This is the fourth of eight volumes comprising all the surviving letters of Joseph Conrad. Conrad spent half the period of Volume Four writing Under Western Eyes and the other half recovering from the ensuing mental and physical breakdown. During the early months of 1908, the short story 'Razumov' began growing into a novel that embodied Conrad's appalled fascination with Russian politics, his misgivings about language, and his acute sense of loneliness. After the completion of the novel in 1910 and a vehement quarrel with J. B. Pinker, his agent, Conrad suffered a breakdown whose effects lingered for many months. By the spring of 1911, however, he was able to resume the long-delayed Chance. The tale of these years emerges vividly from the correspondence. Of special interest are frank critiques of John Galsworthy's work, manoeuvrings around the new and distinguished English Review, an indignant falling out with Ford Madox Ford, mercurial transactions with Pinker, enlightening accounts of writing in progress (The Secret Sharer and A Personal Record as well as the two novels), reactions to the tumultuous politics of the day, anecdotes about John and Borys Conrad, and evidence of new friendships with American and French writers, among them Andre Gide.
"The scholarly wealth and care of this edition, the clarity of lay-out and secondary material are beyond praise. This represents the archival energy of American scholarship at its finest." George Steiner, The Sunday Times "These letters are impeccably edited and presented...To anyone interested in the history of fiction writing or the emergence of modernism, they are indispensable." Tony Tanner, The Times Higher Education Supplement "One of the advantages of this new collection -- besides that of providing accurate texts of unpublished correspondence and of the many letters that have long been available in unreliable editions -- is that it enables us to appreciate the extent to which some of Conrad's letters are themselves part of his achievement at a prose writer." Louis Menand, The New York Times Book Review "The editorial format of this volume stands as a model for such publications. Not only does it display meticulous scholarship; it also anticipates many of the problems that commonly confront readers." Welford D. Taylor, Richmond News Leader