The Secret Sharer / Edition 1by Joseph Conrad
Pub. Date: 09/09/2007
Publisher: Filiquarian Publishing
The story takes place on a sailing ship in the Gulf of Siam (now the Gulf of Thailand), at the start of a voyage with cargo for Britain. The date is probably in the 1880s (when
"The Secret Sharer" is a short story by Joseph Conrad written in 1909, first published in Harper's Magazine in 1910, and as a book in the short-story collection Twixt Land and Sea (1912).
The story takes place on a sailing ship in the Gulf of Siam (now the Gulf of Thailand), at the start of a voyage with cargo for Britain. The date is probably in the 1880s (when Conrad was at sea himself). In common with many of Conrad's stories, it is narrated in the first person. The narrator is the ship's young captain, and he is unfamiliar with both his ship and his crew, having joined the ship only a fortnight earlier. He is unsure of his ability to exert his authority over the officers and crew who have been together for some time, and makes the point several times that he is the "stranger" on board.
After being towed down-river (presumably from Bangkok) by a steam tug, the ship is left at anchor near a group of small barren islands a few miles off shore, waiting for wind to begin its voyage. An incoming ship is anchored similarly a couple of miles away, awaiting a tug to go upriver.
That night, the captain, being restless, unusually takes the watch. As the only man on deck in the small hours, he sees that a man has swum up to the ship's side. The naked swimmer is hesitant to talk or come on board, but seems pleased to discover he is speaking to the captain. Once on board he and the captain find a natural rapport, almost as if he, Leggatt, were the captain's other self; especially as the captain has now fetched some of his own clothes that Leggatt is now wearing.
- Filiquarian Publishing
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)
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Conrad is one of the best English storytellers ever, and this is no exception
One reading of 'The Secret Sharer' will absolutely not do justice to the story being told. For, far more important (and to some, myself, for one, interesting) than the literal story of a young captain who comes in contact with and harbors a fugitive sailor is the psychological aspect which may not be noticed on just the first reading. The Captain (who's only been on the ship for a short while) is faced with the conflict of his youthful passiveness and taking command as a leader. This inner struggle gives way to the birth (or rather, emergence) of his counterpart, Leggatt (in Freudian terms, the representative of the Id.) Throughout the story we see as the Captain struggles with hiding Leggatt from the eyes of anyone, to 'protect him' from being caught and facing punishment. Also noticeable is the decay of the Captains' mental state, to the point where even he questions his sanity. Left up to the reader to discern is the actuality of Leggatts' presence. However, the evidence piles high for the argument of his being an imagined being. The Captain (whose name, interestingly is never revealed) subconsciously 'creates' Leggatt as an outlet for his worries about his nature itself. Leggatt is the 'physical' manifestation of his Id, which he does not fully understand, but as we see is quite submissive to, almost in an admiring way. The division of his mind leads to his mental instability which gets progressively worse over time. I'm not going to spoil the ending, but the conclusion leaves him a different man from when we were first introduced. The book is rich with themes, of course there's the psychological, (with the Id, Ego, Superego & the Captains hallucinations) but there's also the themes of isolation, land vs. sea, stepping up to a role and thus maturing and the philosophical question of whether or not there is a right or wrong. I really enjoyed it. PS. Read it with Fight Club in mind and you might see a few similarities.
this book was okay, i guess, but for a book that's aobut 60 pages long, it took forever!!!! it was good at times, but joseph conrad seemed to go on and on about the surrounds and i wanted to get back to the story. I really liked, however, how he wrote as if the captain and stow-away were twins. i also didn't like how he assumed that we knew everything about ships and all the slang that they used on ships. o well.