There is a degree of bliss too intense for elation.
This little-known novella from one of the masters of the form is so unusual for Joseph Conrad's work in several respects, although not in its exotic maritime setting or its even more exotic prose—it is unusual in that it is one of his very few works to feature a woman as a leading character, and to take the form of a romance.
Still, it's a Conradian romance: a sweeping saga set in the Indian Ocean basin, against a turbulent background of barely suppressed hostilities between Dutch and British merchant navies, told by one of Conrad's classically detached narrators. In the end, the unique perspective of the sharply etched character of Freya is one of Conrad's most piercing studies of how the lust for power can drive men to greatness—or its opposite.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
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.
"I wanted them all, even those I'd already read."
—Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
—Time Out London
"[F]irst-rate…astutely selected and attractively packaged…indisputably great works."
—Adam Begley, The New York Observer
"I’ve always been haunted by Bartleby, the proto-slacker. But it’s the handsomely minimalist cover of the Melville House edition that gets me here, one of many in the small publisher’s fine 'Art of the Novella' series."
—The New Yorker
"The Art of the Novella series is sort of an anti-Kindle. What these singular, distinctive titles celebrate is book-ness. They're slim enough to be portable but showy enough to be conspicuously consumed—tiny little objects that demand to be loved for the commodities they are."
—KQED (NPR San Francisco)
"Some like it short, and if you're one of them, Melville House, an independent publisher based in Brooklyn, has a line of books for you... elegant-looking paperback editions ...a good read in a small package."
—The Wall Street Journal