CONRAD, Joseph (1857-1924). Autograph manuscript of the unfinished novel "The Sisters," containing some 5,000 words, comprising the beginning of a novel started after The Outcast of the Islands (1896) and dropped when Conrad began work on The Nigger ...
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CONRAD, Joseph (1857-1924). Autograph manuscript of the unfinished novel "The Sisters," containing some 5,000 words, comprising the beginning of a novel started after The Outcast of the Islands (1896) and dropped when Conrad began work on The Nigger of the Narcissus (1898); a working manuscript with extensive revisions, deletions and interlinear additions throughout, and with a number of pencil notes in the margins by Edward Garnett, (1868-1937) Conrad's friend and encourager, suggesting revisions and critiquing the narrative. [London, 1896-1897]. 39 pages, small folio, written in dark ink on rectos only of sheets of lined paper, three sections (pp.1-10, 11-20, 21-30) gathered with a brass pin at top left-hand corner, pp. 31-39 ungathered. A small strip of lined paper with 8 lines added text affixed to bottom of page 1 by Conrad, light soiling to margins of several pages, a few ink smudges, but generally in excellent condition. Enclosed in a cloth chemise and brown morocco pull-off case. [ With :] ROTHENSTEIN, William. Lithographic portrait of Joseph Conrad, 1903, INSCRIBED BY CONRAD: "With friendly regards from J.C. Nov. 1911." 9¾ x 7¾ in., on green tinted paper; framed. THE QUINN MANUSCRIPT OF CONRAD'S "THE SISTERS": "A NOVEL ABOUT A PAINTER [THAT] SHOULD HAVE BEEN MY THIRD NOVEL. I GAVE IT UP AND THE NIGGER CAME INSTEAD" A working draft of the beginning of an extensively revised unfinished novel, never studied in detail, which may yield important insights into Conrad's writing methods at this crucial phase in his development as a writer. VIRTUALLY NO AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPTS OF CONRAD REMAIN IN PRIVATE HANDS TODAY. Some critics have noted a connection between Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage , which Conrad read at about this date, and "The Sisters," as well as the later Lord Jim . Conrad's protagonist is a European fin-de-siecle aesthete, a painter named Stephen who had "set off on his search for a creed - and found only an infinity of formulas." Estranged from his family in Russia, possessed of ample means but insecure about his humble origins, Stephen wanders Europe, "trying to read a meaning into all the forms of beauty that solicited his admiration...The prodigies of chisel and brush transported him at first with the hope of a persuasion, of an unveiled religion of art--and then plunged him into despair by refusing to say the last word." In Conrad's conception, Stephen "believed that in the world of art, amongst so many forms of created beauty there could be found the secret of genius. All those brains that had produced so many masterpieces had left amongst them, hidden from the crowd but visible to the elect, the expression of their creed: the one, the final, the appeasing. He looked for it. He looked for the magic sign" Disillusioned by the "heartless serenity of perfection" he finds in art and seeking a retreat, he establishes himself in a pavilion at Passy, near Paris. The building is owned by a Spanish family, the Ortegas. The story soon focuses on the vicissitudes of the Ortegas orphaned nieces, Rita and Theresa, the latter being raised by a poor priest, the other living with a well-to-do family in Paris. Conrad wrote to Quinn on 5 September 1923 regarding the manuscript, explaining that "it is a true fragment, the beginning of a novel I started to write directly I had finished the Outcast and abandoned in despair at being unable to keep up the high pitch. No human eye but that of Edward Garnett and of my wife had ever seen it. The pencil notes in the margin are by Garnett who at that time used to see all of my work before even it went to be typed. This of course has not even been typed. It should have been my third novel. I gave it up - and the Nigger [of the Narcissus] came instead. And it is a novel which should have been about a painter...Have it typed and read it. It is rather curious. That's, my dear Quinn, how I could write eighteen years ago." Then, seventeen years later, Conrad ponders his motives fo
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