Today I…am hoping to make up for such a rubbish post yesterday!
I have just finished reading ‘The Shadow Line’ by Joseph Conrad- this week’s text for my Uni module ‘Asia & the Victorians’. This book is available in e book format to download FREE from Project Gutenberg (click here) and other sites.
I enjoyed this novella very much; although only 100 pages, it is packed with drama and intensity. The narrative focuses on the journey of a young sea captain who has been given his first command. Forced to sail from Bangkok to Singapore through extreme weather conditions with a sick crew he gains maturity and wisdom from his grim experience. As the narrative is in the first person, the reader is party to the young Captain’s inner thoughts and insecurities which makes the experience more intense.
read a full synopsis here
Conrad drew on his own experiences as a seaman in the Far East which gives a feeling of realism to the descriptions of Singapore and life on the ship. There is a feeling of the supernatural in the narrative with the ‘ghost’ of the former captain who cursed the ship and the crew. There are hints of ‘The Ancient Mariner’ and also ‘Hamlet’. Conrad denied a supernatural link in his ‘Author’s Note’ (1920), claiming that: “The world of the living contains enough marvels and mysteries as it is.”
I would recommend this- a short but satisfying read. I have also read Heart of Darkness and will be adding some of Conrad’s other works to my ever-expanding reading list.