Monday, December 3, 2007

A Disgusting Inkpot

[Joseph Conrad to Family]

Stanford-le-Hope, Essex

To Charles and Angele Zagorska

My Dearest Charles and Angele,

This is the first Christmas I shall be able to spend with my wife. Now that I am no longer alone, on behalf of two of us -- so to speak -- I send you our sincerest wishes for your happiness, peace and successes great and small; for it is the latter which for most of us go to make up the joys of life. And we both send the same to our darling Aunt, whilst asking her -- at this time, when families are united at least in thought -- to remember us in her heart for she has known those whose memory is the guide of our lives.

I had the intention of coming home for the holiday -- home, that is to say, to you. It was a vague and uncertain plan, although a fervent wish. I did not tell you about it. I hardly dared myself think of it. Nevertheless, it is a cruel disappointment. There will be no holidays for me this year -- but I comfort myself with the thought that another year will follow and also other years -- and that dreams come true sometimes (not often). Meanwhile one must work, for we cannot live on praise, neither my wife nor myself. I used to write and to write ceaselessly, but now the sight of an inkpot and a penholder fill me with rage and disgust -- and yet I am still writing! Do not be angry with my long periods of silence. I will describe my state of mind to you; I do not wish to fill your ears with my lamentations. You can be sure that if I had something to be pleased with, I would hasten to manifest my joy to you. I boldly commend myself to your affection. I hope that this is not effrontery. I kiss the hands of cousin Angele, I embrace her and kiss my little cousins, after the fashion of a seaman, on both cheeks,

With all my heart I remain your devoted brother,

[ Joseph Conrad was born on December 3, 1857]

-from Joseph Conrad : life and letters, v.1 / ed. G. Jean-Aubry
New York : Doubleday-Page, 1927.

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