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The Secret Sharer

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,962 ratings  ·  244 reviews
A young man sets out on his first voyage as captain, aboard a vessel and among a crew that are equally unfamiliar to him. A mysterious night-swimmer climbs aboard, and, in keeping the presence of this fugitive a secret, the skipper risks both his captaincy and the safety of his ship. A test of nerve in the Gulf of Siam ensues.
Paperback, 64 pages
Published September 9th 2007 by FQ Publishing (first published 1910)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Goth Gone Grey
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction, 2017
Dark psychological sailing story

A classic tale of a new captain, unfamiliar and unpopular with his crew, and the naked murderer, Leggatt, found overboard, a doppelganger for the unnamed captain in mind and appearance. The book opens with long descriptive sentences, a overflow of words to set the scene.

Leggatt comes aboard in the middle of the night, unseen for the entire short story by any but the captain. The psychological drama of the interaction between the two men reminds me of Poe's
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 06, 2012 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.

Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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,
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Joseph Conrad, or people who want to read a Conrad work shorter than HoD
Shelves: classics, owned-books
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
Imene Tl
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
A nice quick read yet I wished the plot was a bit more complex. It's my first Joseph Conrad read and definitely not the last for I very much enjoyed his writing style.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's very interesting how one can so intimately relate to someone who is an absolute stranger - Conrad captures this so unbelievably well, to the point of the narrator's potential self-destruction. The man is entirely willing to sacrifice his livelihood, his career, the opinion of his men, and even the ship of which he is captain... for the sake of a complete stranger.

But it's also a selfish act. As much as the narrator believes this stranger to be a mirror of his own self, as much as he feels
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Holly McKie
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
Meh. Wouldn't have finished this if it wasn't for uni.
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-school, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You read and read, but there stands Conrad.
Bob Newman
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
New Skipper Saves Swimmer, Shows Moxie

Joseph Conrad wrote a number of classic novels. This is one of them. Like some sort of literary health tonic packed full of vitamins, minerals, and health-restoring properties, , THE SECRET SHARER contains enough symbolism, ideas, and plot to keep analysts busy for centuries. It is full of sea lore, the nature of flat, tropic seas. It is hard to find an original thing to say in review, so much has been already written. The author operated at three levels. He
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
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Short enough that I should have finished it in one sitting, but it did not keep my attention. Psychologically there is much more going on in the story than I caught upon this first reading. The story is one of the duality of the self, I think; as the captain changes from an uncertain commander to a better captain.
Lauren Hawkins
Aug 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: class-reading
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 rated it it was amazing
Doppelgängers gone mad with intuition.
For the purposes of my Reading Challenge, I have logged both Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer separately, but ultimately read them in this 1981 Bantam classics version.

I rate this a HIGH 3/5 stars. I much preferred The Secret Sharer to Heart of Darkness , though whether or not this was because I was in a more Conrad-ish mood when I read it, or that I just found it to be more entertaining, I am unable to discern.

The Secret Sharer is a short story/novella that is more of a
Tyler Wong
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have been rereading some of my Literature textbooks from college. This selection "The Secret Sharer" was assigned to my literature class in 1981 I believe. I had the benefit of reading from a text already highlighted and with notes from long ago. Joseph Conrad is an amazing writer. He builds the environment so well. It is interesting to read a story set amongst the merchant marines when they still went to the Orient in sailing ships. The story itself is a classic unreliable narrator tale. My ...more
Abe Something
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Conrad; a short story, not quite the length of a novella. The William Wilson of the sea. An eerie story about the complicity of a first-time captain with a stowaway who is guilty of murder. Some strange, almost mystical connection between the two threatens not only the captain's sanity, but eventually the fate of his ship.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Saul Escalona
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.0 stars
..mystical, elusive , powerfull...
I felt like observing a masterpiece painting but could not grasp the truest massage the artist wanted to convey.
Great story.
Good for a change of stage background. I mean bookwise.
Sam Ruddick
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
i don't remember conrad being so overtly symbolic, but jeez buddy... beat me over the head a little more.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
The Secret Sharer is an odd story from Joseph Conrad. It tells a very simple tale about a captain who finds kinship with a runaway criminal and his consequent attempts at hiding the fugitive from his fellow seamen. And yet, despite this small premise, there was something inherently engaging about the product- like a conversation in a Tarantino movie, I found myself interested in the daily going-ons of the ship as the unnamed Captain mulls about, deciding how best to hide his secret sharer during ...more
Richard Thompson
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
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Catching up on Cl...: The Secret Sharer Discussion SPOILERS 1 53 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
“Walking to the taffrail, I was in time to make out, on the very edge of a darkness thrown by a towering black mass like the very gateway of Erebus—yes, I was in time to catch an evanescent glimpse of my white hat left behind to mark the spot where the secret sharer of my cabin and of my thoughts, as though he were my second self, had lowered himself into the water to take his punishment: a free man, a proud swimmer striking out for a new destiny” 4 likes
“Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, but fear, too, is not barren of ingenious suggestions.” 3 likes
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