Conrad, Joseph: The Arrow of Gold
(researched by Katie Marages)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Joseph Conrad. The Arrow of Gold: A Story Between Two Notes Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919. Copyright 1919 Doubleday, Page & Company. Parallel First Editions: In England: The Arrow of Gold: A Story Between Two Notes London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., 1919. In Canada: The Arrow of Gold: A Story Between Two Notes Toronto: William Briggs, 1919.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
196 leaves, pp. [6] [1-2] 3-6 [7-8] 9-66 [67-68] 69-116 [117-118] 119-168 [169-170] 171-251 [252-254] 255-385 [386] The page numbers are in the upper, outside corners. They are 1.7 cm from the outer edge and 1.3 cm from the top. The numbers of pages 3, 9, 23, 49, 69, 79, 88, 97, 119, 134, 145, 155, 171, 186, 196, 213, 236, 255, 269, 281, 291, 311, 328, 339, 360, 370 are placed at the bottom of the page centered 2 cm from the bottom. At the top of the pages mentioned above there is a centered Roman numeral 3.2 cm from the top of the page. The book is divided into five parts. These divisions occur on pp. 7, 67, 117, 169, 253.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
The first edition is not edited or introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The book is not illustrated. It has a decoration of a ship enclosed with a circle, 1.8 cm in diameter, on the lower right side of first unnumbered page. This same decoration appears on the front cover and the seventh unnumbered page. The final page has a circle, 1.6 cm diameter, that encloses the picture of a building. Underneath the illustration it reads "The Country Life Press; Garden City, NY".
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The page is 18.6 cm x 12.2 cm. The text is 16.9 cm x 9.7 cm. The top and side margin is 1.7 cm, and the bottom margin is 2.5 cm. The text is very readable and attractively presented. The size of the type is 90R.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book is made of a wove paper and is in excellent condition with no foxing, stains, or tears. The paper is a light, cream color and has not discolored at all.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is of a dark blue, coarse, embossed linen grain cloth. The front cover is 19.3 cm x 12.9 cm and contains a rectangular panel, 8.8 cm x 4.1 m, near the top that encloses the title of the book and the author's name. The outer border of this rectangle constructs two concentric circles at the bottom of the rectangle. Within the circle is a ship. The entire panel of the rectangle is impressed with gold creating a gold background that offsets the lettering of the title and author's name, which is left in blue. All edges of the paper are cut smooth. The spine is 3.2 cm thick and contains the title and author's name at the top as well as the publisher's name on the bottom. All of these words are impressed in gold. Cover: THE ARROW OF GOLD | by JOSEPH CONRAD Spine: THE ARROW | OF GOLD | [rule] | JOSEPH | CONRAD DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY | 1919 The back cover is plain.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: THE ARROW OF GOLD | A STORY BETWEEN TWO NOTES | BY | JOSEPH CONRAD | Celui qui n'a connu que des homes | polis et raisonnables, ou ne connait pas | l'homme, ou ne le connait qu'a demi. | CharactÈres.*| [crest 1.3 cm x 1.3 cm, publishers device, an open book enclosed with leaves and a stem on either side. Latin phrase below the book Fructus Quam Folia, "Fruit of the Leaves"] | GARDEN CITY NEW YORK | DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY |1919 * He who has known only refined and rational men, either does not know man, or knows him only partially. Verso: Copyright, 1919 by ["copyright" and "by" in italics] | DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY | All rights reserved, including that of | translation into foreign languages, | including the Scandinavian
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
On the cover page there is a pencil marking. Part of this marking is illegible. However, the other part of the marking reads 1st Ed. | but 2nd issue On the fifth unnumbered page there is a dedication. To | Richard Curle Arrow of Gold is used as the headline throughout the book.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
A new book by Joseph Conrad. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1241p. 1918 The book was a dummy for "The Arrow of Gold" because Conrad had not yet picked a title. The following were all published by Doubleday, Page & Co. and in the case of collected works, "The Arrow of Gold" was printed as a seperate book and not bound with the other works. Portfolio Edition 1061p. 60 x 20cm, folds to 23cm. (located at Princeton University) Memorial Edition. (v. 17 of collected works is "The Arrow of Gold". Doubleday, Page & Co. 352p. illus., 23cm, intro by Sir Sidney Colvin, 1925. Malay Edition of Complete Works. 1921, 1927, 1929. Canterbury Edition of Conrad's complete works. 352p. 21cm, 1924.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Impressions were made from the first edition by Doubleday, Page & Co. in 1919, 1921, 1924, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, and 1930.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran. 1921, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1941, 1987 Hamburg, Paris, Bologna: The Albatross. 1932. London, Edinburgh: John Grant. 1925. London: Benn. 1919, 1929, 1951 London: Eveleigh, Nash and Grayson. 1923, 1927. London: Everyman. 2000. London: Grayson and Grayson. 1935. London: Gresham. 1925. (complete works, medallion ed. vol. 17 "The Arrow of Gold") London: Heinemann. 1921. (complete works, vol. 16 "The Arrow of Gold"). London: Heron Books. 1969. (part of a complete works series) London: J.M. Dent and Sons, Ltd. 1947, 1954, 1965, 1976. (collected editions 1947, 1972). London: Nelson. 1963 London: T. Fischer Unwin. 1919, 1921, 1924 New York: Country Life Press. 1967. New York: Nelson Doubleday. 1940. New York: W.W Norton and Company. 1921, 1968. Toronto: Ryerson Press. 1920, 1935. Toronto: William Briggs. 1919.
6 Last date in print?
The book is in print as of February 2000. The current publisher is Tuttle Publishing and the book can be purchased for $7.95.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Information regarding the total copies sold was not available.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
The first edition was a printing of 15,000 copies. (This information found in Joseph Conrad by Walter E. Smith
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
Advertisements from Publisher's Weekly 1919 March 8, 1919 - "A romance of Marseilles and the Spanish Coast laid in the middle seventies when Don Carlos de Bourbon made his attempt for the throne of Spain. Yet, this is not an historical novel, because it is chiefly concerned with the love story of a young sea captain and Dona Rita, heiress to the fortunes of Henry Allegre, supporter of the Pretender. Never, even in "Victory", has Mr. Conrad written a story so direct and free from circulocution, and never has he portrayed character, either man or woman, so fascinating or so elusive as Dona Rita. Net $1.50." "The Arrow of Gold is a wonderful tale of strange adventure and intrigue, but supremely a love story-the most colorful and artistic of all he has ever written. It will bring a host of new friends and tend to draw closer the many thousands who know their Conrad well." "Joseph Conrad becomes a 'best seller' The Arrow of Gold, A great love story One retail bookseller in New York bought 1,000 copies of "The Arrow of Gold" in one week. Another in New York bought 500 in that week. A retail bookseller in Chicago bought 750 in a week. In Philadelphia, a retail bookseller bought 500 in a week. A retail bookseller in Boston bought 500 in a week And more returns are pouring in."
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
N/A
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
"The Arrow of Gold" is published as an InstaBook by the InstaBook Electronic Bookstore, 1998. InstaBooks are distributed through InstaBook EBAM (Electronic Bookstore Automatic Machines). "The Arrow of Gold" is also a book on tape. It was recorded in 1993 and was published by Books on Tape in Newport Beach, CA. Garland Publishing of New York published a "Concordance to The Arrow of Gold" by Paul Gaston in 1981.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
(Danish) Den gyldne pil. Kobenhavn: Kristiania. 368p. 21cm, 1925. (French) La fleche d'or, un rÈcit entre deux notes. Paris: Gallimard. 362p. 19cm, 1928, 1992, 1998. Editions de la Nouvelle Revue Francaise. 362 p. 21- 22cm, 1928. (German) Der goidene Pfeil; eine Geschichte zwischen zwei Aufzeichnungen. Berlin: S. Fischer. 440p. 19cm, 1932, 1933. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag. 389p. 20cm, 1966. (Hungarian) Az arany nyil, forditotta Szinnai Tivadar. Budapest: Genius kiad·s. 317p. 20cm, 192(?) (Italian) La freccia d'oro, Il salvataggio. Torino: Giulio Einaudi. 499p. 18cm, 1951 (Polish) Zlota strzala; oporviesc opatrzona wstepnys I knocowym objasnieniem. Krakow: Posiom. 366p. 22cm, 1948 (Slovenian) Zlaty Sip, roman mezi dvema poznamkami. Praha: Melantrich. 335p. (Spanish) La flecha de oro; una novela entre dos notas. Barcelona: Montaner y SimÛn. 1935.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
The Arrow of Gold originally appeared in serial form. It was published in London in Lloyd's magazine. The story appears in issues for December 1918-February 1920.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There were no sequels or prequels to The Arrow of Gold.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Joseph Conrad was born December 3, 1857 in Berdyczow, Poland, one province of what is now the Ukraine. (Life of JC, p2). He was given the name Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski and later, in 1894, adopted the anglicized form 'Joseph Conrad' (A Conrad Chronology 4 p xvii). His parents, both ardent Polish patriots, had been married for eighteen months when their first and only child was born. His father, Apollo Nalecz Korzeniowski, was a member of the szlachta which has no direct translation into English but can be compared to the nobility. The szlachta comprised 10% of the population, and they had the privilege of electing the king. (Life of JC, p2). His father was also a poet, a man of letters, and a translator of Shakespeare (Life of the Author, web). His mother Evelina (Eva) Bobrowska was a well- born lady of frail health. In October 1861 Conrad's father was convicted of political activism for allegedly taking part in anti-Russian revolutionary plots. He was exiled to Vologda, Russia. Conrad and his mother went also. The journey into exile was difficult and the health of both Conrad and his mother suffered. His mother never fully regained her health, and she died on April 18, 1865. Conrad was left with his father with whom he formed a very strong bond. Three years later, in 1868 when Conrad was only eleven, his father died. Many scholars of Conrad believe that the undertones of melancholy in Conrad's work are the result of losing his parents at such a young age. In 1869 Conrad's guardianship was initially given to Stefan Buszczneski, his father's friend. That same year joint custody was given to Teofila Bobrowska, his maternal grandmother, and Count Wladyslaw Mniszek. However, his real guardian was Tadeusz Bobrowski, his maternal uncle. He became very close with his uncle, and when his uncle died on February 10, 1894, Conrad writes that he felt 'as if everything had died in me' (A Conrad Chronology p.17). Most of Conrad's formal education is unclear. As a boy, he was often in poor health which made it difficult for him to attend school regularly. In an 1868 letter to a friend, his father states, "He is receiving formal education in accordance with the local school syllabus, although this year he will not attend classes." (Life of JC, p7). There is mention of him living in a boarding house in Cracow run by Ludwik Georgeon and having Adam Marek Pulman as a tutor (A Critical Biography, p26-27). Also, there is a record of Conrad passing the exam for St. Anne's Gymnasium, the best school in Cracow, but there is no concrete evidence that he ever attended. It is more likely that he attended St Jacek's (A Critical Biography p27). In 1873 he attended a boarding school in Lwow run by Antoni Syroczynski (A Conrad Chronology p5). His education was arranged for by his uncle. Throughout his early years and much to his uncle's displeasure, Conrad wanted to go to sea. He had gotten his first glimpse of the sea while at Odessa with his maternal grandmother, and he had read his first sea novel, Les Travailleurs de la mer when he was only nine (Life of JC, p9). On October 13, 1874, Conrad departed for Marseille. He would begin his life at sea on December 15 as a passenger on the Mont-Blanc and would begin to train as a sailor on the same ship (Life of the Author, web). He would spend the next twenty years at sea and his experiences at sea and the people he encountered would serve as the basis and characters for most of his novels. In 1886 Conrad entered a literary competition that was advertised in the magazine Tit-Bits. It called for the best article written by a seaman on 'My Experiences as a Sailor', and Conrad submitted 'The Black Mate' (Joseph Conrad 1857-1924, web). This first literary attempt was not successful as he did not win the competition. In this same year, at 29, Conrad became a naturalized British citizen, he had seen Englad for the first time in 1878 at which point he spoke no English (Life of the Author, web). He also passed the exam to be a British master mariner (A Conrad Chronology, p11). In 1889 he began work on his first novel, Almayer's Folly. In 1894, he sent the completed novel to T. Fisher Unwin who gave him 20 pounds plus the French rights (A Conrad Chronology, p17). His relationship with T. Fisher Unwin would carry on over the years, and they would be the publisher for all of his novels. Some of his best known works are Victory(1915), Lord Jim(1900), Heart of Darkness(1899), Nigger of Narcissus(1897), and his one book to make the best seller list, The Arrow of Gold (Joseph Conrad, web). On March 24 1896 Conrad married Jessie George at a registry office in Hanover Square, even though the two were both Roman Catholic. He had proposed to her just six months before on the steps of the National Gallery in London. On January 14, 1898 their first son Alfred Borys was born, and on August 2, 1906, their second son John Alexander was born. Conrad was offered honorary doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Durham in 1823, and he declined them all. He also declined an offer of knighthood in 1924. From June 1923 until August of 1924, Conrad was in continually poor health. On August 3, 1924, at the age of 66, he died of a heartattack in his home Oswalds at Bishopbourne, where he had resided since 1919. He is buried at St. Thomas's Roman Catholic Church, Canterbury. Bibliography Baines, Jocelyn. Jospeh Conrad, A Critical Biography Batchelor, John. The Life of Joseph Conrad Conrad, Borys. My Father: Joseph Conrad Conrad, Jessie. Joseph Conrad as I Knew Him Conrad, Joseph. A Personal Record Ehrsam, Theodore. Bibliography of Joseph Conrad Knowles, Owen. A Conrad Chronology Joseph Conrad www.nyu.edu/classes/garcia/conrad/page2.html Joseph Conrad 1857-1924 http://library.utoronto.ca/utel/authors/conradj.html Joseph Conrad http://lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~matsuoka/Conrad.html Life of The Author www.acsu.buffalo.edu/csicseri/author.html
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The Arrow of Gold was heavily reviewed in both America and Britain in 1919, the year of its publication. Such wide review may be due, in part, to Joseph Conrad's already well established reputation as a strong literary figure. Perhaps it was because of Conrad's reputation and the merits of previous works that The Arrow of Gold was so widely reviewed and that some critics found it impossible to completely dismiss the novel as a failure. However, also because of his reputation and the quality of his other works, some critics did not hesitate to offer heavy criticism because they held him to high standards. The favorable reviews focus on the book as a romance. When a critic looks at the book to see what it has to offer strictly in the romantic sense, he or she finds little fault. The ALA Booklist review of May 1919 states, "An atmosphere of pure romance; an absorbing story?". Favorable reviews also seem to focus on the main heroine of the book Doña Rita. Publishers Weekly comments, "He has created a haunting, inimitable spirit of womanhood, that truly is a blend of all the women who have ever lived?Best of all he has told a love story that is one of the big love stories of the world of books." (April 19, 1919). There are two reviews that look at the book favorably in terms of the strength of its writting. The London Times claims, "Miss a sentence of The Arrow of Gold and you will be befogged?the perfection of the rhythm and pattern of the whole will escape you. For the thing is composed as a piece of music is composed." (Aug 5, 1919). The New York Times Book Review writes, "And it is written in that intensely individual, flexible style which renders this man of Polish birth one of the most distinguished among the living writers of English. (April 13, 1919). The mixed reviews often refer to Conrad's other works such as Victory as a comparison. K.F. Gerould comments, "The Arrow of Gold is not so perfect a thing as Victory; but it is absorbing and beautiful?" (Bookman, May 1919). The review does not necessarily condemn the book, but skirts around the issue of what the book is really like. It claims that another of Conrad's books is fantastic, but never makes a concrete claim as to how The Arrow of Gold is in his opinion. Other reviews do not take Conrad's reputation as an author into consideration at all. When no mention is made to earlier works there is no hesitation to hold Conrad accountable for what, in their minds, is a poorly written work. The Spectator writes, "It may be that the wonderful opening chapters, with Captain Blunt's all-night history of Doña Rita's early years raise our expectations to a level hardly reached?" (Sept. 27, 1919). Conrad himself had mixed reviews of his late novel Arrow of Gold. He wasn't sure if he was happy about its quality because he had written it using a different method than he had used in the past. He dictated all of this novel as opposed to transcribing it as he had done with his other previous novels. He was unsure if something was lost in this method of writing. (Conrad Chronology) The general consensus amongst reviewers was that Conrad's earlier novels were his stronger novels. The feeling was that the earlier novels contained more substance and offered moral lessons to the readers and that the later Conrad novels, especially The Arrow of Gold, use romance as a focus and in place of moral messages and ideals. Although it seems that the The Arrow of Gold did not receive a majority of favorable criticism from literary reviewers, it was Conrad's only bestseller. Perhaps the scholarly critics have not stepped back to consider what it is that the general population wants to read. In Conrad's case, it is the romance that sells despite the fact that it may not be written to the same caliber as other works. Bibliography ALA Booklist 15:313, May 1919. Athenaeum. August 8, 1919, p720. Book Review Digest 1919 p115. Gerould, Katherine Fullerton. "Eidolons of Ulysses", The Bookman. Mar-Aug 1919, vol. 49, p368-370. Knowles, Owen. A Conrad Chronology. Wise, TJ. A Biliography of the Writings of Joseph Conrad. p261. "Our Booking-Office, Punch. Aug 27, 1919, p199. Publisher's Weekly. 95:1129. April 19, 1919. Spectator. 122:410 September 27, 1919. The New York Times Review of Books. April 13, 1919. The New York Times. April 18, 1919. The Times London. Aug 5, 1919.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The Arrow of Gold was heavily reviewed in both America and Britain in 1919, the year of its publication. Such wide review may be due, in part, to Joseph Conrad's already well established reputation as a strong literary figure. Perhaps it was because of Conrad's reputation and the merits of previous works that The Arrow of Gold was so widely reviewed and that some critics found it impossible to completely dismiss the novel as a failure. However, also because of his reputation and the quality of his other works, some critics did not hesitate to offer heavy criticism because they held him to high standards. The favorable reviews focus on the book as a romance. When a critic looks at the book to see what it has to offer strictly in the romantic sense, he or she finds little fault. The ALA Booklist review of May 1919 states, "An atmosphere of pure romance; an absorbing story?". Favorable reviews also seem to focus on the main heroine of the book Doña Rita. Publishers Weekly comments, "He has created a haunting, inimitable spirit of womanhood, that truly is a blend of all the women who have ever lived?Best of all he has told a love story that is one of the big love stories of the world of books." (April 19, 1919). There are two reviews that look at the book favorably in terms of the strength of its writting. The London Times claims, "Miss a sentence of The Arrow of Gold and you will be befogged?the perfection of the rhythm and pattern of the whole will escape you. For the thing is composed as a piece of music is composed." (Aug 5, 1919). The New York Times Book Review writes, "And it is written in that intensely individual, flexible style which renders this man of Polish birth one of the most distinguished among the living writers of English. (April 13, 1919). The mixed reviews often refer to Conrad's other works such as Victory as a comparison. K.F. Gerould comments, "The Arrow of Gold is not so perfect a thing as Victory; but it is absorbing and beautiful?" (Bookman, May 1919). The review does not necessarily condemn the book, but skirts around the issue of what the book is really like. It claims that another of Conrad's books is fantastic, but never makes a concrete claim as to how The Arrow of Gold is in his opinion. Other reviews do not take Conrad's reputation as an author into consideration at all. When no mention is made to earlier works there is no hesitation to hold Conrad accountable for what, in their minds, is a poorly written work. The Spectator writes, "It may be that the wonderful opening chapters, with Captain Blunt's all-night history of Doña Rita's early years raise our expectations to a level hardly reached?" (Sept. 27, 1919). Conrad himself had mixed reviews of his late novel Arrow of Gold. He wasn't sure if he was happy about its quality because he had written it using a different method than he had used in the past. He dictated all of this novel as opposed to transcribing it as he had done with his other previous novels. He was unsure if something was lost in this method of writing. (Conrad Chronology) The general consensus amongst reviewers was that Conrad's earlier novels were his stronger novels. The feeling was that the earlier novels contained more substance and offered moral lessons to the readers and that the later Conrad novels, especially The Arrow of Gold, use romance as a focus and in place of moral messages and ideals. Although it seems that the The Arrow of Gold did not receive a majority of favorable criticism from literary reviewers, it was Conrad's only bestseller. Perhaps the scholarly critics have not stepped back to consider what it is that the general population wants to read. In Conrad's case, it is the romance that sells despite the fact that it may not be written to the same caliber as other works. Bibliography ALA Booklist 15:313, May 1919. Athenaeum. August 8, 1919, p720. Book Review Digest 1919 p115. Gerould, Katherine Fullerton. "Eidolons of Ulysses", The Bookman. Mar-Aug 1919, vol. 49, p368-370. Knowles, Owen. A Conrad Chronology. Wise, TJ. A Biliography of the Writings of Joseph Conrad. p261. "Our Booking-Office, Punch. Aug 27, 1919, p199. Publisher's Weekly. 95:1129. April 19, 1919. Spectator. 122:410 September 27, 1919. The New York Times Review of Books. April 13, 1919. The New York Times. April 18, 1919. The Times London. Aug 5, 1919.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
A best seller according to the Encyclopedia Britannica is a book that leads all others in sales for a time. The encyclopedia goes on to state that the best seller can serve as a guide to popular literary taste at the time. A best seller of a certain time can teach us why another book may have made the best-seller list. It is interesting to look at the list of a single year or scan lists from a number of years looking for the common threads that the books share. Joseph Conrad's The Arrow of Gold shares common threads with many other books of the same era and also with books that came after it. The Arrow of Gold can help to teach us what makes a bestseller. By examining the reception of The Arrow of Gold, the reputation of the novel's author and the genre for which he was famous, and the time period in which the book was written, we can learn about what has elevated other books to the bestseller status. Joseph Conrad's career as a writer was highly exalted by literary critics. He enjoys the reputation of being "one of the finest stylists of modern English literature" (TCLC, vol. 6, p. 111) and his best novels are considered to be masterpieces of the English language. To have reached such a high position in the literary world is remarkable enough on its own, but when one considers that English was not the native tongue of Polish-born Conrad, it is all the more impressive. Although he enjoyed a high reputation in the literary world during his life as well as after his death, his reception by readers in terms of book sales was not of the same caliber, and he struggled for most of his life to earn a living as a writer. There are twenty-nine principal works that can be attributed to Conrad between the years of 1895 to 1928. However, despite this large output of work and his literary fame, Conrad only had three books reach the bestseller list: The Arrow of Gold, on the list for a total of twenty weeks in 1919, The Rescue, on the list for 8 weeks in 1920, and The Rover, on the list for a total of four weeks in 1924 (Justice, p76). It is revealing that his bestsellers came later in his career. It was stated in The Bookman in 1919, "Some of us are too deeply devoted to Conrad to go back on anything that he has written." It is possible that he had built up a reputation as a renowned author and that was the reason that the public began to buy more copies of his books. Conrad is not the only author who made the bestseller list for the first time later in his career. Another author, Vincente Blasco Ibáñez, was on the bestseller list along with Conrad in 1919. Blasco Ibáñez was on the list for a total of forty weeks in 1919 with The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Justice, p160). He also made an appearance on the list with Mare Nostrum for sixteen weeks in 1919 and Woman Triumphant for twelve weeks in 1920 (Justice, p159-160). Blasco Ibáñez has thirty-three principal works to his credit mainly ranging from the years of 1894-1929. Like Conrad, Blasco Ibáñez's critical reputation rests on his earlier works despite the fact that they never reached the bestseller status. Not only do bestsellers late in the careers of Conrad and Blasco Ibáñez indicate the possibility that they were selling books on their built up literary reputations, but it also suggests that they may have changed their writing styles to give the people what they wanted to read and what they would buy. In the same year that The Arrow of Gold was published, Conrad was quoted as saying,
"I am sufficiently a democrat to detest the idea of being a writer of any 'coterie' of some small self-appointed aristocracy in the vast domain of art or letters. As a matter of feeling - not as a matter of business - I want to be read by as many eyes and by all kinds of them at that."
The "matter of business" that Conrad refers to could quite possibly be the bestseller list. While he may not be writing to specifically make the list, it is a side affect of having your book read by many. It is quite possible that after years of writing Conrad wanted the satisfaction of knowing that many people were buying and reading his books. In order to achieve his popularity amongst the readers, many critics argue that he changed his writing style. It was the general consensus that the earlier novels had more substance and offered the readers moral lessons while the later novels use romance to replace morals and ideals. It was written that The Arrow of Gold offered "?a less 'difficult' introduction to the reading of Conrad than others." (A.L.A. Booklist, May 1919). Another response to the notion that Conrad had the desire to appeal to a larger audience, Frederick R. Karl wrote in 1969,
Many reasons all speculative, could be advanced for the directness of Conrad's later style: advancing age that possibly brought with it a clearer vision and an accompanying simplicity of technique or, a steady loss of conceptual power, or, the desire to appeal to larger audiences.
Critics have commented that Blasco Ibáñez's later works also changed significantly from his earlier works and that his "fiction became sensationalistic and was in fact aimed at the Hollywood film industry" (TCLC vol. 12, p27). This comment was made in relation to Blasco Ibáñez's recent success in the movie industry with the film versions of Blood and Sand and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The NY Call reported on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1919: "It has enough universality of appeal to deserve its reading by everyone." As his career was winding down, Blasco Ibáñez, like Conrad began to realize that the books that receive the most favorable literary review are not always the books that the people will buy. It seems very likely that both altered their writing style knowingly in order to appeal to the masses. While an author and a publishing company can use just one author's good reputation to launch a book, another author's reputation can be used in conjunction to achieve the same purpose. In advertisements for The Arrow of Gold in 1919 Publishers Weekly, the book is often advertised in conjunction with Rudyard Kipling's poetry book The Years Between. Kipling is heralded as "one of the most popular authors of all time and one of the finest short story writers in world literature" (TCLC vol. 8, p174). The Years Between also made the bestseller list in 1919 for twenty-four weeks. The two not only appear in advertisements together, but are often found together in reviews. It was stated that, "No one now writing English is in the same class with Conrad at his best or Kipling at his best." (Bookman, 1919 p369). The publishers at Doubleday knew to expect great things from these two authors who had rich literary backgrounds and strong reputations. It was a powerful tactic by the publishers to advertise both of the books together, as they both became bestsellers. It was not a case of using the strong reputation of one author to carry the sales of the book of a new author. Both authors had already achieved a strong reputation, and placing the two together only made them more powerful. Also, in the advertisements, the book was introduced as "Joseph Conrad's The Arrow of Gold" and never appeared without Conrad's name in a conspicuous place in the advertisement. It is possible that The Arrow of Gold and other books become bestsellers because their authors always wrote in the same genre or with the same setting. It is well known that most of Conrad's novels take place aboard a ship or with the sea as a background for the action. Zane Grey, who enjoyed twenty listings on the bestseller list from 1919 until 1939, was well known for writing Westerns. He has been called "the father of the western" and "a pioneer of the western novel" (TCLC vol.6, p175). If people were looking to read a western novel they knew that they could count on Grey for such a novel. If they had enjoyed one of his novels, they could be pretty certain that another book with the same genre by the same author would be comparable and enjoyable as well. It is the same phenomenon that exists today on the best seller list with authors such as John Grisham. Someone who has read a couple of his novels or who has heard about his writing knows that his reputation is for writing books in a legal setting. People feel comfortable buying the book because they know what they're getting. If someone enjoyed novels that had the sea as the background, they could feel confident that they would enjoy a Conrad novel. As Grisham's novels about law come from first hand experience of being a lawyer, Conrad's novels of the sea come from first hand experience of being a sailor. Conrad's passion almost his whole life had been to go to sea. Many of the stories that he writes and the characters in these stories come from his days at sea. His writing in the same setting and from first hand experience lends to his strong, successful reputation and good writing. When people read the novel, they are assured that they are getting the real thing. The time period in which a novel was written and the events happening in the world at that time have an influence on whether or not a book will be a bestseller. The Arrow of Gold reached the bestseller list in 1919, a year after the end of WWI. The fact that it is a romance is very significant. When reading fiction, people wanted to forget about the problems of the outside world. The book is described as "absorbing and beautiful" in Bookman (1919, p369). The only real turmoil is involved in the tumultuous and uncertain relationship between the characters Monsiuer George and Doña Rita. There is some drama at the end of the story when a person from Doña Rita's past returns to make good on her forced, girlhood promises of marriage. While The Arrow of Gold was escapist in the sense that it was a romance, it also addressed the idea of conflict indirectly. The conflict addressed was the Carlist movement, a political movement occurring in Spain that originated in the 1820s. It is important to recognize that the political movement occurred in a country that was not central to the conflict of WWI from 1914-1918. Some books that made it on to the list towards the end of the war did begin to address the war. The Major by Ralph Connor and on the list in 1918, The Sky Pilot in No Man's Land also by Ralph Connor and on the list in 1919, and The Tin Soldier by Temple Bailey and on the list in 1919 are a small sampling of fiction books that began to talk about themes of war. Beginning in 1917, there was a category on the bestseller list for war books. Although the majority of the fiction was still of a genre that did not address war directly or addressed a distant conflict, war books were beginning to make their way on to the list as the war was winding down. The books about the war were bestsellers because the war could be looked on with confidence at that point. The Arrow of Gold was a book that bridged the gap between complete escapism and immersion in war. Some other books that made the bestseller list around the same time were books that completely ignored the fact that war was going on. At the beginning of the war in 1914, books such as Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter were on the bestseller list. Pollyanna is a book filled with optimism. Pollyanna, the main character, spends her days playing "the glad game" in which you have to think about thinks to be happy about. Booth Tarkington's novel Seventeen makes the list in 1916. It is also a story that does not spend much time in reality. The largest obstacles that are faced in the book are the dilemmas that the main character encounters as he chases around a young girl. These books were at the beginning years of the war when the outcome was uncertain. It was not a time that people wanted to dwell on war or its capabilities or consequences. The bestseller list of the era clearly reflects the sentiments of the general public and teaches us what people were thinking and feeling. When reading The Arrow of Gold or almost any book on the bestseller list, we have many things to learn. No one bestseller can teach us everything that we want to know about the era or the people at the time. However, it is amazing what we can learn by observing multiple bestsellers and deducing information from the connections that they have. Reading a bestseller in some senses can be a double treat. In applying the previous statement to Conrad's The Arrow of Gold, there was not only the entertainment and the drama of the love story, but there was also the chance to learn about the evolution of Conrad's writing, the fact that he was not alone in changing his writing style, the idea that an author's previous reputation can be enough to launch a book into popularity no matter its literary worth, and that the written world is both effected by and affects what happens in the surrounding world. All of the ideas that we can apply to Conrad's bestseller, we can apply to other books as well and learn different lessons outside the boundries of the covers. Sources Bookman 1919 Book Review Digest 1919 Conrad, Joseph The Arrow of Gold Justice, Keith L. Bestseller Index Knowles, Owen. A Conrad Chronology Twentieth Century Literary Criticism (TCLC). Volumes 1 (p195-223), 6 (p111-125) (p175-188), 8 (p174-210), 12 (p27-54)
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