let the quest begin!

I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat.

--Heart of Darkness

"English" Author and leading proponent of Modernism, Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski at the end of the Crimean War in 1857. Whilst Conrad is often referred to as Polish, he was born in Berdichev in the Ukraine to Polish parents. The area had originally been part Poland, but at the time of Conrad's birth it was under the rule of the Tsarist autocracy.

His father Apollo Korzeniowski was a landless aristocrat. Apollo had a passion for language, and spent six years at St. Petersburg University studying French and English literature without earning a degree. Although Apollo was known for his generally unpleasant nature, he spent much time educating young Jozef in writing and speech. After becoming involved in revolutionary political intrigue, Apollo fled to Volgoda in Russia. Jozef followed.

During their time in Russia, Conrad's mother Eva developed tuberculosis and died in 1865. Jozef too was ailing, and developed persistent migraines that haunted him for the rest of his life. Dogged by the loss of his wife, Apollo died of tuberculosis in 1869.

Orphaned, Conrad was sent to live in Switzerland with his maternal uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowski. After schooling in Krakow, Jozef became obsessed by the sea. Although his uncle disapproved, in the mid-1870s he joined the French merchant marine as an apprentice, and made multiple voyages to the West Indies between 1875 and 1878. It is rumoured that during his period, Conrad also was involved in arms smuggling for the Carlist cause in Spain.

By 1878, Jozef had made his way to England looking to become an officer in the British navy. He spent the next twenty years sailing between British colonies, and wrote myriad letters and journals of his exploits. After suffering an almost crippling spinal injury, he paused for two months in Mauritius, unsuccessfully courting local women. He returned to cooler climes in 1889 and began his first novel Almayer's Folly, under the anglicized name "Joseph Conrad". The choice to write in English is amazing. It was Conrad's fourth language after French, Polish and Russian.

Conrad continued sailing, heading into the Congo in 1890. His wrath at the horrors of the colonial regime lead him to write Heart of Darkness. Jozef returned to England to find that his guardian-uncle had died. The inheritance gave Conrad the stability to concentrate on his writing, which culminated in the publishing of Almayer's Folly in 1894. During the next few years, Conrad wrote prolifically drawing upon his past journals for inspiration. He married Jessie George in 1896 after a protracted courtship. Despite often being characterized as a lonely man, Conrad developed a close circle of friends, amongst whom numbered authors Stephen Crane and Henry James.

He made a brief return to Poland and then to America. He died of a heart attack in 1924, writing until his very death.


Almost all of Conrad's works are available free through Project Gutenberg at: ftp://sailor.gutenberg.org/pub/gutenberg/by-author/co7.html

Works of Joseph Conrad
1895 Almayer's Folly (Macmillan)
1896 An Outcast of the Islands (D. Appleton)
1897 The Nigger of the Narcissus: A Tale of the Forecastle (Heinemann); published in America as The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle (Dodd)
1898 Tales of Unrest (Scribner)
1900 Lord Jim (Doubleday & McClure)
1901 with Ford Maddox Hueffer, later Ford Maddox Ford, The Inheritors (McClure, Phillips)
1902 Typhoon and Other Stories (Putnam)
1902 Youth: A Narrative, and Two Other Stories (Blackwood)
1902 Heart of Darkness (Blackwood)
1903 with Hueffer, Romance (Smith, Elder)
1904 Nostromo (Harper & Brothers)
1906 The Mirror of the Sea (Harper & Brothers) (autobiography)
1907 The Secret Agent (Harper & Brothers)
1908 A Set of Six (Methuen)
1911 Under Western Eyes (Harper & Brothers)
1912 Twixt Land and Sea (Hodder & Stoughton)
1912 Some Reminiscences (E. Nash); published in America as A Personal Record (Harper & Brothers)
1913 Chance (Doubleday, Page)
1915 Victory (Doubleday, Page)
1915 Within the Tides (Dent)
1917 The Shadow Line (Doubleday, Page)
1919 The Arrow of Gold (Doubleday, Page)
1920 The Rescue (Doubleday, Page)
1921 Notes on Life and Letters (Doubleday, Page)
1921 Notes on My Books (Doubleday, Page)
1923 The Rover (Doubleday, Page)
1924 with Hueffer, The Nature of a Crime (Doubleday, Page)
(released pothumously)
1925 Suspense: A Napoleonic Novel (Doubleday, Page)
1925 Tales of Hearsay (Doubleday, Page)
1926 Last Essays (Doubleday, Page)
1928 The Sisters (C. Gaige)

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