Conference Reports:‘Ϋ‰ο‹cŽQ‰Α•ρ
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* Conrad's Polish Footprints: III International Joseph Conrad Conference at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland, 29 May-1 June 2001
Ann Lane Bradshaw
This Conference, hosted by Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, and with the Polish Prime Minister as its patron, is the third such in ten years. Volumes from the associated East European Monograph series have also been published annually over this time by Columbia University Press.

The form of the Conference is peripatetic. The first day we spend in Lublin, before moving on to Kazimierz-Dolny for the proceedings. During the morning's open-ing plenary session we hear that Professor Najder (who speaks as President of Poland's Conrad Society) will not be able to attend conference sessions, because he is on the committee advising the Polish Government on how to make its case for entering the European Union. Sad for us, but how good, and how unusual, for such a great humanist scholar and intellectual to be called upon by government!

Our setting in Lublin is, historically and currently, politically aliveƒ€a suitable atmosphere in which to start discussing Conrad. As we drive towards the medieval part of Lublin we hear about the Jewish ghetto, evidence of long denied and now admitted anti-Semitism in Poland. Professor Krajka, the chief organizer of our conference, and supervisor of the University's graduate Conrad studies, also explains to us that the architecture of Lublin Castle is visible testimony that here, on this very spot in Poland, East meets West. The exterior of the Castle is Roman Catholic in design, the interior, Russian Orthodox. Within, inside the 15th century Russo-Byzantine chapel, was signed the treaty of union between Poland and Lithuania in 1569.

The papers at the conference are given in two sessions simultaneously. In an exquisite, traditional Polish living room are held papers mostly concerning Conrad's Polish and Russian contexts; in a comfortable modern seminar room are papers ranging over topics such as Conrad's contemporary French and English contexts, in drama as well as in prose, writing style, iconography, political and ethical philosophy (chief figures here being Emmanuel Levinas and Homi Bhabha, along with Schopenhauer, Freud and Lacan), and colonial issues. Despite the absence of famous names amongst the conference participants the standard of the papers is evenly high. Another point people comment on favorably is the truly international representation, the 50 speakers coming from 14 countries. Also remarked is the convivial atmosphere of the question sessions (though perhaps this virtue came at the cost of hard scrutiny of some issues that arose in various papersƒ€ the knotty claims of 'intertextual' relevance, for example). Fortunate members able to stay on for a further week were guided, in Conrad's 'footprints', to Krak—w, Zakopane and Warsaw.