Friday, April 24, 2009

I just finished Joseph Conrad's "Typhoon", an excellent tale that brings the reader onto a steamer in the China Sea in the 1880's during a hurricane. I have never read such a vivid description of the effects of a violent storm on a ship. Conrad portrays in minute detail the pitching and rolling of the ship, the pounding of the swells and waves, and the battering the inside of the ship took during the storm. Of course, beyond all that is the description of the intrepid and stoical Captain MacWhirr, who, precisely because he has no "imagination" (by which the author means no ability to get bogged down thinking about the past or future) is able to totally focus on dealing with the immediate presence of the storm and in that way bring his ship through to port. I liked the way Conrad ended the story, by going back to the mainland home of the Captain's family and getting his wife's impression of MacWhirr's survival (not especially loving), and then by getting the full story of what happened at the end of the storm from first mate Jukes after reaching port. 

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