Monday, April 30, 2007

Review: Youth by Joseph Conrad

Get it here.
I have developed quite a taste for Conrad recently. Many of his works are complex and highly symbolic, but this, by contrast, is a simple story of a young man setting out on his first sea voyage to the East, as remembered and narrated by his older self. Or is it quite so simple?
At the beginning he hints that the story is intended to describe a moral. In my opinion, it is this: The virtue of young men is that they see all problems as on opportunity to be a hero, born from the joy of testing ones strength. The tragedy of older men is that when they are old enough to see real problems to solve, and have the experience to solve them, they lack the strength and resolution to attempt anything heroic. That by the time you realise the virtue of youth, you have lost it.
Speaking as an older(ish) man looking back on a youth of tilting at windmills, I feel this is a wise observation. Now, if I just had the strength and resolution to do something about it...

I recorded this one, so at least I can prove beyond doubt that I have read it.

14 comments:

David Brake said...

Just a short note to thank you for providing that recording. I am nearly through it and have enjoyed it. A good story (I always like Conrad) and well read.

ChrisHughes said...

Thanks David. I am glad you liked it. I can recommend 'Lord Jim', 'The Secret Agent' and 'Heart of Darkness' as well.

Stewart Wills said...

Wow -- what a terrific recording. Makes me wish I had a Readear blog of my own to tell the world about it . . .

I'm about halfway through the first part, and I am thoroughly enjoying this. Really expressive and well paced. I hope you do a lot more for LibriVox; this is really great stuff.

Cheers,

SW

ChrisHughes said...

Thanks a million, Stewart. You have made my day.

And you should have a blog - I always find your remarks very interesting, and would strongly recommend a more worthy home than this one!

PS - Saw the Gregory Peck Moby Dick the other day. You wiped the floor with them.

Måns said...

Thank you Chris for "Youth". I listened to it a few days ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. I really liked how you did the "pass the bottle" - sentences!

ChrisHughes said...

Måns- Thank you so much, and for taking the trouble to get in touch. (Pity there was no one around to pass me a bottle when I was recording, isn't it!)
I am really glad you liked 'Youth' - if you look higher up the comments you will find some other Conrad recordings which I really enjoyed as well.

Anonymous said...

Reading these comments on "Youth", I agree, ta. You have a new fan.

John Henry said...

Hi Chris,

I love Conrad's books about the sea and Youth is far and away the best. I've probably read it 40-50 times (really) over the past 30 years. I don't even have to read it anymore, I just open the book and whole chunks of it come back.

I just listened to your reading of it, twice. Finished up and went right back to the beginning. You absolutely nailed it.

I felt like I was sitting around the mahogany table with the director of companies and the others hearing Marlow himself speak.

One of the most perfect paragraphs in the English language is toward the end of the story when Marlow says "And this is how I see the east. From a small boat..."

As perfect as I always thought it was in written form, your reading is even better. You literally brought tears to my eyes.

Thank you for a wonder reading of a wonderful story.

I used to listen to a book a month from Books on Tape and from Blackstone Audio Books. Your reading is every bit as professional and well done as any they ever had. I am going to be listening to more of your readings.

Thank you for taking the time to do this.

John Henry
john@changeover.com

Emily said...

Chris I just loved this recording. I have now listened to it 4 times. After the first recording I was rather smitten with you. Having your voice speaking to me was like meeting a new guy and getting to spend time with him. I promised myself I wouldn't actually get in touch with you, but then when I started searching for details about you on the web I came across your blog. OMG not only do you have the most gorgeous voice in history, but your are smart, funny and intelligent to. There are so many things I would like to ask you and speak to you about. I know I'm coming across like a stalker but I would just love to become and an email buddy so we can share thoughts and messages privately and see where things go from there... sanderson_emily @yahoo.co.uk so email me or check out my webpage www.niceguyslikefatgirls.com

Julie P. said...

Perhaps it is not the paradox of the inexperience of the youth and the inability of the elder (and therefore impossibility in achieving goals) the author is getting at, but the need to be both vigorous and realistic in accomplishing tasks; something only a middle aged man could attain. There are other hints (as in the author's satirical nature of describing both the young and old characters in the novella) that point to Conrad's ultimate point that the "middle" age is the only one suitable for reaching a more difficult or far-off ambition.

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