Almayer’s Folly, Joseph Conrad’s first novel, is a tale of personal tragedy as well as a broader meditation on the evils of colonialism. Set in the lush jungle of Borneo in the late 1800s, it tells of the Dutch merchant Kaspar Almayer, whose dreams of riches for his beloved daughter, Nina, collapse under the weight of his own greed and prejudice. Nadine Gordimer writes in her Introduction, “Conrad’s writing is lifelong questioning . . . What was ‘Almayer’s Folly’? The pretentious house never lived in? His obsession with gold? His obsessive love for his daughter, whose progenitors, the Malay race, he despised? All three?” Conrad established in Almayer’s Folly the themes of betrayal, isolation, and colonialism that he would explore throughout the rest of his life and work.
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.
Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014), the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in a small South African town. Her first book, a collection of stories, was published when she was in her early twenties. Her ten books of stories include "Something Out There "(1984), and "Jump and Other Stories" (1991). Her novels include "The Lying Days" (1953), "A World of Strangers" (1958), "Occasion for Loving" (1963), "The Late Bourgeois World "(1966), "A Guest of Honour" (1971), "The Conservationist" (1975), "Burger's Daughter" (1979), "July's People" (1981), "A Sport of Nature" (1987), "My Son's Story" (1990), "None to Accompany Me" (1994), "The House Gun" (1998), "The Pickup" (2001), "Get a Life" (2005), and "No Time Like the Present "(2012). "A World of Strangers", " The Late Bourgeois World", and "Burger's Daughter" were originally banned in South Africa. She published three books of literary and political essays: "The Essential Gesture" (1988); "Writing and Being" (1995), the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures she gave at Harvard in 1994; and "Living in Hope and History" (1999).
Ms. Gordimer was a vice president of PEN International and an executive member of the Congress of South African Writers. She was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in Great Britain and an honorary member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also a Commandeur de'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). She held fourteen honorary degrees from universities including Harvard, Yale, Smith College, the New School for Social Research, City College of New York, the University of Leuven in Belgium, Oxford University, and Cambridge University.
Ms. Gordimer won numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize for "The Conservationist", both internationally and in South Africa.
“The human heart as recorded in Mr. Conrad’s pages is the human heart of an immense number of men in all ages and in all climes.” —Ford Madox Ford