| At the age of twenty, Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski arrived in England unable to speak English. In sixteen years with the British Merchant Marine he not only mastered English but he rose form a deckhand to a captain. As Joseph Conrad, he went to become a successfull novelist in his adopted language. Generally considered to be a teller of sea tales, he actually used the narrow confines of a ship to examine how society could cope with the forces of individual ego in the modern world. Conrad's key works include "Heart of Darkness", "Lord Jim", and "Typhoon". Along with his well known works, Quiet Vision also brings you some of his lesser known writings.
This Norton Critical Edition provides the most authoritative text of Lord Jim yet published; it is based on the definitive third English edition, collated with the periodical version that appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine and with the first English edition.
All discrepancies have been checked against the second English edition and the second American edition; the resulting Textual Notes include over 500 substantive changes.
The text is thoroughly annotated, and the editor has added a "Glossary of Eastern and Nautical Terms."
"Backgrounds" includes the complete text of "Tuan Jim."
"Sources" is a special section edited for this Norton Critical Edition by Dr. Norman Sherry of the University of Liverpool, presenting his discoveries about the real-life counterpart of Lord Jim
, the incidents described in the novel, and life in the Dutch East Indies in the nineteenth century. Dr. Sherry is the author of Conrad's Eastern World
Among the perspectives presented in "Criticism" are those of Hugh Clifford, Albert J. Guerard, Ian Watt, Fredric Jameson, J. Hillis Miller, Edward Said, Philip M. Weinstein, Paul B. Armstrong, Marianne DeKoven, and Daphana Erdinast-Vulcan.
"I was given this book as a teenager, and made half-hearted efforts to read in over the past twenty years but rarely got beyond the first couple of pages. I had decided on very little basis that I didn't like Conrad, that his writing was uncomfortable, old-fashioned and read like another language translated into english.
I have entirely changed my mind. Older, not neccesarily wiser, but more exposed to the world and its vageries I have fallen utterly in love with Conrad and his writing which is engaging and modern. He is the most humane of writers, capable of being moving without lapsing into sentimentality, and maps the human spirit with all its pride, nobilty, hope, optimism, youth, experience, realism, and evil. Lord Jim combines all these with the excitement of an adventure story and prose that is beautifully written. As I rush headlong towards middle-age I can see much of my past, and my changing attitudes, in the tale of Jim.
I can understand people that don't like Conrad, having been one of them myself: that has changed completely, and he is now undoubtedly my favourite author. Maybe it's akin to liking olives, or cigars, or whisky, a passion that comes with age - but it's been worth the wait. "
"Lord Jim is a rather downbeat novel, telling the tale of a young romantic who finds himself unable to forgive himself for a moment of moral weakness when he flees a sinking ship without attempting to rescue any of the hundreds of travellers asleep within. Plot-wise this book is incredibly slight, with Conrad taking an age to stretch out what is essentially a short story into a full-length novel, but despite the meandering pace the authors use of the English language is simply stunning, and provided you have the willpower to continue you will be rewarded with a stylistically rich character examination that more than repays the readers patience. "
"There is no doubt that Conrad is one of the master writers of the previous century, however I tend to find him rather a chore to read. Not that reading is supposed to be "easy" of course, but that's just by way of a warning. In this novel, he not only embarks on epic page-long sentences, but engages in a whole range of innovative (for the time) techniques for telling the tragic tale of Tuan/Lord Jim. These techniques include abrupt shifts and jumps in time, and a great deal story within a story constructions. The bulk of the story is recounted by a seaman named Marlow (who also was narrator for Heart of Darkness), who is often retelling what he heard from another source, or even third-hand. Some may find this a little confusing at first, but it shouldn't be a surprising device for the modern reader. Technique aside, this is an exceedingly dense work, rich in lengthy descriptions, and requiring the reader's utmost attention.
Jim is a well-bred young Englishman who takes to the sea, envisioning a series of adventures in which he will prove his mettle and emerge as a well-regarded man. Alas, when a ship carrying a load of Malay pilgrims to Mecca strikes something and seems destined to sink, and his senior officers all abandon ship without rousing the passengers, he experiences fear and abandons ship as well. But when the ship doesn't sink, Jim is the only crewman to step forward and present himself to the maritime court of inquiry, which strips him of his sailing papers. Thereafter, Jim knocks around the South Seas, working as a water clerk in various ports, and departing whenever someone recognizes him. Finally, the narrator Marlow arranges for Jim to be installed as manager of a remote Malaysian trading post. There, he becomes the ruler and protector of the native people.
The story is not really of importance though; really, we are meant to be taking a long and careful look at the character of Jim. Some may find him to be a tragic and romantic figure, however I view him as the embodiment of self-absorption and pride. Jim's vision of himself as a brave and true fellow is so key to his ego that he literally can't face his own past actions, even though they are utterly understandable and human. And far from seeking to prove or redeem himself, he seeks to remove himself from the sight of anyone who might recognize him. His self-imposed exile among the Malays allows him to fulfill his dream of being an respected leader, and allows him to avoid introspection. Indeed, had he been even slightly introspective, he might have eventually recognized that his overwhelming adherence to a code of honor has not served him particularly well. Ironically (or maybe predictably), at the end of it all, his misguided sense of honor brings death to him, and destruction to his people. It's not too hard to figure out what Conrad, who spend several decades on the high seas, thought of this ideal of honor. One character gives voice to Conrad's views, by saying that Jim died for "a shred of meaningless honor". "