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MonkeyNotes-Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
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LITERARY / HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Conrad had already written three novels and five stories set in the Eastern seas when he began writing Lord Jim in 1898. He originally planned it to be a short story. It is based on the tale of an actual ship called Jeddah that was filled with 1,000 Muslim pilgrims. During a storm, the ship and the pilgrims were abandoned in rough seas by its European officers, who were rescued and taken to the port of Aden. Thinking that the ship would never survive the storm, the officers reported it to be lost. Amazingly, the Jeddah was towed into Aden the next day. All the Muslim pilgrims were still on board and alive. The naval officers were fully disgraced, tried, and found guilty.


Like all Conrad's major works, Lord Jim is influenced by various literary and cultural traditions. Further, the novel is deeply personal, with roots in Conrad's past. Conrad's wide-ranging reading in English, French and Polish classical literature, his experiences at sea and in the Far East, and his reliance on real-life situations and persons all contributed to the composition of Lord Jim. Jim, the main character, is modelled after Jim Lingard, who Conrad met on board the Viden in 1887. The sailors of the Viden called him "Lord Jim." The Patusan section of the novel is based on Conrad's personal knowledge of the adventures of James Brooke, an English adventurer, who became the Raja of Sarawak.

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