The title character, James Wait, is a West Indian black sailor on board the merchant ship Narcissus sailing from Bombay to London. Wait falls ill with tuberculosis during the voyage, and his plight arouses the humanitarian sympathies of many of the crew, five of whom rescue him from his deck cabin during a storm, placing their own lives and the ship at risk. Captain Alistoun and the old sailor Singleton, on the other hand, remain concerned primarily with their duties as sailors and are indifferent to Wait's condition.
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Superbly crafted tale
I suppose no-one reads this story any more, because the title put them off. It’s a brilliant evocation of the seafaring life of its time, and a penetrating observation of human nature at its best and worst.
I’d recommend it to anyone. When you consider that Conrad was a Pole who spoke little or no English until his twenties, his mastery of English prose is breathtaking. Don’t let political correctness deflect you from this treat.
More great work from the Master
Yes...rather a difficult title in today's enlightened cultural climate. Nonetheless the story itself is simply marvellous - a brooding prescence which dominates the lives of people in exceptional circumstances.
I accept completely the need to never see or hear the n... word again but there is a dilemma here. Surely a genius such as Conrad can be read without any resort to simplistic antagonisms.
This is a simple tale about how people 'conduct' themselves when the lights begin to go dim. Do we ask ourselves when we look inside what colour we are seeing?
Conrad and this story deserve to be read far more by everyone. Get over the title issue and begin to see...yes see things. Not explain, not analyse, not make it what you want it to be...just enter the dream that is reality.
Sorry - the last bit sounds horribly pretentious but these are the regions that Conrad explores. And how far away is that from a title which just became culturally unacceptable?
Joseph Conrad was a writer of genius. Simple genius.
Let's see how we can reclaim this little masterpiece of narrative art.