Lord Jim

Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1981. Lord Jim is a tragic tale of misplaced romanticism. Jim, a young sailor with dreams of heroism, makes a fatal mistake aboard the sinking ship Patna and spends the rest of his life punishing himself for his perceived weakness. Jim’s tale is told through the eyes of his would-be savior, Marlowe (whom you may know from Heart of Darkness). Marlowe recounts Jim’s journey from downfall to self-imposed exile to near redemption in excruciating detail, making Lord Jim, admittedly, a struggle to read. Conrad’s writing is densely layered; sometimes whole chapters dwell on a simple action or idea. Often, I found it difficult or tiresome to wade through, but was just as often rewarded by beautifully written imagery or stunning depth of character. Conrad truly is one of the better English writers, both for his command of the language (which remarkably, he did not learn until later in life) and his thoughtfulness of content. Indeed, Lord Jim is as much about Marlowe's desire to understand and relate Jim's story as it is about Jim himself. The novel was, for me, a difficult read, but it was one that was well worth the effort.