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Joseph Conrad: The Rescue

Conrad started writing this novel at the end of the nineteenth century but put it aside for other work and only returned to it after the First World War. The novel brings back Captain Lingard, whom we have already seen in Almayer’s Folly and Outcast of the Islands. Lingard is on his way to help his friend Hassim regain his kingdom, when their ship comes across a stranded yacht. Lingard immediately fights with Mr. Travers, who is used to being treated with deference but he has a much better relationship with Mrs. Travers. However, in helping the stranded yacht and their passengers, with whom he stays, as there is a threat from attacks by the natives, he is causing problems for Hassim. Skullduggery and treachery from the native population, led by Tengga, Hassim’s rival, and Lingard’s sense of honour towards the Europeans, whom, he feels, he must protect but who do not seem aware of the seriousness of their situation, put the whole of Lingard’s crew at risk.

Most of the book is concerned with the relationship between Lingard (and, to a lesser extent, his crew) and the passengers and crew of the stranded yacht, particularly the fascinating Mrs. Travers, but Lingard’s sense of honour and responsibility – towards Hassim and his sister and towards the Europeans he feels obliged to protect from their own foolishness – are the underlying themes of this interesting though not great novel.

Publishing history

First published in 1920 by J. M. Dent & Sons