Lord Jim is a novel by Joseph Conrad originally published as a serial in Blackwood's Magazine from October 1899 to November 1900. An early and primary event in the story is the abandonment of a passenger ship in distress by its crew, including a young British seaman named Jim. He is publicly censured for this action and the novel follows his later attempts at coming to terms with himself and his past.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Lord Jim 85th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Recovered from an injury, Jim seeks a position on the Patna, a steamer serving the transport of 800 "pilgrims of an exacting faith" to a port on the Red Sea. He is hired as first mate. After some days of smooth sailing, the ship hits something in the night and begins taking on water. The captain thinks the ship will sink, and Jim agrees, but wants to put the passengers on the few boats before that can happen. The captain and two other crewmen think only to save themselves, freeing a boat. The helmsmen remain, as no order has been given to do otherwise. In a crucial moment, Jim jumps into the boat with the captain. A few days later, they are picked up by an outbound steamer. When they reach port, they learn that the Patna and its passengers were brought in safely by a crew from a French gun ship. The captain's actions in abandoning both ship and passengers are against the code of seamen and the crew is publicly vilified. When the other men leave town before the magistrate's court can be convened, Jim is the only crew member left to testify. All lose their certificates to sail. Brierly, a captain of perfect reputation who is on the panel of the court, commits suicide days after the trial.
Captain Charles Marlow attends the trial and meets Jim, whose behavior he condemns, but the young man intrigues him. Wracked with guilt, Jim confesses his shame to Marlow, who finds him a place to live in the home of a friend. Jim is accepted there but leaves abruptly when an engineer who had also abandoned the ship appears to work at the house. Jim then finds work as a ship chandler's clerk in ports of the East Indies, always succeeding in the job then leaving abruptly when the Patna is mentioned. In Bangkok, he gets in a fistfight. Marlow realises that Jim needs a new situation, something that will take him far away from modern ports and keep him occupied so that he can finally forget his guilt. Marlow consults his friend Stein, who sees that Jim is a romantic and considers his situation. Stein offers Jim to be his trade representative or factor in Patusan, a village on a remote island shut off from most commerce, which Jim finds to be exactly what he needs.