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A Personal Record is an autobiographical work (or “fragment of biography”) by Joseph Conrad, published in 1912.It has also been published under the titles A Personal Record: Some Reminiscences and Some Reminiscences.Notoriously unreliable and digressive in structure, it is nonetheless the principal contemporary source for information about the author’s life. It tells about his schooling in Russian Poland, his sailing in Marseille, the influence of his Uncle Tadeusz, and the writing of Almayer’s Folly.It provides a glimpse of how Conrad wished to be seen by his British public, as well as being an atmospheric work of art.The “Familiar Preface” Conrad wrote for it includes the often quoted lines:”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, among others, on the idea of Fidelity.”Conrad wrote a new ‘Author’s Note’ to A Personal Record for the Doubleday collected edition of his works (published in 1920) in which he discussed his friendship with the British colonial official and writer Hugh Clifford.Chapter 1 recalls his first attempts at Almayer’s Folly which he wrote mostly at sea. His first reader was a passenger on his ship who dies a few weeks later. There are some recollections of early life including the often quoted passage when he was nine year old and looked at a map of Africa and pointed to the blank space and said “When I grow up I shall go there.” (p. 17)Chapter 2 has more autobiographical recollections of his youth until about the time he ventures out West. He travels to Switzerland earlier where he hears English for the first time from some tourists.Chapter 3 is a rather interesting recounting of Conrad’s family history going back a couple of generations from the time of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in which his Conrad’s great-uncle participated to the failed Revolution of 1963. There are some fascinating descriptions of scenes involving a Cossack and peasant raid and harsh criticism by Conrad of both Napoleon and Russian imperialism. Chapter 4 is about the real Almayer.Chapter 5 is hard to comment on. Towards the end Conrad mentions spending twenty months on Nostromo which was both a “failure” and “astonishing” to critics. He also makes kind remarks about Stephen Crane whom he met. Stephen gave his son a dog which he felt every boy should have. Chapter 6 is about Conrad’s exams in seamanship at the Port of London. They were all verbal exams by different examiners each time lasting from forty minutes to three hours. Chapter 7 Conrad takes us from his last seamanship exam to the beginning of his sea career when his uncle sends him to Marseilles. He describes his first experiences with sea life.
Acerca de Joseph Conrad
Jozef Teodor Conrad Korzeniowski, más conocido como Joseph Conrad, nació en Berdichev (actual Ucrania) en 1857, en el seno de una familia de la nobleza rural polaca. Pasó su niñez en Siberia y en Ucrania, donde su padre había sido deportado. A los diecisiete años se trasladó a Marsella y, ocho años después, obtuvo la ciudadanía inglesa, se hizo oficial de la marina mercante y recorrió los mares bajo pabellón británico. Retirado en 1896, se estableció en Inglaterra, se casó y se dedicó por completo a la literatura. Murió en 1924. Entre sus principales novelas, todas ellas escritas en inglés, figuran: La locura de Almayer (1895), El negro del Narciso (1897), Lord Jim (1900), El corazón de las tinieblas (1902), Tifón (1903), Nostromo (1904) y El agente secreto (1907).
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