Conrad's Western World traces the sources of Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and some of the short stories related to these novels. As in his highly acclaimed Conrad's Eastern World, Professor Sherry provides an interesting blend of biographical reconstruction and investigation into the originals of the main incidents and characters - Kurtz, Nostromo, Verloc and many of the minor figures as well. It has been possible to show in the study of Conrad's source material a movement away from analyses of personal experience or the narrated experiences of others to a manipulation of material entirely outside the bounds of his own experience. This change reveals also a movement in interest from personal and private dilemmas to wider and more public concerns, and shows Conrad developing a progressive sense of the frightening underside of human society. Finally, Professor Sherry considers the play of Conrad's mind over his source material and traces the development of individual works from the given sources to the completed fiction. This reconstruction of Conrad's original materials and the tracing of their development into literary works of great distinction gives us a unique insight into Conrad's preoccupations and art.
'The promptings of genius are at all times difficult to trace and define; but by his combination of patient and probing research and psychological insight, Professor Sherry admits us to the secrets of Conrad's imagination.' Contemporary Review 'In his Introduction to this new study of Conrad's autobiographical and literary sources, Professor Sherry relates it specifically to his earlier and justly celebrated volume Conrad's Eastern World. It must be said straight away that the new book sustains the high level of detective prowess of its predecessor; one is constantly fascinated and sometimes astonished by what Professor Sherry is able to reveal.' Critical Quarterly