Joseph Conrad

On this date in 1857, author Joseph Conrad, ne Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski, was born in Russian-occupied Poland. His father, a writer and poet, was exiled with his family to Russia for working for Polish independence. Joseph's mother died of tuberculosis in 1865, and his father of the same disease in 1869. The teenager went to live with his uncle until signing up as a seaman in the French merchant navy at age 17. His many adventures included gunrunning. He eventually spent 16 years in the British merchant navy, and saw Australia, Malaysia, South America, the Congo and the South Pacific. His eastern travels later became favorite settings for his novels. Conrad became a naturalized British citizen in 1884 and settled down at age 36 to write. Although English was his third language, he wrote in that tongue to great acclaim. His first novel, Almayer's Folly, set in Malaysia, came out in 1895, followed by Lord Jim (1900), the novella Heart of Darkness (1902), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907) and many other books. D. 1924.

“The ethical view of the universe involves us at last in so many cruel and absurd contradictions. . . . that I have come to suspect that the aim of creation cannot be ethical at all.”

—Joseph Conrad, Some Reminincences (1912)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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