this is the 210th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
“I remember my youth, and the feeling that will never come back any more—the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort—to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows small, and expires—and expires too soon, too soon—before life itself. ”
– from “Youth”
Ah, Joseph Conrad writing of the sea! The quote above is, of course, from “Youth”. While the story is the narrative of Marlow, a young man on his first posting as a second mate on the doomed ship Judea, it is even more about the optimism and strength of youth, and in retrospect the sadness of it’s loss. While the ship suffers through storm, ramming, near fatal leakages and finally a slow, inexorable consumption by the burning of it’s cargo of coal, the young second mate embraces every challenge with the exuberance of youth and a growing awareness of his strength, his ability to survive and overcome.
Youth is the first work in this book, so I’ve commented on it, I’ll leave the rest for another time.
I’d read “Youth” and most of the works here before, but it had been so long I’d forgotten much about them. I spotted my paperback copy of “Youth”, “Heart of Darkness” and “The End of the Tether” a few months ago. I saw it and thought I want to read that. I’m glad I did, these works are good both as stories and on a deeper level as investigations into human nature and the unflagging spirit which can conquer the challenges of life.
But as I was reading “Youth” I got one of those itches in back of my mind and started scanning the shelves until on a shelf I spotted this book, A Conrad Argosy published by Doubleday, Doran & Co. It was my mother’s, and I know she read it several times. It knocked about the house throughout my own youth, and wound up on a shelf here. It’s not in particularly good shape though all the pages are there and the woodcuts are nice. I’m planning on reading some more in this, carefully. It’s been a long time since I read Conrad, but rereading “Youth” and “The Heart of Darkness” put me in the mood to continue on with his works, and why not, with this wonderful volume?
The table of contents:
- Introduction by William McFee
- Heart of Darkness
- The Nigger of the Narcissus
- Il Conde
- Gaspar Ruiz
- The Brute
- The Secret Sharer
- Freya of the Seven Isles
- The Secret Agent
- The Duel
- The End of the Tether
- The Shadow-Line
- A Personal Record