Joseph Conrad: Almayer’s Folly

Almayer marries the adopted Malay child of his patron Captain Lingard and runs his trading post in Sambir, Borneo. Almayer builds a large trading house (his “folly”) in anticipation of wealth. His marriage loveless, Almayer’s affections are invested in his beautiful daughter Nina, who, returning from her European education, elopes with Dain, a Malay prince Almayer had hoped would help him find Lingard’s treasure. Deprived of his daughter and his dreams of wealth, Almayer languishes, despairs and dies.

For any middle-aged European man who lives in Asia, has a daughter and struggles for success, Conrad’s first novel is terrifying.


Key Quotations

  • Dain Maroola, dazzled by the unexpected vision, forgot the confused Almayer, forgot his brig, his escort staring in open-mouthed admiration, the object of his visit and all things else, in his overpowering desire to prolong the contemplation of so much loveliness met so suddenly in such an unlikely place – as he thought. (p. 55)
  • “Between you and my mother there never was any love. When I returned to Sambir I found the place which I thought would be a peaceful refuge for my heart, filled with weariness and hatred – and mutual contempt. I have listened to your voice and to her voice. Then I saw that you could not understand me; for was I not part of that woman?”
  • He took possession of the new ruin, and in the undying folly of his heart set himself to wait in anxiety and pain for that forgetfulness which was so slow to come.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)