#1 - Lord Jim, Author’s Note and Chapter 1
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This story opens on a ship crowded with pilgrims traveling from Singapore to Mecca for the hajj. A young Englishman is the vessel's first mate. This is his first job and it is something that he has longed for all his life—to be on board a ship that sails the seven seas. One night as the ship sails through the calm waters of the Arabian Sea, it mysteriously begins to shudder. The crew, including the young first mate, believe that it is about to sink. They decide to strike out for themselves in a life-boat, abandoning the passengers. However, the ship is later brought safe and sound to port and the crew is ordered to face an official court of inquiry.
When the inquiry begins, all the crew members except the young first mate evade the proceedings. He is left to face it alone and is censured, and stripped of his official position. He is devastated and blames himself for this lapse of judgment. One of the officials conducting the inquiry sees something valuable and worth saving in this young man. Yet, this one incident becomes a millstone round the first mate's neck and he is unable to forget his past. The rest of the story is about how the young first mate's life takes strange and unexpected turns.
Joseph Conrad's classic novel Lord Jim was published as a serial in Blackwood's Magazine in 1899-1900. Conrad was apparently inspired by a real life incident that happened on a Malaysian ship a few years earlier. The writer also deals with the contemporary imperialist philosophy that divided the world into “Us” and “Them” and also with the social, economic and racial aspects of colonialism.
The book is brilliantly plotted, with the story being told mainly by a character named Marlow, who appears in several other books by Conrad. The conclusion is also interestingly structured in the form of a letter. Though Jim is the hero of the novel, he remains a mysterious and barely understood figure. Lord Jim is also one of Conrad's most romantic novels, filled with wonderful descriptions and lyrical prose. The story holds universal appeal for readers of all ages. Conrad's essential humanity, compassion and concern for the underdog, his views on colonialism and the “White Man's Burden” are all vividly evoked in Lord Jim.
The book has been listed as one of the 100 Great Books of the Century by the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and has been adapted for stage and film.
Lord Jim is a remarkable and unforgettable novel by a master craftsman, and a great addition to your bookshelf.
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