Joseph Conrad - Man and Writer in the "House of Darkness"
Joseph Conrad grew up in the Polish Ukraine, a large, fertile plain between Poland and Russia. It was a divided nation, with four languages, four religions, and a number of different classes. A fraction of the Polish-speaking inhabitants, including Conrad's family, belonged to the szlachta, a hereditary class below the aristocracy, which combined qualities of gentry and nobility. They had the political power, despite their impoverished state. Conrad's father, Apollo Korzeniowski, belonged to this class. He studied for six years at St. Petersburg University, which he left before even earning a degree. Apparently, he was physically unattractive and unpleasant. Conrad's mother, Eva Bobrowska, was thirteen years younger than Apollo and the only surviving daughter in a family of six sons. The couple met in 1847. She was drawn to his poetic temperament and passionate patriotism; he admired her lively imagination and warm heart.
Although Eva's family disapproved of the courtship, they eventually realized that their daughter would remain unmarried if she could not have the man she loved. The union took place in 1856. Instead of devoting himself to the management of his wife's agricultural estates, Apollo pursued literary and political activities that brought in little money. He wrote a variety of plays and social satires. Although his works were little known, they would have tremendous influence on his sonSh
A year into the marriage, Eva became pregnant with Joseph, who was born in 1857. "Conrad" was actually a middle part of his name. The Crimean War had just ended, and hopes were high for Polish independence. The author moved around quite a bit as child, and never formed close friendships in Poland. Music was one of his earliest memories, and the image of his mother at the...