SAIL

Literary Currents: Joseph Conrad

Here in Newport Harbor we await the ebb tide, and with an hour to spare, I pick up a book by Joseph Conrad. He was a sailor long before he was a writer, and this matters because the one informs the other. Yes, Conrad wrote about much more than the sea, but all his work is suffused with themes and insights sailors embrace to this day. On the page before me, for example, he says, “Both men and ships live in an unstable element, are subject to subtle and powerful influences, and want to have their merits understood rather than their faults found out,” words I can very much relate to as we sit here at anchor.

In books like , and , Conrad looks at the water and the sailors who make their lives upon it to illuminate grand truths about such things as work, fidelity and

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