CONRAD (JOSEPH) Autograph letter signed, to his editor Edward Garnett, [1903]
Lot 46
CONRAD (JOSEPH) Autograph letter signed, to his editor Edward Garnett, [1903]
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Autograph letter signed ("Jph Conrad"), to his editor Edward Garnett ("My dearest Edward"), written to condole him on the death of his mother, Olivia: "Do not ascribe my silence to callousness. Indeed it has quite another cause; for I who have now not a single soul living in my past have been profoundly touched by your loss... I heard of it in Winchelsea where I had gone to work. I went on working, thinking of you my dear fellow and not a little of your father – thinking and saying nothing because death you know takes all the virtue out of the words – the best meant the truest to the feeling. And now as you see I am saying nothing, taking refuge as it were in myself before your affliction. But I hope and trust that you'll find it not utterly distasteful to come here as we had planned in the fortunate ignorance of our hearts. Verily we who remain are most tenderly treated till the very moment of execution. I heard from Ford of you all, but he had not much to say of course. Perhaps you could give me some news. For your poor father and your sister Olive my concern is the greatest – for him because of the great shock; and of her health I've heard an unsatisfactory account from Ford", 2 pages, neat repair at fold, creased, in fine condition, 4to, The Pent, [27 June 1903]


  • 'DEATH YOU KNOW TAKES ALL THE VIRTUE OUT OF THE WORDS': a moving letter of consolation by Joseph Conrad to the man who discovered him – 'in 1894 Garnett [as editor at T. Fisher Unwin] accepted Joseph Conrad's first book, Almayer's Folly, and persuaded him not to go back to sea but to write another. Conrad, though eleven years his senior, nevertheless deferred to Garnett's authority; and Garnett's considerable influence on Conrad's work, which is revealed in Letters from Conrad (1928), is perhaps his greatest contribution to literature' (Richard D. C. Garnett, ODNB). Garnett was later to describe his impression of Conrad at this time: 'My memory is of seeing a dark-haired man, short but extremely graceful in his nervous gestures, with brilliant eyes, now narrowed and penetrating, now soft and warm, with a manner alert yet caressing, whose speech was ingratiating, guarded, and brusque turn by turn. I had never seen before a man so masculinely keen yet so femininely sensitive' (Letters from Conrad, p. vii). Conrad was then busy finishing Romance (1903), the not altogether successful novel he was writing with Ford Madox Hueffer (later Ford). This fine letter is published in The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, edited by Laurence Davies, et al., ix (2007), p. 93.
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