CONRAD, Joseph (1857-1924). The Nigger of the "Narcissus" A Tale of the Sea. London: William Heinemann, 1898.
8o. 2 pages of "press opinions" at beginning and 4 pages of undated ads at end. (Minor foxing to endpapers, and first and last few pages.) Original grey cloth, gilt lettered, gilt life preserver on front cover, uncut (light rubbing and minor staining on back cover). Provenance: Stephen Reynolds (1881-1919, presentation inscription); Unidentified owner (inscription signed "P.L." on half title).
FIRST ENGLISH EDITION, first domestic printing, of Conrad's third novel, publisher's spine imprint in uniform capital letters.
A VERY FINE ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY CONRAD TO STEPHEN REYNOLDS on the front free endpaper: "To Stephen Reynolds fisherman, architect and man of Geat Faith (the Faith that moves mountains) this copy of a be- praised and obscure work is affectionately presented in memory of the auspicious year 1908, the year of the First Book-- by his Friend J. Conrad."
Reynolds was a member of the English Review circle "with whom Conrad had a short but intense correspondence... In all Conrad wrote twenty-eight letters to Reynolds, a young struggling novelist who reminded him of his own earlier career. Conrad gave Reynolds both personal and artistic encouragement of the kind he had once sought himself from Marguerite Poradowska and Edward Garnett. When the young man was feeling desperate, Conrad reminded him that a man 'is never 'done' till he drops, and and artist should be a man and a half" (Frederick Karl Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives, New York, 1979 page 657). The "First Book" Conrad refers to in the inscription, is A Poor Man's House, Reynold's autobiography and first book describing his life and work with an East Devon fishing family, after his middle-class upbringing.
Joseph Conrad (née Fedor Jósef Konrad Korzeniowski) began writing Nigger of the "Narcissus" in June 1886, with a short story in mind. Instead, it became his "first serious experimentation with novelistic form" and "the novel... he saw as a turning point in his imagination and his career" (Karl, pages 381 and 387). Cagle A3c(1) this copy with publisher's advertisment on verso of half-title listing 40 titles of 15 authors (not 39 of 14 as mentioned in Cagle); binding a but no 16 page catalogue at end. (All Cagle references are to an unpublished bibliography of Conrad by Willam Cagle, the manuscript of which is in The Lilly Library, Indiana University).