Written in 1915, The Shadow-Line is based upon events and experiences from twenty-seven years earlier to which Conrad returned obsessively in his fiction. A young sea captain's first command brings with it a succession of crises: his sea is becalmed, the crew laid low by fever, and his deranged first mate is convinced that the ship is haunted by the malignant spirit of a previous captain.
This is indeed a work full of "sudden passions," in which Conrad is able to show how the full intensity of existence can be experienced by the man who, in the words of the older Captain Giles, is prepared to "stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience." A subtle and penetrating analysis of the nature of manhood, The Shadow-Line investigates varieties of masculinity and desire in a subtext that counters the tale's seemingly conventional surface.
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About the Author
Polish author Joseph Conrad is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novelists, a remarkable achievement considering English was not his first language. Conrad's literary works often featured a nautical setting, reflecting the influences of his early career in the Merchant Navy, and his depictions of the struggles of the human spirit in a cold, indifferent world are best exemplified in such seminal works as Heart of Darkness, Lord JimM, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and Typhoon. Regarded as a forerunner of modernist literature, Conrad's writing style and characters have influenced such distinguished writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell, among many others. Many of Conrad's novels have been adapted for film, most notably Heart of Darkness, which served as the inspiration and foundation for Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalpyse Now.
Jeremy Hawthorn is Professor of Modern British Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and winner of Ian P. Watt Prize for Excellence in Conrad Scholarship 2009. He has recently edited Conrad's Under Western Eyes and The Shadow-Line for the new World's Classics edition (both OUP, 2003) and his other publications include Joseph Conrad: Narrative Technique and Ideological Commitment (Edward Arnold, 1990).