Maria Antonietta Saracino
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, at Berdiczew, Podolia, one of the southern provinces of Poland, at that time under Russian czarist rule. He was the son of aristocratic political exiles who had been involved in national insurrection against Russian oppression. It was after the death of both his parents that young Jozef decided to follow one of his childhood dreams: to become a seaman and travel the world. In October 1874 Conrad, who by that time spoke French fluently, left Cracow for Marseille, determined “to follow the sea.” His career as a seaman began in June 1875 when he sailed to Martinique and the West Indies, bound for Central America, and it came to an end on October 15, 1893, after which his new life as a writer began.
During Conrad's voyaging years he traveled the globe, noting impressions of places and peoples and details of his life as a mariner. For him, life and books were so tightly interwoven that often what passed for a story was in fact directly drawn from his biography. From a very early stage his life was deeply marked by his passionate love for geography and the lives of explorers such as Mungo Park, Sir Richard Francis Burton, John Hanning Speke, and David Livingstone: “the geography which I had discovered for myself was the geography of open spaces and wide horizons built up on men's devoted work in the open air, the geography still militant but already conscious of its approaching end with the death of the last great explorer, ” he wrote in 1923 in Geography and Some Explorers (cited in Hoppé, 255).
Life at sea had provided him with an infinite variety of ideas and themes for future narrations. His first novel, Almayer's Folly, appeared in 1895, followed by An Outcast of the Islands (1896), The Nigger of the Narcissus (1897), Heart of Darkness (written 1898, published 1902), Lord Jim (1900), and Nostromo (1904), to mention only the most important titles.