Sunday, March 15, 2020

218. Lord Jim

Lord Jim
Joseph Conrad
Around 400 pages

As everybody stocks up on toilet paper, I am making sure to equip myself with the actual essentials: books and diet soda. You have your priorities, I have mine. I will probably get a lot of reading done over the next couple of weeks rather than going to the parties I usually frequent. Ahem.

Lord Jim is a sailor with a troubled past.  His story is narrated by Marlow, a sea captain who tries tries to reconcile Lord Jim's story with his own notions of what a sailor should be. Lord Jim is a richly drawn character, and seemed very real. Conrad's striking descriptions of Jim were my favorite parts of the novel.

I love reading rollicking adventures, so why do I never like sailing stories? Maybe it's because there are typically 0-1 female characters in those stories, and the men are always manly men, who drink scotch and say manly things, so I don't find them very relatable. Also, these narratives are usually bogged down by unfamiliar lingo for me, so I find it difficult to picture certain key scenes.

I am not blaming Joseph Conrad for these things; sailors are manly men (or at least the ones I have met) and it's not his fault that all my sailing knowledge comes from Nancy Drew books and crossword puzzles. Naturally, the one female character is a trope straight out of Haggard's novels, but I did love the way Jim described her: "she was audacious and shrinking. She feared nothing, but she was checked by the profound incertitude and the extreme strangeness – a brave person groping in the dark."

Our first Conrad is under our belts, and so far I am pretty impressed. Still, we'll have to see if he is worthy of five spots on the List.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Ranked as number 85 in Modern Library's list of 100 best English Language novels of the 20th century.

The abandonment of the ship was based off of a real life event, the sinking of the S.S. Jeddah.

UP NEXT: Kim by Rudyard Kipling.

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