Heroism and Narrative Form in Lord Jim

  • David H. Lynn


Lord Jim, begun before Heart of Darkness and finished afterwards, in 1900, more daringly evolves its narrative structure on the pattern of Marlow’s ironic sensibility. The bold temporal displacement of events, the juxtaposition of widely divergent yet thematically related characters, the portrait of Jim spied through ‘rents in a fog’, all are responses to the collapse dramatised within Lord Jim of the moral foundations of the nineteenth-century realistic novel and, indeed, of Marlow’s character. For Jim, heinously guilty and nonetheless ‘one of us’, tears Marlow from the cradle of self-satisfied complacency, and into a realm of half-light and moral uncertainty.


Moral Foundation Moral Realism Narrative Structure Secure Foundation Ideal Vision 
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  1. 1.
    Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, Canterbury Edition (New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1924) p. 224. Further page references in text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Much of the discussion of narrative form is influenced — though not without significant qualification — by Joseph Frank, The Widening Gyre ( New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1963 ).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Albert Guerard mentions the spatial form of Lord Jim within a larger discussion of the form of Nostromo in Conrad the Novelist (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958) p. 210.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Anthony Winner,Characters in the Twilight: Hardy, Zola and Chekov(Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ian Watt, Conrad in the Ninteenth Century ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979 ) p. 278.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Paul Bruss, Conrad’s Early Sea Fiction: the Novelist as Navigator ( Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    David Thorburn, Conrad’s Romanticism ( New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974 ) p. 130.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David H. Lynn 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David H. Lynn
    • 1
  1. 1.Council for Basic EducationUSA

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