Set in the tumultuous political world of Tsarist repression and revolutionary intrigue in St Petersburg and Geneva, Under Western Eyes (1911) renders with searing intensity the psychological torment of its Russian protagonist, a university student who, in betraying another, has betrayed himself. Based upon a comparison of the existing manuscript and other materials, this scholarly and first extensively annotated edition of Joseph Conrad's great novel Under Western Eyes differs from all previous printings by more accurately reflecting Conrad's writing process. The reading text is supported by new scholarly materials that are the result of fifteen years of investigation: essays on the textual and biographical history of the novel, extensive notes, appendices and maps, as well as a full listing of the thousands of textual variants in the early forms of the novel, including the 18,000 words that Conrad himself deleted.
Joseph Conrad (originally Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. His parents, ardent Polish patriots, died when he was a child, following their exile for anti-Russian activities, and he came under the protection of his tradition-conscious uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski, who watched over him for the next twenty-five years.
In 1874 Bobrowski conceded to his nephew's passionate desire to go to sea, and Conrad travelled to Marseilles, where he served in French merchant vessels before joining a British ship in 1878 as an apprentice.
In 1886 he obtained British nationality and his Master's certificate in the British Merchant Service. Eight years later he left the sea to devote himself to writing, publishing his first novel, Almayer's Folly, in 1895. The following year he married Jessie George and eventually settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes.
He continued to write until his death in 1924. Today Conrad is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of fiction in English - his third language.