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The Secret Sharer
Joseph Conrad
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The Secret Sharer

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  2,797 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
The Secret Sharer is a popular early 20th century novel written by author Joseph Conrad. The story takes place at sea, and is told from the perspective of a young sea captain. With an unknown crew, he struggles to live up to the authority role expected of a ship's captain.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1910)
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Nov 17, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad is a short story / novella of less than 100 pages, yet in it Conrad demonstrates as many great writers do, the simple, elegant power of the short work. Here the writer can succinctly deliver a forceful message in economic fashion.

The Secret Sharer is like many of his works (most?) about the seas and a man’s command of a vessel. Also like many of his works, the setting is in the South Seas and we find our narrator taking his first command near the Gulf of Siam.
Jul 31, 2012 Manny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite authors is Joseph Conrad. His exploration of the human condition as reflected by the men who toil at sea is as profound as any philosophical dissertation by any name philosopher. His theme is man against nature or man against men, His yarns are full of events both in the inner and outer worlds of journeyers at sea or water. "The Heart of Darkness" of course is essential to his success and esteem as an author/adventurer. But he has many other tales that I've read and a ...more
Jul 28, 2016 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Contains some general spoilers about the plot.)

A young man is on his first journey as captain of a ship in the Siam Gulf. As he is so young and his captaincy is so new, gaining the respect of his crew is paramount. How the crew perceive him is something that occupies the thoughts of the novice sea captain at all times. He is isolated from the rest of the men on the ship, both because of his inexperience and his station.

One night, as he is alone on deck, he discovers a man trying to sneak aboard
Mar 28, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Late update appended.

(I actually read this novelette in a combined edition with Conrad's Heart of Darkness, but thought I'd switch to this edition for a full review.)

The Secret Sharer is a peculiar story. It is quick -- the whole thing is only a few dozen pages long, and can be read in something like an hour. And it is certainly not complex: the plot is very basic.

Conrad's prose is a pleasure to read, as always. Despite the fact that it was written towards the end of the Edwardian period, an odd
May 23, 2013 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Joseph Conrad, or people who want to read a Conrad work shorter than HoD
Shelves: owned-books, classics
My eyes caress the delicate words strewn across the page, tasting the sweet nectar and experiencing the literary pleasure only a skilful painter of words can bring, the existence of the words intertwining with the essence of my being, stroking my heart and stoking the fire of my mind...

Uhmmmm... bleh. I'm sorry you read that. :/

Now that I've gotten my rather sorry attempt at being the next Joseph Conrad out of my system, I'll keep going with this review. ;)

The Secret Sharer is the second Joseph
Jan 27, 2013 Ginny_1807 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
How do British and American writers avoid being overwhelmed with feelings of envy and shame when reading Joseph Conrad? He was, after all, one of the English language's greatest prose stylists, and it wasn't his first or even second language. (Polish came first and French second for the novelist born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski.) "The Secret Sharer," given its brevity, would be a fine introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Conrad. It's also more approachable than "Heart of Darkness," which ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second reading--Conrad' s tale of a novice sea captain viewed with uncertainty by his crew who, alone on-deck one night, discovers a naked "man from the sea" clinging to his boat. The man, Leggat, is a killer, but the narrator, unnamed, keeps him as a stowaway out of an instinctual affection for Leggat, and the knowledge that he is capable of the same crime. The choice to name one but not the other is significant, as the two take on a sometimes overly obvious dual role, with Leggat (named, hence ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad is often a companion piece to other Conrad tales, usually Heart of Darkness, and so the years have passed and I never read this story until tonight because the headline story always caught my attention.

The Secret Sharer is a story, not a novella, though it’s a long one, and it’s a perfect example of Conrad using the setting of the southeast Asian seas as a kind of metaphysical symbol for the totality of existence. He depicts beauty, tranquility, boredom, discip
"Il compagno segreto", ovvero la tensione tra la propria personalità pubblica e il suo lato nascosto; tra la libertà quasi anarchica del fuorilegge, unico giudice delle proprie azioni, e l'uomo civile, perfettamente inserito in una società di leggi giuste e incorruttibili. Il capitano è al suo primo comando: un estraneo sulla sua stessa nave, che ancora non conosce. I suoi sforzi per custodire il suo "doppio" segreto rivelano in modo inequivocabile la diffidenza e l'ostilità dell'equipaggio vers ...more
Lauren Hawkins
I enjoyed the writing style, but the ship technicalities made it hard for me to get through. The plot was very slow until the last two pages.

(3-1/2 Stars)
Tracy Reilly
Aug 21, 2015 Tracy Reilly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doppelgängers gone mad with intuition.
This short, 35 page short story took me 2 1/2 hours to read. Not because it was dense, but because for every minute I read, I spent at least 5 minutes staring off into space... And while I admit the scenery was lovely (lake, the rainbow in the fountain, the tiny dog that wouldn't have known what to do with that duck if he'd managed to catch it, etc) I see that scenery all the time, and had no trouble concentrating on either of the books I read earlier in the afternoon. If staring off into space ...more
Jun 11, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conrad's unusual style very much lends itself to this sort of mysterious tale where we aren't sure if we inhabit a world of ghosts or our own. At times I kept thinking to myself Poe would have recognized this story since so much of the tension is happening in the captain's mind.

Unlike a lot of Conrad, however, The Secret Sharer is not trying to be obtuse in how it handles its theme - identity in this case (though that's always Conrad's theme). Nostromo, Heart of Darkness, and especially Lord Jim
I had forgotten just how beautiful Conrad's writing is. His descriptions are perfect (coming from someone who hates reading description); he is so good at setting the dark mood of which he seems to be so fond.

The Secret Sharer is a short story and is as such distinctly lacking in plot. It can, perhaps, be summed up in a single sentence: the narrator, new captain of a ship in the Gulf of Siam, takes aboard a fugitive named Leggatt(view spoiler)
Apr 05, 2013 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
2013 has definitely been my year of doppelgänger books. 'The Secret Sharer' belongs on the shelf next to Doestoevsky's 'the Double', Nabokov's 'Despair', Highsmith's 'The Talented Mr. Ripley', and Roth's 'Operation Shylock' and probably 'the Epic of Gilgamesh' too.

These are all great doppelgänger books, and Conrad's 'Secret Sharer' is not inferior to any of them. Conrad constantly delivers on the nuance of his language, his thought, and his absolute control of the English language.

Conrad's lit
Abe Something
I didn't think much if after I had read it. I was ambivalent at best. Until I began to recount it to a co-worker who asked what it had been about... I started at the beginning mentioned a few introductory details, the next thing I knew I pushing through the plot points and racing toward the conclusion - as I was talking I was becoming more and more excited, I was exuberantly recalling the final moments of the text where every thread came together in a white knuckled finale that was as unexpected ...more
A short story from Conrad's 'Twixt Land and Sea published as a Penguin 60s Classic.

An amusing and well constructed short story about a sea captain, new to his vessel, who takes on board in the dead of night a man from a ship anchored nearby.

Keeping the man's presence a secret from the crew leaves the captain looking eccentric and somewhat foolish.

Not much more to say without spoiling the story. An enjoyable short read. 4 Stars.
Gabriel Spencer
Mar 18, 2015 Gabriel Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immediately I knew I was reading something by Joseph Conrad. A sudden fuzzy feeling in my brain. Words that didn't seem to connect. No comprehension of what I had just read.
Okay, I've got to focus now. Ah, yes, Joseph Conrad.
What a great story! I could feel the ship's boards beneath my feet, I could hear the first mate stepping about on deck, I could see the wetted sail taking full hold of the slight breeze, I could sense the tight quarters and the lack of privacy that the ship affords even the
Feb 12, 2015 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lily by: BRPC f2f book group
I actually read this from a Great Books collection for a f2f reading group.

Ironically, the story reminded me of the cover article on this month's Harvard Business Review (Jan-Feb 2015):

"The Authenticity Paradox", Leadership Article, by Herminia Ibarra. "Why feeling like a fake can be a sign of growth."

The issues of new leadership don't go away.

Excellent reviews exist here on Goodreads for this novella -- read those. Consider the insights of both the positive and the negative ones.

Point of int
Oct 22, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a novel at all, at 62 pages, or even a novella. I would classify this as a short story. A weird little short story. Basically, there is another sailor rescued by the captain in the middle of the night. This man committed murder aboard his ship, and swam (naked, may I add) for his life afterward. The captain of our ship finds him and decides to keep him a secret.

The interesting question in this story is whether or not there is actually another person. The captain speaks repeatedly of their r
Leslie Graff
Since I just read about the Congo and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost, I picked up this short story and book of critical essays. I suppose I should have read more Conrad based on my scholarly and teaching interests, but I’ve just never been a huge fan of Heart of Darkness so my explorations haven’t gone any further. Unfortunately, after reading this, I’m not sure they will. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Conrad’s style or the questions his works address but for ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after "heart of darkness" and it is beginning to seem as though Conrad is obsessive over the idea of twins/ doppelgängers. Marlow sees Kurtz as an extension of what he himself could have succumbed to, had he stayed in the Congo any longer. Similarly, the young captain and Leggatt share a parallel connection. In fact, the young captain has begun to adopt the violent and cunning tendencies of Leggatt, driving him to become rather paranoid, in fact, becoming nearly insane, and driven to ...more
A tale of doubling that showcases when you're hiding a secret you can become terrible and bitter. Typical Conrad: a young captain gets control of a ship, a ship who's crew doesn't seem to like him. He's the new guy in town, only on the ship for two weeks, whereas the crew has worked together for years. Giving the men an early night off, the captain sees that they forgot to bring up the ladder. About to pull it up, who should be on said latter but Leggatt, a man from the other ship nearby, who is ...more
Killer language. Great storytelling. Could be mistaken for Kafka with some of those descriptions concerning man's consciousness with regards to his surroundings. My second Conrad and I plan to keep going.
Mark Goodwin
Feb 26, 2015 Mark Goodwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only my second book read of Conrad but again, I found it interesting. This was not as difficlt a read as Heart of Darkness and well worth the time.
Maggie Eisenberger
This is a very short novel and I have recently read or re-read a couple of other Joseph Conrad, so I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started this one. I think it's my favorite! The characters were so sharply drawn and yet plenty of mystery remained as to their pasts and the routes by which they each arrived in their present circumstances. There were so many directions a less disciplined or more melodramatic author could have taken these two characters and the possibilities almost b ...more
Aug 28, 2015 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is sort of a Fight Club meets Heart of Darkness story. Sounds cool, right? It's actually a bit dull. I think that the language and pacing of the story, written in that long-winded Romantic/Gothic/Victorian style, is what made it a bit dull for me. The story, at heart, is a coming of age allegory of a young, timid boat captain becoming a forceful, experienced captain. I say it's like Fight Club, because the captain gets his newfound strength and vitality from a doppelgänger that emerges from ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In High School I had to read The Heart of Darkness, but somehow missed reading the Secret Sharer. I'll admit that I skimmed the Heart of Darkness in my AP Lit class, not so much out of dislike for Conrad's constant symbolism and allegorical interactions, but more out of absolute analytical exhaustion after not only reading the story but all the stories within that story. So when I picked up The Secret Sharer I was worried I would find myself similarly tired. I was pleasantly surprised to find th ...more
Aug 18, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brief novella by Joseph Conrad. When reading Conrad, I always remind myself that he was Polish and that English was his second language. It makes his prose all that more impressive. This is a very "moody" work in that Conrad very effectively establishes the mindset of the unnamed main character. He is a "stranger on a strange ship", having just taken over command of a vessel. The crew of the ship have all worked together before so he finds himself with the power of command, but also wi ...more
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Catching up on Cl...: The Secret Sharer Discussion SPOILERS 1 39 Aug 26, 2011 09:34AM  
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Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard Br
More about Joseph Conrad...

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“Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, but fear too, is not barren of ingenious suggestions."

"Nice little saloon, isn't it" I said, as if noticing it for the first time.

"At noon I gave no orders for change of course, and the mates whiskers grew much concerned and seemed to be offering themselves to my unduly notice.”
“I wondered how far I should turn out faithful to that ideal conception of one's own personality every man sets up for himself secretly.” 1 likes
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