This compact novel, completed in 1900, as with so many of the great novels of the time, is at its baseline a book of the sea. An English boy in a simple town has dreams bigger than the outdoors and embarks at an early age into the sailor's life. The waters he travels reward him with the ability to explore the human spirit, while Joseph Conrad launches the story into both an exercise of his technical prowess and a delicately crafted picture of a character who reaches the status of a literary hero.
Joseph Conrad (Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski) was Born in 1857, in the Polish Ukraine (then held by Russia). His father's political opinions caused the family to be sent to the north of Russia, where Joseph's mother died in 1864. Four years later his father also died, and Joseph went to live with his uncle. Conrad had always wanted to go to sea, and at sixteen he joined a French ship and began his life as a sailor, travelling to many wild and dangerous places. In 1886 he received his master's certificats and became a British citizen, and in 1895 he left the sea, married, and settled in England. He had started to write during the long voyages at sea, and he puhlished his first novel in 1895, writing in English, his third language, which he had never heard spoken until he was twenty-one. For the rest of his life he lived quietly in England, until his death in 1924. Conrad's twenty adventurous years at sea gave him the material for much of his writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) was based on his own voyage up the River Congo in Africa. Other famous titles include Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), and The Secret Agent (1907). Conrad's novels are greatly admired. They are often adventure stories, in which men's characters are tested by danger and difficulty, and they are cleverly told, moving backwards and forwards in Lime throughout the story. Lord Jim, which has twice been filmed, is perhaps Conrad's hest-known novel. Conrad would not allow himself to have "favourites" among his novels, but in a foreword to Lord Jim he shows his sympathy for Jim's troubled character and his search for his lost honour. Jim, he wrote, was "one of us".
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