The Nigger of the Narcissus and The Secret Sharer


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At the time of Conrad's birth, Apollo's land had been seized by the Russian government because of his participation in past uprisings. He and one of Conrad's maternal uncles, Stefan Bobrowski, helped plan an uprising against Russian rule in Other members of Conrad's family showed similar patriotic convictions: Kazimirez Bobrowski, another maternal uncle, resigned his commission in the army controlled by Russia and was imprisoned, while Robert and Hilary Korzeniowski, two fraternal uncles, also assisted in planning the aforementioned rebellion.

Robert died in and Hilary was imprisoned and exiled. All of this political turmoil would prove to be predictably disturbing to young Josef, who could only stand idly by as he watched his family embroiled in such dangerous controversy. Conrad's father was also a writer and translator, who composed political tracts, poetry, and satirical plays.

His public urgings for Polish freedom, however, eventually caused Russian authorities to arrest and imprison him in ; in , his wife Conrad's mother , Eva, was also arrested and charged with assisting her husband in his anti-Russian activities.

The two were sentenced to exile in Vologda, a town in northern Russia. Their exile was a hard and bitter one: Eva died of tuberculosis in and Apollo died of the same disease in Conrad, now only twelve years old, was naturally devastated; his own physical health deteriorated and he suffered from a number of lung inflammations and epileptic seizures. His poor health would become a recurring problem throughout the remainder of his life.

Joseph Conrad

Poland did not gain independence until , and although patriots such as Apollo were instrumental in this eventual success, their martyrdom left many children such as Conrad without parents or hope for their future. After his father's death, Conrad was returned to Krakow, Poland where he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski. His uncle sent Conrad to school in Krakow and then to Geneva under the guidance of a private tutor.

However, Conrad was a poor student; Despite his having studied Greek, Latin, mathematics, and of course geography, he never completed the formal courses of study that he was expected to finish. His apathy toward formal education was counterbalanced by the reading he did on his own: During his early teenage years, Conrad read a great deal, particularly translations Charles Dickens' novels and Captain Frederick Marryat, an English novelist who wrote popular adventure yarns about life at sea.

He also read widely in French. Marryat's novels may have been partly responsible for the sixteen-year-old Conrad's desire to go to sea and travel the world as a merchant marine an exotic wish for a boy who grew up in a land-locked country ; in , his uncle reluctantly granted him permission to leave Poland and travel, by train, to the French port city of Marseille to join the French Merchant Navy.

The Nigger of the Narcissus and Other Tales by Joseph Conrad

After his arrival, Conrad made three voyages to the West Indies between and ; During this time, he smuggled guns for the Carlists, who were trying to put Carlos de Bourbon on the throne of Spain. In , Conrad suffered from depression, caused in part by gambling debts and his being forbidden to work on any French ships due to his lying about having the proper permits. He made an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, shooting himself through the shoulder and missing his vital organs.

Biographers differ in their interpretations of this attempt: Some contend that Conrad was depressed about his squandering all his money, while others report that the attempt was a ruse designed to put Conrad out of work and thus escape the grasp of creditors.

Amherst, Mass: Amherst College Press, Johnson, Bruce. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Kaplan, Harold.

Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad - Part 1 of 2

Athens: Ohio University Press, Karl, Frederick J. The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Rank, Otto. The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study. Translated and edited with an introduction by Harry Tucker, Jr. New York: New American Library, Stallman, R. Zabel, Morton Dauwen, ed.

Ego Formation and the Land / Sea Metaphor in Conrad’s Secret Sharer | SpringerLink

The Portable Conrad. Revised by Frederick R.


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