In 1906, Henry James wrote to Conrad: ‘No-one has known – for intellectual use – the things you know . . . [Y]ou have, as the artist of the whole matter, an authority that no-one has approached’ (James 1987: 368).1 What kind of knowledge did James think Conrad had? Was it intuitive knowledge, for example, like D. H. Lawrence’s ‘blood consciousness’, or an intellectual version of ‘carnal knowledge’, if that is imaginable? James’ Sibylline utterance seems to refer to the rich material for fiction that Conrad’s exotic experiences gave him. And while it may not represent the Master’s final appraisal of Conrad’s oeuvre, its terms are both striking and excessive: Conrad earns the accolade of being ‘the artist of the whole matter’ on account of his knowledge.