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Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (book recommendation and review)

This is one of those novels that may take (a bit) more time to read. Now, there is no sense in talking about how long it will take you to read this one because that is very individual. As well as that infamous 'difficulty' factor, it is something that is bound to differ from person to person. It took me some time to read this one, but I MUST say it is one of those books that is certainly worth the effort. You know that feeling when you have read some amazing book and even though it may have taken you (some/ a lot/ considerable amount of ) time to read it, you end up really happy with what you did with your time. Well, I think that what makes this read so 'time- consuming' to some (not all readers seem to share this view but some have complained about the reading process) is its sophisticated narrative. However, this novel wouldn't be a masterpiece that it is without it, so let's not make this complex narrative sound like a flaw in the writing while in fact it is one of its strongest posts. I'm certainly happy that I devoted my time to it and I enjoyed every second of reading this novel. In fact, I plan to reread it these days. 

Let's get back on the track, shall we? The best way to start is from the beginning. The very first paragraph focuses on the protagonist of the novel, young Jim. Right from the start, we get this vivid image of him. I think it can be maintained that he is described in detail even at the start. Obviously, there is only as much as can be done to introduce a character that  develops mostly during the course of the novel. Jim is quite young when the novel starts. Still, it is remarkable how at the very start (with a limited amount of words) we as readers get introduced with various aspects of both Jim's outer and inner self.  Naturally, with a writer as skilled as Conrad, this shouldn't be a surprise. The character of Jim, so central for this novel, is examined so many times in this novel and the writer does this in a way that manages to be both complex and simple at the same time. The opening chapter (and much of what follows) is full of wonderful descriptions and the kind of lyrical prose that I immensely enjoy. I particularly liked the descriptions of the sea. Conrad is a true master when it comes to that and you can tell that right from the start. Similarly to The Heart of Darkness,  the story (for most part) is told by a narrator named Marlow. Unlike the famous novelette, the narrative in "Lord Jim" is not chronological. Moreover, it's sometimes told from different points of view and it sure can be a bit confusing. There is a large number of ever present digressions.  Even once the story (the plot) really starts, new characters are introduced over and over again. In addition to that, there are so many things going on that at some point you'll probably feel a bit lost. I know I did. In addition,  there are long pages where nothing goes on besides philosophical meditations. In that way it could be said that the novel is a bit odd. Nevertheless, I really liked it. Once I really got into it I found it to be a brilliant piece of writing.

Lord Jim as a character remained somewhat of an enigma for me. Although I must say the way that novel is written (and by that I mean its sophisticated narrative) really enables the reader to get into psychology and inner states of Jim. This is one character that is portrayed from different angles and that casts very different shadows. Despite of that or maybe because of that I found him to retain much of the mystery that seems another of his remarkable features. This mystery surrounds him like a  fine mist from the start to the end of the novel. I know what I said about him being introducted with skillful words (at the very start of the novel) and all about how it just get better (yes, I know that I have added how he is mastefully potrayed) but that doesn't mean that I feel like I have him completely figured out. However, that makes him even more fascinating.

Now, another thing this novel has in common with the famous novelette (short novel) that I happened to mention earlier is its question of Western influences/politics on the other parts of the world. This book can be divided in two parts and the second part of the book happens in an imaginary land (an island). I must admit that I  did not really pay much attention to theme of colonialism while I was reading this novel, although there are references to it. I was probably too occupied with the personality of Jim and the theme of guilt and redemption to think about anything else. Maybe that theme is not as central in this one, I'm not sure, but so it seemed. Lord Jim seems more focused on the individual guilt (rather than that of the Emire and the colonial world).

I avoided talking about events in the novels, the plot and the characters because I didn't want to have any spoilers in this review. If you're looking for a summary of this book, you'll have no problem finding it online. What I tried is to give you an idea what the novel is like. I must, however, mentioned some other characters. First of all, the narrator of the story (Marlow the same narrator as the one in the heart of darkness). In this novel, he is not only a narrator but also an active participant in events and an important character in the novel. I think the way the writer uses him both as a narrator and as a character is simply brilliant. Secondly, I will mention Jim's love interest because I found her to be a very interesting character. Finally, that butterfly collector is such a well drawn character. He had some really interesting thoughts and it made the transition in the story (when Jim is sort of at crossroads) somehow more credible and at the same time more philosophical-like the character of Jim( and what happens to him) could be a metaphor for some deep questions in the human soul. In fact, some of those passages were hauntingly beautiful. They alone would make this novel worth reading. To conculde, this novel is poignant with meaning and filled with deep thoughts. It is complex, bit it is absolutely beautiful in its complexity.

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