The End of the Tether: And Other Stories

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2022 - Literary Criticism - 368 pages
'(Conrad) thought of civilised and morally tolerable human life as a dangerous walk on a thin crust of barely cooled lava which at any moment might break and let the unwary sink into fiery depths'
- Bertrand Russell

This selection of four tales by Conrad is about radical insecurity: lone human beings involuntarily forced into confrontation with a terrifying universe in which they can never be wholly at home. It leads with 'The End of the Tether' and includes also ' The Duel', ' The Return', and 'Amy Foster' - Sailor, Soldier, Rich Man, Immigrant. These powerful shorter works remind readers that Conrad is not just the teller of sea stories and tales of imperialist action, and not only the author of the ubiquitous 'Heart of Darkness'. This is the Conrad who is master of the terror element - global crisis, individual test, and personal trauma - in modern literature.

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Selected pages


The End of the Tether
Amy Foster
The Return
The Duel
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About the author (2022)

Joseph Conrad is recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest English language novelists. He was born Jozef Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, in the Polish Ukraine. His father, a writer and translator, was from Polish nobility, but political activity against Russian oppression led to his exile. Conrad was orphaned at a young age and subsequently raised by his uncle. At 17 he went to sea, an experience that shaped the bleak view of human nature which he expressed in his fiction. In such works as Lord Jim (1900), Youth (1902), and Nostromo (1904), Conrad depicts individuals thrust by circumstances beyond their control into moral and emotional dilemmas. His novel Heart of Darkness (1902), perhaps his best known and most influential work, narrates a literal journey to the center of the African jungle. This novel inspired the acclaimed motion picture Apocalypse Now. After the publication of his first novel, Almayer's Folly (1895), Conrad gave up the sea. He produced thirteen novels, two volumes of memoirs, and twenty-eight short stories. He died on August 3, 1924, in England.

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