- Berdichev (now Berdychiv), Ukraine
Joseph Conrad was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, to Polish parents in Berdichev (now Berdychiv), Ukraine, and was raised and educated primarily in Poland. After a sea-faring career in the French and British merchant marines, he wrote short stories and novels like Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent, which combined his experiences in remote places with an interest in moral conflict and the dark side of human nature. He died in England on August 3, 1924.
Childhood & Education
Joseph Conrad was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, in Berdichev (now Berdychiv), Ukraine. His parents, Apollo and Evelina (nee Bobrowska) Korzeniowski, were members of the Polish noble class. They were also Polish patriots who conspired against oppressive Russian rule; as a consequence, they were arrested and sent to live in the Russian province of Vologda with their 4-year-old son. When Conrad's parents died several years later, he was raised by an uncle in Poland.
Conrad's education was erratic: He was first tutored by his literary father, then attended school in Krakow and received further private schooling. At the age of 16, Conrad left Poland and traveled to the port city of Marseilles, France, where he began his years as a mariner.
Through an introduction to a merchant who was a friend of his uncle, Conrad sailed on several French commercial ships, first as an apprentice and then as a steward. He traveled to the West Indies and South America, and he may have participated in international gun-smuggling.
After a period of debt and a failed suicide attempt, Conrad joined the British merchant marine, where he was employed for 16 years. He rose in rank and became a British citizen, and his voyages around the world—he sailed to India, Singapore, Australia and Africa—gave him experiences that he would later reinterpret in his fiction.
From 1896 through 1904 Conrad wrote novels about places he visited as a merchant marine and he explored themes such as the uncertainties of human sympathy. His early novels included An Outcast of the Islands (1896), The Nigger of the "Narcissus" (1897), The Heart of Darkness (1899), and Lord Jim (1900).
The next three novels reflected Conrad's political side. The theme of Nostromo (1904) was the relationship between man's deepest needs (his psychology) and his public actions and decisions. The description of London, England, in The Secret Agent (1907) was similar to Charles Dickens's works. It portrayed a city of mean streets and shabby lives. In Under Western Eyes (1911) Conrad examined the Russian temperament.
Conrad's next novel, Chance (1914), was a study of solitude and sympathy. Because of its financial success and the efforts of his American publisher, he was able to live without worrying about money for the rest of his life. Victory (1915), his last important novel, further examined the theme of solitude and sympathy.
He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.
Strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.
Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put its trust in life.
A word carries far, very far, deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying through space.
The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.
Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it.