Joseph Conrad Short Stories

Joseph Conrad is probably best known for the novella Heart of Darkness and the novel Lord Jim, but he also wrote many short and longer stories.

“Karain”

The narrator recounts his first time visiting Karain, a leader with loyal followers on an isolated archipelago. He buys illegal firearms from the narrator. They visit occasionally over the next two years, and he comes to trust and, even like, Karain. Eventually, he becomes involved in a friend’s issue over family honor.

This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Joseph Conrad(Pg. 7)

“The Idiots”

As the narrator approaches Ploumar by carriage, the driver points out someone on the roadside he identifies as “the idiot.” It looks to be a boy of about sixteen. The driver says there are four children with this problem who live with their grandmother on a farm. The narrator gets the story of this family from a few different sources. It begins when Jean-Pierre returns from military service and starts helping his elderly father with the farm. He marries a woman named Susan and they start a family.

This story can also be read in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Joseph Conrad(Pg. 41)

“Falk: A Reminiscence”

An experienced ship commander relates a story from when he was a young captain. He didn’t enjoy the company of his crew, and the previous captain seems to have been involved in some shady dealings. Moored nearby is a ship captained by a man named Hermann. Also on board are his wife and four children, and his nineteen-year-old niece who is perfectly attractive. Falk, another visitor, feels a rivalry toward the young captain over the niece.

This story can be read in the preview of Complete Short Stories. (45% in)

“Amy Foster”

A country doctor tells the narrator the story of a passive and dull woman, Amy Foster. She fell in love with a man from Europe who was shipwrecked off the coast of her town. The doctor tells the history of this man, including the isolation he endured due to the language barrier and how he was viewed as dangerous and insane.

This story can also be read in the preview of Complete Short Stories(83% in)

“The Secret Sharer”

A ship is anchored in the Gulf of Siam. The new captain sees another ship anchored nearby. The second mate identifies it as the Sephora, which is transporting coal. The Captain decides to take the first watch himself. He notices the rope ladder over the side hasn’t been hauled in. As he deals with it, he sees the pale body of a man in the water. The man has been swimming a long time. He doesn’t want to raise an alarm. The Captain learns the man was under arrest on the Sephora but escaped. He has to decide what to do with him.

Read “The Secret Sharer”

“An Outpost of Progress”

Kayerts and Carlier, the chief and his assistant, man a trading post in the African jungle. A third man, a native of Sierra Leone called Makola, does the bookkeeping. They’re involved in ivory trading on behalf of the Great Trading Company, and they’re able to earn a commission on their deals. Kayerts and Carlier are used to being with other white men, so now they feel alone. There’s very little real work to do. After passing five months there, a group of strangers arrive and the leader gives a long, animated speech to Makola. They leave soon after, but one returns the next day with Makola, who was up early. Kayerts and Carlier can tell something is going on.

Read “An Outpost of Progress”

“Il Conde”

At the National Museum in Naples, the narrator meets an older man—intelligent, unaffected and with some money. The climate of Naples is good for his health. He’s correct and moderate in his habits. They spend a few evenings together before the narrator gets called away to care for an ill friend. While he’s away, the older man has a consequential experience.

Read “Il Conde”

“The Lagoon”

Tuan stops to visit his friend, Arsat, who lives in a lagoon. Arsat’s wife, Diamelen, is seriously ill and it looks like she will die. Arsat tells Tuan the story of he came to be with Diamelen. He kidnapped her when she was a servant to the Rajah’s wife. Arsat’s brother was instrumental in carrying out the plan.