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Almayer's Folly, published in 1895, is Joseph Conrad's first novel. Set in the late 19th century, it centers on the life of the Dutch trader Kaspar Almayer in the Borneo jungle and his relationship to his half-caste daughter Nina.
Kaspar Almayer is a young Dutch trader cared for by rich Captain Lingard. Hoping to gain Lingard's wealth, Almayer agrees to a loveless marriage to Lingard's adopted Malay child and to running his trading post in Sambir in the Borneo jungle. Lingard loses much of his fortune searching for a hidden treasure. Meanwhile Almayer's ventures constantly fail, most notably an expensive trading house, the "Almayer's Folly," that no one trades in.
A daughter named Nina was born to Almayer and his wife. The rest of the novel concerns Almayer's conflicting wishes: his love for Nina, his effort at keeping her from her mother's Malay influence, and his desire for money and self-redemption.
Dain, a Malay prince, arrives at Sambir. Almayer tries to enlist Dain's help to find the treasure long sought by Lingard. Instead, Dain marries Nina and leaves Sambir with her, against Almayer's wishes. The loss of Nina and any prospect of wealth stuns Almayer. He spends the rest of his days in the empty trading house as his sanity slips away.
As Conrad's earliest novel, Almayer's Folly is often seen by critics as inferior to the author's later work because of its repetitive and at times awkward language. However, recent critics have paid more attention to Conrad's depiction of Nina as a self-determined female non-European character along with Aissa from Joseph Conrad's second novel, An Outcast of the Islands.
Filming started in November 2010 for a French-Belgian adaptation by Chantal Akerman.
- Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century.
- Harry Sewlall, "Postcolonial/Postmodern Spatiality in Almayer's Folly and An Outcast of the Islands. Conradianna; Spring 2006; 38, 1. pp. 79-93
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