Joseph Conrad’s long experience as a working seaman enriched and deepened his literary gifts, making him the most brilliant and convincing writer of seafaring’s greatest age. In the three sea stories collected here, he makes deft use of the maritime setting to enact moral dramas of men tested by the elements and by one another.
“The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’” has been hailed as Conrad’s earliest masterpiece. When a West Indian sailor on board the merchant ship Narcissus falls ill his condition sparks conflict among the crew, which threatens to erupt in mutiny under the pressure of a terrifying gale. “Typhoon,” the gripping story of a steamship captain who stubbornly steers into a major tempest and the crew’s ensuing struggle to survive the raging waters, is distinguished by one of the most thrillingly evoked storms in all of literature. “The Shadow-Line” is a dramatically fictionalized account of Conrad’s first command as a young sea captain trapped aboard a becalmed, fever-wracked, and seemingly haunted ship—an ordeal that marks for him the “shadow-line” between youth and maturity. Suspenseful, atmospheric, and deceptively simple, this intense story reflects the complex themes of Conrad’s most famous novels, Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness.
With an introduction by Martin Seymour-Smith
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.
“My own conviction, sweeping all those reaches of living fiction I know, is that Conrad’s figure stands out from the field like the Alps from the Piedmont plain.” —H. L. Mencken