JOSEPH CONRAD (1857-1924) was one of the most remarkable figures in English literature. Born in Poland, and originally named Josef Teodor Konrad Walecz Korzeniowski, he went to sea at the age of seventeen and eventually joined the crew of an English ...
vessel, becoming a British citizen in the process. He retired from the sea in 1894 and took up the pen, writing all his works in English, a language he had only learned as an adult. Despite this, he was a master stylist, both lush and precise. His outsider's eye gave him special insights into the moral dangers of the great age of European empires. In his prefactory note to this volume, Conrad wrote, "Of the five stories in this volume, 'The Lagoon,' the last in order, is the earliest in date. It is the first short story I ever wrote and marks, in a manner of speaking, the end of my first phase, the Malayan phase with its special subject and its verbal suggestions. Conceived in the same mood which produced 'Almayer's Folly' and 'An Outcast of the Islands,' it is told in the same breath (with what was left of it, that is, after the end of 'An Outcast'), seen with the same vision, rendered in the same method -- if such a thing as method did exist then in my conscious relation to this new adventure of writing for print. I doubt it very much. One does one's work first and theorizes about it afterwards. It is a very amusing and egotistical occupation of no use whatever to anyone and just as likely as not to lead to false conclusions."