Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Set of Six – by Joseph Conrad

A Set of Six – six short stories by Joseph Conrad, 1908.  (US Edition)  (UK Edition)

It is really becoming difficult to find free books for my UK readers.  Amazon UK (and US) does not always make it easy.  This UK book was not listed with the copies for sale, but I found it by searching under the author’s name.

Fair warning!  An Amazon UK reviewer wrote this caution a year ago:

"But my main purpose in writing this review is to warn potential readers about glitches in the kindlisation (at least for Mac & Android). Every page has at least one and sometimes several misplaced hyphens, mid-word, which bec- ame pre- tty distra- cting by the end."

Amazon reviewers are so clever!

I cannot see the UK Kindle books, so I do not know if this has been corrected.  You can buy the book, but be sure to download and check a free chapter first.  Sometimes the free copies and the copies for sale are identical, right down to the errors.  

There are some spaces that are out of place in the US version and some missing indents at the beginning of paragraphs. It does not affect readability.

By far the best known story in the book is “The Duel,” which was made into an astounding movie, called "The Duellists."

The same reviewer who pointed out the typos also loved the movie:
"I wanted to read one story in this collection (The Duel) after seeing Ridley Scott's first film, The Duellists, on which it is closely based. By casting more light on the background story of the Napoleonic Wars, the prose has a richer context than the film, which at times feels slow, with a self-conscious effort to make every gorgeous frame look like a contemporary painting. The film adds a broken affair whose absence is not felt in the prose version: and the latter handles better the flowering of the protagonist's romance and marriage by connecting it more closely to the running thread of repeated duelling."

But this is not the classic movie review blog, so let’s take a look at the story:

Napoleon I., whose career had the quality of a duel against the whole of Europe, disliked duelling between the officers of his army. The great military emperor was not a swashbuckler, and had little respect for tradition. 

Nevertheless, a story of duelling, which became a legend in the army, runs through the epic of imperial wars. To the surprise and admiration of their fellows, two officers, like insane artists trying to gild refined gold or paint the lily, pursued a private contest through the years of universal carnage.

Basically that is the story.  It sounds very simple, but it is quite incredible in execution.

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