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The Shadow Line

Joseph Conrad

Book Overview: 

Dedicated to the author's son who was wounded in World War 1, The Shadow-Line is a short novel based at sea by Joseph Conrad. The novella depicts the development of a young man upon taking a captaincy in the Orient, with the shadow line of the title representing the threshold of this development. The novella is notable for its dual narrative structure. The full, subtitled title of the novel is The Shadow-Line, A Confession, which immediately alerts the reader to the retrospective nature of the novella. The ironic constructions following from the conflict between the 'young' protagonist (who is never named) and the 'old' drive much of the underlying points of the novella, namely the nature of wisdom, experience and maturity.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .d been, began to haul at his gorgeous gold chain till at last the watch came up from the deep pocket like solid truth from a well. Solemnly he lowered it down again and only then said:

"Just three o'clock. You will be in time—if you don't lose any, that is."

"In time for what?" I asked.

"Good Lord! For the Harbour Office. This must be looked into."

Strictly speaking, he was right. But I've never had much taste for investigation, for showing people up and all that no doubt ethically meritorious kind of work. And my view of the episode was purely ethical. If any one had to be the death of the Steward I didn't see why it shouldn't be Captain Giles himself, a man of age and standing, and a permanent resident. Whereas, I in comparison, felt myself a mere bird of passage in that port. In fact, it might have been said that I had already broken off my connection. I muttered that I didn't think—it was nothing to me. . . . . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Typhoon and other Tales, Joseph Conrad

Typhoon is a novella by Joseph Conrad, begun in 1899 and serialized in Pall Mall Magazine in January–March 1902. Its first book publication was in New York by Putnam in 1902.

The "Typhoon" describes how Captain MacWhirr sails the SS Nan-Shan, a British-built ste

"a man should stand up to his bad luck, to his mistakes, to his conscience and all that sort of thing Why--what else would you have to fight against?"
-- Joseph Conrad, The Shadow-Line

One of Conrad's later novels. This one was published in 1917. The story is pretty straight forward, the plot direct.

For his first command, the young Conrad undergoes a litany of unfortunate incidents. First, he finds himself captain of a ship that seems frozen in the middle of the Far Eastern sea after having left the port, of which tropical fevers strike down most of the crew. He helps by a strange second supers

“Caminamos, y el tiempo también camina, hasta que, de pronto, vemos ante nosotros una línea de sombra advirtiéndonos que también habrá que dejar tras de nosotros la región de nuestra primera juventud.”

Amo leer historias de mar, de aventuras marinas, barcos, capitanes, oficiales a bordo, piratas o co

Ho sempre amato questo romanzo di Conrad. Lo rileggo regolarmente quando la ‘calmeria di scirocco’ rende l’aria irrespirabile. Rivivo col protagonista quel primo comando di una nave, una nave tutta sua cui dedica uno sguardo che molte donne probabilmente invidierebbero:

“La mia nave era [...] una di


Romanzo di ‘formazione’ per eccellenza sin dal titolo: la linea d’ombra è infatti quel momento – quell’esperienza che dura più di un momento, tramite e durante la quale si compie il rito di passaggio dalla giovinezza all’età adulta.
Si attraversa un territorio contrassegnato come line

Her kesek di navbera wi dinyayê de, hindek dînatî heye...more

Libro letto nel lontano 2007. Ma lo ricordo ancora come fosse ieri, perché capita di trovarsi, come il protagonista, in una bonaccia senza vento, un limbo che non porta da nessuna parte e tutte le rotte che hai tracciato sembrano solo linee inutili su una carta senza senso.
Conrad è un bastardo così.


The novella opens up with a young narrator, who actually does a pretty good of explaining the novel’s title (the shadow line) in the first paragraph:

" Only the young have such moments. I don’t mean the very young. No. The very young have, properly speaking, no moments.

God only knows
[La linea d'ombra è quanto di più lontano da un libro basato su colpi di scena e sorprese della trama; ma segnalo comunque che commentando farò riferimenti precisi a nomi e avvenimenti]

La prima forte impressione - per una lettura che, nella mia piccola tradizione personale di leggere s

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