Under Western Eyes

Version: Unabridged
Author: Joseph Conrad
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Classics
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: May 2007
# of Units: 9 CDs
Length: 11 hours
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Hailed as one of Joseph Conrad's finest literary achievements, Under Western Eyes tells the story of a young man unwittingly caught in the political turmoil of pre-revolutionary czarist Russia. It begins with a bomb that kills its intended target, a hated Russian minister of police, along with several innocent bystanders. A young student named Razumov hides the perpetrator, who questions his moral strength and integrity.
Set in St. Petersburg amid intrigue and espionage, this novel hauntingly speaks to the broader, timeless question of human responsibility and honor. Conrad said that his intent was to render "the psychology of Russia," a country being driven to anarchy by misguided revolutionaries. This masterwork, published six years before the Russian Revolution, is a chillingly accurate prophecy of what was to come.

Reviews (1)

One of his best

Written by Albert from Annapolis, MD on April 13th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This is one of the few Joseph Conrad books I have not read. I enjoyed it very much. It has strong similarities to Lord Jim and Secret Agent. Toward the end I imagined I could see the inevitable conclusion. Conrad fooled me. I was definitely off base. The end is as it should be and is masterful storytelling. The narrator's voice fits the story well.

Author Details

Author Details

Conrad, Joseph

"Joseph Conrad was born in Berdichev, Poland in 1857. His original name was Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He is best known for his novels Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), and The Secret Agent (1907) and the short story Heart of Darkness (1902). Typical for his works is deep pessimism: he writes stories of men in extreme situations as in Heart of Darkness about a man who finds himself drawn to a savage whom he only should despise.

He first became familiar with English language at the age of eight when his father translated works of Shakespeare. Joseph went to school in Cracow and Switzerland but what he really wanted to do was to go to the sea. In 1874, he went to Marseille to get a job on a ship. The following years he spent sailing around the world, where he was involved in gunrunning. He gambled a lot, had huge debts and even attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. In 1878, he landed for the first time in England and spent the next 16 years in the British merchant navy. In 1886, he became a British citizen. The experiences from his life as a sailor greatly influenced his writing.

However, since childhood he had always wanted to go to Africa. In 1889, he traveled to the Congo and became a captain of a Congo river steamboat.

What he saw, did, and felt in the Congo are largely recorded in ""Heart of Darkness,"" his most famous, finest, and most enigmatic story, the title of which signifies not only the heart of Africa, the dark continent, but also the heart of evil--everything that is corrupt, nihilistic, malign--and perhaps the heart of man. The story is central to Conrad's work and vision, and it is difficult not to think of his Congo experiences as traumatic. He may have exaggerated when he said, ""Before the Congo I was a mere animal,"" but in a real sense the dying Kurtz's cry, ""The horror! The horror!"" was Conrad's. He suffered psychological, spiritual, even metaphysical shock in the Congo, and his physical health was also damaged; for the rest of his life, he was racked by recurrent fever and gout.""

Conrad returned to England in 1891 and worked as a sailor for the last time in 1894. His first book Almayer's Folly was published in 1895 and the next year An Outcast of the Islands. Conrad's best novels are considered to be Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), and Under Western Eyes (1911).

Conrad got married in 1895 with Jessie George and had two sons with her. He lived in poor conditions, his health was failing and he often got in trouble with his temperament. Finally, in 1910 he started to get some recognition for his work and his financial situation improved. In April 1924 he refused an offer of knighthood from Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. The same year Conrad died. "