Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
I love this author, having read 'Twixt Land and Sea and Heart of Darkness. He writes so evocatively and describes scenes with near perfection, always finding elegant and highly charged or precisely apt phrases and words. The subject matter, usually sea-related, is exciting in itself but he has so much more to teach us than simple genre- ...[text shortened]... ng/has read Lord Jim or other Conrad books? I'd love to hear comments (but no spoilers, please).
I read Lord Jim
about ten years ago, when I had recently moved to Japan. At the time I remember being stunned by this passage from Chapter 7 (no spoiler involved, just in case you haven't quite got there):
"There were married couples looking domesticated and bored with each other in the midst of their travels; there were small parties and large parties, and lone individuals dining solemnly or feasting boisterously, but all thinking, conversing, joking, or scowling as was their wont at home; and just as intelligently receptive of new impressions as their trunks upstairs. Henceforth they would be labelled as having passed through this and that place, and so would be their luggage. They would cherish this distinction of their persons, and preserve the gummed tickets on their portmanteaus as documentary evidence, as the only permanent trace of their improving enterprise."
I remember thinking at the time that I must not let my experience in Japan be so superficial as that. And the strange and wonderful thing about Conrad is that whenever I've read one of his works, from my teenage years to now in my thirties, he seems to have at least one thing to say which is pretty much directly relevant to my life right at that moment!
If you liked Heart of Darkness
then you must read the two other novellas published alongside it, Youth
and The End of the Tether
. Both small masterpieces, and they form a elegant trilogy together with the more famous work. Nostromo
may be Conrad's greatest book, but it requires great patience and concentration - so save it from a time when you have few other distractions. The Secret Agent
is very contemporary in its focus on terrorists alienated from the dominant society. But I also think some of the later ones are very underrated - Victory
is a cracking read, The Rescue
is a bit of a mess as a story but has some of Conrad's most impressively atmospheric description, and The Rover
is a vigorous yet sombre, elegiac last novel.