Only Max Beerbohm could have imagined Conrad on a beach. In his 1921 cartoon, he has the monocled novelist pose in a dandyish summer suit while watching a snake slither through the eye-socket of a skull on a deserted stretch of sand. ‘What a charming beach!’ Conrad muses grimly. ‘One has the illusion that here one could be always almost merry!’1 Beerbohm titled the caricature ‘Somewhere in the Pacific’ but ‘Conrad on the Beach’ would have been even better since the joke draws its force in part from the irreconcilability of Conrad and the seaside. By the end of the nineteenth century, cheap rail tickets and shorter working hours had transformed Britain’s seaside resorts into familiar spaces of popular culture that offered visitors not just swimming and sailing but musical shows, ornamental gardens, fairground rides and the latest innovation in visual entertainment, moving pictures. As Conrad informed Alfred Knopf in 1913, even the herring port where he had first set foot on English soil was ‘Now [a] rather fashionable sea-side place’ (CL 5: 280).
KeywordsStarch Europe Steam Liner Pyramid
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