Joseph Conrad (1857 – 1924)

Joseph Conrad (December 3, 1857- August 3, 1924) 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 in Berdyczow (Berdychiv), then Poland under Russian rule, now Ukraine. His father, an aristocrat, writer, and translator, was arrested by the Russian authorities in Warsaw for his activities in support of the 1863 insurrection, and was exiled to Siberia. His mother died of tuberculosis in 1865, as did his father four years later in Krakow, leaving Conrad orphaned at the age of eleven.

He was placed in the care of his uncle, a more cautious figure than either of his parents, who nevertheless allowed Conrad to travel to Marseille and begin his career as a seaman at the age of 17. Conrad lived an adventurous life, becoming involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy, which he later fictionalized in his novel The Arrow Of Gold. In 1878, after a failed attempt at suicide, Conrad took service on his first British ship. He learned English before the age of 21, and gained both his Master Mariner's certificate and British citizenship in 1886. He first arrived in England at the port of Lowestoft, Suffolk, and lived later in London and near Canterbury, Kent.

In 1894, at the age of 36, he left the sea to become an English author. His first novel, Under Western Eyes are among the first modern novels to treat the subjects of terrorism and espionage.

His 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, and Russian writers as a rule, possibly due to his political inclinations, making 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. Chinua Achebe, however, has argued that Conrad's language and imagery is inescapably racist. Some would claim that these can both be true.

In 1923 he was offered but declined a Knighthood.
Joseph Conrad died of a heart attack, and was interred in Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, England.

Books by Joseph Conrad