“He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. His voice was deep, loud, and his manner displayed a kind of dogged self-assertion which had nothing aggressive in it. It seemed a necessity, and it was directed apparently as much at himself as at anybody else. He was spotlessly neat, apparelled in immaculate white from shoes to hat, and in the various Eastern ports where he got his living as ship-chandler’s water-clerk he was very popular.”
‘Lord Jim’ by Joseph Conrad
I must respectfully disagree with you about this. It’s a wonderful description but to me a weak opening paragraph, especially since the description of Lord Jim continues for paragraphs. I’m out of bounds on this with most other writers and literary folk, but I think a more forceful beginning would have been a few pages later: “It was the dusk of a winter’s day. The gale had freshened since noon, stopping the traffic on the river, and now blew with the strength of a hurricane in fitful bursts that boomed like salvoes of great guns firing over the ocean.” Now we have the imminent threat of the impersonal power of nature. Conrad could introduce the man who must confront it with the strength of his will. Will also admit: was not my favorite book.
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I like it for the character description, such a contradiction: he is like a bull, but is immaculately dressed in white! I do know what you mean though, Shari. The book does show its age. SD