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The Secret Sharer Paperback – July 18, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Polish author Joseph Conrad is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novelists, a remarkable achievement considering English was not his first language. Conrad s literary works often featured a nautical setting, reflecting the influences of his early career in the Merchant Navy, and his depictions of the struggles of the human spirit in a cold, indifferent world are best exemplified in such seminal works as Heart of Darkness, Lord JimM, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and Typhoon. Regarded as a forerunner of modernist literature, Conrad s writing style and characters have influenced such distinguished writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell, among many others. Many of Conrad s novels have been adapted for film, most notably Heart of Darkness, which served as the inspiration and foundation for Francis Ford Coppola s 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463715315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463715311
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great short story and I highly recommend it. This kindle edition has a few type-o's that you only notice if you are reading to savor every word, like I was, but other than that it is perfect. I agree with the other reviewer who said it is haunting; it is haunting in that it stays with you in an agreeable way. I finished it two days ago and am still happily turning it over in my mind.
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I bought this book on my Kindle because it was free but I was astounded. I read it in my spare time over the course of a few days. Quick, easy read but enchanting and hauntinly moving.
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"The Secret Sharer" is Conrad at his best. It tells the story of a young man on his maiden voyage as captain in the British Merchant Service, isolated and endangered by his loyalty to a stowaway. Conrad had a special gift for writing about young men — especially young seamen — facing a life-altering challenge. The novel "Lord Jim" is about a similar challenge, which the young seaman fails to meet, thus dooming himself in a very subtle area of his ego. Conrad's novella (half-way between a "short" story like "Sharer" and a novel) "The Shadow Line" also involves a nerve-wracking challenge to a young sea captain. Actually, the great novella "Typhoon" involves a challenge too, but to a much older sea captain.

At the time that Conrad decided to write "Sharer," he was working on a long, tense novel about Russia ("Under Western Eyes") that had nothing to do with the sea. It's a very fine novel, but Conrad suffered so much in scratching it out that the experience might have shortened his life. By contrast, he wrote "Sharer" with the greatest of ease, and it's almost perfect. Conrad had been a Merchant Service captain himself (which is how he happened to add English to his native Polish and near-native French), and it may be that he was more comfortable when the conflict was in his element, aboard ship.

At any rate, the "The Secret Sharer" raises questions that critics still don't agree on. One of them is simply whether the young captain is only imagining his secret guest. You be the judge, but I think there's a clear answer to that question. Above anything else, the story is exciting. It's long for a short story — almost a novella — but you might well find yourself reading it all in one sitting. If you like intelligent, vivid suspense, you're bound to enjoy this experience. The story can be read again and again, revealing new perfections each time.
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The Secret Sharer is part of Conrad's so-called Bangkok trilogy with stories set in Thailand and its waters.
The narrator is a young captain who was recently given his first command, taking a ship that he does not know, with a crew that he does not know, from Bangkok back to England. Only the 2nd mate is younger than the captain, and he is an unpleasant know-all, while the chief mate is a somewhat dumb older fellow. The whole population on board is skeptical about the new boss. That's what he thinks.

And then he has his first real crisis right after leaving Bangkok, having been tugged out of the river to the sea, where the ship lies at anquor, waiting for winds to take it to the South through the Gulf of Siam. A Liverpool steamer lies nearby, and at night a runaway from that ship comes to our hero: the former 2nd mate of the steamer has been under arrest for killing a sailor in a fight. He has escaped and looks for help. Inexplicably, our narrator decides to help, hiding the escapee in his cabin, which heightens the tension between him and his crew, since he needs to behave funny to avoid detection.

The 'secret sharer' is in every respect a 'double' of the captain: age, education, looks, attitudes. The captain decides to help him get away by keeping him on board and taking him to land further South. In order to do that he has to give ununderstandable instructions to his crew, who think he is crazy and will lose the ship.
Which he very nearly does. This is about sailing too close to land. A metaphor for many comparable situations when there are conflicting objectives.
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"The Secret Sharer" is one of Conrad's final works of major short fiction and one of his best. However, since it is widely anthologized -- e.g., in Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction --, it is hard to justify buying a standalone. The story is certainly worth reading by itself, but one might as well get other excellent stories with it.

"The Secret" finds Conradreturning to the sea after a long absence and has much of the suspense and adventurous spirit of his early works. Indeed, it may well be his most suspenseful and conventionally entertaining work of all; its influence on later writers is easy to see. This is so much so that it can be enjoyed by nearly anyone on this surface level, but as always with Conrad, there is deep symbolic value. "The Secret" again dramatizes outsider status, though more subtly and ambiguously than prior works like "Amy." It also deals with other important themes, including the clash of rules and personal morality, authority vs. individualism, etc. Reading it alone has the virtue of leading one to more Conrad, but why not just get more along with it?
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By medfair on September 24, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joseph Conrad, born Jozef Teodor Korzeniowski, to minor Polish nobility family in the Ukraine (both occupied by Russia at that time), was sent to apprentice on ocean-going vessels to improve his health and character. Nobody suspected that this Polish, Russian, and French speaking seaman was about to become one of the giants of English literature. He was described as a writer who skippered, rather than a skipper who wrote. However, his time on board served him as a source of most of his plots and descriptions of nature, including human nature. In this rather short novella, the skipper who accidently gets the command of an unknown ship with an unknown crew, finds himself hiding a first-mate of another ship. The man ran away after killing one of the sailors, but also after saving his ship in a storm. The skipper discovers he has more in common with the fugitive from justice than with the law-abiding simpleton members of his crew. His identification with the fugitive is so strong that he feels the poor runaway is indeed his double, sharing his cabin, food, and confidence. In a word, his secret sharer. Despite more than a hundred years separating the writing of the story from to-day's reader, it is as gripping and chilling as ever. Absolutely great!
A note – the publisher (Xist) will do well to occasionally skim through the books he publishes. The whole story is played out on a sail-ship, a clipper, or at least a schooner. What in the name is the steamship doing on a cover?!!!
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