“HE WHO HATH KNOWN THE BITTERNESS OF THE OCEAN SHALL HAVE ITS TASTE FOREVER IN HIS MOUTH”: FIRST EDITION OF JOSEPH CONRAD'S FALK, AMY FOSTER, TO-MORROW THREE STORIES
Falk, Amy Foster, To-morrow Three Stories.
Item Number: 55019
New York: McClure, Phillips and Company, 1903.
First edition. Octavo, original cloth, gilt titles to the spine and front panel. In near fine condition with light rubbing.
Falk is composed of many elements Conrad used in his other novels and novellas. The story begins with a group of mariners dining in a small river-hostelry in the Thames estuary discussing seafaring matters – a situation he had already used in Heart of Darkness, which was written the year before. He even uses a similar comparison of the narrative present with a distant past – not that of the Roman invasion, but of primeval man telling tales of his experience. An unnamed outer-narrator sets the scene, and then the story is taken up by a second and equally unnamed inner-narrator – a type rather like Marlow, the inner-narrator of Heart of Darkness and other Conrad tales. He is recounting events which took place when he was a younger man. The young man is taking up his first assignment as a captain – a plot device Conrad had used in Heart of Darkness and was to use again in both The Shadow-Line and The Secret Sharer. The location of events is not specified, but it corresponds in many details to Bangkok, which appears in the two later novellas. He is also taking over from a rather dubious previous captain who has died, and his ship is held up in port with a sickly crew. Characters from other Conrad tales appear in the story: Schomberg the gossipy Alsatian hotel owner who appears in Lord Jim (1900) and Victory (1915); Gambril, the elderly sailor who also appears in The Shadow-Line. And of course Falk’s dreadful experiences drifting powerless on a doomed ship towards the South Pole carries unmistakable echoes of The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and The Flying Dutchman legend.