'''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) by 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'' and Richard Brooks' adaptation of ''Film/LordJim''. 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:
* AntiHero: Marlowe is a Type Three, Nostromo, Axel Heyst and Lena are Types I, Razumikhin is Type Three and Lord Jim is Type II.
* 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".
* DownerEnding: If you ever find a happy ending in a Conrad story, it's like winning a lottery. Indeed his novel titled ''Victory'' [[spoiler:still ends with all the characters dead and the phrase invoked]] as an EsotericHappyEnding.
* FullCircleRevolution: Conrad was deeply pessimistic about revolutions. Most self-calling revolutionaries in his books are self-deluded, cynical and violent thugs no better than the order they hope to replace, this is especially the case in ''Under Western Eyes''. ''Nostromo'' is probably the only novel that is sympathetic to the idea of the Revolution, in that it portrays the titular WorkingClassHero as someone who is eternally exploited by both sides with little to show for himself.
* 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'', as well as Razumov in ''Under Western Eyes''.
* 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.
* HonorBeforeReason: His novels often revolve around characters obsessed by personal notions of honour and guilt, which leads them compromise their reason and make them take reckless self-destructive choices:
** In ''Literature/LordJim'', Jim's guilt of cowardice in abandoning the Patna and its passengers to their doom and their miraculous survival leaves him, virutally the only sailor of the disgraced crew that abandoned ship to save their own lives rather than their passengers, with a lingering sense of guilt. Jim always wanted to be TheHero but when the moment arrived he failed and spends the rest of the book obsessed with reclaiming his honour, [[spoiler:and ultimately dies, in a manner that leaves it ambiguous if Jim has reclaimed his honour or not]].
** ''Literature/{{Nostromo}}'' has Martin Decoud and the Capataz de Cargadores losing their minds over the failure of the mission to export the silver in the Cargo Lighter. [[spoiler:Decoud commits suicide, and Nostromo out of guilt, spite and recklessness, starts hoarding a missing silver crate in a lighthouse, losing his mind over taking it and starting a life for himself or not. In the end he dies in an absurd fashion just when he's finally making his last move]].
** ''Victory'' has Axel Heyst and Alma/Lena, both of whom fall in love when Heyst rescues Lena from a crime gang who were planning to pimp her to a disgusting hotel owner. They end up holed in a nearly uninhabited island and start a relationship that is sweet but becomes complicated because Axel is not able to fully give himself away to her because of his father's upbringing and personal hangups, and Lena who knows nothing but giving herself up for men. [[spoiler:In the end, Alma risks her life and dies, proving her love for Axel, who out of guilt commits suicide]].
%%* SendInTheSearchTeam
* LoveMartyr: The theme of ''Victory'', [[spoiler:is Alma/Lena wanting to prove her love for Axel Heyst by becoming this. Her "victory" lies in achieving this moments before she dies]].
* TheMole: [[spoiler:Razumov in ''Under Western Eyes'' betrays terrorist Victor Haldin to the Tsarist police, who then send Razumov to infiltrate Haldin's friends in Geneva and uncover information about the armchair revolutionaries there. Razumov is conflicted about being a rat and finally reveals to the circle and Haldin's sister, who he fell in love with, that he is in fact a traitor. He then gets attacked by Necator, who, in a typically Conradian irony, [[FlockOfWolves turns out to be another mole himself]] for the Tsarist police. Indeed, the joke of the book, is that the traitor Razumov is paradoxically more honorable and conflicted than both the Empire and the Revolutionaries, neither of whom truly uphold their values]].
* SpyFiction: ''The Secret Agent'' and ''Under Western Eyes'' codify some of the tropes in modern spy stories and he indeed influenced the likes of Creator/GrahamGreene.
* VillainProtagonist: Adolf Verloc, the titular Secret Agent and terrorist.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Conrad's ultimate theme is taking characters past the PointOfNoReturn, having them confront failure and defeat and learn who they truly are.
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: Subverted. Conrad was deeply unsympathetic to revolutionaries, he sees self-calling freedom fighters who use violence as thrill-seekers who use ideology to justify taking innocent lives. His novels ''The Secret Agent'' and ''Under Western Eyes'' both depict terrorist attacks that condemn these actions in no uncertain times as senseless and brutal.