Joseph Conrad until today. Thanks to my nook, I now have. Barnes and Noble offers free books to read with their ereader. I have the reader software on this computer, and recently got a Nook ereader machine. I had finished a free novel recently and was looking through my growing library of free books resident in my Nook for something new to read.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad looked interesting. It was just the sort of thing I wouldn't have gone looking for. Hence, a likely new reading experience. Heart of Darkness is in itself a novella by Conrad. It is also a sequel to the short story Youth which was included in the book titled Heart of Darkness along with the novella itself and several other short stories. It is Youth that I read today. It is a nautical tale set in the era during which the world transitioned from commercial sailing vessels powered by wind to steam powered ships of commerce.
Youth reminded me of the black and white movies I viewed on television in my childhood. Not all of them were black and white, of course. My own youth began in 1953 and continued for quite a number of years from then. Our television was always a black and white. My parents did not get a color set until after I left home. So, my childhood movie experiences were almost exclusively in black and white.
Those movies were filled with tramp steamers heading to exotic ports all over the world. Adventure had to sought via that mode of transportation most of the time. It was an image familiar to me. So, Conrad's pregnant prose brought forth offspring of vivid images in my mind. He proved to be a most capable writer.
The biographical information in the introductory portion of the book proved interesting as a precursor to the first tale. Conrad tapped into the memories of a twenty year career at sea, as well as experiences in distant and exotic ports. Experiences in ports less seemly and exotic, as well.
Having read Youth I am prepared to move on to Heart of Darkness. More than a high seas adventure, this novella explores the depths to which humans can sink in the quest of wealth at the expense of other peoples. It is a tale taking place in an era of imperialism and economic expansion. It exposes, to a degree, the underbelly of the wealthy nations of the world at the end of the nineteenth century as they pillaged the then dark continent of Africa.
Exposes, but does not necessarily condemn. Conrad was not possessed of sufficient wealth of his own to risk offending his readers, many of whom supported and benefited from the system of Empire. His works have been recognized as great works, often studied and analyzed. Sometimes over-analyzed, and apparently due for additional analysis from a post-modern perspective.
I suppose Conrad wouldn't mind. Of greatest importance to him, I suspect, was a sufficient income to finally overcome his debts and to live out his later years in comfort. That, and he no longer had to get his bread by going to sea.
I wonder what he would think of contemporary television programing like Deadliest Catch?