Marlow’s Dream: Joseph Conrad in Antipodean Ports
Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) is a major figure in modern literature. Before his writing career was established in 1899 with the serialised publication of Heart of Darkness, Conrad was a merchant seafarer and eventually a shipmaster of vessels that regularly sailed between Europe and its antipodes, making half a dozen visits to Australia and stopping at numerous other ports along the way. In Marlow’s Dream, Martin Edmond shows in vivid detail how, during those voyages, Conrad both collected and began to arrange the tales that would later appear in his fiction. Intertwining Conrad’s biography with his own, Edmond masterfully demonstrates how Conrad’s celebrated stories were lifted straight out of his experiences as an itinerant mariner who had spent countless days in antipodean ports between 1879–93.
Martin Edmond has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University; his dissertation appeared as the book Battarbee and Namatjira. Edmond’s works of memoir and biography about art and artists include Dark Night: Walking with McCahon, The Supply Party (on artist Ludwig Becker), Chronicle of the Unsung, winner of the 2005 Montana Book Award for Biography, and The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont. His other books include Luca Antara, Waimarino County, Isinglass, and The Expatriates (the latter including a history of Joe Trapp, the New Zealander who was the long-serving director of the Warburg Institute in post-war London). In 2013 he received the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-Fiction in recognition of his outstanding contribution to literature.
“No writer has more to tell us about our oceanic past and its human dramas than Joseph Conrad. Now Martin Edmond adds something new to Conrad’s world, a hard thing to do. By placing Conrad among the Antipodean people he knew and the Antipodean ports he frequented as a sailor, the fictions become more vivid, more real, while the raffish cosmopolitanism of old Australasian port life becomes less remote. We are closer both to Conrad and the past. A marvellous achievement!” — Simon During, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland
“Edmond wants to understand Conrad’s fiction from the inside, and he wants to do this in a way that will make sense to an audience wider than the limited readership of academic literary criticism.” — Andrew Dean, Deakin University