Thursday, January 3, 2008

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Source: Librivox (direct link)
Reader: Stewart Wills
Length:14 hr, 25 min

The book: At first, I came to Lord Jim expecting it to be about the adventures of a young man in the South Seas and was initially disappointed. The plot would sometimes drag and minutes would go by in circular talk between characters.

Once I decided to take the time to think about what Conrad is doing in this novel and how he's doing it, I recognized the fine craft that went into telling the story and began to enjoy the plot as well. Conrad is what I call an "English teacher's writer". Listening to the book, you could go through every entry in the Big Book of Literary Devices and check each off: foreshadowing, flashbacks, unreliable narrator, dramatic foil, symbolism, mythological references, and so on. I found myself composing little essays in my head about the symbolism in the novel and its relation to the British Empire.

I still got frustrated at times listening to a description of Jim standing on the bank of a river, but now I was able to let my mind explore not only the portrait Conrad was painting, but also to examine the detail of the brushstrokes, then step back to admire the big picture.
Rating: 8/10

The reader
: I would've never gotten to the point where Lord Jim started becoming interesting to me if Mr. Will's reading hadn't been so compelling. He does voices for each character, and does them well, enhancing rather than distracting from the text. His recording is crystal-clear. This is a audiobook I would gladly pay money for if it wasn't being offered for free.

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