ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Falk by Joseph Conrad

Updated on May 15, 2019

Old Men Of The Sea

Falk: A Reminiscence

Joseph Conrad's Falk: A Reminiscence is a humorous engaging and sometimes horrifying tale of old salts and their salty ways when it comes to business, gossip, romance and misadventure of the high seas. Like one of my favorite authors of all time, Jack London, Conrad writes with a genuineness that can only come from direct, personal experience and that conveys a sense of reality that transcends mere fiction. That some of these characters in his story were real men and women is irrefutable and, in this particular story, we once again acquainted with that notorious gossip, Schomberg and his long suffering wife. Fans on Joseph Conrad's other works will remember the dastardly Schomberg from Victory, An Island Tale.

Own Falk: A Reminiscence

Are the Classics Being Forgotten?

A curious observation that I have made is that most landlubbers I know, rarely read whilst most people that live on boats read quite a bit. You might think that I simply know many more boat people than I do land livers but that is not the case. As a consequence, when I want to discuss Conrad, Hugo, London or Melville, most dirt dwellers have nothing to say because they haven't read any of their works while most salts have. I wonder if we are starting to forget the classics on their written form and now know them only from movie adaptations?

An Overview of Falk by Joseph Conrad

The story begins in the way that all classic tales of the sea should begin, with a gathering of old salts sitting around a table reminiscing. One recounts a tale of a time long ago when he made a bitter enemy of a certain tugboat captain named Falk.

Our narrator has taken charge of a ship in a far east port that he needs to deliver to another destination but in order to launch the ship safely he needs the assistance of Falk. The taciturn Falk is the only tugboat captain in the port and wields his monopoly ruthlessly. To get on Falk's bad side is to invite disaster because, without his knowledge of the river and the assistance of his tugboat to pull your vessel safely through to open water, you were doomed to run aground.

Our narrator becomes quite friendly with the captain of a neighboring vessel, a German by the name of Captain Hermann, who lives aboard his own vessel, The Diana, with his wife, their children and a niece. Unbeknownst to anyone, the almost silent Falk has fallen deeply in love with the niece and becomes extremely jealous that our narrator has become such good chums with her uncle and protector, Hermann. Incorrectly assuming that our narrator has designs on the young lady, Falk becomes enraged and acts out like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum. He refuses to help launch his boat and buys off anyone else to prevent them from helping our narrator too.

In order to deliver his vessel, our young captain must not only find a way to befriend the bitter and sulking Falk, but he must also find a way to help the old sea dog win the hand of Hermann's niece.

Unfortunately, Falk has a dark secret from his own sinister past that he needs to reveal before he can gain the young niece's heart and hand in marriage. A secret so dark that no sailing man ever wants to hear it spoken.

The Return of Schomberg

If you have read another of Joseph Conrad's great sea tales, Victory (also known as Victory: An Island Tale), then you will be familiar with the unscrupulous gossip Mr Schomberg and his apparently dull wife with the one, blue tooth. Well in this tale the lose tongued Alsatian returns and is back to his old tricks, though not portrayed as quite as evil in this particular tale. Obviously this Schomberg character was based closely on someone that the author, Joseph Conrad, knew in his own life and it's fascinating to wonder what the real man was like and how much malicious damage he inflicted on others with his serpent's tongue.

Victory: An Island Tale

Victory: An Island Tale (Penguin Classics)
Victory: An Island Tale (Penguin Classics)
Axel Heyst, a dreamer and a restless drifter, believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others. Then he becomes involved in the operation of a coal company on a remote island in the Malay Archipelago, and when it fails he turns his back on humanity once more. But his life alters when he rescues a young English girl, Lena, from Zangiacomo's Ladies' Orchestra and the evil innkeeper Schomberg, taking her to his island retreat. The affair between Heyst and Lena begins with her release, but the relationship shifts as Lena struggles to save Heyst from detachment and isolation. Featuring arguably the most interesting hero created by Conrad, Victory is both a compelling tale of adventure and a perceptive study of the power of love.

Joseph Conrad's Humor

Despite Joseph Conrad's own proclivities towards the darker observations on life and love, this book is quite humorous in many ways, especially in regards to the gossip Schomberg and how his interpretations of certain situations are completely off the mark. It reminds me of the wonderful scene in Boondock Saints where Willem Dafoe's character uses his trained detective's eye to expertly explain precisely what happened in the raging gun battle the police missed. Insightful, intelligent and, unfortunately, completely wrong. These misguided beliefs also take me back to Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea. In this book, Hugo makes many amusing observations about the locals and their thought processes.

Spoiler Alert!

My favorite part of the book was how Falk explained that he still woke up nights having dreamed that he could still hear the banging of the desolate ship's rudder against the hull. What a powerful image that conjures.

Falk's Dark Secret

Falk's sinister secret is that he had once resorted to cannibalism when the ship that he was on suffered some mishaps at sea and the crew all turned on each other, resorting to murder and other hideous acts of violence. Falk alone was the only survivor.

The Ending

Does Falk finally win the hand of the lady he loves? Does our narrator get his ship launched and delivered to it's destination port? The only way to know is to read the book, I won't spoil the fun for you.

Have you read Faulk by Joseph Conrad?

See results

© 2013 Dale Anderson

Have You Read Falk by Joseph Conrad?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • powers41 profile image

      fran rooks 

      5 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      thanks. Next time I'm at the bookstore I will get it.

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      5 months ago from The High Seas

      Fran I hope that you like it when you read it! If you like the sound of the story then I am betting this will be your kind of thing.

    • powers41 profile image

      fran rooks 

      5 months ago from Toledo, Ohio

      This looks like something I need to read. Thank you for the article!

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      13 months ago from The High Seas

      I must admit, Peggy, that I spend a bit of time specifically looking for sea stories and that is very well probably because I live on a sailboat. I hope you get to read this one and enjoy it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      13 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I have read many of the classics but this is a book that I have not yet read. It is not surprising to me that you find these tales of the sea interesting since you spend so much time aboard your seagoing vessel.

    • profile image

      Karim Mathers 

      3 years ago

      i did , i bought it like a year ago '2015' when i went to a library with a friend , but didn't actually fully read it & finish it till now '7th of september 2016' i found this article right after i finished it at 00:20 h , took me 3 days . read an hour or two everyday , could never get enough of it , i had to force my to put it down and go to sleep at 2 am , joseph sure knows how to bring his work to life , its an amazing book & i regret waiting till now to read it , bought it when i was 17 & finished it at 18 lol . i'll be 19 in october . anyway i'm gonna start reading more of joseph's work , i think i'm gonna start with ' victory ' if i could find it , after all , i live in algeria & books like that are very hard to come across , plus i don't like reading online , i would like to buy a proper book and invest some time in it . i also would like to read ' typhoon, tomorrow , & the secret sharer' all by joseph , also 'heart of darkness ' if i could find it , books are really underrated & are a treasure nowadays ...

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      6 years ago from The High Seas

      It's a great book, you won't regret it.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 

      6 years ago from New Delhi India

      Looks interesting. may be i should start reading other than cook books. Voting up and sharing on hubpages.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)