Joseph Conrad quotes

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Joseph Conrad

Birthdate: 3. December 1857
Date of death: 3. August 1924

Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. He joined the British merchant marine in 1878, and was granted British nationality in 1886. Though he did not speak English fluently until his twenties, he was a master prose stylist who brought a non-English sensibility into English literature. He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an impassive, inscrutable universe.

Conrad is considered an early modernist, though his works still contain elements of 19th-century realism. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, André Malraux, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Gabriel García Márquez, John le Carré, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, J. M. Coetzee, and Salman Rushdie. Many films have been adapted from, or inspired by, Conrad's works.

Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew on, among other things, his native Poland's national experiences and his own experiences in the French and British merchant navies, to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world—including imperialism and colonialism—and that profoundly explore the human psyche.

Works

Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
Under Western Eyes
Under Western Eyes
Joseph Conrad
Nostromo
Nostromo
Joseph Conrad
The Secret Agent
The Secret Agent
Joseph Conrad
Victory
Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim
Lord Jim
Joseph Conrad
Chance
Chance
Joseph Conrad
Typhoon
Typhoon
Joseph Conrad
The Shadow Line
The Shadow Line
Joseph Conrad
The Return
The Return
Joseph Conrad
The Rover
The Rover
Joseph Conrad

„The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.“

—  Joseph Conrad, book The Mirror of the Sea

Source: The Mirror of the Sea (1906), Ch. 35
Context: For all that has been said of the love that certain natures (on shore) have professed to feel for it, for all the celebrations it had been the object of in prose and song, the sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.

„It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.“

—  Joseph Conrad, book An Outcast of the Islands

Source: An Outcast of the Islands (1896), Pt. 3, Ch. 2; possibly an adaptation of a Polish proverb, "Ten się nie myli, kto nic nie robi" — "One is not wrong, who does nothing."

„My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see.“

—  Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Variant: My task is to make you hear, to make you feel, and, above all, to make you see. That is all, and it is everything.
Source: Lord Jim

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„All idealization makes life poorer. To beautify it is to take away its character of complexity — it is to destroy it.“

—  Joseph Conrad, book The Secret Agent

Source: The Secret Agent (1907), Ch. 3
Context: All idealization makes life poorer. To beautify it is to take away its character of complexity — it is to destroy it. Leave that to the moralists, my boy. History is made by men, but they do not make it in their heads. The ideas that are born in their consciousness play an insignificant part in the march of events. History is dominated and determined by the tool and the production — by the force of economic conditions. Capitalism has made socialism, and the laws made by the capitalist for the protection of property are responsible for anarchism. No one can tell what form the social organisation may take in the future. Then why indulge in prophetic phantasies? At best they can only interpret the mind of the prophet, and can have no objective value. Leave that pastime to the moralists, my boy.

„All passion is lost now. The world is mediocre, limp, without force.“

—  Joseph Conrad, book The Secret Agent

Source: The Secret Agent (1907), Ch. 13
Context: All passion is lost now. The world is mediocre, limp, without force. And madness and despair are a force. And force is a crime in the eyes of the fools, the weak and the silly who rule the roost. You are mediocre. Verloc, whose affair the police has managed to smother so nicely, was mediocre. And the police murdered him. He was mediocre. Everybody is mediocre. Madness and despair! Give me that for a lever, and I'll move the world. Ossipon, you have my cordial scorn. You are incapable of conceiving even what the fat-fed citizen would call a crime. You have no force.

„To a teacher of languages there comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot.“

—  Joseph Conrad, book Under Western Eyes

Pt. I
Under Western Eyes (1911)
Context: Words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality. I have been for many years a teacher of languages. It is an occupation which at length becomes fatal to whatever share of imagination, observation, and insight an ordinary person may be heir to. To a teacher of languages there comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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