The Return by Joseph Conrad

The ReturnHaving come to respect this famed author, I was insistent on reading more of his work and without any specific recommendation, discovered this early piece.

Purportedly hated by Conrad, I consider The Return to be a brave and honest account of a man’s well contained vulnerabilities.

Conrad captures the thoughts and actions of an isolated and somewhat oblivious man upon his return home and his actions upon reading a letter left behind for him.

The young married Alvan Hervey seems to have regard for no one but himself and is quite unaware of his lack of caring.  Like a spoiled child, he sees all things around him only through his own view and does not even think to try another perspective.

Alvan’s wife, unnamed in the story, is exasperated with her husbands’ lack of human connection and is saddened by his failure to comprehend how his behavior affects those around him.


They were afraid to hear again the sound of their voices; they did not know what they might say–perhaps something that could not be recalled; and words are more terrible than facts.  

This submissive assent given with such readiness did not soothe him did not elate him; it gave him, inexplicably, that sense of terror we experience when in the midst of conditions we had learned to think absolutely safe we discover all at once the presence of a near and unsuspected danger.  

Any time spent with Mr. Conrad would be enlightening.  Perhaps we’d sail, perhaps we’d stroll, perhaps we’d just simply sit in silence until the stillness drove us to conversation.  I’d love to share with him that his words had the profound effect he longed to convey.

My rating for The Return is an 8 out of 10.

Please share your own reviews or comments by using the link below.

Next up, Sherwood Anderson’s Poor WhitePoor White


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