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The Mirror of the Sea

Joseph Conrad

Book Overview: 

The Mirror of the Sea is a collection of autobiographical essays first published in various magazines. Conrad early in his life earned his bread as a Master Mariner in sailing ships. In his Author’s Note to this work, Conrad states,”Beyond the line of the sea horizon the world for me did not exist….Within these pages I make a full confession not of my sins but of my emotions. It is the best tribute my piety can offer to the ultimate shapers of my character, convictions, and, in a sense, destiny—to the imperishable sea, to the ships that are no more, and to the simple men who have had their day.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .otherwise in a perfectly acquiescent state of mind.  Suddenly, out of the companion would appear a tall, dark figure, bareheaded, with a short white beard of a perpendicular cut, very visible in the dark—Captain S-, disturbed in his reading down below by the frightful bounding and lurching of the ship.  Leaning very much against the precipitous incline of the deck, he would take a turn or two, perfectly silent, hang on by the compass for a while, take another couple of turns, and suddenly burst out:

“What are you trying to do with the ship?”

And Mr. P-, who was not good at catching what was shouted in the wind, would say interrogatively:

“Yes, sir?”

Then in the increasing gale of the sea there would be a little private ship’s storm going on in which you could detect strong language, pronounced in a tone of passion and exculpatory protestations uttered with every possible inflection of injured inno. . . Read More

Community Reviews

“The Story by Which, as a Creative Artist, I Shall Stand or Fall“, or: Preferring Not to, Part II

Writing a review on a novel by Joseph Conrad is always very hard for me because I have the feeling that whatever approach I choose, I could have chosen an even better one, his texts being so multi-lay...more

(view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

First, let's get the book 'title issue' out of the way. Don't come to me with your cowardly, censuring, squeamishness. If you can't handle classic novels as their authors originally wrote them, then go get yourself a job in a government ministry in a totalitarian state somewhere, get yourself a j...more

Obviously the title alone puts it somewhat beyond the pale for a high school curriculum - even the reader with a broader experience of the evolution of racial attitudes is going to approach in hopes of a more progressive stance than s/he's likely to get.
The title character is a West Indian (St. K...more

great story great writing

[Jan, 2017]
Children of the Sea
Bombay, un imprecisato anno del 1800. Sono già calate le prime ombre della sera quando James Wait, imponente negro delle Indie Occidentali, si imbarca sul Narcissus, che farà rotta per l’Inghilterra. «Udirono la sua voce risonante nell’ampio petto come se le parole r...more

I did like this novella, but in comparison to his other works, I must admit that I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one and I don't mean just the unfortunate title. In many ways it is similar to other mariner stories of his that I have read, (for example The Typhoon) and yet there is som...more

Wow, i really struggled with this. I found it really challenging to read, with its oppressive format. For me it is pain to endure a book with paragraphs over a page long. The last time I tried it was that awful book The Flanders Road which was absolutely unreadable.
This book was a little better,...more

I confess that I read this as part of a "Typhoon and other Tales", but is was so awesome that I felt it deserved a rating all of it's own. It was so twisted and true how Conrad played out and expressed the actions, self interests, unspoken trusts, mistrusts, deceptions, and weaknesses of this cre...more

Although Conrad is famous for his seafaring tales, I have generally preferred his books that are set mostly or wholly on land. This is my favorite of all of his seafaring tales that I have read so far,; it is better for example in my opinion than Typhoon or The Shadow Line, which are both good st...more

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