The Short Tales of Joseph Conrad is a collection of eight examples of shorter fiction by the esteemed writer of Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness. Conrad was born in Poland and moved to England, where he became a naturalized citizen. Much of his life was spent on the sea, so it should come as little surprise find that that both the immigrant experience and the life of a mariner are is reflected in some of the tales included in this collection.
“Amy Foster” actually touches upon both in the dark tale of a shipwreck victim who speaks no English and is struggling desperately to be understood by the villagers along the coastline where he reached safety. The extent of Conrad’s familiarity with bodies of water found in travels around the globe can be estimated from his evocative imagery in “The Lagoon,” while the sea plays a completely different part in Conrad’s only story about World War I, “The Tale.”
On the other hand, what sets “Falk: A Reminiscence” apart from other tales of mariners is the fact that it was for so long overlooked in the Conrad canon because it was never published serially as all the other stories in this collection were. Narrative elements like cannibalism and the highly charged sexuality of the fiction doubtlessly contributed to the rejection by editors and perhaps even slow realization by academics that it is one of Conrad’s most sublime works.
The Short Tales of Joseph Conrad also features a story that perhaps gives some indication as to how much Conrad may have missed his native element. “Prince Roman” is based on the historical Prince Roman Sanguszko of Poland and is unapologetically propagandistic in its politically charged and seemingly timeless narrative of fighting Russian oppression.