Reporting the 33rd Annual International Conference
@To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the writerfs birth, the Joseph Conrad Society (U.K.) held its 33rd annual conference in London for three days from the 5th to the 7th of July. The first two days saw the conference in the building of The Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) at Hammersmith in the north-western part of London, and the last day saw it at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, a suburb of London. I find it interesting for the Society to have chosen the museum as a meeting place. First, the museum is fittingly proper for Conrad who describes the characters of seamen in his impressive tales and stories; second, it is very close to the mouth of the Thames where Marlow narrates eHeart of Darknessf and eYouthf to his four friends; and third, it is within a stonefs throw of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, a target for the attempted bombing in The Secret Agent.
@Among the many participants of various nationalities, there were two from Japan; that is, Mr. Kenji Tanaka and I. As a presenter, Tanaka spoke about gnoteworthy Japaneseh who must be on friendly terms with Joseph Conrad in his Marseilles days. Security had been critical throughout Britain for a few days before we got to Heathrow Airport. There occurred in the central part of London two attempted acts of terrorism by using cars with an explosive in it and a similar incident at Glasgow Airport, Scotland. However, once we stepped into the conference it looked as if we were in another world completely different from the outer, threatening world.
@The conference started with Doctor Keith Karabinefs opening greetings. The room rang with his loud and clear voice, which sounded incredibly young for his age. In fact, he is in his middle sixties if it were permissible to refer to his age. He said, gUNESCO glorifies the achievements Conrad left behind in literature, particularly the manner in which he shows a deep insight into an individualfs ethics and human solidarityh and expressed his gratitude to us all for coming all the way to the meeting from the four corners of the earth. There were a variety of events and activities awaiting us to celebrate Joseph Conradfs 150th birthday. To cite some examples, there were a number of papers presented which were valid and convincing, a puppet show gOut of Heart of Darknessh, an audio-visual presentation of a new one-act opera on Heart of Darkness, in which both Tarik OfRegan, a young composer, and Tom Philips, a versatile artist, demonstrated how they had tackled to make the most of the original into the opera, and a lecture by Dr. J.H. Stape titled gOn Conrad Biography as a Fine Arth to mark the publication of his own new book The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad.
@Out of the presentations on the first day, Another Look at Conrad and Achebe was so impressive as to be worthy of the first paper by the first presenter. Robert Hampson told the exact details of Chinua Achebefs aggressive criticism of Heart of Darkness and showed how the work has been challenged as to its authenticity of a literary work for the past thirty years. At the same time, however, Hampson revealed how the work is complex containing a variety of subjects to be studied in future. To make his point clear, he referred to Albert J. Guerardfs psychological interpretation which tried to prove that Marlowfs travels into Congo are an exploration into his own identity. Hampson argued that Heart of Darkness is not meant to directly convey gAfrican savagenessh or dehumanize Africans. Conrad noticed the savage latent in the mind of Western people, and his imagination crystallized into Heart of Darkness, a challenge to the colonialism of Western industrialized countries. The work was full of insight and foresight in Conradfs times. What I made out of his presentation is that Professor Hampson suggested that Heart of Darkness is a piece of classic which will be read from generation to generation throughout the world.
@When Hampson ended up reading his paper, a woman scholar gave a sad cry, saying gThere would be nothing else than The Bible for us to read if literature should be read in Achebefs style.h I donft know, but her remarks have stuck in my mind since
@The second day started with the presentation of two papers on The End of the Tether, Doctor Owen Knowles acting as Chair. The first presenter was a young English scholar. He was inspired by eThe Nobility of Sightf, an essay by Hans Jonas (1903-93), a German-birth existential philosopher, to read the novella. In particular, he referred to the following part of Hans Jonasfs essay.
@Since the days of Greek philosophy sight has been hailed as the most excellent of the senses. The noblest activity of the mind, theoria, is described in metaphors mostly taken from the visual sphere. Plato, and Western Philosophy after him, speaks of the eeye of the soulf and of the elight of reasonf. cSight, in addition to furnishing the analogues for the intellectual upper-structure, has tended to serve as the model of perception in general and thus as the measure of the other senses. c Aristotle, in the first of the Metaphysics, relates the desire for the knowledge inherent in the nature of all men to the common delight in perception, most of all in vision.
@(Hans Jonas, eThe Nobility of Sight: A Study in the Phenomenology of the Sensesf)
@From this point of view the presenter attempted to explore Captain Whalleyfs outlook on the world, his religious faith, the meanings of his progressive blindness and even Conradfs artistic attitudes.
@The second presenter was a Conradian from Texas, the US, working at Odessa College. He paid special attention to the organic connection of edelayed decodingf with the plot of the novella.
@The last day Laurence Davies told about the relationship between Conrad and John Everett. In Conradfs later years J. B. Pinker, the writerfs agent, proposed that they should publish a new edition of The Mirror of the Sea which had been published in 1906 and that they should ask Herbert Barnard John Everett, a maritime painter and engraver, to illustrate it. Conrad, deeply moved by Everettfs gaccurate and imaginativeh pictures, responded with enthusiasm. Sadly enough, this plan did not bear fruit after all. Then Laurence Davies told how, just like Conrad, Everett went to sea early in his youth to become a genuine sailor at last. Meanwhile he went on painting the sea, boats and ships. He donated all his marine paintings to the National Maritime Museum. The presenter gave an explanation of the five paintings by using a slide projector, which must have been appreciated by Conrad. The pictures in question are
@The eCutty Sarkf and a Tug (1921)
AA Convoy (1918)
BConverting a Cunarder to a Merchant Ship (1918)
CThe eCastle Holmef in Surrey Commercial Dock (1921)
DLe Croisic (1921).
@Doctor Keith Carabine offered us twenty-three letters of Jessie Conrad in the period ranging from 1905 to 1933, out of which 18 have been unpublished. As he read her letters, he made a few comments on what kind of woman she was like. His tone of voice told clearly that Carabine is sympathetic with the writerfs wife. Jessie was from Camberwell, south of the Thames, which was mainly a lower-middle and working- class area. She was often ridiculed by Conradfs literary circle for some local accent and phrases in her speech. In fact, however, she was both a good wife and a good mother in her household. She always cared about her husbandfs health, and paid much attention to the education and discipline of her two boys. She was a good cook familiar with French and Italian meals. From 1923 to 24 Jessie sent some articles about cooking to Eric Pinker, the son of J.B. Pinker. Nine years after the husbandfs death, she complained that she had not heard from his elder son Borys for more than a year and a half, and that the sonfs wife had not let her see their grandson.
@(This report is half-finished. Ifm going to finish it in the near future.)