Joseph Conrad Man And Writer In The "House Of Darkness"

2572 words - 10 pages

Joseph Conrad - Man and Writer in the "House of Darkness"Joseph Conrad grew up in the Polish Ukraine, a large, fertile plain between Poland and Russia. It was a divided nation, with four languages, four religions, and a number of different classes. A fraction of the Polish-speaking inhabitants, including Conrad's family, belonged to the szlachta, a hereditary class below the aristocracy, which combined qualities of gentry and nobility. They had the political power, despite their impoverished state. Conrad's father, Apollo Korzeniowski, belonged to this class. He studied for six years at St. Petersburg University, which he left before even earning a degree. Apparently, he was physically unattractive and unpleasant. Conrad's mother, Eva Bobrowska, was thirteen years younger than Apollo and the only surviving daughter in a family of six sons. The couple met in 1847. She was drawn to his poetic temperament and passionate patriotism; he admired her lively imagination and warm heart. Although Eva's family disapproved of the courtship, they eventually realized that their daughter would remain unmarried if she could not have the man she loved. The union took place in 1856. Instead of devoting himself to the management of his wife's agricultural estates, Apollo pursued literary and political activities that brought in little money. He wrote a variety of plays and social satires. Although his works were little known, they would have tremendous influence on his sonShA year into the marriage, Eva became pregnant with Joseph, who was born in 1857. "Conrad" was actually a middle part of his name. The Crimean War had just ended, and hopes were high for Polish independence. The author moved around quite a bit as child, and never formed close friendships in Poland. Music was one of his earliest memories, and the image of his mother at the piano was a lasting one. Family happiness was then shattered as Apollo was arrested on suspicions of involvement with revolutionary activities. From then on, the family was thrown into exile and unsettled. Eva gradually developed tuberculosis, and died in 1865. The seven-year-old Conrad, who witnessed her decline, was absolutely devastated. He also developed health problems (migraines, lung inflammation) that persisted throughout his life. Unfortunately, Apollo fell into a decline, frustrated with his lack of success in stirring up revolution. He was also taken by tuberculosis in 1869. At age eleven, Joseph was an orphan.The young boy became the ward of his uncle, who loved him dearly and essentially replaced Apollo. Thus began the Cracow years, which ended when Conrad left Poland in 1874. It was a complex decision, resulting from what he saw as the intolerably oppressive atmosphere of the Russian garrison. He spent the next few years in France, mastering his second language and the fundamentals of seamanship. The author made acquaintances in many circles, but it was his so-called "bohemian" friends who introduced him to drama,...

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