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A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad

John Peters

Publication Date - December 2009

ISBN: 9780195332773

264 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

An accessible guide and comprehensive overview to the widely read and widely taught canonical author, complete with an up-to-date bibliography and illustrated chronology.


Born to Polish parents in what is now known as the Ukraine, Joseph Conrad would become one of the greatest writers in the English language. With works like Lord Jim, The Nigger of the "Narcissus," and Heart of Darkness, he not only solidified his place in the panethon of great novelists, but also established himself as a keen-eyed chronicler of the social and political themes that animated the contemporary world around him. The original essays assembled here by John G. Peters showcase the abundance of historical material Conrad drew upon to create his varied literary corpus. Essays show how the author mined his early life as a sailor to pen gripping, realistic tales of nautical life while issuing scathing indictments of colonialism and capitalist cupidity in works like Almayer's Folly and Heart of Darkness. His unique sense of himself as an outsider is explored in relation to his pointed political novels that critiqued corruption and terrorism, most notably in Nostromo and The Secret Agent. In addition to his major works, essays consider Conrad's contributions as an innovative modernist and his unique role in the nineteenth-century literary marketplace. Complete with an up-to-date bibliography and illustrated chronology, A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad provides an invaluable resource to the life and work of the major novelist.


  • Accessible guide and comprehensive overview to the widely read and widely taught canonical author
  • Features an illustrated chronology with over twenty illustrations, putting Conrad's life and times in vivid perspective
  • Contains contributions by the best Conrad scholars writing today

About the Author(s)

John G. Peters is Associate Professor of English at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Conrad and Impressionism.


"...[The essays here] orient the new reader and experienced scholar alike with both the traditions in Conrad criticism and the state of the feeling today. ... A Historical Guide to Joseph Conrad is an outstanding resource for the beginning scholar or student of Conrad's works, one which should find a place on any Conradian's bookshelf. ... [I]nvaluable to students and readers new to his works." --Joseph Conrad Today

"...[W]ell worth close perusal... Scholars will be reminded just how much there is to know about the Conrads peripheral to their own work...[and] students of various levels will be provided not only with examples of the wider seas over which their inquiries might range, but also an important illustration of the uniquely broad held of study encompassed by the work of a single author." --Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies

"John G. Peters opens this excellent contextualization of Conrad's career with a perceptive overview of the key literary techniques that the writer pioneered... Peters goes on to summarize the subsequent chapters with insight and clarity: it is a fast-paced and lucid introduction to what is a very welcome volume. ... [E]ach essay follows a structural pattern that complements and mirrors the others. This approach has ensured a uniformity of quality in the essays, which are not only rich in historical and political detail, but also rich in insights from some of the most respected scholars in the field. ... Peters is to be congratulated on producing a truly stimulating and impressive volume." --The Joseph Conrad Society (UK)

"Free of jargon and written in clear, accessible prose, all the essays will help those coming to Conrad studies for the first time. The volume includes extensive notes and a topical bibliography... Essential." --CHOICE

"This Historical Guide is an indispensable tool for students and scholars alike. Newcomers are given an introduction to Conrad's life and work and are also provided with historical background information about the period, while scholars are given an opportunity to see Conrad's works from a new perspective--and perhaps to read Conrad anew." --Yearbook of Conrad Studies

Table of Contents


    John G. Peters
    Joseph Conrad's Life
    Cedric T. Watts
    Joseph Conrad and the Maritime Tradition
    Mark D. Larabee
    Conrad and the Literary Marketplace
    Joyce Piell Wexler
    Conrad and Politics
    Allan H. Simmons
    Joseph Conrad as Guide to Colonial History
    Christopher GoGwilt
    Conrad and Modernism
    Andrea White
    Illustrated Chronology
    Bibliographical Essay: Conrad Commentary Past and Present

    John G. Peters