Books: An Outcast of the Islands

JOSEPH CONRAD: THE THREE LIVES by Frederick R. Karl Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 1008 pages; $25

Like all major artists, Joseph Conrad was a cartographer of the imagination. He imposed color and boundaries on an unclaimed mindscape; when he was finished, certain images and sensations became forever Conradian. Unlike his sedentary fellow writers, though, Conrad roamed widely in fact as well as fancy. His career as a young seaman took him to exotic places, and the cargo of perceptions he brought home sustained him as an aging author. His travels outward were then mirrored...

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