Writers live in fear of writing "It was a dark and stormy night". Conrad, master of English, writes perfect prose. The amazing thing is that Joseph Conrad was brought up in Russia of Polish parents who were executed in a revolutionary game. He then went to live with an uncle in Poland and later went to sea. He joined the English navy and learned English well enough as his third language to become a master of prose.
He wrote grand novels like The Heart of Darkness (Coppola's Apocalypse Now is this novel moved to VietNam), Almayer's Folly, Lord Jim and more. His descriptions and characters are made of evocative words and intuitive characterizations coupled closely with complex plots. The result, if you have somehow missed the Conrad experience, is a group of fine novels, excellent novels and masterpieces along with a documentary of the sailor at sea that I bought my father-in-law but have not yet read.
Typhoon and Other Stories is a great introduction to Conrad if you have not had the pleasure of his works before. I will stick to the major story, "Typhoon" to describe how beautiful the prose of Conrad mates with his stories of adventure and adventurers. These stories date from 1900-1902 which puts them between Lord Jim and Nostromo (which is one of his great novels, I am told, that I have never been able to finish).
According to the "Author's Note" this story "was but a bit of a sea yarn" and the characters, the Captain and the storm; were inventions. Inventions like the Captain who was the "product of twenty years of life. My own life..." They were necessary attributes, he says, of the story he wanted to make which is really about the idea that..."Each of them has more than one intention... And each of those stories... must justify itself in its own way to the conscience of each successive reader."
In Typhoon there are the two protagonists of importance: Captain MacWhirr and the storm. Both had character. Both were elements of nature. The ship is the Nan-Shan and the cargo are Chinese workers. "Captain MacWhirr had sailed over the surface of the oceans as some men go skimming over the years of existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of life to the last, without ever having been made to see all it may contain of perfidy, of violence, and of terror. There are on sea and land such men thus fortunate — or thus disdained by destiny or by the sea."