Lord Jim

Lord-JimBy Joseph Conrad.

Quite a good story. Unfortunately some of the language seemed dated – a problem which I don’t notice when reading novels in translation from this era as the translation is usually reasonably modern. Or, it could be that the Conrad’s descriptions are particularly of their time, long and suffused with colour, a hint of hyperbole similar to turning your gaze towards an exotic island noting every crevice, nook and cranny and paying equal attention to each specific detail as all is important in order to give the overall panorama the breadth of vision the written word can lack. Writing is a lot more sparse now, maybe to its detriment, but perhaps Conrad was more extreme with his detail and vocabulary as English wasn’t his first language (Polish was) and he had something to prove.

Various sentiments in this book are of their time. There are no positive female characters: only the one character in the entire novel – Jim’s ‘woman’. His treatment of the local population too is ambiguous, but this could be the point as the white men are not viewed in a terribly good light either. Given the fact Conrad was a reactionary conservative who didn’t believe in democracy, I think maybe you need to assume the worst. However this doesn’t mean as readers that we can’t take something of interest out of the novel.

I listened to this an an audiobook from Librivox and I really had to grit my teeth to get through the novel. The narrator did the voices. They were awful. In future, if an audiobook grates after the first few minutes I will have to stop. This is eminently preferrable to cursing the narrator, who is probably a very nice chap, for the hour and a half it takes me to get to work each morning. Just don’t do the voices.

Soundtrack: Guided By Voices – A Salty Salute.

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