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 to create 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 was compared to that of many famous writers – native or non-native English speakers. What is certainly true is that his style it is his, Joseph Conrad’s.

This novella has a simple and appealing theme: a ship confront 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 create the main character from this novella: captain Thomas MacWhirr. Despite the common appearances 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, out of any imaginable danger. A phlegmatic temperament, he is one of the best portraits ever created of 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 profession has nothing to do with their own vocation, for Joseph Conrad this situation is an anomaly to which he responds through his unforgettable heroic characters. Inspired by them we should ask ourselves more often if we 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


Robert Kmita Lazu (Ph.D., Philosophy) is a writer and philosopher. In the last twenty years he published many philosophical and theological books and hundreds of essays and studies. As a father of seven, he developed a special interest in cultivating the virtue of "eutrapelia". Consequently, he wrote many reviews and essays about fiction books, movies, cartoons and computer games.

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