Conrad’s Secrets by Robert Hampson (auth.)

By Robert Hampson (auth.)

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She is first introduced in Chapter 3, where we are told that Nina ‘always had a few friendly words for a Siamese girl, a slave owned by Bulangi, whose numerous wives were said to be of a violent temper’ and habitually end their domestic squabbles in ‘a combined assault … upon the Siamese slave’ (AF, 37). How Bulangi has acquired Taminah and how she comes to be in Sambir is not explained. 38 Taminah’s job is to sell pastries through the Sambir community: ‘From early morning she was to be seen on the paths amongst the houses – by the riverside or on the jetties, the tray of pastry, it was her mission to sell, skilfully balanced on her head’ (AF, 37).

In A Personal Record, Conrad offers a vivid and detailed account of Almayer, ‘clad simply in flapping pyjamas of cretonne pattern (enormous flowers with yellow petals on a disagreeable blue ground) and a thin cotton singlet with short sleeves’ (PR, 74), but he is less forthcoming about the activities of the Vidar. S. 14 He begins by outlining various precedents for the fictional Tom Lingard’s involvement in indigenous politics in The Rescue. He mentions William Wyndham, a British sailor who settled down as a trader on the island of Sulu and became a friend of the Sultan, as having ‘engineered a very pretty row in North Celebes’ in the 1850s; Captain Robinson who ‘had a finger’ in a planned uprising at the time of the Aceh War in the 1870s; and William Lingard who ‘had a great if occult influence with the Rajah of Lombok’ in the 1870s.

Yes, that ought to do the affair’ (HoD, 75). In retrospect, Marlow observes, ‘it was borne in upon me startlingly with what extreme nicety he had estimated the time requisite for the Introduction 23 “affair”’ (HoD, 75). The ‘affair’, of course, is not just a calculation of the likely delay but rather an estimation of the time needed to ensure that the threat to his own position which the manager feels Kurtz embodies is neutralised by the climate. The book that follows is not primarily concerned with Conrad’s narrative methods.

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