Joseph Conrad = Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

During, October (Polish Heritage Month), when I wrote about Polish literati, I neglected to mention, Joseph Conrad. A huge oversight on my part, that I did not realize until afterwards, when I had read Donna Pointkouski’s comment with a link to her fine article on Polish authors.

I hope you can already guess the reason for my mental blunder, Joseph Conrad, was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He was born 3-December-1857 in Berdichev (Polish: Berdyczów, in the Russian Gubernia, of Kiev). Donna’s article said his first language was Polish and his second language was French and that Joseph Conrad did not become fluent in English until his 20’s. I have to wonder that perhaps that there must have been some Russian nestled in between Polish and French given his birthplace and early life. At any rate, it is a marvel that he could be so literate in English and that his literary prose so remarkable, considering it was not his native language. Now he has a rather lengthy bibliography and this jester can only claim to have read, Heart of Darkness (1899).

Check out the wikipedia article from the above link. Look at the picture of Conrad. You can see the noble birth writ upon his face and his intellect is there too in his eyes. This man should have been an author – thank goodness he became one.

For Stanczyk, who came across Conrad later in life and having only read Heart of Darkness, I categorized him in with his contemporaries: Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, & Sir Henry Rider Haggard (who? – author of Solomon’s Mines, creator of the “Lost World” literary genre) and their literary inheritors: Edgar Rice Burroughs (not so much Tarzan as his John Carter character) and Robert E. Howard. There may be many others, but these are the ones I have read. I am sure Ernest Hemmingway read Conrad from Hemmingway’s quotes and there are elements in Hemmingway’s works/life that bring to mind Joseph Conrad. So I guess my brain “Anglicized” this brilliant author who wrote such fluid prose in English and imbued it with his Slavic soul.

That is my mea culpa for omitting Joseph Conrad in October and I am sticking with it.

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