Joseph Conrad (born Konrad Korzeniowski) has been fortunate in his biographers, beginning with G. Jean-Aubry and continuing with major biographies by Jocelyn Baines, Frederick Karl, John Stape, and, most importantly, Zdzisław Najder, who did so much to explore the novelist’s Polish beginnings. In The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World, Maya Jasanoff acknowledges her predecessors in her notes but also goes beyond them in a “Further Reading” section, an exemplary account that I wish other biographers would emulate when they take on a much-studied subject. There she calls attention to the annotated Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, several memoirs, generations of scholarship, and many other books that put Conrad’s life and work into historical context.

What, then, can be added at this late date?...

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