Books and Movies Reviews

Youth, by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad suffered from a sudden visit from reality. Before he went took a trip to the Congo, he thought he was still a youth; he had an adolescent mindset of invincibility. However, in the Congo, Conrad realized, "Hey, I'm old." He became "self-conscious." From then on, Conrad viewed life with an incredible sense of indifferent pessimism. He regretted not being young while also not caring because he knew he couldn't do anything about it. However, he admired youth. This mindset worked its way into his books and stories. Each of the main character's "initial adventuring optimism" was now "threatened by disillusion and self-doubt."
Marlow, the narrator of the story in Youth, is telling of his experiences as a sailor. The story is a recount of his trip from England to Bangkok. It details the hardships endured by the sailors and insights into the speaker's thoughts. The syntax throughout the story is that of optimism and adventure. The diction is arranged to present a gripping tale, one of suspense and anxiety. This seems to contradict all that Conrad had come to believe about the existence of mankind, but Conrad addressed this by having the main character retell his story as an aging man who likes to incorporate spontaneous anecdotes into the tale.
The speaker tells the story with a certain bias toward pessimism. After each riveting portion of the story, Marlow kills the spirit of adventure injecting a pessimistic phrase about how his youth is gone forever. For example, after retelling the story of the "October gale of 22 years ago" and the exciting hardships endured by the crew during that event, Marlow states, "…youth, strength, genius, thoughts, achievements, simple hearts – all die…No matter." Again, when describing the Judea, "I think of her with pleasure…with regret – as you would think of someone dead you have loved….

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