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
Joseph Conrad was a master prose stylist, widely regarded as one of the greatest English-language novelists. Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew upon his experiences in the French and later the British Merchant Navy to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a worldwide empire while also plumbing the depths of the human soul.
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