Conrad First The Joseph Conrad Periodical Archive

The Editor; the Journal of Information for Literary Workers (New York, NY, USA)

July 1917

The Editor: A Journal of Information for Literary Workers was founded in 1895 by James Knapp Reeve, author of Practical Authorship (1900) and editor of the short-story magazine The Gray Goose. Between 1910 and 1930, it was edited by William Reno Kane, co-author with Reeve of 1001 Places to Sell Manuscripts: The American Writer's Yearbook and Directory to Publications (1894). Part of a growing number of self-help literary journals,The Editor published advice to professional writers, periodical news, snippets of autobiography by established authors, and short literary appreciations, as, to quote a 1912 advertisement in The Dial, 'a stimulus to the production and sale of more and better manuscripts'. 'On the Writer's Philosophy of Life' by the as yet unknown Jack London appeared in its October 1899 number. Issued with changing frequency and a variety of subtitles, The Editor lasted until 1942.

In 1905, The Editor reprinted an extract from Conrad's Preface to The Nigger of the 'Narcissus': 'And in truth it must be, like painting, like music, like all art, the appeal of one temperament to all the other innumerable temperaments whose subtle and resistless power endows passing events with their true meaning, and creates the moral, the emotional atmosphere of the place and time. Such an appeal to be effective must be an impression conveyed through the senses; and, in fact, it cannot be made in any other way, because temperament, whether individual or collective, is not amenable to persuasion. All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its highest desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the colour of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music--which is the art of arts' (v.22 July-Dec, p.118). Another Conrad extract, titled 'A Time to Write', appeared in July 1919 (p.109; date to be confirmed), alongside an article on 'Stevenson and Conrad' by Robert Saunders Dowst, screenwriter and author of The Technique of Fiction Writing (1918).

In October 1919, Kane wrote to Conrad, asking for a brief article on the subject of 'my experiences as a writer'. Replying at length, Conrad declined to provide 'a couple of fatuous paragraphs' for the benefit of other writers: 'Years of unremitting concentration upon the task, hours of meditation, days in which one didn't know whether the sun shone or not -- not one man in a million would understand and take to heart the truth that lies under those words. The majority would smile. What a fuss over a mere story! . . . Hardly worth while to lay one's heart bare to all mankind for that' (CL 6:522-3). Conrad's reference to enclosing a copy of A Personal Record 'as a sign of goodwill and sympathy for the bravely flying Pegasus [The Editor's logo] and the man who directs his course' suggests that Kane had sent him a copy of the July 1919 number.

Auerbach, Jonathan. Male Call: Becoming Jack London. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.
Davies, Laurence, et al., ed. The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983-2008. 9 vols.
Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines, Volume IV: 1885-1905. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1957.