Monday, July 23, 2007

Conrad and the 'illusion of nearness'

To E. L. Sanderson

14 April, 1896
Ile-Grande, par Lannion

Dear Ted,

At last, from my new (and very first) home, I write you to say that I am quite oppressed by my sense of importance in having a house,--actually a whole house!!,--to live in. It's the first time,--since I came to years of discretion,--that such an event happened in my life.

Jess is immensely amused by the kitchen (the fireplace alone is big enough for her to live in) and spends most of her time trying to talk with the girl (who is a perfect treasure). The kitchen is the most splendid and the best furnished apartment of the palace,--and the only way in or out, anyhow. So we see it pretty often. Our sticks and caps have their domicile there altogether.

The coast is rocky, sandy, wild and full of mournful expressiveness. But the land, at the back of the wide stretches of the sea enclosed by the barren archipelago, is green and smiling and sunny,--often even when the sea and the islets are under the shadow of the passing clouds. From beyond the rounded slopes of the hill the sharp spires of many village churches point persistently to the sky. And the people that inhabits these shores is a people of women,--black-clad and white-capped,--for the men fish in Iceland or on the banks of Newfoundland. Only here and there a rare old fellow with long hair, forgotten by the successive roll-calls of the sea, creeps along the rock between beaches and looks sad and useless and lone in the stony landscape.

The first chapter of The Rescuer is gone to London yesterday. I want Unwin to have a sample to show to the Mag.[azine] Editors.

Write to me about yourself as I write to you about myself. So we shall have the illusion of nearness.

[Joseph Conrad]

-from Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters by G. Jean-Aubry (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Page & Co., 1927) Vol. 1, p. 188.

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