Joseph Conrad – The Sailor and The Writer
Joseph Conrad born as Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in Terehove near Berdychiv on December 3, 1857 was a Polish writer who spent most of his creative period in England and wrote in English. Joseph Conrad was given Citizenship of Great Britain in 1886, but he considered himself a Pole for the rest of his life. Conrad is considered one of the greatest novelists that wrote in English, although as a young man he wasn’t fluent in English (and always with pronounced accent), he was the master of style that brought a pronounced non-English sensibility in English literature. He wrote novels, many in the marine environment, which portray trials of the human spirit in the midst of the indifference of the universe. However, the sea is not the most important element in a series of his works, as we can see in some his most notable works Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes.
Conrad comes from the Polish noble family. His parents, Apollo and Ewa, were Polish patriots and they campaigned against the tyrannical Russian government. When they were arrested for protesting against Russian Empire, the whole family was expelled to the Russian province of Vologda. Apollo and Ewa died a few years later, and their eleven-year-old son was sent back to Poland to life with his uncle.
Conrad earned his education at first from his father, who taught him for life, and then at a private school in Krakow. At the age of sixteen, he left Poland and went to the French harbor city of Marseille and became a sailor there.
A trader who was Conrad’s uncle friend, gave him the opportunity to sail on French merchant ships, initially as an apprentice, and then as a ship waiter. He sailed west of the islands and South America, and is presumed to have participated in arms smuggling during that time. After a period in which he fell into great debts and tried suicide, Conrad joined the British Navy, where he worked for sixteen years. He became the captain of the ship and a British citizen, which allowed him to sail around the world. He visited India, Singapore, Australia and Africa, and the experience he gained on travel gave him ideas for novels.
Joseph Conrad’s Literary Career
After years spent at sea, Conrad finally decided to regain a firm ground under his feet again. He married Jesse Emelyn George in 1896 and had two sons with her. Conrad also held acquaintances with famous writers such as John Golsvordi, Ford Medox Ford and H. Wales.
His literary career began in 1895 with the publication of his first novel, Almayer’s Folly, an adventurous story of a trip to Borneo. Towards the end of the nineteenth century he wrote his two most famous novels Lord Jim (1900) and Heart of Darkness (1902). Lord Jim is a story about a young sailor who is facing the problems of cowardice and heroism. The Heart of Harkness is a novel that describes the journey of a single Englishman in Africa, where he faces a cruel and mysterious man who has made himself ruler of African natives.
In the novels, Lord Jim and the Heart of Darkness are the most motifs inherent in the works of Joseph Conrad. Some of his favorites are: distant lands, dramatic conflicts between man and nature, individualism, the dark side of man and racial prejudice.
Conrad continued to achieve success as a writer, and he also published novels Nostromo, Secret Agent and his autobiography. Many of his works appeared first in magazines, and then in novels. As his career progressed, Conrad earned a lot of money from publishing novels and copyright for several films.
In the last two decades of his life, Conrad has written most autobiographical works, including the novels The Arrow of Gold and The Rescue. His latest novels The Nature of a Crime and The Rover were published in 1923.
Joseph Conrad died of a stroke on August 3, 1924, in his home in England.
Conrad is considered to be the pioneer of modernism, and his works have influenced numerous writers of the twentieth century, such as T.S. Eliot, Grey Green, Virginia Wulf, Albert Cami and William Fockner.