Home » Lord Jim: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Sources, Criticism by Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Sources, Criticism Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim: Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Sources, Criticism

Joseph Conrad

Published
ISBN : 9780393963359
Paperback
528 pages
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 About the Book 

When Lord Jim 1st appeared in 1900, many took Joseph Conrad to task for couching an entire novel in the form of an extended conversation--a ripping good yarn, if you like. (One critic in The Academy complained that the narrator was telling thatMoreWhen Lord Jim 1st appeared in 1900, many took Joseph Conrad to task for couching an entire novel in the form of an extended conversation--a ripping good yarn, if you like. (One critic in The Academy complained that the narrator was telling that after-dinner story to his companions for 11 solid hours.) Conrad defended his method, insisting that people really do talk for that long, & listen as well. In fact his chatty masterwork requires no defense--it offers up not only linguistic pleasures but a timeless exploration of morality. The eponymous Jim is a young, good-looking, genial & naive water-clerk on the Patna, a cargo ship plying Asian waters. He is, we are told, the kind of fellow you would, on the strength of his looks, leave in charge of the deck. He also harbors romantic fantasies of adventure & heroism--which are promptly scuttled one night when the ship collides with an obstacle & begins to sink. Acting on impulse, Jim jumps overboard & lands in a lifeboat, which happens to be bearing the unscrupulous captain & his cohorts away from the disaster. The Patna, however, manages to stay afloat. The foundering vessel is towed into port--& since the officers have strategically vanished, Jim is left to stand trial for abandoning the ship and its 800 passengers. Stripped of his seamans license, convinced of his own cowardice, Jim sets out on a tragic & transcendent search for redemption. This may sound like the bleakest of narratives. But Lord Jim is also touching, elevating & often funny. Here, for example, the narrator describes the ships captain (proving that clothes do indeed make the man): He made me think of a trained baby elephant walking on hind-legs. He was extravagantly gorgeous too--got up in a soiled sleeping suit, bright green & deep orange vertical stripes, with a pair of ragged straw slippers on his bare feet, & somebodys cast-off pith hat, very dirty & two sizes too small for him, tied up with a manilla rope-yarn on the top of his big head. You understand a man like that hasnt a ghost of a chance when it comes to borrowing clothes. This is formidable prose by any standard. But when you consider that Conrad was working in his 3rd language, the sublime after-dinner story that is Lord Jim seems even more astonishing an accomplishment.--Teri Kieffer