A Personal Record and A Mirror of the Sea (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)

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9780140189667: A Personal Record and A Mirror of the Sea (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics)

Joseph Conrad is a largely enigmatic presence in his novels, but in A Personal Record he decided to introduce his readers to "the figure behind the veil". Almost equally revealing is The Mirror of the Sea, written in "tribute to the sea, its ships, and its men, to whom I remain indebted for so much which has gone to make me what I am". Both are full of Conrad's anecdotes and adventures about smuggling arms to Don Carlos, a claimant to the Spanish throne, and characters like the great-uncle who once had to eat a Lithuanian dog during Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. They also let us see inside the young man who broke with his Polish background and was deeply inspired by the resilience and devotion to duty of his fellow British sailors. Every page is filled with a powerful moral intelligence and sense of history.

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About the Author:

Joseph Conrad (originally Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. His parents, ardent Polish patriots, died when he was a child, following their exile for anti-Russian activities, and he came under the protection of his tradition-conscious uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski, who watched over him for the next twenty-five years. In 1874 Bobrowski conceded to his nephew's passionate desire to go to sea, and Conrad travelled to Marseilles, where he served in French merchant vessels before joining a British ship in 1878 as an apprentice. In 1886 he obtained British nationality and his Master's certificate in the British Merchant Service. Eight years later he left the sea to devote himself to writing, publishing his first novel, Almayer's Folly, in 1895. The following year he married Jessie George and eventually settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. He continued to write until his death in 1924. Today Conrad is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of fiction in English—his third language. He once described himself as being concerned 'with the ideal value of things, events and people'; in the Preface to The Nigger of the 'Narcissus' he defined his task as 'by the power of the written word ... before all, to make you see'.

Review:


"Offers a tantalizing glimpse of the great modernist's early life: his family background...and the twenty years he spent as a merchant seaman."--The Guardian


"This work and Conrad's fiction 'interpenetrate': along with Najder's introduction, Mots and APR are indispensable to understanding Conrad's fictive maritime imagination."--R.D. Madison, U.S. Naval Academy


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