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02 January 2013


Typhoon by Joseph Conrad captures the feel of a hurricane from the decks of an early-1900s steam ship upon the South China Sea.

Using delightful language, Conrad tells the story of a ship's captain so calm and stead that his men think him dull. He speaks little and does only what must be done. Owners of ships love him because he is reliable. Jukes, the chief mate, things he is about to get them killed.

Captain MacWhirr lives in the moment - not to say that he takes life by the horns, but he has no concern of the events that have past or may happen in the future. He has seen what he calls "dirty weather" before and is not concerned that a typhoon could be any match for his new ship.

What follows is the tale of a ship fighting a hurricane without being prepared for the force of the storm. Conrad describes the violence of the wind like "the sudden smash of a vial of wrath." Having lived through two hurricanes on land, I could not imagine what is would be like to face one on a ship, but Conrad's tale captures the event with both wit and accuracy. Great read.

Conrad, Joseph.(1903). Typhoon. New York: Forge.

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