Joseph conrad: lord jim


Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim

AUTHOR’S NOTE

When this novel first appeared in book form a notion got about
That I had been bolted away with. Some reviewers maintained that
The work starting as a short story had got beyond the writer’s con-
Trol. One or two discovered internal evidence of the fact, which
Seemed to amuse them. They pointed out the limitations of the
Narrative form. They argued that no man could have been expected
To talk all that time, and other men to listen so long. It was not,
They said, very credible.
After thinking it over for something like sixteen years, I am not
So sure about that. Men have been known, both in the tropics and
In the temperate zone, to sit up half the night ‘swapping yarns’.
This, however, is but one yarn, yet with interruptions affording
Some measure of relief; and in regard to the listeners’ endurance,
The postulate must be accepted that the story was interesting. It is
The necessary preliminary assumption. If I hadn’t believed that it
Was interesting I could never have begun to write it. As to the mere
Physical possibility we all know that some speeches in Parliament
Have taken nearer six than three hours in delivery; whereas all that
Part of the book which is Marlow’s narrative can be read through
Aloud, I should say, in less than three hours. Besides – though I
Have kept strictly all such insignificant details out of the tale – we
May presume that there must have been refreshments on that night,
A glass of mineral water of some sort to help the narrator on.
But, seriously, the truth of the matter is, that my first thought
Was of a short story, concerned only with the pilgrim ship episode;
Nothing more. And that was a legitimate conception. After writing
A few pages, however, I became for some reason discontented and
I laid them aside for a time. I didn’t take them out of the drawer till
The late Mr. William Blackwood suggested I should give something
Again to his magazine.
It was only then that I perceived that the pilgrim ship episode
Was a good starting-point for a free and wandering tale; that it was
An event, too, which could conceivably colour the whole ‘sentiment
Of existence’ in a simple and sensitive character. But all these pre-

/> Liminary moods and stirrings of spirit were rather obscure at the
Time, and they do not appear clearer to me now after the lapse of so
Many years.
The few pages I had laid aside were not without their weight in
The choice of subject. But the whole was re-written deliberately.
When I sat down to it I knew it would be a long book, though I
Didn’t foresee that it would spread itsetlf over thirteen numbers of
‘Maga’.
I have been asked at times whether this was not the book of mine
I liked best. I am a great foe to favouritism in public life, in private
Life, and even in the delicate relationsbip of an author to his works.
As a matter of principle I will have no favourites; but I don’t go so
Far as to feel grieved and annoyed by the preference some people
Give to my Lord Jim. I won’t even say that I ‘fail to understand. . .’
No! But once I had occasion to be puzzled and surprised.
A friend of mine returning from Italy had talked with a lady there
Who did not like the book. I regretted that, of course, but what
Surprised me was the ground of her dlslike. ‘You know,’ she said,
‘it is all so morbid.’
The pronouncement gave me food for an hour’s anxious thought.
Finally I arrived at the conclusion that, making due allowances for



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Joseph conrad: lord jim