Often regarded to be one of the greatest writers in the English Language, master story teller Joseph Conrad was born on December 3, 1857. An early modernist, his works are replete with 19th century realism and he is known to portray anti-heroic characters in his fiction. Imperialism and Colonialism were two themes that would find their way into the works of Conrad along with a profound exploration of the human psychology. The author who passed away on August 3, 1924, left behind a rich heritage in terms of works, which have often transcended the pages of books and have found new life in varied media.
On the author’s 162nd birth anniversary, here are 5 novels by him one must read:
Heart of Darkness (1899)
A novella by the author, Heart of Darkness is about a narrated voyage up the Congo River, where the narrator recounts his story to friends abroad a boat anchored on the River Thames. The novel toes the line where it dispels notion that there is a vast difference between people who are deemed ‘civilised’ and those who are described as ‘savages’. Thematically, Heart of Darkness questions concepts such as imperialism and racism and is often considered to be one of the best novels ever written.
Lord Jim (October 1899 to November 1900)
Originally published in a serialised manner in Blackwood Magazine between 1899 and 1900, the novel follows Jim, a young British seaman, who along with the other members of the crew had abandoned a passenger ship in distress. The novel follows his attempts at coming to terms with his past and himself.
About the fictive South American republic Constaguana, it thematically represents capitalist exploitation and rebellion in the fictional setting around the lure of silver and its effect on men. The novel incorporates both flashbacks and insights into the future in its narrative to move the plot forward.
The Secret Agent (1907)
A political novel, the plot is set in London in 1886 and deals with one Adolf Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country.
Under Western Eyes (1911)
Often considered to be Conrad’s response to the themes explored by Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment, it deals with the failure of revolutionary movements and ideals. The novel was first published in 1911, following the failure of the 1905 revolution in Russia.
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