Creator: Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). An ethnic Pole (see Poland), but born within the dominions of what was then the Russian Empire (actually present-day Ukraine, but see also 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 The Captain 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 Vladimir Nabokov note .

Conrad's youth as a merchant sailor on French and British vessels, provides 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 The British Empire, which informs most of his other works. In his lifetime, he was regarded as a great talent by the likes of Henry James, Rudyard Kipling and he later influenced artists like Graham Greene, T. S. Eliot, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Several of his books have been adapted to films. Most notable examples are Sabotage (1936) Alfred Hitchcock which adapts The Secret Agent note , Carol Reed's adaptation of An Outcast on the Islands. The most famous one of course is Apocalypse Now which adapts his 1899 novella Heart of Darkness through Setting Update from the Belgian Congo to the Vietnam War. Likewise, David Lean planned to adapt Nostromo for his last film but he died before production began. In addition, Ripley's ship in Alien is called "Nostromo" as a Shout-Out.

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

His other works include:
  • Almayer's Folly
  • An Outcast of the Islands
  • Chance
  • "Gaspar Ruiz"
  • Lord Jim
  • Nostromo
  • Romance
  • The Arrow of Gold
  • "The Duel" (adapted into The Duellists)
  • 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:

  • Bittersweet Ending or Downer Ending: If you ever find a happy ending in a Conrad story, it's like winning a lottery.
  • Darkest Africa: 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 Villainous Breakdown of a European man while portraying Africans as a stereotypical "other".
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: 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.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Conrad was famous in his day, the late Victorian-early Edwardian period, for introducing modern elements like Anti-Hero, Villain Protagonist and a general cynicism about conventional morality.
  • Humans Are Flawed / Humans Are Bastards: There are very few purely good characters in Conrad's books. All of them are flawed, compromised and corrupt in some way.