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Shadow-Line

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By: (1857-1924)

Shadow-Line by Joseph Conrad is a captivating tale of a young man's journey to becoming a seasoned captain of a ship. The protagonist faces numerous challenges and dilemmas as he navigates through the trials and tribulations of life at sea. Conrad's vivid descriptions of the ocean and the inner turmoil of the protagonist make for a gripping read. The writing style is poetic and introspective, delving deep into the complexities of human nature and the unpredictability of the elements. A timeless classic that delves into themes of duty, honor, and the struggle for self-discovery, Shadow-Line is a must-read for anyone who appreciates rich, thought-provoking literature.

Book Description:
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; it is one of his later works, being written from February to December 1915. It was first published in 1916 as a serial and in book form in 1917. 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. Conrad also extensively uses irony by comparison in the work, with characters such as Captain Giles and the ship's 'factotum' Ransome used to emphasise strengths and weaknesses of the protagonist. The novella has often been cited as a metaphor of the First World War, given its timing and references to a long struggle, the importance of camaraderie, etc. This viewpoint may also be reinforced by the knowledge that Conrad's elder son, Borys, was wounded in the First World War. Others however see the novel as having a strong supernatural influence, referring to various plot-lines in the novella such as the 'ghost' of the previous captain potentially cursing the ship, and the madness of first mate Mr Burns. Conrad himself, however, denied this link in his 'Author's Note' (1920), claiming that although critics had attempted to show this link, "The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is."


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