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  • Cambridge UP's Lord Jim
  • John Peters
Joseph Conrad . Lord Jim: A Tale. J. H. Stape and Ernest W. Sullivan II, eds. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. lv + 577 pp. $120.00

As is true of the other volumes in this series, the Cambridge University Press edition of Lord Jim is the definitive scholarly edition of the novel and will benefit students and scholars of the novel for decades to come. Along with the text, this edition includes a chronology of Conrad's life, relevant maps and other illustrations, glossaries of nautical [End Page 422] terms and foreign phrases, textual notes, explanatory notes, tables of emendations and variants, a transcription of "Tuan Jim: A Sketch" (the story that served as the beginnings of the novel), a transcription of the book contract with William Blackwood, a lengthy essay on the text, and an extensive introduction that discusses the novel's sources, literary antecedents, late-Victorian geopolitics, and reception.

This edition is obviously the product of enormous time and effort, and the end product is well worth what went into producing it. In both the introduction and textual essay, the editors clearly delineate the origins of the novel, both the story itself and its journey into published form. The reader comes away with a good understanding of how Lord Jim made its way into print, as well as the problems that occurred in the process. This allows the editors to outline the process by which they were able to restore the text to a state closer to what Conrad originally intended. They have done an excellent job of removing many layers of accumulated errors and editorial intrusions. Of course, since only some of the manuscript, typescript, and proof states are extant, it is impossible to eliminate all of these errors and intrusions, but so far as it is possible the editors have recovered a text far closer to Conrad's original novel than what has previously been available.

One of the great advantages of this edition is Stape's knowledge of and experience with Conrad's methods of composition and revision, as well as the process by which his texts found their way into print. This allows him to make informed decisions in choosing among variants. Without such knowledge, another editor would too often be left to guesswork. These decisions are outlined in the textual notes, presenting lucid and convincing reasons for choices made. The explanatory notes are equally extensive and helpful, identifying sources and geographical locations and revealing other pertinent information. My only reservation is that I would have liked to have seen a more extensive discussion of the reception of the novel. The discussion of the early reviews is excellent, but I thought that the later commentary on the novel was sparse. The major commentary on the novel was generally represented, but there were other important commentaries that were not mentioned. Still this is easily the best edition of Lord Jim available. [End Page 423]

John Peters
University of North Texas


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 422-423
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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