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 byone 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
Joseph Conrad, christened Josef Teodor Konrad, Nalecz Korzeniowski, was born on December 3, 1857, in a part of Russia that had once belonged to Poland. His parents were members of the landed gentry, but as ardent Polish patriots, the suffered considerably for their political views. Orphaned at eleven, Conrad attended school for a few years in Cracow, He soon concluded, however, that there was no future for a Pole in occupied Poland, and at sixteen he left his ancestral home forever.
The sea was Conrad's love and career for the next twenty years. In the French merchant marine, he sailed to the West. Indies, smuggled guns to Spanish rebels, ran into debt, and bungled a suicide attempt Then in the British merchant navy, he rose to first mate and finally to captain, sailing to Australia and Borneo and surviving at least one shipwreck. In 1890 he contracted to become captain of a Congo River steamer, but the six months he spent in Africa led only to disillusionment and ill health; this episode would become the basis for Conrad's masterpiece, "Heart of Darkness." Reluctantly leaving the merchant service, he settled in England and completed his first novel, "Almayer's Folly," already begun at sea.
Hi subsequent works, many of which drew upon his sea experiences, include"The Nigger of the "Narcissus""(1897), "Lord Jim"(1900), "Heart of Darkness"(1902), "Youth"(1902)"Typhoon"(1903), "Nastromo"(1904), "The Secret Agent"(1907), "The Secret Sharer"(1910), "Under the Western Eyes"(1911), and"Chance"(1913). The man who was twenty-one years old before he spoke a word of English is now regarded as one of the superb English stylists of all time. Conrad died almost literally on his desk in 1924, at the age of sixty-six."
“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