Lord Jim

I have given up on invading friends’ private space with chain-posts!

Nevertheless, allow me the privilege of bringing to light an anecdote involving Bertrand Russel and Joseph Conrad that appears well beyond my scope, yet for those who might find it interesting.

The general outline of the friendship between Russel and Conrad is known to most of their admirers. Russell’s tribute to the novelist appeared in his Portraits from Memory (1956) and again for a wider audience in the first volume of the Autobiography (1967). What has remained enigmatic, however, is the nature of the bond that could ally with such force two people who were ostensibly so dissimilar. But the greatest testimony of Russell’s respect for Conrad was reserved for the later years of his life. When his first son was born in 1921, Russel approached Conrad for his agreement in naming him of the novelist. Conrad wrote back saying he felt honoured for having received such a request from Russel. Russel’s first son was named John Conrad with having Conrad as the godfather. Russel’s other son who was born in 1937 was called Conrad Sebastian Robert. To both sons, Russell gave, through the example of their namesake, proleptic encouragement to overcome in their turn the natural condition of all men: that of orphans and exiles.

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