Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad Review

“Haunted by the memory of a moment of lost nerve during a disastrous voyage, Jim submits to condemnation by a Court of Inquiry. In the wake of his disgrace he travels to the exotic region of Patusan, and as the agent at this remote trading post comes to be revered as ‘Tuan Jim.’ Here he finds a measure of serenity and respect within himself. However, when a gang of thieves arrives on the island, the memory of his earlier disgrace comes again to the fore, and his relationship with the people of the island is jeopardized.”

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of the hardest books I have ever read. That’s not to say that it is bad, just on a different level for my reading ability. But, like the books I have read recently, I learned to like the book once I understood it. Lord Jim, while a bit difficult, was one that I did understand and really liked once I dug deeper into the book.

I was surprised to see Marlow as the narrator once again, and, similar to Heart of Darkness, he jumps all over the place. But I much preferred this version of him. A calmer and wiser person who often aided Jim. He was better as a bystander giving his own version of Jim’s story. Now, Jim is a well written character, yet he never really grows as a character. After reading the novel multiple times, I liked Jim less and less. He has good intentions, but often fails to act upon them. He is a romantic and that character trait, plays a big role in the novel. He lives in his own little world, angered when he sees his own imperfections. ” A chance missed!”, he once says. And in the context of the situation, it shows his own selfish motivations. The other supporting characters play their own part and are there to help further the story or provide Jim some needed advice or in the case of the Patusan villagers, rehabilitate him.

The plot is fairly straightforward, albeit a bit confusing as Marlow jumps from time to time, often for dramatic effect. While the plot is a bit simple, the novel really is a character study focusing on Jim and his adventures as he attempts to recover from a horrid mistake for someone of his position.

Lord Jim is a fantastic novel that gets better and better as you dig deeper into the book. While the plot is a bit simple, it is much more of a character study showing what happens when you go against your own code of conduct and the aftermath.

Rating: Must Buy

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In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka Review

The story is set in an unnamed penal colony. It describes the last use of an elaborate torture and execution device that carves the sentence of the condemned prisoner on his skin in a script before letting him die, all in the course of twelve hours. As the plot unfolds, the reader learns more and more about the machine, including its origin, and original justification.”

In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka is one of the weirdest stories I have ever read. The plot and setting are fairly odd. But once you dig deeper into the book and really get in depth, it becomes much more clearer and Kafka’s short story really becomes something else.

   I have been reading a bunch of classic novels lately, and I decided to read this short story after a friend recommended it to me. It is a short story at a small 40 pages (at least in my edition). Normally classic novels, or classic literature in general, are a bit obscure and this is no exception. Upon first read, the characters are fairly straightforward. There are only 4 characters in this novel, at least ones that have dialogue: the explorer, the officer, the soldier, and the condemned man. The weird, devoted officer and the skeptic explorer make up most of the short story. And for the most past, all of the characters stay the same. It’s hard to talk about the short story into detail without going into spoilers, but all I can say to make the reading a bit easier is determine what the explorer and officer represent. They are clearly on two different sides of the argument. Once you figure it out, the machine and the symbolism become much clearer. Kafka is a more straightforward writer than Melville and for the most part, you will get what is happening (although, not so much what it means). But he is a clever writer and once you understand the novel, the writing comes to life. He can give so much within one sentence, often causing you to think about it.

In the Penal Colony is an odd short story. Yet once the meaning is unveiled, it becomes so much more than a weird short story and Kafka’s writing becomes more important and comes to life. If you are an English major, definitely read it.

Rating: Must Buy 

 

October TBR

Better late than never. Things should pick up reading-wise and for the blog as my personal life evens out.  I have been into more classical books so a good chunk will be older books.

1. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

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2. In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka

3. Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

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4. King Dork by Frank Portman

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September Wrap-Up

After a busy month, things should return back to normal. I was able to read 4 books, but most of them were fairly short. October should be a much more active month for me. Also, I reached 1,000 total views! So that’s pretty cool.

Total Books Read: 4

Highlights:

  1. The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

Summary:

     “It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.
So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.
He is right.
Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war.
The Massacre of Mankind has begun”

My Thoughts:

“So this is a perspective from a newcomer to the series. I thought it was a fairly solid sci-fi book with a great world and solid characters. The plot took some time to get going and I found the writing style a bit weird, but I really liked it.”

2. Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Summary:

Stung by the critical reception and lack of commercial success of his previous two works, Moby-Dick and Pierre, Herman Melville became obsessed with the difficulties of communicating his vision to readers. His sense of isolation lies at the heart of these later works. “Billy Budd, Sailor,” a classic confrontation between good and evil, is the story of an innocent young man unable to defend himself against a wrongful accusation

My Thoughts:

“At the surface, it’s a bunch of complicated words and sentences that will definitely confuse you. However, when you read it slowly and digest it, it becomes a thing of beauty. It can come of as but show off-ish, and it kinda is, but it is a great piece of writing.”

Unfortunately, I only reviewed two books. There will definitely be more coming. Here’s to a good October.