Sunday, May 10, 2009

I know you know I know you know. You know?

Current book: Lord Jim
Pages read: 302-417 (end)

This book was terrible. I think it might be the worst writing so far, though not the worst plot or set of characters. But really, the switching perspectives and timelines was awful, pointless, and so badly-executed as to be maddening in the extreme.

In the end, an English pirate named Brown comes to Patusan and attacks it while Jim's away. When Jim returns, Brown claims it was a misunderstanding, and that he simply wants safe passage away from the place. But Brown double-crosses Jim, with the help of Jewel's disgruntled guardian (who feels that Jim stole Jewel from him because he didn't get paid for her...service... and therefore wants revenge). As the pirate's ships are leaving the area in the promised ceasefire, they suddenly attack and decimate the village. After their departure, the headman demands Jim's death as payment for the village's destruction, and Jim submits himself to the local justice and is shot dead, leaving Jewel weeping at his betrayal of his promise never to leave her.

Now imagine all that ridiculous and useless drama related through four, count them, four levels of narration. We learn about this ending through an unnamed narrator reading a letter from Marlow about a letter from the owner of the rice mill at which Jim was briefly employed, about a letter from Jim that reported on Jim's final situation before the tragedy at Patusan. Also, throw in Marlow's letter about listening to Brown's report about the situation, and it's pretty much impossible to tell who's speaking about whom and when. It's certainly impossible to tell why on Earth anyone would ever choose such a convoluted and ludicrous fashion in which to relate a simple adventure narrative.

Conrad is terrible. The end.

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