Lord Jim is a novel by Joseph Conrad, originally published in Blackwood's Magazine from October 1899 to November 1900.Originally intended as a short story, the work grew to a full-length novel as Conrad explored in great depth the perplexing, ambiguous problem of lost honor and guilt, expiation, and heroism.The story tells of Jim, a young, good-looking, genial, and naive water-clerk on the Patna, a cargo ship plying Asian waters. One night, when the ship collides with an obstacle and begins to sink, acting on impulse, Jim jumps overboard and lands in a lifeboat, which happens to be bearing the unscrupulous captain and his cohorts away from the disaster. The Patna, however, manages to stay afloat. The foundering vessel is towed into port - and since the officers have strategically vanished, Jim is left to stand trial for abandoning the ship and its 800 passengers.Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, 1857 - 1924) was a Polish-born British novelist. He is considered as one of the greatest novelists in the English language. Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.
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Marlow brought to life
Monologue spun out into a performance
Always worth a try, but it was starting to take way too long.
Can't change a story once it's been written. Nonsense question. But I think I'm going to blame the narration for this one.
Highly engaged narrator
Look for another narrator.
I am afraid I have written a similar relatively negative review for Henry James’s Golden Bowl, brimming over with frustration at how I never got very far in the novel, blaming the narrator, and lamenting the trouble I am having with returning my misfortunate picks (I suppose, as a clumsy newcomer, I have maxed out on this deceptively generous option to return a narration you don't like, although I can’t find anywhere a limit to the amount of returns allowed).
This narrator (too) seemed (more than) fine for the book when we first set sail. But somehow - dare I spew such nonsense? - I found him too engaged, too much into his role of Marlowe. Can that be possible, that the narrator is too much the part?! Do I mean to say it turned into a self-indulgent reading? Well, it meant we were coming close to a performance rather than a narration, and then it becomes quite apparent not a lot ever happens, and the going can get really slow. Talk about halcyon days!
Already, it is debatable how credible the form of the book is, with Marlowe’s monologue far too detailed (and with multiple viewpoints) to be really a story told over cigars after dinner. It could work, however, if you don’t pay too much attention to this framing device, but with this narrator that becomes impossible. He acts the text out with great verve and I felt myself stuck on his verandah for days on end…. All good and well for a bunch of old salts, but I felt uncomfortably out of place.
In short, I became very annoyed by the narrator’s tone - but cannot fault it as a choice on how to read the text. I think I just wanted to press on to find my bearings better in the character of Jim and spend less time with Marlowe. I was about to get there, to Jim’s new life, but then I felt bad about how I had not really appreciated the language that had gone before. When not much happens in a novel, it has to boil down to how it’s told.
In all fairness, however highly acclaimed Lord Jim is supposed to be, I think I may have found it hard to enjoy because I really have nihil affinity with sailing or the high seas, or this particular period in colonial history. Especially after reading Victory, there does not seem much more to gain from Lord Jim for me. I don’t know if it’s a boy-girl divide, or the impatience of a lost-generation…. I well see, as a piece of writing, what a deft study of complex psychologies and dubious moralities it might make, but the extremely lengthy preamble to the point in which Jim becomes “Lord” was disappointing. I suppose I’ll have to venture another try one day, but then with a new voice.
I am still hoping that an audio version will launch me into Lord Jim and help me suppress the seasickness I get already from walking through puddles. But if it keeps on taking as much discipline as it has done so far, I am better off with a hard copy book.
I owe it to Conrad and Nigel Graham both, as well as to myself to spend another credit or deal on a different narrator, to see what happens with Steven Crossley or Ric Jerrom. It’s the only way to learn whether this particular novel is just not well suited to an audio rendition at all (unlikely with so many about), or in how far it really is about that magic click you find with the right narrator for you; or whether I have a really long way to go, yet, on the patience with the Classics front.
- Aquilina Christophorus