Problems of Authenticity: The Face Behind the Veil

  • D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke

Abstract

Conrad was in the Far East between 1883 and 1888, but the actual time he spent there was no more than a year. Moreover, his Eastern experiences were gained as second mate of the Palestine, first mate of the Vidar, and master of the Otago. As an active seaman, he spent little time ashore.1 Thus, his first-hand experience of Eastern countries and peoples was slight. Indeed, Norman Sherry estimates that Conrad spent altogether only about twelve days (three days each during the four times the Vidar called) at Tandjong Redeb,2 which he transmutes into Sambir and Patusan in his fiction. Given his extremely slight experience of the Malay Archipelago, it is in a way a logical consequence that the authenticity of his Eastern fictive world should be called into question. But is it as false as it has been often made out?3

Keywords

Assure Stein Malaysia Jetty Defend 

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Notes and References

  1. 4.
    Conrad, Almayer’s Folly in Almayer’s Folly and Tales of Unrest (London: Dent, 1947 edn) pp. 166–7.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Hugh Clifford, ‘The Art of Mr Joseph Conrad’, in The Spectator 29 November 1902, pp. 827–8.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    J. I. M. Stewart, Joseph Conrad (London: Longman, 1968) p. 39.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Sherard Osborn, My Journal in Malayan Waters (London, 1861 edn) p. 69.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    For instance, compare E. M. Forster’s account of an Indian ‘public wedding’ in which Islamic prayer and Western music mix — Forster, ’Adrift in India’, in Abinger Harvest (London, 1967 edn) p. 330.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KelaniyaSri Lanka

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