Books: It Was All True

THE SEA YEARS by Jerry Allen. 368 pages. Doubleday. $6.95.

"I never could invent an effective lie," Novelist Joseph Conrad once confessed. In this richly documented study, Author Jerry Allen demonstrates—with details assembled over a period of ten years from the four corners of the world —that most of Conrad's novels are scene-for-scene, character-for-character transmutations of the extravagant adventures of his youth.

The adventures began when Conrad (real name: Teodor Joózef Konrad Korzeniowski), the orphaned son of Polish intellectuals, defied his guardian and went to sea at the age of 16. Nostromo, for instance, describes with photographic precision a revolution he witnessed...

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