Who was Marlow telling?

‘Be careful with that jury rig, Marlow,’ said the captain.

Marlow’s listener is quoting Marlow quoting the nameless captain quoting Conrad speaking to us of his memories and dreams speaking to him. Other times, Marlow’s listener sits quietly, relighting a pipe, considering whether to have another glass of whiskey … just, mainly, just listening. Listening to Marlow speak of the sea, the small points on which it touches land and the large ways in which it tosses men. We sit too, masquerading to ourselves as that fine fellow that everyone else overlooked introducing. When we go back to that other tale, the tale told by Marlow’s listener, we wonder according to our natures if the listener has understood Marlow, or Marlow the experiences he related or even if Conrad meant us to understand.


…At anchor, the ship chandler.