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An Outcast of the Islands, by Joseph ConradAn Outcast of the Islands

An Outcast of the Islands is the second novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1896, inspired by Conrad's experience as mate of a steamer, the Vidar. It is part of the Lingard Trilogy. It establishes him as a writer of unique abilities.

The novel details the undoing of Peter Willems. Born in Rotterdam to an impoverished family, he is a disreputable, immoral man who, on the run from a scandal in Makassar. He travels to Malaysia where he jumps ship and begs asylum. There he finds refuge in a hidden native village. In later years, when he had worked himself up to a position of trust and importance, he betrays his benefactors over lust for the tribal chief's daughter. One stupid act brings his life and world tumbling down around him. Seldom does someone see a book as filled with unlikeable characters as this one.

The story features Conrad's recurring character Tom Lingard, who also appears in Almayer's Folly (1895) and The Rescue (1920), which is the first book in the Lingard trilogy. In Outcast of the Islands Conrad romanticizes the jungle environment and its inhabitants in a similar style to his "Heart of Darkness".

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