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In Lord Jim, where is there an example of stream-of-consciousness?

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missbc | (Level 1) Honors

Posted August 10, 2011 at 12:52 AM via web

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In Lord Jim, where is there an example of stream-of-consciousness?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 12, 2013 at 7:58 PM (Answer #1)

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Lord Jim is written with two distinct narration styles; the first four chapters are narrated by an omniscient third-person, not a character but the faceless voice that describes event. From the fifth chapter on, the narrator is Marlow, who appears in other works by the same author. Marlow is given to moments of introspection and philosophizing, and so his narration contains many stream-of-consciousness moments.

"And it's easy enough to talk of Master Jim, after a good spread, two hundred feet above the sea-level, with a box of decent cigars handy, on a blessed evening of freshness and starlight that would make the best of us forget we are only on sufferance here and got to pick our way in cross lights, watching every precious minute and every irremediable step, trusting we shall manage yet to go out decently in the end -- but not so sure of it after all -- and with dashed little help to expect from those we touch elbows with right and left."
(Conrad, Lord Jim, gutenberg.org)

Seen in the above excerpt are standard examples of this writing style; Marlow, speaking to a group of men, goes off on tangents about the meaning of life and its value. He does not stick to the straightforward story of Lord Jim's life, but instead takes the opportunity to explain some of his own personal philosophy. This is similar to Marlow's narration in Heart of Darkness, but on a much larger scale; where the earlier novella had a strict three-part format and a short narrative, here Marlow has many chapters to ramble. The result is a story that is partially hidden by the subjective views of the narrator; some of the conclusions and judgements reached by the reader are bound to be affected by Marlow's own views. However, as it stands, Lord Jim is one of the best examples of the emerging Modernist style in the early 1900s.

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