In January of 2014 Books and Vines highlighted one of the greatest of all books from Lewis and Dorothy Allen, Youth by Joseph Conrad. The Limited Editions Club (LEC) also published this great Conrad short story as part of their 1972 edition Youth, Typhoon and The End of the Tether. Though published in what I refer to as the ‘dark period’ of the LEC (post-Macy, pre-Shiff), the LEC did an admirable job with Youth, Typhoon and The End of the Tether. This LEC was designed and printed by Ward Ritchie with line drawings and paintings by Robert Shore (who illustrated two other Conrad stories for the LEC; Heart of Darkness in 1969 and An Outcast of the Islands in 1975). The Waverley type on Curtis white wove paper is nice enough, though nothing special. However, the binding of dark blue Levant morocco, stamped in red and gold with smoky-blue rough linen sides is very nicely done, and one of my favorites from this time period. While not elaborate, it smacks of the sea and nicely ties in with the blue initial lettering found in the book. Shore’s illustrations are very nicely done, especially see Sample Illustration #3 below. The $50 cost in the secondary market for a near fine or better book of this quality is ridiculously low. At that price, if you do not have this in your collection, you should.
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was of Polish ancestry and could not speak English fluently until his twenties. Yet, he was to become one of the great prose stylists in English literary history. Many of his novels take place in nautical settings, and depict challenges to human mental and physical capabilities in a manner which deeply explores the human condition. Conrad is considered to be an influence on later modernism (his world is often uncaring and indifferent to human struggles), though his work can often be labeled at least somewhat romantic and certainly tragic. His most influential work is Heart of Darkness, though Lord Jim, The Nigger of the Narcissus, Typhoon, The Secret Agent, Under Western Eyes, The Secret Sharer and Nostromo are also still widely read and well thought of critically. His influence on later writers was far and wide, including on D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Gabriel García Márquez.
These three short stories from Conrad are amongst his greatest. Youth was first published in 1898, then in 1902 as part of Youth: a Narrative, and Two Other Stories. Considering one of the ‘other’ stories was Heart of Darkness, one gets an idea of how well Youth was thought of. While an adventurous tale of the sea, Youth is “a masterly narrative, a warmly moving and erudite interpretation of the philosophy of youth.” See here for a deeper review of Youth from an earlier article in Books and Vines. Typhoon was first published in 1902. It is another exciting story of the sea, man versus nature, the will of a captain versus the fury of the sea. Like much of Conrad’s work, it is as much a psychological study as it is a tale of adventure. The End of the Tether was published in 1902 as part of the aforementioned Youth: a Narrative, and Two Other Stories. This story, about a formerly distinguished and now old, down and out captain in charge of a steamer (in partnership with the shady and unscrupulous chief engineer), is another Conrad masterpiece of characterization and social psychology. While Youth reminds us of nature’s lack of regard for the dreams and feelings of indestructibility that come with early life, The End of the Tether is a portrayal of the soul after a lifetime of ebbs and flows of fortune and facing the often bitter reality of a brutal, unfair and uncaring world.
All Conrad books are full of quotes that make for serious contemplation. From Typhoon, here is one such thought:
Captain WacWhirr had sailed over the surface of the oceans as some men go skimming over the years of existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of life to the last, without ever having been made to see all it may contain of perfidy, of violence, and of terror.
Perhaps such ignorance is bliss?
About the Edition
- Designed and printed by Ward Ritchie
- Illustrated by Robert Shore with line drawings and with paintings printed by Holyoke Lithograph Company
- Introduction by Leo Gurko
- Printed at the Ward Ritchie Press
- Set in intertype Waverley
- Special Curtis white wove paper
- Bound by Tapley-Rutter Company in dark blue Levant morocco, stamped in red and gold, smoky-blue rough linen sides
- 7 1/2″ x 11″, 294 pages
- Limited to 1500 copies, signed by Robert Shore and Ward Ritchie
Pictures of the Edition
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