It was in 1868, when nine years old or thereabouts, that while looking at a map of Africa of the time and putting my finger on the blank space then representing the unsolved mystery of that continent, I said to myself, with absolute assurance and an amazing audacity which are no longer in my character now:
"When I grow up I shall go there."
-from A Personal Record
Jósef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born in the Ukraine, saw Europe as a child, and saw the world from the sea as a young man. An adventurer and a dreamer from the start, the restlessness of his youth would inform the keen insight he brought to the classic novels he would write, after settling in England, under the name JOSEPH CONRAD (1857-1924), including Lord Jim (1900) and Heart of Darkness (1902).
Conrad fills this, his 1912 autobiography, with tales of his Russian childhood and his ocean voyages as a sailor on French and British merchant ships, all told with a deeply reflective spirit and a narrative imagination that elevates the genre of the life story to the level of grand literature.
Ringing with the author's own appreciation of the unusual course of his life, this is powerful-and true-background material for a new enjoyment of his enduring works of fiction.