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ELT 36:2 1993 refusal to examine, his listeners' and his own commitment to England's part in the exploitation of Africa." Juliet McLaughlin's detailed examination of Conrad's descriptions of cities throughout his fiction leads her to the conclusion that he did not like them very much, and that for him "city life is, at best, trivial and de-humanizing." Most of the contributors to this volume would probably accept the accuracy of that conclusion. But ironically, Conrad's dislike of cities has produced not only some of his very best writing but some of the best scholarship and criticism about his writing, which is abundantly in evidence in this collection. Stephen E. Tabachnick The University of Oklahoma Lord Jim Ross C Murfin. Lord Jim: After the Truth. New York: Twayne, 1992. xii + 125 pp. Cloth $22.95 Paper $7.95 ROSS C MURFIN has striven to find in Joseph Conrad's great novel, Lord Jim, values undetermined by earlier critics. Not even John Batchelor's Lord Jim (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988) could completely capture the most basic "truth." In Lord Jim: After the Truth, Murfin clearly defines his purpose, but he succeeds only in suggesting a slight advance over his predecessor's achievement. He also reveals, though, his enjoyment in what he is able to accomplish. Murfin's book combines a familiar study of the biographical and historical background of Conrad's Lord Jim, a rapid summary of critical response to this book, and a detailed analysis of the work itself divided into groups of chapters, or "quarters," of the protagonist's life. Murfin reveals his failure to find what may be called the entire truth in Lord Jim by placing a question mark after the title of his chapter 7, "After the Quest: The Truth?" But who could possibly search out the entire truth embedded in such an erudite novel as Lord Jim? He succeeds, however, in arousing us to see more deeply into this novel than we have previously been able to do. The first quarter, entitled The Fall: Ί Had Jumped ... It Seemed' " (with capitalizations which are not Conrad's), establishes Jim's story as a modern tragedy and traces his life from the beginning to his unfortunate jump from the Patna. In writing about Jim's background, Murfin shows that this novel is not unlike ancient Greek tragedy and that the protagonist is thus a Greek hero. Also, the hero's fall from high to low 262 BOOK REVIEWS is caused by an almost pitiful refusal to seek knowledge, especially knowledge about whether or not his own nature corresponds to the local nature he has encountered in romantic adventure tales. The second "quarter" oÃ- Lord Jim, roughly speaking, called "After the Fall: the Inquiries," concerns an inquiry into the action taken by Jim and the three officers who abandon the ship. The device of an inquiry is of great significance to the novel, notably to Jim in particular, but also to fiction as a genre. Several inquiries soon occur: among them the one involving the officer of the Patna; the inquiry the narrator/character Marlow decides to conduct himself; Marlow's making a point over a period of days, weeks, and even years to interview characters who can "bear witness to Jim and what he did and what happens"; and Marlow's interpretations of Jim himself and, at the same time, his own inquiry which, one hopes, will eventually vindicate him to himself. In the third "quarter," "After the Inquiries: The Quest," Murfin explains how Jim shocks Marlow before the trial is conducted. Jim believes that circumstances have created false evidence about his true character. Soon he refuses Chester's offer to employ him "on a guano island." At this point, Murfin traces Jim's earlier feeling of pride to his present lack of a realistic assessment of his own strength and weakness. Jim here chooses to seek a new set of circumstances in which he can establish the truth of his "bright self-image" rather than accepting its falsehood. Clearly, Jim still believes in his own nobility. In his last quarter of Lord Jim, "After the Quest: The Truth?" (note that it is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 262-264
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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