Lord Jim


It took me over 5 weeks to read Lord Jim.   Not because it’s so long, it was just difficult to apply myself to it.   It had moments of strong interest, but they’d recede like waves.   I think I would have liked it a lot better if the structure had been, well, anything else.   It starts off with a standard narration and then switches to Marlow telling the story to I’m not sure who, but finishes telling them before the story is over and writes the rest in a letter to an unnamed party.  It’s bizarre.   And you very rarely see any action as it’s happening.   Plus he does that annoying thing of telling you how it all turns out and then telling the story.   Thanks.   Wouldn’t want any suspense or anything.   This has been described as a brilliant innovation.   Harumph.    Tedious is what I call it.

Admittedly taking the standard adventure yarn and turning it into a meditation on character and life is a worthwhile endeavor and you need Marlow or someone to reflect on Jim and his place in the world, but switching to the letters at the end seems pointless.   It also bothered me he never named ‘the girl.’  He seems to admire her character, Jim names her Jewel, but she isn’t called that for the rest of the story and she’s given no other name.

I read this for 1900 in the Century of Books, before realizing 1900 was not part of the 20th century, though the challenge includes it on everyone’s page.  it ought to be 1901 – 2000.   Ah, well, it’s been one of those I always thought I should read and now I can cross it off the list.

It should also count for the European challenge shouldn’t it, since he was Polish?  Though he kind of switched to being a Brit in his 20s, does he still count for Poland for the challenge?  Who knew it would be this complicated?


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