Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) - Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Joseph Conrad was born in Berdichev, in the Ukraine, died of a heart attack on August 3, 1924 in Biskopsbouvne and was buried in Canterbury.
His parents – Apollo Korzeniowski and Ewelina Bobrowska - were from the Polish landed gentry and were committed patriots who were angered by the country’s partition between Russian, German and Austrian rule. His father, a revolutionary and writer, was exiled from the Ukraine for political activities in the early 1860s and the family moved to northern Russia. Conrad’s mother died when he was 7, in Kiev, his father when he was 11, back in Poland. Conrad became a dependant of his maternal uncle, Thadeusz Bobrowski and was tutored in Switzerland.
In September 1874 he left for Marseilles to become a trainee seaman in the French merchant navy. He swiftly climbed the ranks. By 1886 he was commanding his own ship and was given British citizenship. It was at this time that he officially changed his name to Joseph Conrad.
Conrad spent the next part of his life sailing all over the world, it was this experience that provided him with material on the exotic locations of many of his novels. He visited Australia, various islands in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, South America, and he even sailed up the Congo River in Africa. In 1894 at the age of 36 Conrad finally left the sea behind him and settled down in England. Two years later he married an Englishwoman by the name of Jessie George, and it was with her that he had two sons.
Even though he was settled down and had a family Conrad still occasionally travelled, but for the most part he just wrote his novels, the first of which, Almayer's Folly, appeared
in 1895. That novel would be followed by many others including The Heart of Darkness in 1902 and Nostromo in 1904. Conrad continued to write until the year he died, publishing his last novel, The Nature of Crime, in 1924.
Conrad was among the first English novelists to tell his tales “from the inside” and that he often does so from the colonial frontier enables him to show that the very ideas of intellectual and moral security which were justifying the imperial process were nothing more than self-serving conceit.
In spite of the criticisms levelled against him, he remains extremely readable and his visions of the vulgar depths which humanity can trawl are unsurpassed.
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