Lord Jim is an intriguing tale. It is of heroism, sacrifice, and the desire to escape one’s past. Or, at least, this is Jim– the protagonist– tale; being the lone survivor of a tragic accident at sea, Jim suffers from PTSD. However, being the late Victorian era the authorities response to Jim’s miraculous survival is to place him on trial… because, you know, obviously there might have been misconduct on Jim’s part to not have died a terrible death like all the others. He emerges from the trial by the skin of his teeth only to hop around the world in an effort to outrun that fateful night; every-time he settles down someone or something from that incident rears its ugly head and Jim is forced to flee.
The story is told through the verbal narrative of Marlow, an acquaintance of Jim’s, as well as through letters. Each narrative device is striking in that the reader rarely understands Jim from Jim’s own inner discourse. So the net result invariably end with Jim’s true thoughts muddled though the lens of those he knew, as opposed to him himself. Even so, the writing is superb and a welcome departure from the tame experiences of Eliot, Hardy, and Bronte (among others). Conrad’s style is boisterous, masculine, and a very different voice from what is usually seen from literature of this era.
If you wanted a high seas adventure set in the Victorian time, then you can do much worse than Lord Jim. It may not be a perfect book but it is still a jolly good time.