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Four of the rarest and most recent additions to the College Library's collection of Contadina have been placed on exhibition in the display cases of the Treasure Room, where they will remain for several weeks. Two small notebooks in which Conrad kept a diary of his trip up the Congo River into the center of Africa in 1890, his first manuscript of the early chapters of "Lord Jim", and a silver match box, which he carried a great part of his life, complete the display. A small pamphlet containing notes on the diaries by Richard Curle, close friend and secretary to Conrad, is also available in the Treasure Room.
From Captain To Novelist
The two note books are in pencil and give a brief and fragmentary account of this trip which resulted in his writing the "Heart of Darkness". The journey up the African river is a significant incident in the life of the great Polish novelist in other respects also. As the story goes, Conrad as a small boy pointed to the dark area on a map of Africa and said, "Some day I will go there." At the time he made the trip, Conrad was still a sailing captain, and had yet to write his first novel. The journey so weakened his health that he was forced into a retirement from the sea and shortly afterwards started writing in earnest.
One of the notebooks contains a day by day account of the first half of the Congo expedition, and the second is filled with hastily sketched maps and technical descriptions of the navigation of the river. Conrad has left no account of the last half of the journey which carried him to the darkest part of Africa and to his meeting with the "Kurtz" of the "Heart of Darkness."
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