This volume brings together a wide range of letters and documents which collectively shed a great deal of light on Joseph Conrad's cultural roots, a subject of growing interest in recent years. The texts have been edited by Professor Zdzistaw Najder, one of the most eminent of Conrad scholars, and translated by Halina Carroll-Najder. Very few of the texts collected here have been made available in English before; many have never appeared in the original Polish. The texts are grouped according to the events and subjects referred to. A significant collection of letters by Conrad's parents is particularly revealing. His mother, Ewa, emerges as a deeply patriotic and religious woman who was intensely loyal to her husband. His father, Apollo, was a complex man; proud, self-centred, even opinionated, he was a poet and writer of satirical comedies as well as being an outspoken democrat and fierce patriot. A different influence on the young Conrad was exerted by his uncle - guardian, Tadeusz Bobrowski, a level-headed rationalist and enlightened liberal; numerous fragments of his memoirs are included in the book.
The other documents comprise accounts and reminiscences of Conrad's early life and his relations to Poland from people who knew the family, an interview Conrad gave to a Polish journalist, and some Polish reviews of his work. Professor Najder's aim is to dispel misconceptions about Conrad's cultural background and his Polish roots by providing the documentary basis for future research and criticism. His book will be an essential tool of reference for all serious students of Conrad.