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
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.
“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