- Slides: 26
The Life of Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad (1857 -1924) • Born December 3, 1857 as Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski • Born to Polish parents in the Ukrainian town of Berdichev
Apollo Korzeniowski Eva Korzeniowski
Family • His father Apollo Korzeniowski was a poet and translator of English and French literature. • He was arrested for conspiracy and was exiled with his family to Vologda in northern Russia. • Died: May 23, 1869 – Tuberculosis • Mother - originally - Eva Bobrowska • Parents opposed the marriage to Apollo • Died: April 18, 1865 – Tuberculosis • In 1869, Joseph was sent to live with his uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski • Lived in Switzerland • Major influence over Conrad’s life • Allowed Conrad to go to sea
Preparation • Wished to serve in the Austrian navy • Applied but was refused Austrian citizenship • Traveled, in 1874, to Marseilles – learned French, seamanship, and became financed by his uncle.
Joseph Conrad in 1873 -- Age 16
Voyages • Started as a seaman’s apprentice – an observer on harbor pilot boats • Within two months, he took his first ocean voyage. • Sailed on three voyages between 1874 and 1877
Voyages • • • Mavis – April 1878 -June 1878 – English steamship – From Marseilles to Constantinople to Lowestoft. – Ordinary Seaman Duke of Sutherland – Oct. 1878 -Oct. 1879 – From London to Sydney and back to London. – Ordinary Seaman Europa – – Dec. 1879 • seven weeks Steamer Across the Mediterranean Sea Ordinary Seaman • Loch Etive – – • Aug. 1880 -April 1881 Wool Clipper From London to Sydney and back to London. Third Mate Palestine – September 1881 – Wooden Barque – From London to Bangkok. – Second Mate – Caught fire and was abandoned
The Otago • Conrad’s first command • January 19, 1888 - June 1889 • From Singapore to Sydney and Mauritius
Novels and Short Stories • Most of his novels and short stories have the sea as a background for the action. • The sea is also a symbolic parallel for their heroes’ inner turbulence. • There’s little romantic interest in his novels.
Novels and Short Stories • 1886 -wrote first short story “The Black Mate” – submitted to a literary competition but was unsuccessful • During the next three years, he began his first novel Almayer’s Folly – completed in 1894
Heart of Darkness • Conrad continued writing diaries and journals on a Congo River Steamer – These notes would eventually become the basis for Heart of Darkness • It was first published in Blackwood’s Magazine – later appeared as a single volume
Heart of Darkness • Represents a radically new course in Conrad’s style. • His earlier works were comparatively straight forward and objective • Heart of Darkness is intensely psychological and analytical – Includes a great deal of highly personal autobiographical details as well as purely symbolic elements.
Personal Life • Married Jessie George – 1896 (17 years younger than he) • Two sons born – Borys: 1898 – John: 1906
World War I • When World War I broke out, Conrad, his wife, and two sons were in Poland – barely escaped imprisonment • Back in England, Conrad assembled his entire body of work, which appeared in 1920.
Honors • Conrad was offered a knighthood by the British government – declined the offer • Also declined honorary degrees from five universities. • Lived without national honor but with literary honor instead.
Death • August 3, 1924 • Conrad died of a heart attack • Buried in Canterbury
Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski: 1857 - 1924
Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad (1857 -1924) Conrad, whose original name was Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, was born near Berdichev, Poland (now in Ukraine), the son of a Polish nobleman who was also a political journalist and anarchist. From his father the boy acquired a love of literature, including romantic tales of the sea. He was orphaned at the age of 12, and when he was 16 years old he left Russian-occupied Poland made his way to Marseille, France. For the next four years he worked on French ships, ran guns for the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne, and became involved in a love affair that ended in his attempted suicide. He then entered the British merchant service, becoming a master mariner and a naturalized British subject in 1886; a few years later he changed his name to sound more English. Joseph Conrad Most famous novels: Almayer’s Folly (1889) Lord Jim (1900) Heart of Darkness (1902) Nostromo (1904) The Secret Agent (1907) Under Western Eyes (1911)
Heart of Darkness is Conrad’s most widely read novel. One reason is that it lends itself to wide range of interpretations. It can be read as…. . 1. As autobiography: The account of a journey up the Congo river that Conrad undertook in the early 1890’s. 2. As anticolonialism: An exposition of the brutality of Belgian colonial rule. 3. As myth: An ( Arthurian) quest. 4. As classical or Norse mythology. 5. As psychology or psychoanalysis: A journey into the Self. - and as a picture of the American involvement in the Vietnam War
Autobiography • Conrad did, in fact, go up the Congo River in 1890 • Like Marlow in the novel, he got the job to go to the Congo through his aunt. • Like Marlow, he did not get along with the manager • Like Marlow, he was sent to pick up an agent Klein !! • Like Marlow, he fell ill and nearly died
Congo in the 1890’s Inner Station
Heart of Darkness Background • After a long stint in the east had come to an end, he was having trouble finding a new position. • With the help of a relative in Brussels he got the position as captain of a steamer for a Belgian trading company. • Conrad had always dreamed of sailing the Congo • Had to leave early for the job, the previous captain was killed in a trivial quarrel
Heart of Darkness Background • While traveling from Boma (at the mouth) to the company station at Matadi he met Roger Casement who told Conrad stories of the harsh treatment of Africans • Conrad saw some of the most shocking and depraved examples of human corruption he’d ever witnessed. He was disgusted by the ill treatment of the natives, the scrabble for loot, the terrible heat and the lack of water. • He saw human skeletons of bodies left to rot - many were bodies of men from the chain gangs building the railroads. • He found his ship was damaged. • Dysentary was rampant as was malaria; Conrad had to terminate his contract due to illness and never fully recovered
• Heart of Darkness Narrative Structure Framed Narrative – Narrator begins – Marlow takes over – Narrator breaks in occasionally • Marlow is Conrad’s alter-ego, he shows up in some of Conrad’s other works including “Youth: A Narrative” and Lord Jim • Marlow recounts his tale while he is on a small vessel on the Thames with some drinking buddies who are ex-merchant seamen. As he recounts his story the group sits in an all-encompassing darkness and pass around the bottle.