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By Agnes S. K. Yeow (auth.)

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Nothing has ultimate value and explanation is impossible. ‘Facts’ themselves are dialogic and unfinalizable, elastic and relative. They can be tinged with romance and mystery. They are romantic just as men of science are capable of dreaming and capable of ‘all the exalted elements of romance’ (LJ 217). ’ (LJ 216). Recalling Stein’s words, Marlow concludes that Jim ‘was romantic, but none the less true’ (LJ 334). Marlow even comes close to admitting that Jim existed because he was romantic as Stein’s rhetorical question suggests: ‘What is it that for you and me makes him – exist’ (LJ 216)?

Resink, 1968: 308) Introduction 23 Human experience is inevitably tied to a specific world or environment and indeed, the Malay world of Conrad’s epoch was a highly complex one. Its state of flux and political disarray might perhaps explain why Conrad’s compulsion to represent the Malay world would preoccupy him for many years. As Fernando observes: ‘Taking the arena of the Malaysian Archipelago as a whole, Conrad saw societies in the process of birth and decay as a result of their forced conjunction.

The hikayat is an indispensable resource for any historian and scholar of the Malay world and Malay literature. The history of Malay royal courts is also narrated in the hikayat form. These court histories are usually palace-commissioned narratives chronicling the genealogy, legitimacy, and prestige of Malay dynasties. One example of this genre is the Sejarah Melayu mentioned earlier. Court annals are also considered historical sources that belong to classical Malay historiography. I propose that echoes of the hikayat reverberate subtly in Marlow’s ‘history’/chronicle of Jim and constitute yet another voice in the heteroglossia of Conrad’s fictional world.

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