The Shadow Line by Joseph Conrad Page 1 of 106

THE SHADOW-LINE


A CONFESSION


By Joseph Conrad



"Worthy of my undying regard"


To Borys And All Others Who,
Like Himself, Have Crossed In Early Youth
The Shadow-Line Of Their Generation With Love


-D'autre fois, calme plat, grand miroir De mon desespoir. -BAUDELAIRE


PART ONE

I

Only the young have such moments. I don't mean the very young. No. The very young have, properly speaking, no moments. It is the privilege of early youth to live in advance of its days in all the beautiful continuity of hope which knows no pauses and no introspection.

One closes behind one the little gate of mere boyishness-and enters an enchanted garden. Its very shades glow with promise. Every turn of the path has its seduction. And it isn't because it is an undiscovered country. One knows well enough that all mankind had streamed that way. It is the charm of universal experience from which one expects an uncommon or personal sensation-a bit of one's own.

One goes on recognizing the landmarks of the predecessors, excited, amused, taking the hard luck and the good luck together-the kicks and the half-pence, as the saying is-the picturesque common lot that holds so many possibilities for the deserving or perhaps for the lucky. Yes.



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