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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
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,...
Published on 6 Aug 2008 by J. L. Eyre

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Second reading probably required due to Conrad's style
I was familiar with Conrad's style after reading "Heart of Darkness" and few of his short stories. His descriptive, slightly long-winded style mightn't be to everybody's taste. It seems that, as a non-native English speaker, Conrad was showing off his impressive command of the language of Shakespeare and Dickens. I found I enjoyed "Heart of Darkness" more when I read it...
Published on 9 April 2010 by haunted


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 6 Aug 2008
By 
J. L. Eyre - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Second reading probably required due to Conrad's style, 9 April 2010
By 
I was familiar with Conrad's style after reading "Heart of Darkness" and few of his short stories. His descriptive, slightly long-winded style mightn't be to everybody's taste. It seems that, as a non-native English speaker, Conrad was showing off his impressive command of the language of Shakespeare and Dickens. I found I enjoyed "Heart of Darkness" more when I read it the second time.

Lord Jim is one of his most famous works and is also written is this style. It is a lot longer than "Heart of Darkness" so I approached reading it with a bit of trepidation. Sure enough I found the book dragging at times.

The story is simple enough but worth telling. Jim becomes a seafarer as a youngster and dreams of glory and adventures. However, when the ship that he is mate on runs aground he joins the rest of the white crewmembers in abandoning the passengers (pilgrims going to Mecca) to their fate.
Immediately he realises he has done wrong but sees what he did as being atypical of his character. He is determined to prove to himself and the world that he is not a coward. No longer able to work on ships he gets a job in a remote outpost where fate decides that he will have the safety of the natives in his hands during a crisis. Jim's character is quite interesting and the reader has some sympathy for him, given the youthful enthusiasm he shows in abundance and the abject remorse he feels for the mistake he has done.
Conrad had an exciting seafaring career and there is no doubt that his descriptions of places and people have an air of authenticity to them.
The build up to the running aground and the climax of the story are told at a decent pace that has the reader anxious to see what happens next. However I found that the middle part of the book dragged a lot. Here Jim meets the narrator - Marlow - during the inquiry into the crew's actions and we are eventually told exactly what happened. Marlow, after what seems an age, decides that the young man is worthy of his help and tries to rehabilitate him as best he can. I felt this part of the book could have been a lot shorter and Conrad's penchant for detailed passages describing their encounters only slowed down the story.

I expect that, like "Heart of Darkness", I would enjoy a second reading more. Perhaps familiarity with the story will help me to appreciate Conrad's use of language. However I might leave it a few years before joining Lord Jim on his adventures again!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "a shred of meaningless honor", 4 May 2004
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Conrad Novel, 1 May 2009
By 
I. M. Knight (Huddersfield, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
This is one of Conrad's earlier novels and is definitely one of my favourites along with `The Secret Agent' and the novella `Heart of Darkness'. As with many of his novels, Conrad draws on his experiences when travelling with the merchant navy. The story itself is about the penance the main character forces on himself due to his guilt for a cowardly transgression whilst at sea and his struggle to atone for this in his own mind.

This is a fantastic Conrad book and a good one for anyone interested in Conrad to start at. It's worth mentioning that there is an excellent film adaptation of the book starring Peter O'Toole.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Lord Jim (Kindle Edition)
For me, the key to this book is that Jim is the son of a clegyman who also happens to be a strict father whom Jim feels he has somehow got to please. As a son, he carries moral obligations, which have been instilled in childhood, into the world and away from the secure peace of the rectory home. He is a young man of high self-imposed standards. Proud, perhaps. But he has never been taught about weakness, failure or forgivenes. When he fails by jumping ship on that fateful night, he descends into the self-condemnation of a man who feels, bearing down upon him, not only the displeasure of his father, but also of God. All this is subconcious and that, of course, is the genius of Conrad. Jim is human but he hasn't been fully taught about the human condition (weakness and failure, and the antidote Forgiveness), despite his father's profession. So his shame is unbearable. Nothing anyone says or does will take the burden from him. He knows the moral obligation, he knows his duty; but he has not ever known forgiveness or, more accurately, self-forgiveness or God's forgiveness. He is the product of a one-sided religion; a religion of moral obligation but one without the love that makes it complete. Although the world Jim inhabits is ready to forgive, forget and move on, Jim cannot do so and attempts to escape his torment (and, who knows, seek inner peace?) by trying always to sail away from his pain. But he can't because the problem, the pain, travels with him. He becomes a good man through his attempt to find escape and restitution in Work. He is sought by employers whose trade blooms under Jim's direction. But the demon is ever there. Whenever he is confronted by his failure on that awful night he withdraws and moves on. Finally, he can run no more. He has, as it were, travelled to the ends of the earth in an attempt to escape his pain. He comes to that remote place where maybe he can rest his soul. But even here it doesn't work and Jim, in his own eyes, fails once more. He dies violently, sad and broken inside (even though he is now 'Lord' Jim) having never been freed from the shackles of guilt and shame through forgiveness and love. It is a sad tale and one's heart goes out to Jim who, if the truth be known, proves himself better than most. He is, in a sense, made perfect through sufferings, although he dies in ignorance of the fact. Conrad, brilliant as usual, uses Marlow to explore the inner workings of the soul. One feels, sometimes, that he is writing from personal experience; maybe so, but, if not, he displays an amazing insight into the workings of the tormented mind and the turmoil through which that mind sometimes puts us. Excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can you ever escape your past?, 2 July 2014
By 
DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
This is one of the more "difficult" Joseph Conrad books, and forms a sort of family with "Outcast of the Islands" and "Victory". As Conrad himself made clear he meant the book to ask questions about our actions - are we fully responsible for them, or do our own pasts and maybe certain external forces compel us to behave in a certain way?

The answers I draw fo these existential questions come more from Ibsen (Peer Gynt, Brand) and McGoohan's "The Prisoner" (McGoohan was agreat admirer of Ibsen btw) than from Conrad. We are our past. If we peel all our experiences away, we are left with nothing. But we aren't trapped by our past. We aren't our own gaolers. We can and should use our pasts, do our best to atone for any regrettable actions, but we should also always be on the look-out for new experiences to expand our personal lebensraum.

Surely if Jim had taken that attitude his tragedy could have been averted. What do you think?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow, but stylistically stunning, 1 Feb 2006
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tragic figure, 5 Oct 2011
I can understand that Conrad is not to everyone's taste but I find his work exquisite and consoling. What animates his beautiful writing is the subtle accuracy by which he portrays the human condition, careful to avoid moral simplification. For me this psychological realism enriches the characters and delivers a profound depiction of human strife.

Jim is a man desperately grappling with the fatality of his existence. At a time when liberal ideologies encourage us to believe we can be the masters of our destiny, Conrad's relevance is only going to increase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great adventure., 25 Feb 2014
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A tale of courage and guilt in typically Joseph Conrad style. An adventure written at a time when seafarers made journeys that required commitment and sacrifices. A great tale !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlucky Jim, 3 May 2013
This review is from: Lord Jim (Kindle Edition)
Reading Conrad's "Lord Jim" is rather like rowing upstream through tangled vegetation - something you wouldn't choose to do too often and it takes an age, but ultimately worthwhile and memorable.

I hate to be negative about something that is free and put together by volunteers but I really don't think an ebook is the best way to read "Lord Jim". I'm sure this applies to other Kindle editions as well as this one. It may sound a cliche, but I think that reading would have been a far more enjoyable experience sitting in an old leather armchair in front of the fire, with a cloth-bound edition complete with gold lettering for the title.

"Lord Jim" is only the second book by Conrad that I've read, having read the obligatory student-fodder "Heart of Darkness" twice. There are similarities in that both are psychological novels and share the narrator Marlow. "Lord Jim" explores the topics of heroism and responsibility, self-knowledge and moral codes, both internally and externally imposed.

The prose is ponderous and dense, with its narration sometimes second- or even third-hand. It's difficult to pick up again where you were, even after 24 hours and the story meanders into various backwaters, some of which add little to the story. Essentially, "Lord Jim" is the story of a man "who tumbled down from a star" and his failure and redemption. This failure was that of not being "ready", of making the wrong decision on the spur of the moment, but the story is also about the disillusionment of youth, the loss of that feeling of youthful omnipotence and "dreams of valorous deeds". In the end, questions are posed - can one human being ever really understand another? Is weakness an inherent part of the human spirit?

Reading "Lord Jim" is hard work, but I felt ultimately worth the effort, both for the haunting descriptions ("the sky over Patusan was blood-red, immense, streaming like an open vein") and the insights into humanity that Conrad hits you with, again and again - the highlight function was well-used! It is also fascinating to lose yourself in Jim's "obscurity" - a time and place that bear almost no relation to today's world of networked communications.
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Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics)
Lord Jim (Wordsworth Classics) by Joseph Conrad (Paperback - 5 April 1993)
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