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
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski, on December 3, 1857, in Russian-occupied Poland. His father, who was fighting for Polish independence, wrote a poem asking his son to remain "without land or love" as long as Poland was enslaved. Conrad went to sea at sixteen and and served fifteen years aboard English ships. He became the captain of his own ships, sailing to Asia and Africa. He took up writing at the age of 32. It did not come easy: English was his fourth language after Polish, Russian and French, but he wrote with depth and beauty seldom matched. He was offered knighthood, but declined. He died August 3, 1924.
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).