The Shadow-Line: A Confession
Hard Cover. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1917. First Edition. Very Good.
First edition, first printing. One of 5000 copies. Publisher's green cloth, front board and spine stamped and decorated in brown and gilt, original tissue guard laid-in on title page. Very good, with light toning to spine, a touch of dimming to spine gilt, top corners lightly bumped, tiny puncture to cloth at bottom of front spine joint, small black mark to rear board, small spot of soiling to bottom edge of text block, and a touch of offsetting to endpapers. Overall, a sturdy copy that presents well. Wise 28. In The Shadow-Line, a young man takes a job as captain of a ship sailing out of Bangkok. Disaster strikes when the crew becomes sick with malaria and the ship's medicine is missing. On top of this, the ship's former captain, who died of malaria, may be haunting the ship. The "shadow line" refers to the vague threshold between youth and adulthood that the young captain must cross in his dire situation. The book is semi-autobiographical and draws heavily on Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798). Sometimes interpreted as a WWI allegory, Conrad dedicates the book to his son Borys who fought in the war: "To Borys and all others who like himself have crossed in early youth the shadow line of their generation, with love."