[In A Personal Record, which relates how Conrad became a novelist, he tries to recall what he had read before he began to write fiction for the first time, and Trollope comes to mind. The following excerpt comes from the Project Gutenberg version [EBook #687] created by Judith Boss and David Widger and released on January 9, 2006. — George P. Landow]

What I was reading the day before my writing life began I have forgotten. I have only a vague notion that it might have been one of Trollope's political novels. [A Personal Record, Chapter 4]

decoratd iitial At ten years of age I had read much of Victor Hugo and other romantics. I had read in Polish and in French, history, voyages, novels; I knew "Gil Blas" and "Don Quixote" in abridged editions; I had read in early boyhood Polish poets and some French poets, but I cannot say what I read on the evening before I began to write myself. I believe it was a novel, and it is quite possible that it was one of Anthony Trollope's novels. It is very likely. My acquaintance with him was then very recent. He is one of the English novelists whose works I read for the first time in English. With men of European reputation, with Dickens and Walter Scott and Thackeray, it was otherwise. My first introduction to English imaginative literature was "Nicholas Nickleby." It is extraordinary how well Mrs. Nickleby could chatter disconnectedly in Polish and the sinister Ralph rage in that language. As to the Crummles family and the family of the learned Squeers it seemed as natural to them as their native speech. It was, I have no doubt, an excellent translation. This must have been in the year '70. But I really believe that I am wrong. That book was not my first introduction to English literature. My first acquaintance was (or were) the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," and that in the very MS. of my father's translation. It was during our exile in Russia. [Chapter 4]

[Dickens proved particularly important to Conrad, and later in his autobiography he tells how he saw a woman he met in France as Lady Dedlock from Bleak House]

Last modified 8 December 2011