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by Henry Seidel Canby

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If you ask readers why they like Conrad, two out of three will answer, because he is a great stylist, or because he writes of the sea. I doubt the worth of such answers. Many buy books because they are written by great stylists, but few read for just that reason. They read because there is something in an author's work which attracts them to his style, and that something may be study of character, skill in narrative, or profundity in truth, of which style is the perfect expression, but not the thing itself. Only connoisseurs, and few of them, read for style. And, furthermore, I very much doubt whether readers go to Conrad to learn about the sea.



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