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Joseph Teodor Conrad

 

Date Born: 12/3/1857
Place of Birth: Berdychiv, Ukraine

Date Died: 8/3/0
Place of Death: Canterbury, England


Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born British novelist. Some of his works have been labelled romantic, although Conrad's romanticism is tempered with irony and a fine sense of man's capacity for self-deception. Many critics have placed him as a forerunner of modernism.

Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (of the Natecz coat-of-arms) in Berdyczow, Poland (now Berdychiv, Ukraine) into a highly patriotic landowning Polish szlachta (noble) family.

Conrad's father, a writer (best known for patriotic tragedies) and translator from French and English, was arrested by the Russian authorities in Warsaw for his activities in support of the 1863 insurrection against Tsarist Russia, and was exiled to Siberia. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1865, as did his father four years later in Kraków, leaving Conrad orphaned at the age of eleven.

He was placed in the care of his maternal uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowski, in Krakow — a more cautious figure than either of his parents. Bobrowski nevertheless allowed Conrad to travel to Marseille and begin a career as a seaman at the age of 17, after the failure to secure Conrad Austro-Hungarian citizenship made him liable for 25-year conscription into the Russian army.

Conrad lived an adventurous life, becoming involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy, which he later fictionalized in his novel The Arrow of Gold, and allegedly had a disastrous love affair, putting him into a state of despair.

In 1878, after a failed suicide attempt, Conrad took service on his first British ship. He learned English before the age of 21, and in 1886 gained both his Master Mariner's certificate and British citizenship. He first arrived in England at the port of Lowestoft, Suffolk, and later lived in London and near Canterbury, Kent.

In 1894, aged 36, Conrad left the sea to become an author. His first novel, Almayer's Folly, set on the east coast of Borneo, was published in English in 1895.

At that time the lingua franca of educated Europeans was French, Conrad's second language, and it is remarkable that Conrad could write so fluently and effectively in his third language, English. This is the basis of what some linguists (e.g., T. Scovel, 1988) refer to as the "Joseph Conrad effect": while some language learners may easily be discernible from native speakers by their non-standard phonology, they may be regarded as native speakers in terms of their syntax, morphology and lexicon. In fact, some of Conrad's stylistic originality in English may be attributable to his command of other languages, which offered him a richer palette of idiom and image.

Many of Conrad's early novels are set aboard ships. His novel Nostromo is a panoramic study of revolution in South America, while The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes are among the first modern novels to treat the subjects of terrorism and espionage.

Conrad's literary work bridges the gap between the realist literary tradition of writers such as Charles Dickens and the emergent modernist schools of writing. Interestingly, he despised Dostoevsky (although Under Western Eyes arguably could not have been written without his influence) and Russian writers as a rule, due to his parents' deaths at the hands of the Russian authorities. Conrad made an exception only for Ivan Turgenev.

Conrad is now best known for the novella, Heart of Darkness, which has been seen as a scathing indictment of colonialism and which gazes unflinchingly into the depths of despair, human exploitation and suffering which he witnessed while in command of a Congo steamer; it also foreshadows Conrad's "golden period," which begins with Lord Jim (1900) and includes Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes.

Chance is considered Conrad's last important novel, after which the quality of his output declined. Paradoxically, Chance was also Conrad's first popular success.

In 1923 Conrad declined the offer of a British knighthood, on the grounds that he already possessed a (hereditary) Polish one.

Joseph Conrad died 3 August 1924, of a heart attack, and was interred at Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, England.

This article from wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Conrad for the full wikipedia article.


Books by Joseph Teodor Conrad on Riapress.com

Almayer's Folly

By: Joseph Conrad


A Dutch trader searches for riches in Borneo, in the first novel by the author of Heart of Darkness.


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An Outcast of the Islands

By: Joseph Conrad


A colonial underling struggles with his own decisions on a river outpost in the Far East.


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Nostromo

By: Joseph Conrad


Separatism, militias, foreign opportunists and corruption converge in an imaginary South American country.


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The Ni---- of the Narcissus

By: Joseph Conrad


The slovenly crew of the Narcissus adjusts to life aboard with a black crew member. Be prepared for language offensive to today's reader.


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Heart of Darkness

By: Joseph Conrad


Upriver, into evil. The great novel and the basis for the movie Apocalypse Now! See blog.


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Lord Jim

By: Joseph Conrad




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The Inheritors

By: Joseph Conrad




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Typhoon

By: Joseph Conrad




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Romance

By: Joseph Conrad




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Under Western Eyes

By: Joseph Conrad




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Related Books on Riapress.com

Indian Unrest

By: Ignatius Valentine Chirol





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Kim

By: Rudyard Kipling





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Author Web Sites of Interest

Other web sites of interest:
The Joseph Conrad Society (UK)
The Joseph Conrad Society (USA) See especially the reviews of recent books about Conrad.
The Joseph Conrad Foundation