'Heart of Darkness' gets operatic treatment (SF Examiner) | reviews (with stage photos).
Dancing with Cannibals is an historical novel available as an ebook. From the Mefi Projects description page: "Never before has there been a novel about the genocide in the Congo Free State written in English by an African writer. Dancing with Cannibals would seem to have been influenced by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (which is also set in the Congo during the Belgian regime) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, but Dicho Ilunga has not read either of those books. Ilunga’s writing is largely absent a European context. Ilunga describes his literary training as coming from the Zairian writers that he read in school and from two novels by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho who Ilunga says has an African style." [more inside]
In literature, there are two key sorts of annotations: marginalia, or the notes jotted down in the margins by the reader, and additional information formally provided in expanded editions of a text, and you can find a bit of both online. Annotated Books Online is an on-line interactive archive of early modern annotated books, where researchers can share digitized documents and collaborate on translations. For insight into a single author's notes, Melville's Marginalia provides just that. For annotations with additional information, The Thoreau Reader provides context for Walden (linked previously), The Maine Woods, and other writings. Then there's the mostly annotated edition Ulysses, analysis of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, and the thoroughly annotated US constitution (twentieth amendment linked previously). More marginalia and annotations inside. [more inside]
Perched high up above the Thames in downtown London every month this past year a different writer has spent four days living in a replica of the Roi des Belges, the boat Marlow travels up the Congo in Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. Each author would write a short text during their stay "which explores London, rivers, the work of Joseph Conrad, or even all three." They would be visited on the last day by a journalist from The Guardian who recorded them reading their essay, poem or short story. Among the poets, historians and novelists were Adonis, Jeanette Winterson, Teju Cole, Michael Ondaatje and Kamila Shamsie. These recordings, each prefaced by a short interview, are all available on the Guardian website, to stream or download. Below the cut there is a link to each recording, with a short description. [more inside]
We Were Wanderers On A Prehistoric Earth (3m14s, fullscreen)
When the House of Commons required a portrait of outgoing PM Tony Blair, to whom did they turn? Phil Hale. [more inside]
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary since the birth of Joseph Conrad [Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim etc], The Guardian's Giles Foden makes a fair attempt at assessing the great novelist's legacy. [via]