Adam, Edmond; The Brigantine 'L'Avennire'; National Maritime Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-brigantine-lavennire-172492


Though he learned to write in English just in his twenties, Joseph Korzeniowski Conrad succeeded in creating some of the most wonderful novels written in Shakespeare’s language. When you read any of his stories, the only thing you cannot say if it is fiction or poetry. His literary style has been compared to that of many famous writers – native or non-native English speakers. What is certainly true is that his style is his, Joseph Conrad’s.

This novella has a simple and appealing theme: a ship confronts a huge storm in the middle of the ocean. But if this is the theme (or, if you prefer, the “frame” of the picture), the discreet subject is heroism.

Indeed. If someone would like to portray a non-Hollywood hero, one who is the complete opposite of the superheroes in the movies of recent years, then he would certainly look at the main character from this novella: captain Thomas MacWhirr. Despite the common appearance of an average man, captain Thomas MacWhirr is a hero – because he has an acute sense of duty. A sense of duty that minimizes any danger, no matter how great. Consequently, when he confronts a destructive tropical cyclone, he still thinks and acts like a mechanic who is repairing a car on land, far from any imaginable danger. A phlegmatic temperament, he is one of the best portraits ever created of the notion: the right man in the right place. Captain Thomas MacWhirr is a man of vocation. His vocation, given by God himself, is to lead his ship against any storm, against any danger. And he does this without any fuss.

If for many contemporaries the choice of their profession has nothing to do with their true vocation, for Joseph Conrad such a situation is an anomaly to which he responds through his unforgettable heroic characters. Inspired by them we should ask ourselves more often if we ourselves are in the right place.


  • Author: Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (1857-1924)
  • Original title: Typhoon
  • Original language: English
  • Genre: Novella
  • The period of creation: 1899-1901
  • Publication year: 1902
  • Public: Adults, teenagers