‘The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.’
At the peak of European Imperialism, steamboat captain Charles Marlow travels deep into the African Congo on his way to relieve the elusive Mr Kurtz, an ivory trader renowned for his fearsome reputation. On his journey into the unknown Marlow takes a terrifying trip into his own subconscious, overwhelmed by his menacing, perilous and horrifying surroundings.
The landscape and the people he meets force him to reflect on human nature and society, and in turn Conrad writes revealingly about the dangers of imperialism.
‘Who could tell what forms, what visions, what faces, what forgiveness he could see in the glow of the west!’
Jim is a well-bred young romantic who takes to the seas with hopes of adventure and the aspiration to prove his mettle. When the boat he sails in threatens to sink, Jim abandons ship in fear in order to save himself, leaving the other passengers to their fate. However, the ship does not sink and guilt-ridden Jim admits to the maritime court of inquiry that he deserted the boat and is consequently stripped of his sailing papers. Blighted by his own cowardice, Jim’s subsequent self-exile to a remote Malaysian trading post gives Conrad the opportunity to explore the question of moral identity and through his hero, he embodies the values and deterioration of the declining empire of late Victorian Britain. With its rich descriptions of an unknown, exotic world and beautifully constructed prose, Lord Jim is considered one of Conrad’s greatest works.