Freya of the Seven Isles
By Joseph Conrad
(Melville House, Paperback, 9781933633138, 136pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
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There is a degree of bliss too intense for elation.
This little-known novella from one of the masters of the form is so unusual for Joseph Conrad's work in several respects, although not in its exotic maritime setting or its even more exotic prose—it is unusual in that it is one of his very few works to feature a woman as a leading character, and to take the form of a romance.
Still, it's a Conradian romance: a sweeping saga set in the Indian Ocean basin, against a turbulent background of barely suppressed hostilities between Dutch and British merchant navies, told by one of Conrad's classically detached narrators. In the end, the unique perspective of the sharply etched character of Freya is one of Conrad's most piercing studies of how the lust for power can drive men to greatness—or its opposite.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
Jósef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born in Russian-controlled Ukraine to landless aristocratic Polish parents in 1857. His father, a translator of French literature, was convicted of revolutionary activities for Polish independence in 1861 and the family was exiled to Russia, where both parents soon contracted Tuberculosis and died. Raised by relatives, Jósef joined the French Merchant Marines at age 16, and spent the next two decades sailing the world, including stints with the British Merchant marines and as a gun-runner for Carlist revolutionaries in Spain. He didn't learn English until in his twenties, but at 36 he settled in London, married, and, changing his name to Joseph Conrad, commenced writing tales based on his life at sea, becoming famous for novels such as Lord Jim and Nostromo, and novellas such as Heart of Darkness and Victory. He died of a heart attack in England in 1924.
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