Books: Cardiograms of Darkness

CONGO DIARY AND OTHER UNCOLLECTED PIECES by Joseph Conrad Edited by Zdzislaw Najder; Doubleday; 192 pages; $7.95

In 1903 Joseph Conrad was asked by a London weekly to list the books he read as a boy. "I don't remember any child's book; I don't think I ever read any," the Polish-born author replied. "The first book I remember distinctly is Hugo's Travailleurs de la Mer [Toilers of the Sea], which I read at the age of seven."

Today Conrad has replaced Victor Hugo. A similar survey of contemporary writers would turn up many of the...

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