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Joseph Conrad. The Heart of Darkness.
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About the author
Born Józef Teodor NaB’cz
Konrad Korzeniowski, on De-
cember 3, 1857 in Berdyczow, in
what is now the Ukraine, he was
brought up in Russian-occupied
His father, an impoverished aristocrat, writer, and militant
fighter, was arrested by the occupying regime for his patriotic
activities, and was sentenced to penal servitude in Siberia.
Shortly after this, his mother died of tuberculosis in exile,
and despite his being allowed to return to Cracow, so did his
father four years later.
Subsequently Conrad was brought up by his uncle. Conrad
eventually abandoned his education at the age of 17 to be-
come a seaman in the French merchant navy. He lived an
adventurous, buccaneering life — sailing off Marseilles and
becoming involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy.
In 1878, after attempted suicide, Józef took service on a Brit-
ish ship in order to avoid French military service. He gained
his Master Mariner’s certificate, learned English before the
age of 21, to finally become a naturalized Briton in 1884. He
lived in Lowestoft, Suffolk, and later near Canterbury, Kent.
His first novel, Almayer’s Folly, a story of Malaysia, was
written in English and published in 1895. It should be re-
membered that the lingua franca at that time was French,
which was Conrad’s second language, thus it is altogether re-
markable that Conrad should write so fluently and effectively
in his third language.
His literary work bridges the gap between the classical
literary tradition of writers such as Charles Dickens and Fyodor
Dostoevsky and the emergent modernist schools of writing.
Interestingly, he despised Dostoevsky, and Russian writers as
a rule, only making an exception for Ivan Turgenev