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A native of Poland, Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) spent his youth at sea, and although relatively ignorant of the English language until the age of twenty, he ultimately became one of the greatest English novelists and stylists. At the age of thirty-two, he decided to try his hand at writing, left the sea, married, and became the father of two sons. Although his work won the admiration of critics, sales were small, and debts and poor health plagued Conrad for many years, until the success of Chance (1913) gave him financial security. Among his best-known works are Lord Jim (1900), Heart of Darkness (1902), The Secret Sharer (1907), Under Western Eyes (1911), and Victory (1915). Joyce Carol Oates is the author of numerous novels, as well as collections of stories, poetry, and plays. The Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, she is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Bernard F. Malamud Award for the short story and the Prix Femina. Vince Passaro is the author of Violence, Nudity, Adult Content: A Novel, as well as criticism, essays, and short fiction that have appeared in many national magazines, including Harper's Magazine, Esquire, GQ, Elle, O The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Story, Open City, Salon.com and others. Both his fiction and essays have been widely anthologized, and he has taught literature and creative writing at New York University and Columbia University.