Krakow

Joseph Conrad

16 Mar 2017

When it comes to Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), neither name nor popular legacy would suggest anything other than a pipe-tobacco-and-tea British Empire origin. And yet, the author of such canonised English-language classics as Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness was, and always considered himself to be, a Pole from cradle to grave. Born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski to Polish parents living in Russian-controlled Berdychiv (now part of Ukraine), young Konrad was exposed to Polish patriotic thought from the start. His father Apollo kept the family on the move, and was a prominent figure in the underground Polish independence movement of the time until word got to tsarist police, resulting in a prison stint in the Warsaw Citadel, followed by an all-expenses-paid family vacation to the wind-swept and barren Vologda, a destination also known as "Siberia close to the capital" (a great advertising slogan, really). The harsh climate proved ruinous to his parents' health, and within a few years the young lad, now eleven years old, found himself an orphan bouncing between relatives and schools in Lviv and Kraków.

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