Joseph Conrad: a Personal Remembrance. By Ford Madox Ford. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. $2.50.
From “Romance,” upon which as Ford Madox Hueffer he collaborated with Joseph Conrad, Mr. Ford quotes the passage, “And this also is romance,” as one of the main divisional headings of his book on the dead master. And as a work of art he wishes his book judged,—as romance. Mr. Ford is successful in impressing the vivid personalities of two people upon his readers: the painter reveals himself in the portrait as illuminatingly as his subject. Some readers will grow weary of the iterated words “the writer;” they will be first amused, then irritated, when “the writer” styles himself “the greatest English stylist;” and they will resent his air of patronage to the man whose commas he was not worthy to erase. But the book is a fine piece of biographical impressionism. The author undertakes to recreate the evolution within his own consciousness of a man’s personality from an unheralded stranger to a familiar friend. He builds up with cumulative detail the colorful reality of Joseph Conrad. The result is a book of impressionistic beauty. Its unity is unimpaired even by the use of large portions of essays published in book form when the author signed himself Hueffer. An incident is told near the end of the book of the fashionably dressed Ford meeting with Conrad in London and almost mistaking his friend for a beggar; then suddenly the magic of Conrad turned drab London into Bagdad. That may be our key. The man, Hueffer, perhaps, missed the finer phases of the man, Conrad; but the artist, Ford, has understood the artist, Conrad, and limned his likeness here. A book that gives us even a dim glimpse into a great artist’s soul is important,—and in this book sometimes there are flashes.