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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