Written at the start of theGreat War, when his son Borys was at the Western Front, TheShadow-Line is Conrad’s supreme effort to open man’s eyes tothe meaning of war through the stimulus of art. In many ways anautobiographical narrative, this masterpiece relates the story of a young andinexperienced sea captain whose first command finds him with a ship becalmed intropical seas and a crew smitten with fever. As he wrestles with his conscienceand with the sense of isolation that his position imposes, the captain crossesthe “shadow-line” between youth and adulthood.
The qualities needed to confront the ship’scrisis symbolize the very qualities needed by humanity, not only to face eviland destruction, but also to come to terms with life.
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