Says Nina to her father Almayer at the turning point of Conrad’s first novel, which I listened to the audio of while driving from SF to LAX last week. She’s about to abandon him to a lonely existence on a bend of a Bornean river — probably northeastern Borneo, Kal-Tim, on the Mahakam River, it appears — so that she can flee with her Balinese prince. Almayer’s great hope was to make one last financial strike, perhaps find Rajah Laut’s gold mine, and then present Nina to Europe. She’d rather go to Bali.
In many ways the plot reads like a rehearsal for the second half of Lord Jim, with the addition of Almayer himself and a happy ending for the multi-ethnic couple. (Jim, I suppose, is his own Almayer as well as Prince Dain.) A young novelist in 1895, Conrad balances his dark visions of human insufficiency with the storylines of romance.
Conrad wrote a trilogy about Rajah Laut and Indonesia — Laut, a fictional white rajah along the lines of James Brooke of Sarawak, was Almayer’s patron, and he figures in the other novels as well — The Outcast of the Islands (1896) and The Rescue (1920).
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