Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Conrad, Joseph. (1857 - 1924).

L i f e

- a merchant seaman: travelled the Pacific, especially the East and West Indies > gained experience and material for his writing

- a naturalised British subject > a sense of betrayal, guilt, and dislocation

W o r k

- started learning English when 21 x but: became a master of English prose

- sea stories: the circumstances of life on shipboard or in remote settlements as a background for exploring moral ambiguities

- political fiction: the corrupting effects of European imperialism

The Nigger of the “Narcissus” (1897):

- a dying black seaman corrupts the morale of a ship’s crew by the mere fact of producing sympathy

- symbolically: the necessity and at the same time danger of human contact

Heart of Darkness (1899):

- inspired by his own experience in a steamboat going up the Congo River

- concern: colonialism as both brutal and brutalizing

Lord Jim (1900):

- a successful colonial agent earns himself the tile of Lord from his grateful subjects x but: his achievement is marred by the lasting memory of the corruption of his predecessor

- uses an intermediate narrator and a series of different points of view

Nostromo (1904):

- a political novel, considered his masterpiece

- set in an unstable South American republic with a tottering social order

- concern: the corrupting effects of politics on personal relationships

The Secret Agent (1906):

- a political novel, veers simultaneously toward farce and tragedy

- set in a murky, seedy, and untidy London

- an agent provocateur in the employ of a ‘foreign’ (but almost certainly Russian) embassy is required to blow up the Greenwich Meridian

Under Western Eyes (1911):

- concern: the dangerous instabilities of society under the Russian autocracy

- a Russian student and government spy gets involuntary involved with revolutionary violence and betrays a fellow-student to the Tsar’s police

- consequentially becomes a double exile in Switzerland, pretending to be a revolutionary among revolutionaries

- the narrator, an elderly English teacher of languages in Geneva, observes all with foreign ‘western’ eyes

The Secret Sharer (1912):

- set in the Gulf of Siam as felt by a young sea captain on his first command

- concern: the difficulty of true communion, communion as forced unexpectedly on us, and the recognition of our opposite as our true self


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in Poland. (1857 - 1924). Joseph Conrad since accepting British citizenship (1886).
  • Work

    Novelist. Author of Heart of Darkness (1899).
  • Genres

    Neo-Romanticism. Colonialism. Political novel. Sea-novel.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea."

From Heart of Darkness (1899).


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