The Selected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Edited by Laurence Davies, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN 9780521191920. Hb, 553 pp. £30.99.

James Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


With the exception of a very small number of letters detailing Conrad’s early years, The Selected Letters of Joseph Conrad covers the author’s literary career, from the publication of his first novel Almayer’s Folly in 1895 to his death in 1924. Yet, whilst amounting to over five hundred pages the selection represents only one-eighth of the vast nine-volume Collected Letters.1 In making this selection, Davies acknowledges the onus of responsibility in identifying the ‘best of the best’, but also indicates a desire to unsettle expectations (p. xxvi). We are therefore presented with a wide variety of correspondence that reflects Conrad’s broader interests and concerns to produce a more comprehensive and compelling depiction of the writer’s life, rather than one which would foreground the development of the key works and friendships. As Davies suggests, ‘too much purposeful narration hides the uncertainties of living day to day’ (p. xxvi).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-93
Number of pages3
Issue number268
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2021

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