Many will recognize the name of Tadeusz Bobrowski-Joseph Conrad's uncle-a Polish landowner living in the Ukraine. A member of one of Tsar Alexander II's regional committees charged with abolishing serfdom, Bobrowski angered many of his fellow landowners by his commitment to land reform, yet he also clashed with Poles who supported the January Rising against Russia. After Conrad's parents' were killed for their anti-tsarist views, Bobrowski became the young author's guardian and encouraged him to go to sea. Throughout his life, he remained Conrad's constant correspondent and vital link to his homeland, and Bobrowski dire opinion of Polish society shaped the novelist's gloomy view of human politics. This volume is the first extensive English translation of Bobrowski's memoir, which offers a full portrait of the reformer's thoughts on an optimal plan for Poland under Russia's rule. His views contrasted sharply with the more common, Romantic conception of Polish patriotism-a form that encouraged armed uprisings against the Tsar's armies. Bobrowski urged independence through a plan of economic, social, and cultural improvement-an effort that came to be called "organic work."
Bobrowski was called a tsarist collaborator and a coward, but his memoir reveals his practical humanitarianism, as well as a full portrait of Poland's political reality in the years of Conrad's childhood and youth.