Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Essay: "Landfalls and Departures." Joseph Conrad.

One-minute review: The effects of landfalls and departures on the commander of a ship. The ultimate landfall and departure come together at the moment of death.


“Some commanders of ships take their departure from the home coast sadly, in the spirit of grief and discontent. They have a wife, children perhaps, some affection at any rate…that must be left behind for a year or more.”

“…no sailor is really good-tempered during the first few days of a voyage. There are regrets, memories, the instinctive longing for the departed idleness, the instinctive hate of all work. Besides, things have a knack of going wrong at the start, especially in the matter if irritating trifles. And there is the abiding thought of a whole year of more or less hard life before one….”

“It is a great doctor for sore hearts, too, your ship’s routine, which I have seen soothe—at least for a time—the most turbulent of spirits.”

“Nowhere else than upon the sea do the days, weeks and months fall away quicker into the past.”

“If you happen to be in want of employment, remember that as long as I have a ship you have a ship too.”

“…the quiet, watchful care of the elderly, gentle woman who had borne him five children, and had not, perhaps, lived with him more than five full years out of the thirty or so of their married life.”

“…for in that voyage from which no man returns landfall and departure are instantaneous, merging together into one moment of supreme and final attention.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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