'''Joseph Conrad''' (1857-1924). An ethnic Pole (see UsefulNotes/{{Poland}}), but born within the dominions of what was then the Russian Empire (actually present-day UsefulNotes/{{Ukraine}}, but see also UsefulNotes/{{Russia}}) Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski lived an early life upset by considerable political turmoil. He eventually settled in England, finding work as a merchant sailor. He even became TheCaptain of his own ship. A polyglot, Conrad who spoke Polish and French from birth, eventually made the rare transition of writing solely in English, despite it being a "third language" at best. He became fluent only in his teenage years and for the rest of his life, he spoke English with a pronounced accent, anticipating the more radical transitions made by the likes of Creator/VladimirNabokov [[note]]He disagreed. "I differ from Joseph Conradically"[[/note]].

Conrad's youth as a merchant sailor on French and British vessels, provides [[WriteWhatYouKnow the background]] for most of his seafaring works. Most of his time at sea was working trade routes around Africa and India at the height of UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire, which informs most of his other works. In his lifetime, he was regarded as a great talent by the likes of Creator/HenryJames, Creator/RudyardKipling and he later influenced artists like Graham Greene, Creator/TSEliot, Creator/OrsonWelles, Creator/ErnestHemingway and Creator/FScottFitzgerald.

Several of his books have been adapted to films. Most notable examples are ''Sabotage'' (1936) Creator/AlfredHitchcock which adapts ''The Secret Agent'' [[note]]Not to be confused by the Hitchcock film ''Secret Agent'' which adapts W. Somerset Maugham's ''Ashenden''[[/note]], Carol Reed's adaptation of ''An Outcast on the Islands''. The most famous one of course is ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' which adapts his 1899 novella ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'' through SettingUpdate from the Belgian Congo to the Vietnam War. Likewise, Creator/DavidLean planned to adapt ''Nostromo'' for his last film but [[AuthorExistenceFailure he died before production began]]. In addition, Ripley's ship in ''Film/{{Alien}}'' is called "Nostromo" as a ShoutOut.

For reasons such as this, Conrad is perenially part of SchoolStudyMedia as well as a popular author to this day.

His other works include:
* ''Almayer's Folly''
* ''An Outcast of the Islands''
* ''Chance''
* "Gaspar Ruiz"
* ''Literature/LordJim''
* ''Literature/{{Nostromo}}''
* ''Romance''
* ''The Arrow of Gold''
* "The Duel" (adapted into ''Film/TheDuellists'')
* ''The End of the Tether''
* ''The Inheritors''
* ''The Nigger Of The [='Narcissus'=]''
* "The Point Of Honor"
* ''The Rescue''
* ''The Secret Agent''
* ''The Shadow Line''
* ''Typhoon''
* ''Under Western Eyes''
* ''Victory: An Island Tale''
* ''Within the Tides'' (short story collection)
!! His work provides examples of:

* BittersweetEnding or DownerEnding: If you ever find a happy ending in a Conrad story, it's like winning a lottery.
* DarkestAfrica: ''Heart of Darkness'' codifies and partly names it. While it was seen then and now as an anti-colonialist book, author Chinua Achebe criticized Conrad for using Africa as a background to project the VillainousBreakdown of a European man while portraying Africans as a stereotypical "other".
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: Many of his characters go nuts when they confront their illusions and failed hopes. It happens most famously to Kurtz and later to Martin Decoud in ''Nostromo'' and all the terrorists in ''The Secret Agent''.
* GrayAndGreyMorality: Conrad was famous in his day, the late Victorian-early Edwardian period, for introducing modern elements like AntiHero, VillainProtagonist and a general cynicism about conventional morality.
* HumansAreFlawed [=/=] HumansAreBastards: There are very few purely good characters in Conrad's books. All of them are flawed, compromised and corrupt in some way.
%%* SendInTheSearchTeam
%%* SpyFiction
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Conrad's ultimate theme is taking characters past the PointOfNoReturn, having them confront failure and defeat and learn who they truly are.
%%* UnreliableNarrator