Friday, June 13, 2008

let this be written

Joseph Conrad to Edward Garnett

Good Friday in sorrow and tribulation

Dearest Garnett,

hat do you think of me? Think I love you though I am a dumb dog or no better than a whining dog. There's not a spark left in me. I am overwhelmed and utterly flattened. Hueffers are gone-- yesterday. So is McClure who came for the night. A decent little chap I say if I got to die for it!

Is trying to ram the Rescue into the Atlantic Monthly but the R is not finished yet--not yet--not yet.

"I'll be your banner" says little McClure--this is better than a kick on the shin bone I guess; but the spirit suffers.

Give our love to your restored household. Restored to you--I mean. H. said you reproached him for his fleeting sojourn here. It is not conclusive evidence but if so learn that our friends cannot save us from the effects of our own folly.

Are you angry with me?

If so learn that I am so hardened by adversity that your anger glides off me as a dart glances off a turtle's back, and I still continue to radiate affection on you--my affection which is not so offensive as Wells' Martian's Heat-ray--but nearly as warm.

It won't set the Thames on fire tho'. Nothing of mine will. I think of you with gentle melancholy as of one who has put his money on the wrong horse. I am literally lame. Gout. Brought on by--by--by agitation, exasperation, botheration you know; those things you laugh at and bite your thumbs at--O' Lord! And I write! I write! I write! Certainly. Write quick. Not quick enough to make up for the frightful leeway. But I write.

And a propos of writing. Have you seen pt. III of H of D?* My dear fellow I daren't send you my MS. I feel it would worry you. I feel my existence alone worries you enough. This is not conceit; quite the contrary.

But drop me word of pt. III. Fact is I am not worthy to take up your thought. The more I write the less substance do I see in my work. The scales are falling off my eyes. It is tolerably awful. And I face it, I face it but the fright is growing on me. My fortitude is shaken by the view of the monster. It does not move; its eyes are baleful; it is as still as death itself--and it will devour me. Its stare has eaten into my soul already deep, deep. I am alone with it in a chasm with perpendicular sides of black basalt. Never were sides so perpendicular and smooth, and high. Above, your anxious head against a bit of sky peers down--in vain--in vain. There's no rope long enough for that rescue.

Why didn't you come? I expected you and fate has sent Hueffer. Let this be written on my tombstone.
Ever yours

*Heart of Darkness, Black wood's Magazine, February, March and April, 1899.

-from Letters from Joseph Conrad 1895-1924 edited with introduction and notes by Edward Garnett (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill) p.152-54.

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