Orson Welles Reads ‘The Secret Sharer,’ by Joseph Conrad

Today is the birth­day of the writer Joseph Con­rad. He was born Józef Teodor Kon­rad Korzniows­ki on Decem­ber 3, 1857 in Berdichev, in the Pol­ish Ukraine. As a young man he trav­eled the world as a mer­chant sail­er, an expe­ri­ence that fur­nished mate­r­i­al and inspi­ra­tion for his Eng­lish-lan­guage books, which include such clas­sics as Nos­tro­mo, Lord Jim and Heart of Dark­ness.

To mark the occa­sion we bring you a record­ing of Orson Welles read­ing (lis­ten to it here) Con­rad’s short sto­ry “The Secret Shar­er” in 1985 as one of his selec­tions for The Orson Welles Library. “I think I’m made for Con­rad,” Welles once said. “I think every Con­rad sto­ry is a movie.” Con­rad wrote “The Secret Shar­er” in 1909. The sto­ry is told by the cap­tain of a ship. One night, while on watch in waters near the Gulf of Siam, the cap­tain dis­cov­ers a naked swim­mer cling­ing des­per­ate­ly to the side of the ship. He helps the mys­te­ri­ous man aboard and learns his sto­ry. The cap­tain is then faced with a dilem­ma: Should he help the man, or turn him over to the peo­ple who are look­ing for him?

You can find “The Secret Shar­er” and oth­er works by Joseph Con­rad in our col­lec­tions of  Free Audio Books and Free eBooks. And for more read­ings by Welles, please see our meta post: Orson Welles Nar­rates Plato’s Cave Alle­go­ry, Kafka’s Para­ble, and Free­dom Riv­er.

h/t The Writer’s Almanac

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  • Sub­lime, in a word. Two of my favorite influ­ences.

  • Peter Venner says:

    Hav­ing first read ‘The Secret Shar­er’ while sail­ing an old cut­ter in the Eng­lish Chan­nel, it was an instruc­tion man­u­al as well as a lit­er­ary treat and an insight into psy­chol­o­gy!

    I have since devoured any and every­thing I can find by and about Con­rad. Along the way I came to believe that Con­rad might be con­sid­ered the pio­neer of cin­e­matog­ra­phy; his descrip­tive pow­ers includ­ing “crane shots”, “dis­solves”, psy­cho­log­i­cal shifts described in the parabo­la of a dis­card­ed cig­ar butt. It was no sur­prise to dis­cov­er that Orson Welles was influ­enced to share Con­rad’s genius.

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