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Joseph Conrad quotes

1857 - 1924, Polish author

You shall judge a man by his foes as well as by his friends.
Joseph Conrad

It's extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant
thoughts. Perhaps it's just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life
to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome.
Joseph Conrad

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.
Joseph Conrad

Facing it - always facing it - that's the way to get through. Face it!
Joseph Conrad

The last thing a woman will consent to discover in a man whom she loves, or on whom she
simply depends, is want of courage.
Joseph Conrad

What makes mankind tragic is not that they are the victims of nature, it is that they are
conscious of it.
Joseph Conrad

The future is of our own making - and (for me) the most striking characteristic of the century
is just that development, that maturing of our consciousness which should open our eyes to
that truth.
Joseph Conrad

Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions.
Joseph Conrad

Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and
their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.
Joseph Conrad

A fool has more ideas than a wise man can foresee.
Joseph Conrad

Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys.
Joseph Conrad

I take it that what all men are really after is some form or perhaps only some formula of
peace.
Joseph Conrad

Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man 
rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life.
Joseph Conrad

Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put its
trust in life!
Joseph Conrad

A man is a worker. If he is not that he is nothing.
Joseph Conrad

I don't like work - no man does - but I like what is in the work - the chance to find yourself.
Your own reality, for yourself not for others, what no other man can ever know. They can
only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.
Joseph Conrad

The question is not how to get cured, but how to live.
Joseph Conrad

It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.
Joseph Conrad

My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear,
to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see. That - and no more, and it is everything.
If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation,
fear, charm - all you demand; and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have
forgotten to ask.
Joseph Conrad

Let a fool be made serviceable according to his folly.
Joseph Conrad

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of
every wickedness.
Joseph Conrad

It is to be remarked that a good many people are born curiously unfitted for the fate awaiting 
them on this earth.
Joseph Conrad

It is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's
existence - that which makes its truth, its meaning - its subtle and penetrating essence. It is
impossible. We live, as we dream - alone.
Joseph Conrad

Perhaps life is just that... a dream and a fear.
Joseph Conrad

They talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his sweetheart. There must be a moral
bond first. All a man can betray is his conscience.
Joseph Conrad

Words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality.
Joseph Conrad

An artist is a man of action, whether he creates a personality, invents an expedient, or finds
the issue of a complicated situation.
Joseph Conrad

Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank
- but that's not the same thing.
Joseph Conrad

Your strength is just an accident owed to the weakness of others.
Joseph Conrad

I can't tell if a straw ever saved a drowning man, but I know that a mere glance is enough to 
make despair pause. For in truth we who are creatures of impulse are not creatures of
despair.
Joseph Conrad

Who knows what true loneliness is - not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the
lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some
illusion.
Joseph Conrad

Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory.
Joseph Conrad

A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out
into the air as inexperienced people endeavor to do, he drowns.
Joseph Conrad

The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human
restlessness.
Joseph Conrad

For the great mass of mankind the only saving grace that is needed is steady fidelity to what
is nearest to hand and heart in the short moment of each human effort.
Joseph Conrad

It is respectable to have no illusions, and safe, and profitable and dull.
Joseph Conrad

History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never
reproduced. It is as utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird.
Joseph Conrad

How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a specter through the heart, slash off its
spectral head, take it by its spectral throat?
Joseph Conrad

Any work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in
every line.
Joseph Conrad

In order to move others deeply we must deliberately allow ourselves to be carried away
beyond the bounds of our normal sensibility.
Joseph Conrad

He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right
word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.
Joseph Conrad

To a teacher of languages there comes a time when the world is but a place of many words
and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot.
Joseph Conrad