Author

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad
  • Joseph Conrad’s multilayered masterpiece tells of one nation’s violent revolution and one hero’s moral degeneration. Conrad convincingly invents an entire country, Costaguana, and sets it afire as warlords compete for power and a fortune in silver.

    Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to his faithful longshoreman, Nostromo, a local hero of sorts whom Señor Gould believes to be incorruptible. Nostromo accepts the mission as an opportunity to increase his own fame. But when his exploit fails to win him the rewards he had hoped for, he is consumed by a corrupting resentment.

    Nostromo, relevant both as literature and as a brilliant social study, ambitiously brings to life Latin American history and the politics of an underdeveloped country. 

  • Written at the start of the Great War, when his son Borys was at the Western Front, The Shadow-Line is Conrad's supreme effort to open man's eyes to the meaning of war through the stimulus of art. In many ways an autobiographical narrative, this masterpiece relates the story of a young and inexperienced sea captain whose first command finds him with a ship becalmed in tropical seas and a crew smitten with fever. As he wrestles with his conscience and with the sense of isolation that his position imposes, the captain crosses the "shadow-line" between youth and adulthood.

    The qualities needed to confront the ship's crisis symbolize the very qualities needed by humanity, not only to face evil and destruction, but also to come to terms with life.

  • Compelling, exotic, and suspenseful, Heart of Darkness is far more than just an adventure story. The novel explores deep into the dark regions of the hearts and souls of its characters and into the conflicts prevalent in more "primitive" cultures. It is also a striking picture of the moral deterioration that can result from prolonged isolation.

    Marlow, the story's narrator, tells his friends of an experience in the Congo where he once ran a river steamer for a trading company. He tells of the ivory traders' cruel exploitation of the natives there. Chief among these is a greedy and treacherous European named Kurtz, who has used savagery to obtain semidivine power over the natives. While Marlow tries to get Kurtz back down the river, Kurtz tries to justify his actions, asserting that he has seen into the very heart of things.

  • A tale of personal tragedy as well as a broader meditation on the evils of colonialism, Almayer’s Folly is Joseph Conrad’s first novel. Set in the lush jungles of Borneo in the late 1800s, it charts the decline of a Dutch merchant after a twenty-five year struggle against overwhelming odds.

    Despite the bitterness of his disillusioned wife, Almayer refuses to accept the financial ruin he has precipitated. Instead, he dreams of fantastic wealth and a triumphant return to the civilization of his youth, accompanied by his loving daughter, Nina. But when Nina turns away from his elusive fantasies to the tangible reality of her native lover, Almayer must face the fruits of his own folly.

  • Hailed as one of Joseph Conrad's finest literary achievements, Under Western Eyes tells the story of a young man unwittingly caught in the political turmoil of pre-revolutionary czarist Russia. It begins with a bomb that kills its intended target, a hated Russian minister of police, along with several innocent bystanders. A young student named Razumov hides the perpetrator, who questions his moral strength and integrity.

    Set in St. Petersburg amid intrigue and espionage, this novel hauntingly speaks to the broader, timeless question of human responsibility and honor. Conrad said that his intent was to render "the psychology of Russia," a country being driven to anarchy by misguided revolutionaries. This masterwork, published six years before the Russian Revolution, is a chillingly accurate prophecy of what was to come.

  • Inspired by an actual attempted terrorist attack in nineteenth-century London, The Secret Agent offers a chillingly prophetic portrait of contemporary terrorism, even famously inspiring the Unabomber. The literary precursor to the espionage novels of such writers as Graham Greene and John le Carr├®, Conrad's intense political thriller resonates more strongly than ever in today's world, where a handful of fanatics can still play mad politics and victimize the innocent.

    Mr. Verloc is a double agent who operates a seedy shop in Soho, where he lives with his wife, her mother, and her idiot brother. When Verloc is assigned a dangerous act of sabotage, it has disastrous repercussions for his own family. Conrad paints a corrupt London underworld where terrorists and politicians, grotesques and foreign diplomats, fanatics and fashionable society are surprisingly intermingled. As Conrad brilliantly explores the confused motives that lie at the heart of terrorism, his savagely ironic voice is concerned not just with politics but with the desperate fates of ordinary people.

  • The four stories contained in Within the Tides are linked by Conrad’s treatment of loyalty and betrayal. They range in setting from the Far East to eighteenth-century Spain to England. The tone shifts from the tragic inevitability of “The Planter of Malata” and the pathos of “Because of the Dollars” to the gothic atmosphere of “The Inn of the Two Witches” and the grim humor of “The Partner.” Experimental in form, these stories represent yet another branch of Conrad’s search for moral truth.

  • This is a novel about a man's lifelong efforts to atone for an act of instinctive cowardice. Young Jim, chief mate of the Patna, dreams of being a hero. He has taken to the seas with the hopes of adventure and the chance to prove his mettle. When the Patna threatens to sink and the cowardly officers decide to save their own skins and escape in the few lifeboats, Jim despises them. But at the last moment, dazed by horror and confusion, he joins them, deserting the eight hundred Muslim passengers to apparent death.

    Tormented by this act of cowardice and desertion, Jim flees west after being stripped of his rank. Living among the natives in Patusan, a remote trading post in the jungle, he is able to cease sacrificing himself on the altar of conscience. When he defends Patusan against the evil "Gentleman Brown," his efforts create order and well-being, thereby winning the respect and affection of the people for whom he becomes Tuan, or Lord Jim.

    With its rich descriptions of an unknown, exotic world and beautifully constructed prose, Lord Jim is considered one of Conrad's greatest works.