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Almayer's Folly

By: Joseph Conrad

Almayer's Folly is Joseph Conrad's first novel, published in 1895 by T. Fisher Unwin. Set in the late 19th century, it centres on the life of the Dutch trader Kaspar Almayer in the Borneo jungle and his relationship to his mixed heritage daughter Nina.

Almayer's Folly is about a poor businessman who dreams of finding a hidden gold mine and becoming very wealthy. He is a white European, married to a native Malayan; they have one daughter named Nina. They live in the village of 'Sambir', actually Tanjung Redeb in the Berau Regency of the East Kalimantan province, Indonesia. He fails to find the goldmine, and comes home saddened. Previously, he had heard that the British were planning to conquer the Pantai River (Berau River in reality), and he had built a large, lavish house near where he resided at the time, in order to welcome the British, with whom he hopes he could trade. However, the conquest never took place, and the house remained unfinished. Some passing Dutch seamen had called the house "Almayer's Folly". Now, Almayer continually goes out for long trips, but eventually he stops doing so and stays home with his hopeless daydreams of riches and splendor. His native wife loathes him for this.

One day, a Malayan prince from Bali, Dain Maroola, comes to see Almayer about trading, and while there he falls in love with Nina. Mrs. Almayer keeps arranging meetings between Nina and Dain. She wants them to marry so her daughter could stay native, because she is highly distrustful of white men and their ways. Dain leaves but vows to return to help Almayer find the gold mine. When he does return, he goes straight to Lakamba, a Malayan Rajah, and tells him that he found the gold mine and that some Dutchmen had captured his ship. The Rajah tells him to kill Almayer before the Dutch arrive because he is not needed to find the gold now. The following morning, an unidentifiable native corpse is found floating in the river, wearing an ankle bracelet very similar to Dain's. Almayer is distraught because Dain is his only chance to find the mine. The corpse is actually that of his slave, who had died when his canoe overturned. Mrs. Almayer suggests that Dain put his anklet and ring on the body.


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Joseph Conrad

Poland, England

Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Though he did not speak English flu...

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