"My first interview with the manager was curious"

The manager is based on Camille Delcommune, the Société Anonyme Belge's Assistant Director and manager of the station at Kinshasa when Conrad arrived there at the beginning of August 1890.

Conrad seems to have taken an almost immediate dislike to Delcommune, describing him as ‘a common ivory dealer with base instincts’ in a letter dated 26 September 1890, and claiming there was little chance of gaining his own captainship while the Belgian was in charge. Jean-Aubry, Conrad’s friend and biographer, writes: ‘It is not for us to say how far the moral portrait was an accurate description of the man who was Camille Delcommune. All I can say is that Conrad … despised this man heartily.’