Prime The Secret SharerAuthor Joseph Conrad –

A Young Man Sets Out On His First Voyage As Captain, Aboard A Vessel And Among A Crew That Are Equally Unfamiliar To Him A Mysterious Night Swimmer Climbs Aboard, And, In Keeping The Presence Of This Fugitive A Secret, The Skipper Risks Both His Captaincy And The Safety Of His Ship A Test Of Nerve In The Gulf Of Siam Ensues

10 thoughts on “The Secret Sharer

  1. says:

    The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad is a short story novella of less than 100 pages, yet in it Conrad demonstrates as many great writers do, the simple, elegant power of the short work Here the writer can succinctly deliver a forceful message in economic fashion The Secret Sharer is like many of his works most about the seas and a man s command of a vessel Also like many of his works, the setting is in the South Seas and we find our narrator taking his first command near the Gulf of Siam The strange young captain finds a stowaway and shelters the other man and the two strike an odd friendship.This story evokes many psychological reactions from the reader, and coming from the author of the Heart of Darkness, the effect is no doubt intensely deliberate First of all, the title has a double meaning It could mean a sharer of something who is kept secret and it also means a sharer of a secret The young captain risks great loss by aiding the wayward seaman and Conrad, in spare words, illustrates the culture of the seas masterfully Anyone who has ever been to sea, and not just as a tourist, but one who has worked on a boat, must enjoy reading Conrad and he makes me consider his comparison to the American Melville It is astounding to realize that English was his second or third language and yet he again demonstrates a virtuosity of ours.

  2. says:

    One of my all time favorite authors is Joseph Conrad His exploration of the human condition as reflected by the men who toil at sea is as profound as any philosophical dissertation by any name philosopher His theme is man against nature or man against men, His yarns are full of events both in the inner and outer worlds of journeyers at sea or water The Heart of Darkness of course is essential to his success and esteem as an author adventurer But he has many other tales that I ve read and appreciated Foremost among them is The Secret Sharer This is a tale about a newbie captain who is piloting a ship somewhere in the Far East He is not very popular with his men To complicate matters, he willingly shelters a stowaway, a chief mate of another ship, the Sephora the man is accused of killing an insolent crew member The captain develops an affinity to him, hides him from search parties, and eventually maneuvers the ship close to an island so that the secret sharer could escape Conrad s language is dense and somewhat wordy, but if you ve paid close attention, by the time you ve finished reading the tale, you felt like you ve been in that ship with the captain and the escapee What really made this story resonate with me is that the setting, the Gulf of Siam, is a place that I have been to, and the island that the chief mate escapes to thanks to a risky maneuver by the captain, is named Koh ring, which is similar to islands I ve visited such as Koh Samui That the captain was willing to risk his ship to get close to the dangerous shoals of a tropical island is something that I would question, but in the context of the story and his alienation from his own crewmembers, one I could understand Reading this story, I could smell the salt air,feel the warm, damp tropical wind and hear the plashing of the waves against the hull of the ship As I read the final lines, I told myself I ve been there I ve been there.

  3. says:

    Late update appended. I actually read this novelette in a combined edition with Conrad s Heart of Darkness, but thought I d switch to this edition for a full review The Secret Sharer is a peculiar story It is quick the whole thing is only a few dozen pages long, and can be read in something like an hour And it is certainly not complex the plot is very basic.Conrad s prose is a pleasure to read, as always Despite the fact that it was written towards the end of the Edwardian period, an odd Victorian vibe drives this story, which is both its strength and major flaw Conrad explores a kind mystical conception of the human spirit, heightening the effect that extreme emotions or experiences can have on the psyche Heart of Darkness deals with the impact on the soul, while Secret Sharer is a story dealing with psychological tension It is worth noting that Freud s first major contributions were made between the publications of Heart of Darkness 1899 and Secret Sharer 1910 .The impact these experiences have on the major figures within these two stories is vastly exaggerated when compared to modern expectations This still continues to work well in Heart of Darkness, since a man s spirit and soul are still objects of mystery But the captain in Secret Sharer has a psychological reaction that, while hauntingly portrayed, seems quaint and naive, and distinctly from another time.Conrad s mastery of english makes the book an enjoyable oddity worth reading, especially since it takes so little time Update, including some spoilers Knowing how limited my awareness of allegorical content is, I examined the CliffsNotes study guide on this and Heart of Darkness .Wow, did I miss a lot It turns out Conrad is using a doppelg nger theme Leggatt is similar to the Captain in many ways, to the point that the latter often refers to Leggatt as his double But the Captain, new to his command, is timid and anxious, whereas Leggatt is cunning and forceful The captain s recognition of their similarities begets respect, and the desire to protect Leggatt but that is a risky endeavor, and forces him to become cunning and forceful thus avoiding the contrasting fate of the old captain of the other ship, who is weak and foolish Thus, an allegory of psychological integration during a career crisis.I think I ll have to re read this some time.

  4. says:

    Dark psychological sailing storyA classic tale of a new captain, unfamiliar and unpopular with his crew, and the naked murderer, Leggatt, found overboard, a doppelganger for the unnamed captain in mind and appearance The book opens with long descriptive sentences, a overflow of words to set the scene Leggatt comes aboard in the middle of the night, unseen for the entire short story by any but the captain The psychological drama of the interaction between the two men reminds me of Poe s writing, potential madness tightly controlled Questions remain of who and what is real, and how reliable the narrator may be It leaves you wondering if once Leggatt is gone, will the worst traits of the captain disappear with him, or will the descent into madness continue

  5. says:

    How do British and American writers avoid being overwhelmed with feelings of envy and shame when reading Joseph Conrad He was, after all, one of the English language s greatest prose stylists, and it wasn t his first or even second language Polish came first and French second for the novelist born J zef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski The Secret Sharer, given its brevity, would be a fine introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Conrad It s also approachable than Heart of Darkness, which is a fantastic book but difficult for some readers to get into As for me, The Secret Sharer reminded me how little Conrad I ve read, and how much I m missing by not working my way through of his novels and short stories.

  6. says:

    2013 has definitely been my year of doppelg nger books The Secret Sharer belongs on the shelf next to Doestoevsky s the Double , Nabokov s Despair , Highsmith s The Talented Mr Ripley , and Roth s Operation Shylock and probably the Epic of Gilgamesh too These are all great doppelg nger books, and Conrad s Secret Sharer is not inferior to any of them Conrad constantly delivers on the nuance of his language, his thought, and his absolute control of the English language Conrad s literary rigging is tight and when you step onto one of Conrad s novels or in this case novellas you recognize from the first word to the final period that Conrad is in absolute control and knows exactly where he is taking you AND your creepy twin.

  7. says:

    The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad is often a companion piece to other Conrad tales, usually Heart of Darkness, and so the years have passed and I never read this story until tonight because the headline story always caught my attention.The Secret Sharer is a story, not a novella, though it s a long one, and it s a perfect example of Conrad using the setting of the southeast Asian seas as a kind of metaphysical symbol for the totality of existence He depicts beauty, tranquility, boredom, discipline, contentiousness and the travails of the human psyche out there, all in beautifully cadenced sentences that capture the rhythms of life aboard ship under hot suns and fickle winds.In this case, Conrad adds piquancy A young captain finds himself harboring a man who has fled another ship because he had murdered a shipmate during a storm He keeps this man, who swims to him, hidden in his compartment, and the man becomes something like a double he s often referred to as such but even better something like the Cain in everyone, the dark side of the captain, his doubts about his worthiness to command a vessel, his questions about his judgments and authority, the pressures placed on anyone, really, who is wallowing about the seas and has too much time to think and too little to think with or aboutexcept himself.The double is a seemingly inexhaustible fixture in literature Writers use it to get at aspects of a character that can t be deployed in a single personality They use it to posit innocence on the one hand and original sin on the other They use it to make irony concrete and capture the unease that underlies almost every personality There is waking life and there is dream life There is private life and there is public life Humor and tragedy Doubles serve all these features of existence.The beauty of Conrad s writing is that his thoughtfulness is embedded in the events of the narrative There are certainly moments when he pauses to let a narrator philosophize, but his real gift is to turn a ship, or a city, into a kind of a stage where the action unfolds the meaning without calling excessive attention to itself.What any double does for each of us, of course, is bring us to the fork in the road, Frost s road not taken, and push us to ask whether it matters what destiny holds in store for usif it could just as well be quite different in the life of the double.Yet at the same time, Conrad finds a kind of adhesion between his two figures, the captain and the stowaway, a moral bond, an element of concern They part ways and yet they don t Years later they will remember this peculiar episode, and the risks each took to arrange a final parting.For his clarity, his descriptiveness, his insight, his economy of plot and symbol, Conrad has always represented for me a writer of fiction of the first order Yes, he s a romantic of sorts, but the discipline of the ship keeps him honest.If you ve read The Secret Sharer, it s worth rereading If not, it s worth taking up for a first time Here is fiction that is one thing, a single piece of tapestry, that unfolds with uninterrupted excellence, the diction right, the minor characters right, the deeper quandaries of the main characters right.

  8. says:

    Conrad s unusual style very much lends itself to this sort of mysterious tale where we aren t sure if we inhabit a world of ghosts or our own At times I kept thinking to myself Poe would have recognized this story since so much of the tension is happening in the captain s mind.Unlike a lot of Conrad, however, The Secret Sharer is not trying to be obtuse in how it handles its theme identity in this case though that s always Conrad s theme Nostromo, Heart of Darkness, and especially Lord Jim are dense, almost opaque works that behave like a fitted sheet too small for the bed you can get three corners figured out, but never a fourth and around and around you go And while Conrad never lets slip if Leggatt is physical or phantom, that concern is not front and center to the plot because he is interested in how our unnamed captain deals with this mystery man.In a way it s sort of a clunky plot device, but Conrad handles it well enough and makes Leggatt illusive enough so that he doesn t need to try and explain him too much He is, for the most part, exactly like our narrator even in appearance , but represents an alter personality Where Leggatt would easily kill a man for not doing his duty, our narrator is of a rules and regulations man a man of little experience.There s a wonderful image near the beginning where a scorpion gets into a bottle of ink and drowns This fascinating image could mean that all the written rules and regulations will mean nothing when a person truly needs to act, or it could mean laws and papers only get in the way of how men should and must behave There can always be deception in the act of writing, but actions speak louder than words, even those written down In fact the other captain, Captain Archbold, admits he ll claim Leggatt committed suicide to avoid any nasty consequences and perhaps ruin his own career over it.The other ideas of coming of age, of a young man learning to take command and setting aside his own doubts is clear enough here, however, we should realize that our captain is unnamed and that he must become like someone else, Leggatt Our captain was, in many ways, not good enough to lead, he was chosen over other candidates qualified probably and so he must assume a role, he must not remain himself if he wants to succeed There is no hint that the strength lay within him the whole time, he had to assume a new identity This is an unsettling thought because what Conrad seems to be saying is that in order to succeed we cannot rely on our true nature, we have to become something else The mate, for example, is always described as having this interesting beard, almost like a lions mane, but isn t he also hiding behind a persona Isn t he also frightened as they sail so close to the island Couldn t he have struck our captain, taken command, and steered the ship to safety himself But he didn t and he betrayed to us his true nature.So as usual Conrad is not so simple as we first think, far is going on here and what we assume to be one thing is actually something else.

  9. says:

    My eyes caress the delicate words strewn across the page, tasting the sweet nectar and experiencing the literary pleasure only a skilful painter of words can bring, the existence of the words intertwining with the essence of my being, stroking my heart and stoking the fire of my mindUhmmmm bleh I m sorry you read that Now that I ve gotten my rather sorry attempt at being the next Joseph Conrad out of my system, I ll keep going with this review The Secret Sharer is the second Joseph Conrad work that I have read It is a novelette about 16 500 words in length , hence is a rather quick read Despite this, Conrad s endlessly descriptive prose style can take getting used to The following is an excerpt from The Secret Sharer She floated at the starting point of a long journey, very still in an immense stillness, the shadows of her spars flung far to the eastward by the setting sun around us nothing moved, nothing lived, not a canoe on the water, not a bird in the air, not a cloud in the sky In this breathless pause at the threshold of a long passage we seemed to be measuring our fitness for a long and arduous enterprise, the appointed task of both our existences to be carried out, far from all human eyes, with only sky and sea for spectators and for judges For me, it is undeniable that his writing is beautiful Regardless, the basic plot is so threadbare that occasionally, Conrad finds the need to over describe objects or situations that ultimately serve no purpose, either to the plot or overall environment Confession time I fell asleep in my school library while reading this work I could probably summarize the plot of this book in one sentence I ll opt for a brief description, however A sea captain who doesn t know his crew very well sees a naked guy clinging to the side of his boat at night and hides him in his cabin He learns that the guy is on the run from his own ship because he killed someone.YAY So, obviously the focus of this book isn t the plot because there really isn t much of it there The interesting part of this book concerns Leggatt, the secret sharer , who the unnamed narrator repeatedly states is basically his doppelganger This, of course, brings forth some interesting questions of what Leggatt is supposed to represent, and the impact that meeting Leggatt has on the sea captain.Overall, I did enjoy this story, but am not overly passionate about it The prose is beautiful, and although simplistic, the plot provides a frame upon which to display some interesting thoughts and ideas.Entertainment value 2 5Writing quality style 5 5Readability 3.75 5 5 being the most difficult to read Characters depth development 3.5 5Plot 1.5 5

  10. says:

    A nice quick read yet I wished the plot was a bit complex It s my first Joseph Conrad read and definitely not the last for I very much enjoyed his writing style.