The Shadow-Line

Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924)

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." Summary by Wikipedia (edited by Expatriate)

Genre(s): Literary Fiction, Nautical & Marine Fiction

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Chapter 01, Pt. 1 Expatriate
Play 02 Chapter 01, Pt. 2 Expatriate
Play 03 Chapter 02, Pt. 1 Expatriate
Play 04 Chapter 02, Pt. 2 Expatriate
Play 05 Chapter 03, Pt. 1 Expatriate
Play 06 Chapter 03, Pt. 2 Expatriate
Play 07 Chapter 04 Expatriate
Play 08 Chapter 05, Pt. 1 Expatriate
Play 09 Chapter 05, Pt. 2 Expatriate
Play 10 Chapter 06; Pt. 1 Expatriate
Play 11 Chapter 06, Pt. 2 Expatriate