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Beset by gales, accidentally rammed by a steamer, and deserted by a sizable portion of her crew, the nevertheless had made it as far as the East Indies when her cargo of coal caught fire and the crew had to take to the lifeboats; Conrad’s initial landing in the East, on an island off Sumatra, took place only after a 13 the story of an egocentric black sailor’s deterioration and death aboard ship.

He was arrested in late 1861 and was sent into exile at Vologda in northern Russia.The story is central to Conrad’s work and vision, and it is difficult not to think of his Congo experiences as traumatic. He suffered psychological, spiritual, even metaphysical shock in the Congo, and his physical health was also damaged; for the rest of his life, he was racked by recurrent fever and gout.He may have exaggerated when he said, “Before the Congo I was a mere animal,” but in a real sense the dying Kurtz’s cry, “The horror! Conrad was in the Congo for four months, returning to England in January 1891.Conrad then discovered to his dismay that his predecessor had sold almost all the ship’s supply of quinine.The task was interrupted by the strangest and probably the most important of his adventures.

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