The Nature of a Crime is likely influenced by major events from the life of Joseph Conrad, most notably his suicide attempt made at the age of 20. In the novel, the narrator finds himself falling deeper into depression as a result of his mishandling of a close friend's trust fund, and is eventually pushed to the point of acceptance of suicide as the only viable option for him to rectify the situation. Conrad's real-life attempt on his life, while not extremely well-documented, is reported to have been a result of falling into debt, similar to the narrator in his novel. The novel also references Tristan and Iseult, a medieval French tragedy about adulterous love. The novel's narrator mentions in one of his letters that he has gone to see a performance of the play. The influence of this traditional story is evident in the novel, as the narrator finds himself writing love letters to the wife of a friend - an action that the narrator acknowledges as improper, further adding to the storm of depression he experiences as a result of his personal actions.