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The Secret Sharer

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  5,235 ratings  ·  326 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 September 1910)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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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.
J.M. Hushour
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I rejoiced in the great security of the sea as compared with the unrest of the land, in my choice of that untempted life presenting no disquieting problems, invested with an elementary moral beauty by the absolute straightforwardness of its appeal and the singleness of its purpose."

A fine trio of stories by the poetic sea-dog Conrad.
"Youth" is the other story to feature Marlow, of "Heart of Darkness" fame, tells of his early years aboard a doomed but persistent ship.
"Typhoon", one of Conrad's f
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 a ...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
Timothy Urges
There must have been some glare in the air to interfere with one’s sight, because it was only just before the sun left us that my roaming eyes made out beyond the highest ridges of the principal islet of the group something which did away with the solemnity of perfect solitude. The tide of darkness flowed on swiftly; and with tropical suddenness a swarm of stars came out above the shadowy earth, while I lingered yet, my hand resting lightly on my ship’s rail as if on the shoulder of a trusted fr ...more
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
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
Tantalizing. I usually have an initial barrier as I dive into a Conrad work, but the Secret Sharer drew me right in. Such a wonderful story which ultimately left me brooding about life and existence itself.
Conrad's language has its own flavors and I'm starting to suspect that it has to do with his Polish core in terms of language. He writes in English, but there is something else there in terms of syntax. Perhaps it is my imagination? Blended with the realm of the sea, sail ships and nautical t
Goth Gone Grey
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics, 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 writin
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.

Conrad's lit
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, discip
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
Victoria Yang
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: 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
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. ...more
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Secret Sharer should get more attention than it does. Short but very compelling story.
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 s
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
Meh. Wouldn't have finished this if it wasn't for uni. ...more
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, grad-school
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.
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
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.
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.
Tracy Reilly
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Doppelgängers gone mad with intuition.
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)
David C Ward
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conrad knew Melville’s novels and didn’t like them. I don’t know if he had read Billy Budd but this “tale” (a format favored by the American as well as Hawthorne which the Secret Sharer also resembles) but the similarity in theme is uncanny, except in reverse. In Budd, Captain Vere does his duty despite his sympathy for the sailor. In Conrad, the instant bond between the inexperienced captain and the runaway leads the former to NOT do his duty, including to the crew who he confuses and endangers ...more
Taju Noor
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
The Captain becoming assured of his rank at the end of story. I, no we all can relate to it.
Vivian Rapacciuolo
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
this is....the most romantic book I've ever read. and I read it all in one sitting. Atmospheric and exciting and perfect when you've got cabin fever from being in quarantine for a month ...more
Rahul Tirumalareddy
Let me tell you a secret — this book isn’t very good.
Leena Anandhi
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read it without introductions or commentaries. To tell you the truth I had no clue about Conrad too. The nautical terms were a challenge, but the narrator did manage to take you along his nerve wracking dilemma. I never did imagine if the sharer could have been a ghost but somehow could understand the instant connection and empathy that you feel with a stranger that is so irrational but may have a subconscious reason perhaps of a shared emotion, situation, an expression or even the helplessnes ...more
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Catching up on Cl...: The Secret Sharer Discussion SPOILERS 1 57 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

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