Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), a Polish expatriate born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, worked as a sailor on French and British ships before becoming a naturalized British subject in 1886. He developed an elaborate, beautiful English prose style and probed many of the deep questions of modern fiction in his short stories and novels. His work was by turns adventurous and darkly pessimistic, interested in the traditional virtues of steadfastness and courage while also concerned with the epistemological lacunae that define modern existence and perception. One of the most noted practitioners of literary impressionism, Conrad offered a fictional rendering of subjective response that had a profound impact on writers like Ford Madox Ford and Virginia Woolf. He wrote that the primary task of the novelist was "to make you see."