Thus he expressed one important aspect of his artistic theory, for it was his constant concern to find the right word to produce the right image. This talent he ascribed to his friend Edward Garnett: 'You no doubt have the gift of the "mot juste," of those sentences that are like a flash of limelight on the facade of a cathedral or a flash of lightning on a landscape when the whole scene and all the details leap up before the eye in a moment and are irresistibly impressed on memory by their sudden vividness'.
The mot juste became for Conrad the basis for good expression, and he sought the proper word in his letters, conversation, and fiction. Ford Madox Ford recalls an incident which occurred during the composition of "Youth." In describing the ship Judea, Conrad wrote "And she crawled on, do or die, in the serene weather. The sky was a miracle of purity, a miracle of azure." He then questioned the use of the word azure instead of blue. He knew that azure was a French word used in English heraldry. He wanted it to fit his cadence. But there was more at stake than rhythm. He read the sentence over and over and talked about it for a whole day.