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The Shadow-Line by Joseph Conrad
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The Shadow-Line (1917)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7231012,995 (3.66)27
  1. 00
    The house of paper by Carlos María Domínguez (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: The only connection between an earnest Edwardian novella and a rather wistful Latin American one is that the former plays an essential part in the latter. Shadow Line is the most accessible Conrad that I've read and though it's short on subtlety it's a rattling good story; Paper House has a melancholy charm and a theme that's no doubt a bit close to the bone for people who avail of this site . . .… (more)
  2. 00
    The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad (panbiot)
  3. 00
    Youth by Joseph Conrad (panbiot)
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» See also 27 mentions

English (5)  Italian (4)  Spanish (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 5 of 5
I picked up this book much too casually and without any forethought, and because of this, didn’t give to the book the time and energy that it deserved. This is one of Conrad’s later stories, and happens to have a lot of autobiographical elements, in that it focuses on a young man who gets a commission to lead a ship into the Orient. Conrad’s first command was to sail a ship called the Otago from Singapore into Bangkok. Despite the death of the previous captain and the less-than-auspicious circumstances, Conrad decides to lead the ship anyway. The ship only managed to cover 800 miles in three weeks, and every crew member except Conrad and the onboard cook were stricken with debilitating fever.

“The Shadow-Line” supposedly refers to the anonymous protagonist’s transition from callow boyhood to maturity when he takes up command of the ship and all that entails. The main character certainly does take an exceeding amount of pride in his first role as captain. However, different readings inevitably produce different interpretations – and the story has been taken as everything from a metaphor for the outbreak of World War I to some sort of meditation on the supernatural.

The store never really “goes anywhere.” It works well as a psychological study of a character, but I think this takes a longer story - something more on the order of “The Heart of Darkenss,” which at least *felt* longer and more developed. There, you came away knowing the kind of people that Marlow and Kurtz were. Here, that development was lacking, and what almost never happens while reading a book happened to me – I didn’t even feel compelled to finish the last several pages. Maybe I’ll pick this up again in several more years, and be more cautious of the kind of fiction Conrad is interested in writing. ( )
1 vote kant1066 | Aug 9, 2014 |
Slow to start, with hero having lost track a bit and landing a command almost by accident. The story itself lacks grip in the early pages. But once he sees his ship and effectively falls in love with it, the writing gets tight focus: the ship, the weather, disease, madness, will-power, with a hint of the supernatural. In essence autobiographical, with much scholarly ink spilt on the details thereof, but what does it matter? Great style, great story. ( )
  vguy | Sep 21, 2013 |
This is the story of a young man who takes over command of a sailing ship that is haunted by it's previous captain. This is my second book by Conrad. I had already read Heart of Darkness and I found that amazing classic to be just mediocre for me. I read this book hoping that maybe I just hadn't been in the right frame of mind, but I came away still feeling not emotionally moved or even entertained by this story. Not a bad book, but not that compelling or memorable for me.
( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
In this novella, Conrad explores the division between youth and maturity. The protagonist is a ship's officer who has just decided to leave his career. While he waits in Singapore for transport back to England, he learns through the efforts of a kindly captain that he is wanted in the harbor master's office concerning the command of a vessel in Bangkok. It takes a while for the captain's message to seep through the young officer's hard head, but once he visits the harbor master, he realizes that he finally has a chance to become the captain of his own vessel. However, the passage from Bangkok back to Singapore is filled with danger and errors of judgment by the young captain that result in him having to mature very quickly, or perish with his brave crew. The Shadow-Line is very modern in its emphasis on psychological challenges as well as the challenges one may expect from the sea. ( )
  ninefivepeak | Oct 31, 2010 |
9.0
  Listener42 | Sep 1, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph Conradprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fernández Salgado, BenignoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Iglesias Francos, Ana IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Worthy of my undying regard"
'...-D'autres fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon désespoir!'

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140180974, Paperback)

A young and inexperienced sea captain finds that his first command leaves him with a ship stranded in tropical seas and a crew smitten with fever. As he wrestles with his conscience and with the increasing sense of isolation that he experiences, the captain crosses the 'shadow-line' between youth and adulthood. In many ways an autobiographical narrative, Conrad's novella was written at the start of the Great War when his son Borys was at the Western Front, and can be seen as an attempt to open humanity's eyes to the qualities needed to face evil and destruction.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Written at the start of World War I when his son Borys was at the Western Front, The Shadow-Line is Conrad's effort to open man's eyes to the meaning of war through the story of a young, inexperienced sea captain who crosses the ?shadow-line? to adulthood.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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