Joseph Conrad

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Conrad, Joseph,

1857–1924, English novelist, b. Berdichev, Russia (now Berdychiv, Ukraine), originally named Jósef Teodor Konrad Walecz Korzeniowski. Born of Polish parents, he is considered one of the greatest novelists and prose stylists in English literature. In 1874, Conrad went to sea and later joined (1878) an English merchant ship, becoming (1884) a master mariner as well as a British citizen. Retiring from the merchant fleet in 1894, he began his career as a novelist, and all of his novels are written in English, an acquired language. His notable early works include The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897), Lord Jim (1900), and the novellas Youth (1902), Heart of Darkness (1902), and Typhoon (1903). The novels Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), Under Western Eyes (1911), and Chance (1913) are regarded by many as Conrad's greatest works. Of his later works, Victory (1915) is the best known. He also collaborated on two novels with Ford Madox FordFord, Ford Madox,
1873–1939, English author; grandson of Ford Madox Brown. He changed his name legally from Ford Madox Hueffer in 1919. The author of over 60 works including novels, poems, criticism, travel essays, and reminiscences, Ford also edited the
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, The Inheritors (1901) and Romance (1903). Marked by a distinctive, opulent prose style, Conrad's novels combine realism and high drama. Their settings include nautical backgrounds as well as high society, and international politics. Conrad was a skilled creator of atmosphere and character; the impact of various situations was augmented by his use of symbolism. He portrayed acutely the conflict between non-western cultures and modern civilization. His characters exhibit the possibilities for isolation and moral deterioration in modern life.


See his complete works (26 vol., 1924–26); L. Davies et al., ed., The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad (9 vol., 2008); biographies by J. Baines (1960), F. M. Ford (1965), N. Sherry (1973, repr. 1997), F. R. Karl (1979), J. Meyers (1991), and J. Batchelor (1993); studies by E. Said (1966), R. Curle (1968), J. A. Palmer (1968), B. Johnson (1971), N. Sherry (1971, 1980), I. Watt (1980), and M. Jasanoff (2017); bibliography by T. G. Ehrsam (1969).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Conrad, Joseph


(pseudonym of Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski). Born Dec. 3, 1857, in Berdichev, Ukraine; died Aug. 3, 1924, in Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury. British writer.

A Pole by nationality, Conrad was the son of a participant in the Polish Uprising of 1863. He worked as a sailor and became a British subject. After publishing the novel Almayer’s Folly (1895; Russian translation, 1923), Conrad devoted himself entirely to writing. He was attracted by adventure and by exotic countries, for example, the novel The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897; Russian translation, 1925) and the collection Tales of Unrest (1898; Russian translation, 1925). A young man’s quest for moral courage is the theme of his novel Lord Jim (1900; Russian translation, 1926). His short novel “Heart of Darkness” (1902) is an exposé of imperialist colonialists. Conrad’s heroes are outcasts from the bourgeois world, bravely confronting the blows of fate (”The End of the Tether,” 1902). Conrad’s belief that the social revolution would not succeed is reflected in his novels Nostromo (1904; Russian translation, 1928) and Under Western Eyes (1911), which reveals the influence of F. M. Dostoevsky. His later works, notably the novels Chance (1913; Russian translation, 1925) and The Shadow-Line (1917; Russian translation, 1925), show signs of an intellectual crisis. Conrad’s articles on G. de Maupassant (1904) and I. S. Turgenev (1917) are an important contribution to literary history.


The Works, vols. 1–22. London-Toronto, 1923–28.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1924–26.
Izbrannoe, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1959.


Urnov, M. V. Na rubezhe vekov: Ocherki angliiskoi literatury. Moscow, 1970.
Leavis, F. R. The Great Tradition. London, 1955.
Baines, J. J. Conrad. 3rd ed. London [1960].
Jablkowska, R. J. Conrad. Wroclaw, 1961.
Conrad: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. [1966].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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