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Lord Jim (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1989

ISBN-13: 978-0140180923 ISBN-10: 0140180923

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140180923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140180923
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,589,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Lord Jim first appeared in 1900, many took Joseph Conrad to task for couching an entire novel in the form of an extended conversation--a ripping good yarn, if you like. (One critic in The Academy complained that the narrator "was telling that after-dinner story to his companions for eleven solid hours.") Conrad defended his method, insisting that people really do talk for that long, and listen as well. In fact his chatty masterwork requires no defense--it offers up not only linguistic pleasures but a timeless exploration of morality.

The eponymous Jim is a young, good-looking, genial, and naive water-clerk on the Patna, a cargo ship plying Asian waters. He is, we are told, "the kind of fellow you would, on the strength of his looks, leave in charge of the deck." He also harbors romantic fantasies of adventure and heroism--which are promptly scuttled 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.

Stripped of his seaman's license, convinced of his own cowardice, Jim sets out on a tragic and transcendent search for redemption. This may sound like the bleakest of narratives. But Lord Jim is also touching, elevating, and often funny. Here, for example, the narrator describes the ship's captain (proving that clothes do indeed make the man):

He made me think of a trained baby elephant walking on hind-legs. He was extravagantly gorgeous too--got up in a soiled sleeping suit, bright green and deep orange vertical stripes, with a pair of ragged straw slippers on his bare feet, and somebody's cast-off pith hat, very dirty and two sizes too small for him, tied up with a manilla rope-yarn on the top of his big head. You understand a man like that hasn't a ghost of a chance when it comes to borrowing clothes.
This is formidable prose by any standard. But when you consider that Conrad was working in his third language, the sublime after-dinner story that is Lord Jim seems even more astonishing an accomplishment. --Teri Kieffer

Review

Novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 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 title character is a man haunted by guilt over an act of cowardice. He becomes an agent at an isolated East Indian trading post. There his feelings of inadequacy and responsibility are played out to their logical and inevitable end. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I found this a difficult book to get through.
John Frey
One of the villains in this book, Brown, foreshadows the main character in Conrad's magisterial novel 'Heart of Darkness'.
Luc REYNAERT
Nevertheless (with a heartfelt refrain), one of the best books I have ever read.
asphlex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Clyde Phillips on May 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of those books that anybody who has been throughhigh school should have been exposed (or at least exposed to the CliffNotes on the novel). I remember being assigned this book as a junior or senior and bluffing my way through without really reading it. I even got a literature degree without reading it. Finally, after many years, I felt that I should give the novel its due, and picked up a copy.
The novel is the story of Jim, an overly romantic seaman, who during a moment of crisis loses his courage. He is first mate on a pilgrim ship bound for Mecca and after the ship collides with an unseen object and is in danger of sinking, he abandons ship leaving the human cargo to fend for its own. He is dogged by his guilt and spends years drifting around the East trying to find the right occasion by which he might redeem himself. Eventually he ends up in the forests of Malaysia where he becomes a god-like protector of the indigenous people and is given the title of "Lord." But no matter how successful Jim might appear to his followers, and to the omnipresent narrator of the novel, he still cannot forget his moment of weakness. Jim's self-centeredness prevents him from moving forward with his life and condemns him to a life of voluntary exile, all the time proclaiming that he is not good enough to live in the outside world. He is willing to risk all future happiness and fortune to be able to face his demons once again without losing his nerves. Ironically, it is his last "heroic" act that destroys all the good that Jim has painstakingly built up, essentially bringing chaos to his Eden like world.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on May 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the fifth book I have read by Conrad, and through these readings I have come to deeply appreciate his literary power and the perfection of his stories. Conrad has the skill to border about several similar subjects, without repeating himself. "Lord Jim" is truly a Shakespearean tragedy, mainly because of the Shakespearean nature of the main character. Jim is a young naval officer with high hopes of heroism and moral superiority, but when he faces his first test of courage, he miserably fails. While 800 Muslim pilgrims are asleep aboard the ship "Patna", Jim discovers that the boat is about to sink. There are not sufficient lifeboats for everybody. Should he wake them up or not? He gets paralyzed with fear and then sudenly jumps into a boat being set up by the rest of the officers. He is taken to trial and disposessed of his working licence.
Ashamed and humiliated, Jim dedicates the rest of his life to two things: escape the memory of that fateful night, and redeem himself. This agonizing quest to recover his dignity in front of his own eyes leads him to hide in a very remote point in the Malayan peninsula, where he will become the hero, the strong man, the wise protector of underdeveloped, humble and ignorant people. Jim finds not only the love of his people, but also the love of a woman who admires him and fears the day when he might leave for good. The narrator, Captain Marlow (the same of "Heart of Darkness") talks to Jim for the last time in his remote refuge, and then Jim tells him that he has redeemed himself by becoming the people's protector. Oh, but these things are never easy and Jim will face again the specter of failure.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By asphlex on April 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading this book (along with several other of Conrad's books) I am under the impression that Joseph Conrad may very well be my favorite author. Here is another masterpiece, a deeply incisive study of character of the motivation and the ultimate failure of all high-minded ideals. Granted my own personal world view falls directly in line with this realization and therefore prejudices me towards anything the man might write, but, when considering such a lofty title as 'favorite author' one must regard other aspects of the novelist's creation. As with the others, Conrad wins by the power of his stories.
Lord Jim is my least favorite of the the four books I have read by Conrad. The story is rather scattered: a righteous young man does something wrong that he holds himself far too accountable for and the public shame the action brought him exaggerates the reality of his failure and makes him believe the rumors swirling around about his so-called cowardice. He spends the remainder of his life trying to reclaim his self-regard, mostly exaggerating his own importance in matters he hardly understands. His goal is to liberate the primitive people of the jungle paradise he inadvertantly finds himself in (due to an effort to escape every particle of the world he once inhabited) and his once high-minded ideals and regard for himself lead him to allow those people to consider him almost a God.
Jim likes being a God and considers himself a just and fair one. He treats everyone equally and gives to his people the knowledge of modern science and medicine as well as the everyday archetecture and understanding of trade that those primitive folks would otherwise be years from comprehending.
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