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The Idiots

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1 hour


Conrad's truly first short story, written during his honeymoon (1896), published in The Savoy periodical, 1896, and collected in Tales of Unrest, 1898.

A Breton farmer, returning from national service, takes over the family farm and marries a local girl, hoping to have sons who will inherit the family farm and carry on his own traditions.

All appears to be going to plan, when the first pregnancy produces twin boy. But the children turn out to be mentally disabled. When the next child arrives, also a boy, he too turns out to have the same condition. The farmer turns to religion and takes up going to mass.

The next child is a girl... and she also shares the same medical condition as her brothers. The farmer cannot accept this terrible blow of fate and becomes increasinly drunk and irrational - but it is his long-suffering wife who cracks first - and when she does, the results are both dramatic and tragic.

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