Read Nostromo by Joseph Conrad Online

nostromo

A gripping tale of capitalist exploitation and rebellion, set amid the mist-shrouded mountains of a fictional South American republic, employs flashbacks and glimpses of the future to depict the lure of silver and its effects on men. Conrad's deep moral consciousness and masterful narrative technique are at their best in this, one of his greatest works....

Title : Nostromo
Author :
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ISBN : 9780486424521
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Nostromo Reviews

  • Lyn
    2019-04-03 12:51

    Nostromo, Joseph Conrad’s South American novel reminds me somehow of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, perhaps the setting of mines in South America. The underlying political ideologies are also reminiscent to some extent on Rand’s objectivism, and both author’s guileless mistrust of democracy ambles towards, but never wholly approaches, a Nietzschean ideal. In this aspect, Nostromo “the incorruptible” can be compared and contrasted with Kurtz, Conrad's archetypal villain from Heart of Darkness. Whereas Kurtz was a tragic, fallen figure, Nostromo can be seen as perhaps Conrad’s vision of an ideal (though also a tragic hero). This philosophy can be glimpsed obliquely in Rand’s flawed masterpiece and can be read serenely and politely in Conrad’s noble prose. Perhaps Rand complimented Conrad in her own romantic realism with vague but discernable allusions to Conrad’s earlier work. Nostromo is also reminiscent of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls with its glaringly simple, straightforward and blunt depiction of revolution and of the ugliness that follows along with it; yet Conrad describes the revolution indirectly, almost as an off stage action in a play, and looks back on the time abstractly, and with not some little sympathy. Finally, Nostromo is also representative of Conrad’s brilliant use of time and transition, piecing the tale together almost surreptitiously, eluding the reader with casual dismissals of a chronological timeline and varying scope and perspective.One of his best.

  • Steve
    2019-04-07 18:17

    Nostromo is considered by many to be Conrad’s greatest novel. The ambiguous nature of good and evil, the importance of duty, common themes in all of Conrad’s novels, get an epic treatment in Nostromo (my Modern Library edition is 630 pages long). But for all of its length, the novel, after the first dense, foundation building 50 pages or so, reads quickly. Published in 1904, the book has the feel of a modern novel. It’s a book about revolutions, money, and character, told through different voices, different eyes.The main character is of course Nostromo, though the reader may at first be a bit puzzled by this, since for well over half the book Nostromo, a sailor and dock foreman, exists on the periphery of the story, but always as the “indispensible man.” If anything, the main character is, initially, the San Tome silver mine, a storehouse of wealth in the imaginary South American country of “Costaguana.” Charles Gould is the owner of the mine. He has inherited it from his father, but the mine is both a political football and silver goose due to the country’s never ending revolutions. (So much so that Gould’s uncle was executed by the previous junta.) Gould has no intention of ever letting that happen again, so he takes a different approach, inviting outside investors (American, and others) to get the mine running again, with a backup plan that involves a lot of dynamite. With a new, liberal government in place, it looks like everyone is making money.Not so, as one resentful general feels he isn’t getting his fair share. Yet another revolution occurs, and the province of Sulaco (the richest in the country) falls under siege. Fortunately Sulaco is protected by its geography, and what follows is a race against time, with several factions vying for control of the country – and the silver. The cast of characters Conrad uses to tell his story seems vast, but the individual treatment is never shallow. Oh, some (most?) of the characters are shallow, depressingly so. Generals, sailors, crazy priests, revolutionaries, nihilists, bandits, women of various natures, are all revealed in their damaged glory. Gould himself, not really good or evil, is a mechanical man, a total materialist, who, oddly, is married to a secular saint of sorts, Emilia. There were times I wondered about this odd match, but in the end I figured Charles represented the ultimate project for Emilia. The result is a sterile standoff.And then there’s Nostromo, a confident guy who on surface would seem the perfect Conradian hero. He gets the job done, whatever it is, always. However, the problem in Nostromo’s case is that it is always linked to how he feels he is viewed by others – especially his employers. His reputation is paramount. When the social order collapses, he feels “betrayed” by it (or “them”). But much of this is self-serving. When, through an accident, fate pushes the silver into his lap, he makes the wrong choice, and that choice eats at him throughout the rest of the novel, compounding itself into multiple bad choices, with the final, fatal choice linked to love. Some have complained about the late love story in the novel. For me it fittingly closed the circle, and is as heartbreaking an ending as I’ve read in literature. It’s a sad story told by a master.

  • StevenGodin
    2019-03-31 17:18

    Between 1902 and the year of its publication (1904), Joseph Conrad was caught in an abyss of depression, financial collapse and severe gout, but somehow still managed to write what is a deep and adventurous novel, albeit a dark one. Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard, was originally planned as a short-story but was to become his longest work, with the composition it would lead him to say "I see nothing, I read nothing. It is like a kind of tomb which is also hell where one must write, write, write.". Nostromo was received poorly back in the day, a product not so much of its characters or their complexities, but of the plotting. It's no doubt a well oiled machine, but is overwhelmed by too many pieces. I can say it took well over a hundred pages too finally grasp hold of it's difficult narrative, but even after the final sentences, was still left pondering, just how on earth do I rate this?Set in the fictional Latin American country of Costaguana, and a silver mine, the novel has so much going on, but simple put is based around one thing, a crisis. A crisis by which the province passes from the chaos of post-colonial misrule to the unquiet prosperity of Anglo-American imperial capitalism. Two key men are important to the story, Nostromo himself, the trusted boss of European laborers, and Martin Decoud, a shady journalist working for an even more shady government, who's aim is to smuggle a last shipment of silver out of the Occidental Province and thus ensure continued American financial backing. Of course this failed, leading to almost total chaos. The country simmers in the sweltering heat, with labor troubles, Catholic priests going to war with American Protestant evangelists, factions clamoring for the invasion of Costaguana and the majority of characters either killed off, or left physically and mentally damaged.Decoud and Nostromo, like the book itself, are engaged through the first half of their stories in discovering the flaws and corruption of their society, and there is certainly a lot of that!.I could never take sides, didn't trust anyone, and didn't really like anyone either.Most of what goes on is, to put it bluntly, ruthless. Politically, this is a serious work, and just goes to show what can happen when the people you think are in charge, are just as much the scoundrels as the scoundrels themselves. And yet the novel somehow presents that actions are taken admirably, and with morel. I can understand the determination of each and every character, even though I couldn't really care less of the consequences. Through backstory, historical facts on the region, flashbacks and anachrony, Conrad's stylistic innovation gives the reader plenty, and I mean plenty, to chew on.His lavish storytelling on civilization and social conventions is so well done, it has me thinking of him wondering around south America with map and compass looking for some inspiration.And that's why in the end Nostromo was worthy of four stars. As somewhere in there is an adventure story, just without any real hero's. It's no Moby Dick, or Robinson Crusoe, but does walk the same path, just in a darker and more complex way.Nostromo on the whole may be a difficult, unconventional novel, and in anyone else's hands, just wouldn't have worked. If F. Scott Fitzgerald really did say “I’d rather have written Conrad’s Nostromo than any other novel”, I am just so glad he didn't.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-04-03 14:08

    no...there is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests. They have their law, and their justice. But it is founded on expediency, and it is inhuman; it is without rectitude, without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle (p423)On the reread I feel that this unrelentingly bleak novel is the novel of the twentieth century, at least for a fair proportion of the population of the world, this could be the country of Heart of Darkness once it had achieved 'independence' or it could beOne Hundred years of solitude but told with earnestness and without optimism. As a student in class, we were given a cartoon strip version of animal farm, this differed in one way from the original - at the end instead of simply observing how the pigs and the men became indistinguishable - the animals rise up in revolt through the whole bunch out and restart the cycle with a different species promoted to the leadership of the free world..The most striking feature of the text is that Conrad gets bored with a conventional linear narrative and chops it up in different ways. Events in the few few pages are revisited from a different perspective, towards the middle of the book and towards the end Conrad tells the political ending through flashback, the reader must infer some detail and make allowance for the peculiarities of the specific narrative voices in each case. An effect of this is to suggest that the detail is irrelevant, the big story about the country of Bird shit coast, so I loosely render Costaguana into English, is about international interests, structures and habits of power, ultimately avarice wins and while avarice is unlikely to take your confession with a cigarette drooping out of the corner of its mouth before you are dragged out and shot, it is violent and destructive enough in its own way, trumping here with ease the nineteenth century ideal of nationalism and patriotism with the simple logic that if you have enough money or more accurately access to international credit you can buy the most modern guns and make your own country -all you need do then is invent a new flag. There is a vision of the silver rich mine: She saw the San Tome mountain hanging over the campo, over the whole land, feared, hated, wealthy; more soulless than any tyrant, more pitiless and autocratic than the worst government; ready to crush innumerable lives in the expansion of its greatness (p.431). The archbishop advises his flock to think on eternal suffering, which in the context of the history of the Bird shit coast seems unnecessary advice - but he himself is infected with the same avarice in the form of desire for the restitution of the landed wealth of the church. One might wonder about politic,s but from early on we are shown that the political ideals that had half starved, near naked men fight and win armed with knives tied to sticks in the service of Garibaldi for a united Italy are out manoeuvred by Cavour, the only relief is that money can wash away the incipient proto-fascism of the admirers of Napoleon III too. Love also seems coloured by wealth, Nostromo's relationship with his designated wife demonstrated by gifting her the silver buttons off his jacket as something of sufficient value to her. Dr Monygham loves Mrs Gould, but his love is a kind of injury, felt as pain and a feeling he can only appreciate because of the experiences that have left him with PTSD. The shadow of de Tocqueville's opinion that all new regimes are built out of the bricks of the preceding one hangs over the narrative, escape from patterns and socialisation into violence, coercion and extortion is not to be found here. one of the few positive seeming characters is a bandit leader (and later minister of war), perhaps Hobsbawn's idea of social banditry was drawn more from this and memories of Robin Hood than from more conventional historical research.One thread in the fabric of the twentieth century has been to hold men like Charles Gould up as heroes, but for Conrad, he is an adventurer - a member of a foreign legion, essentially alien and uncaringly destructive for all his claim of having been born 'here' implies some kind of kinship with the other citizens.In short this novel is like a great bird that loosened its bowls across ideals of the nineteenth century, the vigorous splatter of which reveals the pattern of the twentieth century perhaps for all of us, since the banks must make their five percent, and to borrow their money you must meet their conditions what ever your own values.I wonder having finished what Conrad might have made of the prospects of independent Poland, on the strength of this novel, I suspect he'd have felt no excess of optimism.(view spoiler)[ reading notes:equally the debt replacements / credit-worthyness of the state, silver from the mine goes to USA banker who lent the money necessary to restart the mine.Setting: bird shit coast - the country of Heart of darkness having achieved independence.From the beginning Cavour and Garibaldi. Repression and violence. Power over gangs - backed up by violence as means to obtain more power - minister of war. failure of ideals? Weakness of ideals in the face of power politics. Technocracy - steam ships named after gods - a bit above it all.Conrad chops up the narrative and by opening the way he does effectively allows us to see the folly of the settlers for what it is - cyclical narrative events in the opening pages repeated from another perspective pp160/200, the fleeing Ribera contrasted with the opening ceremony for the railway.The mine itself is violence - a tear in the landscape - dynamite- 'if I can't have it no body can the continuous political changes, the constant 'saving of the country', which to his wife seemed a puerile and bloodthirsty game of murder and rapine played with terrible earnestness by depraved children (p73), yet this is a game we are all obliged to playbut you weren't born here Mr Gould to Mrs GouldKleptocracy.silver tarnishes.childlessness/infertilityviolence/coercion as way of life/ men press ganged into army ( to fight for the mine? From which they receive no benefit)railway - to carry silver to the docks more efficiently (hide spoiler)]

  • Michael
    2019-04-20 19:04

    This is a character study of Europeans remaking themselves in the New World, in this case the fictional South American country of Costaguana. As in other books by this master that I’ve enjoyed over the decades (Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Secret Sharer), I enjoyed the collision of the characters’ sense of noble purpose and the reality of corruption and self-interest that forever infests human enterprise. On the plus side, we delve into the minds and struggles of a larger cast of characters than in Conrad’s more famous works. The flip side of that is a diffusion of focus and a long traverse getting to know them before significant events occur that converge their pathways and challenge them to change their ways or fall by the wayside. In other words, the tale can try your patience a bit waiting for people to get unstuck in their ways.The modernist elements in the writing that impressed me for a book published in 1904 include hopping among the perspectives of several key characters, with some interludes with an omniscient narrator and some playing with linearity in the timeframe. Two important characters we mainly come to know as reflected indirectly from the mindset of other characters, mine owner Charles Gould and his captain of the company’s security forces, Nostromo, whom we are told was a former guerrilla fighter with Garibaldi’s revolt in Italy and a merchant marine foreman after that. Gould is the inheritor of a silver mining concession from his wealthy British ancestors, who were more into the shipping business of their steamship fleet than the big challenges of mining. While the Spanish for three centuries made treasures from the mine through brutal employment of slave labor and coerced labor, Gould applies his engineering training to make a more efficient and humane operation. Thus, the people mostly love him, and the provincial government and local businesses appreciate the boon to the economy. For a long time, income from the concession keeps the line of dictators at the distant capitol relatively happy through payment on the development investment they forced on him and ongoing bribes. However, the prospect of a successful revolutionary coup brings such stability to an end. With the fear of rebel insurgents taking the town, the peasants react by rioting and assaults on the homes and businesses of the upper classes. The hopes for the town and company in Nostromo’s competence in their defense is founded on a past success by him in heroically warding off a mob attack on one of the company’s boats trying evacuate company employees. Conrad gives us a window on these two characters from the residents of the town Sulaco, including the viewpoints of Gould’s charming wife Emilia, who is tough in her own way but sincere in her charity; the cynical English doctor Monygham, whose torture by an earlier dictator leaves him wishing for a republic; the mine manager Joseph Mitchell, a fussy but efficient Brit promoted from a long tour as steamship captain; the progressive journalist Martin Decoud, who acquired European culture from his education in France; the virtuous local aristocrat Don Jose Avellanos and his wife Antonia; and Giorgio Viola, a merchant who also fought with Garibaldi and father of two daughters who come to captivate Nostromo. We come to wonder how noble Gould and Nostromo really are. The disparity between the luxury Gould lives in and the impoverished status of the town’s majority is obvious. In the case of Nostomo, some of his comments suggest a chafing in his soul from resentment of being exploited without suitable reward. Is the whole enterprise of extracting riches from this land doomed to the forces of corruption and excesses inherent with all colonial endeavors? All in Conrad’s cast of characters are forced to decide whether they should support capitulation to the new warlords or instead gamble on desperate resistance and a chance of making an independent republic out of their province. Regardless of who ends up in power, there is the thorny problem of keeping the large quantity of silver ingots not yet shipped out to buyers from being snatched by individuals from either side with their own greed in mind. Conrad sold this story in serial form for a magazine. To satisfy such readers, he pulls off some great surprises for the ending. Along the way, his well-developed characters each undergo significant development to make the necessary choices to adapt and survive the treacherous events of the tale. Some rise to the occasion to make a moral stance, some get their just deserts, some get undeserved rewards, and some tragically pay with their lives. I admire the book, but overall my personal pleasure meter didn’t often reach high on the dial due to so many diversions among the characters. I was most moved when the prose suddenly lept off the page with some eloquent description of geography or insight into reality by his characters. Here is a small sample of his marvelous crafting of the English language despite growing up in Poland:Don Jose Avellanos depended very much upon the devotion of his beloved Antonia. He accepted it in the benighted way of men, who, though made in God's image, are like stone idols without sense before the smoke of certain burnt offerings.”Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions. Only in the conduct of our action can we find the sense of mastery over the Fates.”There is never any God in a country where men will not help themselves.

  • Perry
    2019-04-18 12:51

    "He was ruined in every way, but a man possessed of passion is not a bankrupt in life." J. Conrad, NostromoA splendid story of romanticism, adventure and vice. Conrad employs an intricate narrative structure, intertwining four character studies and differing points of view around Sulaco, an imagined South American country, a ticking bomb with a violent past. He perfectly contrasts these against the fabulous scenery of mist-hidden mountains and a silver mine. The novel begins in the midst of things with frequent flashbacks and some glimpses forward, as information is gradually revealed. It’s filled the with spirited characters, including, of course, the magnificent Nostromo, who is a natural born leader, valiant, virtuous and very handsome, ready and able for center stage in the revolution about to destroy Sulaco. A master of suspense and designer extraordinaire of complex plots, Conrad thereby transforms an otherwise typical tale of romantic adventure into a quite serious study of human nature in adversity, with themes of capitalism and imperialism and revolution.

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-04-04 17:13

    Nostromo is a very fine book and a great pleasure to read. The first reason is that if you are interested in hearing the opinions of their favourite authors and in Nostromo certainly has a lot of things to say about very many topics. Second, many people are fascinated by Conrad's analysis of United States as an Imperial Power in Latin America.Unfortunatley, because of Nostromo's good qualities it often makes it way onto to undergraduate course lists where it does not belong. In order to air his views on many of the great politic issues, Conrad invents a fictious country called Costaguana that bears no resemblance to any single Latin American country that ever existed. Conrad wants to express his thoughts on Garibaldi and his followers. For this reason he gives us an expatriate Italian patriarch who fought with Garibaldi. The problem with this is that at the time the largest Italian expatriated community in Latin was in Buenos Aires. There were essentially none in Panama although in other respects Costaguana is made to look like Panama. Costaguana like Panama was extremely isolated from the capital and bitterly resented that the politicians in the capital were stonewalling the project of their region. Panama at the time simply did not have the level of culture that Costaguana does.What Conrad does very well in Nostromo is to make Europeans and North Americans reflect upon themselves as Imperial powers and upon the Imperial process. However, his setting is an artificial construct with no more reality than one of the planets that Luke Skywalker visited.Nostromo is a good book but not terribly appropriate for undergraduate readers who could easily get mislead into thinking that Conrad was talking about a specific time, place and event.

  • Dale
    2019-04-18 13:49

    Nostromo was a difficult read for me. I started this book many years ago and gave up after the first 50 pages. This time I plowed through, and I'm glad I did. There's a lot of depth to this novel, but you don't see it until about halfway in.The story takes place in a fictional South American country called Costaguana at the turn of the 20th century. An Englishman named Charles Gould has inherited a ruined mining concession, and undertakes to restore it, mostly as a means of sticking a thumb in the eye of the corrupt Costaguana government that caused the ruin of the mine, and the ruin of Gould's father. The title character, Nostromo, is an Italian sailor named Gian' Battista Fidanza, who works as the cargo manager at the port of Sulaco, the city where the action takes place. He is a man of nearly superhuman ability and moral courage, seen as indispensable by the European owners and managers in Sulaco. Despite his great value, his financial rewards are few.The Gould mining concession is an irresistible prize for the Costaguana government. A few generals stage a military coup, claiming to be democrats and men of the people, with the aim of seizing the mine's wealth. Charles Gould will have none of it, and would rather destroy the mine than have it fall into the hands of the brigands who are coming to seize it.So at one level the novel addresses issues of colonialism, and in a way that I'm not too happy about. The locals are characterized as thieves, lazy, indigent, greasy, unkempt, venal, crude, and so on, while the Europeans are, for the most part, depicted as idealistic, selfless, beleaguered, and enlightened. But, as always with Conrad, the picture is not quite so cut and dried. Nostromo, and his would-be adopted father Giorgio Viola, an ex captain in the army of Garibaldi, a dedicated republican (in the old sense meaning in favor of liberty), see the Europeans as the exploiters that they are - of course, they themselves are European, but have a moral and philosophical bias towards the downtrodden. And the Europeans themselves are shown to be obsessed by their need to extract the maximum wealth from the country, while treating the local people as mere means towards that end.The real interest of the novel is in its psychological portraits of the principal characters. Conrad is comfortable with complexity of character, and his characters are never paper cutouts - each one of the major characters in this novel have conflicting desires, and the novel is in some ways a working out of those internal conflicts. Actually there is one exception to this: Captain Mitchell, the local agent for the main shipping company in Sulaco, is a completely self unaware person, who fancies himself a person of deep perception and great courage, but possessing neither. He serves as a kind of quasi-comic foil to the real players: Nostromo, Charles Gould and his wife Emily, Martin Decoud, Giorgio Viola and his wife and daughters, and Dr. Monygham.This is a novel very well worth reading. Conrad stands out amongst authors of his era for the way that he embraces psychological and social ambiguity. He was a modern writer in that sense, and a realist.

  • Matt
    2019-04-13 13:06

    Conrad is cynical, in the best sense of that word. Lord Jim was one of my favorite books, and Nostromo is probably even better. Although it is difficult to become acquainted with the characters at first, the reader cannot help but understand them in a profound way by the end. Conrad's worldview is disturbing but also compelling, as he uses character, symbolism, and allegory to tell a realistic story with an abundance of lessons.

  • Alex
    2019-04-17 17:54

    Wait a minute, is this what Joseph Conrad is? I thought maybe I'd read The Secret Agent at the wrong time, because I felt like I should like it but I sortof didn't. I tell people I liked Heart of Darkness, but there's this vague air of uneasiness that I can't quite put my finger on: I've read it three times but I don't really remember it. And here I am at Nostromo, which is about a revolution! And secret treasure! This is exciting! And here's the thing: it fucking isn't. Here's Joseph Conrad's deep, dark truth: he's boring.It sneaks up on you because he writes about exciting things. A voyage into the heart of darkness to meet the mighty Colonel Kurtz. A secret agent. A man who goes around with explosives strapped to him and a deadman switch at all times. Revolutions. The plot summaries sound exciting. But you get to it and there are no scenes! It's just descriptions. It's a lot of talk. It's boring. If it were more exciting, here's what it would be about: This guy Nostromo is a mythically brave Capataz de Cargadores, which is another thing that sounds more exciting than it is, it just means he's in charge of the guys who unload ships. He's entrusted with smuggling some of this rich white guy's treasure - a lighter full of silver - out of town when a revolution hits. It's a dangerous job. Things go awry. This is a lighter. It's just a boat.The treasure is your classic briefcase from Pulp Fiction. It's a test, right? It's temptation. Every man in the book is tested against the treasure. (Conrad's not interested in women.)Dr. Monagham, who was tortured in his past by a different dictator, (view spoiler)[redeems himself in his own eyes by protecting it. (hide spoiler)]Martin Decoud, an intellectual, (view spoiler)[is totally unable to handle the test and commits suicide. (hide spoiler)]And Nostromo himself, for whom reputation means everything, and to whom complete trust has been given: (view spoiler)[He steals it. (hide spoiler)]Again, this all sounds great. It sounds like a big walloping adventure tale. But in practice it's just a shitload of talking and not very much doing. Also there's a bit at the end with a lighthouse that feels like a totally disconnected short story that Conrad just scotch-taped on.Look, when there are scenes - like the riveting night-time flight of the lighter - they're incredibly good. Dark, too. I mean literally, Conrad might be the greatest writer ever of scenes that take place in darkness. You end up feeling like if Conrad could get his head out of his own ass, he'd be a good writer. But he can't do it. He can't just tell you the story; he has to go explaining it to you. So I'm going to stop denying it: it's not me, it's him. Joseph Conrad is a writer of boring books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Roger Brunyate
    2019-04-18 14:48

    A Wonderful Book to Have ReadThe tense of my title is deliberate. Virginia Woolf described Nostromo as "a difficult book to read through." A Conrad biographer called it "a novel that one cannot read unless one has read it before." I take both these verdicts from the excellent introduction to the Barnes and Noble edition by Brent Hayes Edwards, and they come as some relief. I generally find that introductory essays give away too many plot points, and this is no exception. But having read a little over half the novel without it, I was desperate for some help.It was not just me. Conrad really does jump all over the place in time, telling the story first from one angle then another. His characters really do play on a half-lighted stage where nobody is quite as they seem, apparent power may vanish in smoke, and some of the most significant events occur in the wings. Early though this is (1904), it marks a distinct break from the late Victorian novel, coming closer to Woolf or even to Faulkner. Its exotic setting, political theme, and moral concerns look forward to Hemingway and Greene, though without their directness of narrative. Conrad's layered chronology, and not just his Latin American locale, more than once had me thinking forward to Gabriel García Márquez. While I might have fallen into the rhythm of the narrative eventually, Edwards' essay helped me put the novel into a modernist context, so I could take the rapid shifts in viewpoint in my stride and not be fazed when Conrad does something extraordinary like jumping a decade into the speculative future.Conrad's own landfalls in South America as a Polish seaman aboard a British ship were brief, and apparently left little impression; he had to call upon others for help with the setting. All the same, it is amazingly well realized, with detail and atmosphere that convince me, even with my rather longer visits to those parts. His invented country of Costaguana might be anywhere between Costa Rica and Guyana, as the introduction remarks. The specific locale is the port of Sulaco, the San Tomé silver mine in the mountains above, and the surrounding region, isolated from the rest and known as the Occidental Province. When yet another revolution breaks out in the country, the province, protected by its mountains, attempts to secede. You might think of Panama seceding from Colombia in 1903, except that Conrad rearranges his geography to suit his story; this is not history under a pseudonym. It is an unstable country, with new regimes replacing each other more or less violently every few years.Most of the major characters, though, are of European origin and outlook: Charles Gould, the English owner of the mine, and his recent bride Emilia; Don José Avellanos, the former ambassador, of pure Spanish descent, and his lovely niece Antonia; Martin Decoud, Antonia's admirer, who is introduced as a Parisian flâneur, but becomes a political activist in his own right; Monygham, the embittered Irish doctor; and the title character, Nostromo, an Italian seaman who has earned universal respect as the man who can be trusted to get things done. The name means "bosun" in Italian, but is also a contraction of "nostr'uomo," or "our man." Though a secondary character until quite near the end, he may be the moral touchstone of the story, but even he is not entirely as people see him. Conrad is not primarily a novelist of personal relationships; his characters tend to be seen as individuals reacting to the ethical or political situation around them, often in surprising ways.Nostromo is not a denunciation of colonialism, as Heart of Darkness (1899) had been. Those battles are over; Costaguana has gained its independence. But not its stability, and most of the settlers who, like the Gould family, have been there for generations, are anything but settled. It is one of the earliest novels to explore the post-colonial age, and in some respects it goes even further than that. In the barely glimpsed but distantly present American industrialist Holroyd, who funds the mine from his stronghold in San Francisco as the first step towards establishing a North American foothold in the region (and even promoting his particular brand of Christianity), we see distinct pre-echoes of the modern era of colonization by corporations and of politics as a kind of moral evangelism. These are only a few of the topics that Edwards points out in his introduction; the reader will discover many more unaided. Nostromo is a difficult book, requiring intense concentration to read, but it provides much food for thought. And as the curse of the San Tomé silver propels the novel to its tragic but poetic conclusion, it is impossible not to recognize it as a great one.

  • Jill
    2019-04-17 15:59

    I've tried. I really have. But after one short story (The Secret Sharer) and four novels (Heart of Darkness, The Secret Agent, Lord Jim and now, Nostromo), I've come to the considered conclusion that I really don't appreciate Conrad. I admire him for his prodigious output, especially since he's a non-native English speaker who only learned to speak the language fluently when he was in his 20s (and even then, reportedly with a strong Polish accent). But with perhaps the exception of The Secret Agent, I find most of his novels tedious with long meandering passages and a profusion of detail that make me wonder - where's he going with this? what's the point of all this?In the case of Nostromo, we meet Charles Gould who is the heir of the Sao Tome silver mine in Sulaco. After his father dies a broken man, Gould moves to Sulaco with his wife Emilia, determined to make a success of the Gould Concession. The novel putters along for some 388 pages, sketching out the various characters that populate the novel - the Goulds, the crippled Dr Monygham, Giorgio Viola, his wife Teresa and their daughters Linda and Giselle, Don Jose Avellano, his daughter Antonia, her suitor Martin Decoud and of course Nostromo, the indefatigable and indomitable Capataz de Cagadores that all and sundry look to to save the day. Apart from this diverse cast of characters, we also learn about the origins of the Gould Concession, political developments in Costaguana that threaten Sulaco's peaceful prosperity. And then in the last 50 pages of the book, it all comes to a head, twists aplenty, with Nostromo at the centre of it all. Honestly, the plot developments in the last 50 pages made me question whether the preceding 388 pages (or at least 70 percent of them) were even necessary. Probably one and a half stars for this book, which I think would have fared much better as a tightly written short story.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-03-25 15:48

    An almost perfect Novel. I can't think of but a handful of writers (Dostoevsky, Kafka, Melville) who have written a better book.

  • Ivana
    2019-04-05 19:18

    A masterpiece...The funny thing is that for about a third of the novel, I had this strange feeling that there is something that was alluding me, something that I was not quite getting, like the story was for ever reason hard to follow and yet at the same time I felt immersed in the story and wanted to read more and more... The characters seemed as real and as vivid as they possibly could had and still I felt a sense of distance, a fairy tale feeling. As I made my way towards to end, I had a feeling of sudden clearness...the same that a person coming out of the dark has once his eyes get accustomed to the light, a feeling of seeing what you had hoped to see, that is usually joyous in its essence. Not that I wouldn't mind having a second look at it. A novel like this one should be read twice. I still have a feeling that I have missed something.I was and (usually am) immensely attracted to Conrad's prose, to his words, to his rhythm... However, this time there was something in his writing that had reminded me of South American writers who favor magic realism (but for the life of me I wouldn't be able to define what). It is not exactly the usual definition of it, there are no ghosts and no event that is impossible or hard to believe...but in want of a better word "magic" will have to do.Nostromo, our men...his name brings recollection of "he was one of us" (Lord Jim)...but who are "we" and who are "they"? The ones to whom we are "the other"? In some ways everything (and everyone) in this story resolves about "our men". He is the personification of the people..and yet such a cast of powerful and credible characters is created.What a novel! Such a tale of pride, sadness and madness I'm not sure that I will ever read again. It felt as tragic as ancient plays, as beautifully sad to the core as the best of them. The only difference is that this novel hasn't dated...not even a day. Sadly, the tale of exploration, of lords and servants, of desperate fight in the name of "material interest" hasn't aged a day. Sadly, one has to say, for it would be so lovely to be able to say "this sort of thing doesn't happens anymore.", while on the contrary one is forced to say "it happens every day" if not "it happens more and more often..."For me, the words "material interest" will forever haunt every memory of this novel. However, I guess that to fully understand the implications, you really have to read the novel. Or perhaps I'm just saying that to get you to read the novel...just in case my (pretty obvious) praise had failed.

  • Jim
    2019-04-14 11:59

    This is my third reading of this strange and remarkable book. As I began re-reading the first half of the story, I felt disappointed -- as if my taste as the young student who first read this book had somehow traduced me. There was no central figure in this story: It was certainly not Gian' Battista Fidanza, a.k.a. Nostromo, the handsome capataz de cargadores; nor was it Charles and Emily Gould, owners of the San Tomé silver mine; nor was it the host of other characters that Conrad parades before our eyes.No, the star was the silver of the mine. During a revolution, Nostromo is charged with sailing a lighter-full of silver -- one of the quarterly shipments from the mine -- to safety and away from the greedy hands of the Monteros and Sotillo. Although there were three people on that lighter that sails away from Sulaco toward Great Isabel Island, what remains is a mystery, a mystery as all three came to evil.If you see the book from the point of view of that inanimate object, the silver of the mine, you see how it calls the tune to which all the other characters dance. Some manage to survive its pull, such as the Goulds themselves, who see themselves as servants of great wealth, or Father, later Cardinal/Bishop Corbelán, who cares only for souls, or Dr. Monygham, who is too wounded from his own past in the ill-fated Republic of Costaguana to be anything more than a cynical presence.Nostromo is indeed a great book, but one that requires to be taken on its own merits. Approach it with no preconceptions, and stick with it for the first hundred or so pages. Things happen slowly at first, but then all hell breaks loose. And the most heroic event of all, Nostromo's famous ride to Cayta to hook up with the troops of General Barrios, is seen only in retrospect.Finally, we see into Nostromo's own mind -- and what we see is what the silver of the mine has done to him.

  • Ivana Books Are Magic
    2019-04-14 18:09

    “She was highly gifted in the art of human intercourse which consists in delicate shades of self-forgetfulness and in the suggestion of universal comprehension.” ― Joseph Conrad, NostromoI’m opening this review with a quote that to me personally seems to reveal something of this novel’s complexity. Universal comprehension, the suggestion of what lies beneath the surface, at times even mysticism…all of this can be found in this novel, for Conrad’s works are very profound and complex. It is deeply ironic that in his own time, the critics failed to see the greatness of his works and hence he was considered to be a writer of nautical (adventure) stories. While many of his works have a nautical setting, they are much more meaningful then any mere adventure story could ever be. What kind of novel is this? A true masterpiece...there is no easier way to describe this novel. It is among the best that Conrad’s prose has to offer. So, if you happen to like this author, you must give it a try. If you have read and liked any of his other words, you will probably like this one as well.The funny thing is that for about a third of the novel, I had this strange feeling that there is something that was alluding me, something that I was not quite able to understand, some subtle message I wasn't receiving, some hidden message I was not quite getting, like the story was for some reason hidden for me. It didn’t exactly felt hard to follow, but it did require concentration and yet at the same time I felt completely immersed in the story. Every moment of reading it was like being caught in some magical place and all I wanted to do was to read more and more...The characters seemed as real and as vivid as they possibly could have. I related to the characters on personal level. However, I still felt a sense of distance, this uncanny almost fairy- tale like feeling of being surrounded by characters that feel both human and above human (kind of larger than life). As I made my way towards to end, I had a feeling of sudden clearness...I will never forget it. This feeling it was the similar to a feeling that a person coming out of the dark experiences once his eyes get accustomed to the light, a feeling of finally seeing, the mere joy of seeing being mixed with the happiness of experiencing your surroundings. Moreover, it was more than just seeing, it was seeing what you had hoped to see. That feeling of having your hopes fulfilled is usually joyous in its essence. Not that I wouldn't mind having a second look at it. A novel like this one should be read twice. I still have a feeling that I have missed something. I still want to read it another time, have another go, see what I might have missed.I was and (still am) immensely attracted to Conrad's prose, to his words, to his rhythm...Nevertheless, this novel felt unique in one way. You see, this time there was something in his writing that had reminded me of South American writers who favour magic realism (but for the life of me I wouldn't be able to define what). It is not exactly the usual definition of it, there are no ghosts and no event that is impossible or hard to believe...but in want of a better word "magic" will have to do. “...all this life, must be life, since it is so much like a dream.”― Joseph Conrad, NostromoNostromo, our men...his name brings recollection of "he was one of us" (Lord Jim) ...but who are "we" and who are "they"? The ones to whom we are "the other"? In some ways everything (and everyone) in this story resolves about "our men". He is the personification of the people (perhaps in a similar way Lord Jim is). However, despite the fact that the protagonist is so impressive, the other characters do not fall in his shadow. The reason for that is naturally the fact that the characterisation of other characters is very successful. Indeed, such a cast of powerful and credible characters is hard to find in any novel that I can think of. All the characters are created with much detail and finesse. What a novel it is! Such a tale of pride, sadness and madness I'm not sure that I will ever read again. It felt as tragic as ancient plays, as beautifully sad to the core as the best of them. The only difference is that this novel hasn't dated...not even a day. Sadly, the tale of exploration, of lords and servants, of desperate fight in the name of "material interest" hasn't aged a day. Sadly, one has to say, for it would be so lovely to be able to say "this sort of thing doesn't happen anymore.", while on the contrary one is forced to say "it happens every day" if not "it happens more and more often..." “It was another of Nostromo's triumphs, the greatest, the most enviable, the most sinister of all. In that true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon, overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid silver, the genius of the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and love.” ― Joseph Conrad, NostromoFor me, the words "material interest" will forever haunt every memory of this novel. However, I guess that to fully understand the implications, you really have to read the novel. It is certainly a must read. Or perhaps I'm just saying that to get you to read the novel...just in case my (pretty obvious and not at all subtle) praise had failed. I really do love this novel.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-31 12:53

    DNF at 85 pages. This was a second attempt. I was so bored I couldn't make myself go on. I think I got to about 150 the first try. Maybe I'll push through it some day after I've read and enjoyed other books by Conrad.

  • Mike
    2019-03-25 14:52

    Nostromo begins with a legend. The story goes, among some of the people of Conrad’s republic of Costaguana, that two wandering sailors- “Americanos, perhaps, but gringos of some sort for certain”- persuade a local man to take them out across the Gulfo Placido to a desolate, inhospitable peninsula, where the locals believe there is gold. “The poor, associating by an obscure instinct of consolation the ideas of evil and wealth”, believe the peninsula to be cursed. On the second evening after the sailors’ departure, a spiral of smoke can be seen from the mainland; they’re never heard from or seen again. But “…the two gringos, spectral and alive, are believed to be dwelling to this day amongst the rocks, under the fatal spell of their success. Their souls cannot tear themselves away from their bodies mounting guard over the discovered treasure.” The first thing that drew me into this book was the language. I think Heart of Darkness is great, and I liked Lord Jim well enough, but that was all I knew of Conrad; I had never known he could write like this. Nostromo is a demanding book; I often had to read a sentence two or three times, trying to locate the precise word or phrase (sometimes a strangely-used preposition, sometimes a Spanish word, sometimes a description of something in the physical world that I couldn’t picture) that tripped me up. I couldn’t read it after having drunk more than a single beer, and I doubt you could read it with an iPhone in your pocket. It requires some work, but the book reminds you that you don’t want to shortchange yourself by glancing at a screen every other minute; you want to appreciate the language in its complexity. Heart of Darkness is compact, with seemingly nothing extraneous; the same cannot be said of Nostromo. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel structured this way. Throughout most of the first 200 pages or so we seem to be drifting somewhere in time and language; the story seems to progress more by free association than by chronological order of events. A person or place will be mentioned tangentially and obliquely towards the middle or end of a paragraph- ‘the director of companies’, for example- and then the next paragraph, as if mentioning the director has just reminded the narrator that he wants to tell us more about him, begins with a description of the director. Descriptions of characters- their sharp, vivid faces and personalities- seem to emerge from a fog of language for a paragraph or two, then disappear again. The frame through which we see things can expand or contract very suddenly: from a description of the waters and the islands off the coast of the country, we may quickly find ourselves listening to two characters speaking about something seemingly unrelated (in one case through the eyes of the characters' parrot), without feeling that any abrupt or unnatural transition has taken place. Occasionally we drop in on characters, somewhere in time, who may be referred to by their names, or just ‘the director‘ or ‘the doctor’- this has the effect of making the characters, at first, seem remote, but the remoteness somehow gives them depth and power. There are countless minor characters portrayed just as vividly. For example, the ludicrous deposed dictator Guzman Bento:Guzman Bento, usually full of fanciful fears and brooding suspicions, had sudden accesses of unreasonable self-confidence when he perceived himself elevated on a pinnacle of power and safety beyond the reach of mere mortal plotters. At such times he would impulsively command the celebration of a solemn Mass of thanksgiving which would be sung in great pomp in the cathedral of Sta Marta by the trembling, subservient Archbishop of his creation. He heard it sitting in a gilt armchair placed before the high altar, surrounded by the civil and military heads of his Government. The unofficial world of Sta Marta would crowd into the cathedral, for it was not quite safe for anybody of mark to stay away from these manifestations of presidential piety. Having thus acknowledged the only power he was at all disposed to recognize as above himself, he would scatter acts of political grace in a sardonic wantonness of clemency. There was no other way left now to enjoy his power but by seeing his crushed adversaries crawl impotently into the light of day out of the dark, noisome cells of the Collegio. Their harmlessness fed his insatiable vanity, and they could always be got hold of again. It was the rule for all the women of their families to present thanks afterwards in a special audience. The incarnation of that strange god, El Gobierno Supremo, received them standing, cocked hat on head, and exhorted them in a menacing mutter to show their gratitude by bringing up their children in fidelity to the democratic form of government, ‘which I have established for the happiness of our country.’ His front teeth having been knocked out in some accident of his former herdsman’s life, his utterance was spluttering and indistinct. He had been working for Costaguana alone in the midst of treachery and opposition. Let it cease now lest he should become weary of forgiving!Nostromo reminds me of something Camus wrote in The Rebel, I think about de Sade (although my copy of the book was lost in a flood, and I unfortunately can’t look it up), to the effect of, “no character is the author who created him. But it may be that an author is all of his characters simultaneously.” I don’t know a great deal about Conrad’s life, but I got the sense that he was Nostromo; Decoud, who dreams of creating a new republic, but who, according to Father Corbelan, “believes in neither stick nor stone; not the son of his own country, nor of any other”; Charles Gould, in thrall, like the gringos in the legend, to the silver of his mine; traumatized Dr. Monygham, thought of by the people he treats as evil; and maybe Father Corbelan as well, whose appearance “suggested something unlawful about his priesthood, the idea of a chaplain of bandits.”I often find myself, when reading books, thinking in the clichés that I’ve absorbed from blurbs and bad reviews; so I was set to write that Conrad’s view of life and politics is ‘surprisingly modern’, without really thinking about it, ‘modern’ being in most reviews and blurbs a synonym for ‘correct.’ But it seems to me, anecdotally anyway, that modern people tend to feel that the world is moving slowly but steadily towards an ideal of justice, and that technology is a driving force in that. I think that Conrad, if he were alive, would disagree; he at least did not believe that in his own time. The reader is never really given enough information to decide, for example, whether Montero would make a better president than Ribiera, or if Ribiera was even any better than Guzman Bento. In Conrad’s view, it doesn’t really matter. And yes, he’s writing very specifically here about Latin America; but there’s a part in Heart of Darkness where Marlow talks about civilization as a flicker of light. We live in the flicker, Marlow says. This idea gains its full expression in Nostromo: the people rise up against a dictator, perhaps defeat him, but eventually become corrupted themselves. Conrad believes (I think) that history is not a progression towards justice, but cyclical. It's cyclical because people are people, and don't really change. There is an aspect of the occult in this book- spirits and ghosts are mentioned, and play a role in the tragedy, depending on your understanding of those words- but if they do play a role, it is only because people remain susceptible to obsession. There are other elements in Conrad that we would probably not consider modern. Conrad believes in virtue, for example. It’s inevitably corrupted and destroyed, but it exists and it’s knowable. He also believes in physical courage. People in his books do things, instead of just thinking about things. Nostromo, the main character, is not especially reflective, not neurotic. There’s very little irony. And another quality of the prose is the sense that he is writing from a place of imperturbable calm, attention and equanimity- the Gulfo Placido, maybe, which one character imagines while sailing it at night is ‘a foretaste of death’. From what I do know of Conrad, I’m guessing that he probably did not write from a place of equanimity. But it’s a great illusion.  When I told a friend how much I was enjoying Nostromo, he told me that Nabokov said Conrad was ‘cliched.’ Whatever. Go fuck yourself, Nabokov. Go play with your butterfly collection. 

  • Nick
    2019-03-26 20:14

    Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo" gets much love, perhaps more than any of the writer's works: the Modern Library ranks it high among all novels and F. Scott Fitzgerald was a particular fan. But in all the discussion about "Nostromo", I have yet to see any commentary on how oddly constructed it is. Conrad gets many things right about nineteenth century Latin America: the struggle between economic liberals and traditionalists, the deciding importance of the Army and especially its charismatic generals, the power of American and European investments and the concession of national resources to them. (Although, oddly, the Church is a minor player in the background to the tale). But that is all, in a sense, stage business, the elaborate setting for a modern version of the Pardoner's Tale (or perhaps a proto-"Lord of the Rings") in which silver poisons everything. One can see the attraction for Fitzgerald: Nostromo, the Italian immigrant to the country of Costaguana is in some ways a proto-Gatsby. And Nostromo the person, despite side trips to the history of the local silver mine, and glancing references to the brutality of a past dictator and the strategy pursued by the generals who are dictators-in-training, is what interests Conrad here. Importantly, the main characters are mostly immigrants or their heirs, Italian refugees, a Jewish merchant, and a variety of English citizens or descendants of them. Even one of the major citizens of Costaguana is Martin DeCoud, of evident French heritage, feels more comfortable in Paris, and is, consequently, a major importer of ideas like a free press and liberty in general. In a similar vein but even more disturbing, Conrad goes out of his way on occasion to emphasize the African blood in the generals (brothers) who are set on conquering the silver-producing region and finishing off what remains of liberty in the country. Although liberty in this case is ill-defined: aside from the passion of an Italian immigrant who fought with Garibaldi, the pretensions of Decoud, and an occasional rhetorical flourish on behalf of the miners and stevedores (who, if Costaguana truly belongs to Latin America, have their own substantial portions of African and indigenous blood), freedom seems to consist of ownership and exploitation of the silver mine. And am I the only person to have noticed what a repellent name Costaguana is? Surely Conrad the seaman would have not chosen it without intent. So what we have here is a European morality play--and to be clear, Conrad has brought to it all his considerable skill as a writer--deposited in a Latin American setting about which he did considerable research. It makes me think of all the other Conradian fables, of Africa and the Pacific, and re-examine them for similarities, and certainly they are there, even in a text that I admire greatly, like "The Heart of Darkness", where the debate between Kurtz' beliefs and Marlow's skepticism take place in a theater of African blood (if I recall correctly, Conrad calls it savagery). What I advocate here is not an attempt to rewrite 19th century literature or throw it out because we have a better understanding of what was happening now; but neither do I see the utility of setting aside what we understand now when we look at the past. That debate aside, I return to the idea that this book is oddly constructed: a careful framework of Latin American themes carefully erected and the mostly ignored, while Europeans and Eurocentric locals have long discussions (once in the presence of the corpse of a man known to both debaters), plot, and become the victims of their own contriving. It could be set anywhere there is a precious natural resource and political violence, in itself an interesting setting. "Nostromo" could have been the great novel that others think it is. That, I think, would have taken a writer less narrowly focused on a narrow tragedy and with a greater sensitivity to the implications of the wider ones.

  • umberto
    2019-04-22 17:12

    I found this highly-acclaimed novel, "Nostromo," by Joseph Conrad quite tough to read, I mean how to focus on its mysterious plot, lengthy narrative, unfamiliar Spanish/French words or sentences, etc. I had no choice but kept reading based on my heart's content, that is, I'd read whenever I was in the mood and regarded it as a kind of my sleeping medicine. I kept consoling myself that I loved him since I had read his "Heart of Darkness" and "Lord Jim", therefore, this was simply another reading mission to keep on the track and see to what extent I could enjoy reading him once again.First, its title vaguely reminded me of Captain Nemo commanding his submarine “Nautilus” in a French scientific fiction by Jules Verne, thus I kept myself away and decided not to read it because it seemed intimidating but I found that it had no relation to the Captain at all. However, in 2005 I bought this hardcover from a Book Expo in Bangkok with its reasonable price (US$ 5 approximately) and later I changed my mind to read it and see if I could agree with the votes of 100 noted writers a decade ago. Eventually, I found it hard to agree with them due to its plot, I mean it has been set in Latin America, people uprising, silver mine scandal, etc. in which they are mysteriously complex and remote till its readers should have good background on the theme as well as be exceptionally-devoted Conrad readers. One more thing, I kept asking myself where has the key protagonist, Nostromo, stayed and done in the middle of the story (from my note on page 388: more than 100 pages since his last action) and has he been mortally wounded from the fight? Moreover, I found Part III more readable than Parts I & II (From my note on page 311). Out of the blue, this sentence stunned me: “A heavy sense of discomfiture crushed him: the loss of the silver, the death of Nostromo, which was really quite a blow to his sensibilities, because he had become attached to his Capataz as people get attached to their inferiors from love of ease and almost unconscious gratitude.” (p. 324) One of the reasons is that I have never read on his tragedy before, I guess this might have been a flashback technique.Second, Conrad has long been famous for his narrative written in English as his third language, a rare genius indeed; let alone his grand, good words you can find all over its 532 pages. I’m not sure if his long paragraphs could be categorized as a kind of ‘stream of consciousness’ famously and masterly accomplished by Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, William James , etc. and I can assure you in case you would read him, be prepared to be hypnotized, lulled by his long sentences and magnificent words while reading. I think it’s one of his literary techniques. In fact, its readers should prefer their own interesting parts in this three-part novel, that is, PART FIRST The Silver of the Mine, PART SECOND The Isabels, PART THIRD The Lighthouse (p. v). For instance, I found this paragraph romantic, quite rare in his novels: The dusk let him see yet the tender and voluptuous smile that came instinctively upon her lips shaped for love and kisses, freeze hard in the drawn, haggard lines of terror. He could not restrain himself any longer. While she shrank from his approach, her arms went out to him, abandoned and regal in the dignity of her languid surrender. He held her head in his two hands, and showered rapid kisses upon the upturned face, that gleamed in the purple dusk. … (p. 506)Third, first published in 1904, this novel has understandably conformed to its genre by adopting foreign characters in a foreign country, somewhere uncivilized, untraditional and pioneering as compared to England, America or Europe. I can’t help finding Spanish/French words/sentences Greek to me, it’s a pity again; I wonder if there is any motive in compiling its Spanish/French glossary for its future printing. To illustrate my point, those who know Spanish/French excluded, please try reading to understand these three Spanish/French excerpts: muy linda e maravillosa (p. 99) Le sort en est jeté. (p. 156) y hombres de muchos dientes (p. 418)Regrettably, I also found these Spanish-sounding words on page 215 annoying: sombrero, lepero, cargador, and many innumerable more.In sum, this novel is worth spending your time if you have determination and no fear of Joseph Conrad since you can learn a lot from his writing technique and miraculous choice of words, famously typical of his own since a century ago.

  • Hugo Emanuel
    2019-04-13 14:48

    “Nostromo” de Joseph Conrad é uma obra que pretende acima de tudo evidenciar os efeitos e consequências, tanto negativos como positivos, que advêm do interesse económico de potências externas na riqueza de nações em desenvolvimento. Para ilustrar tais consequências e impacto, tanto a nível politico como individual, o autor recorre á fictícia província de Sulaco, parte de Costaguana, cuja principal fonte de riqueza é a mina de prata de São Tomé, deixada por herança ao inglês Charles Gould pelo seu tio. A riqueza da mina de São Tomé serve de moto para uma complexa exploração da instabilidade e corrupção politica a que está sujeita uma nação sem laços económicos e diplomáticos com outras nações do mundo, da manipulação de ideais democráticos para fins corruptos ou económicos e das vantagens e desvantagens inerentes a um activo interesse económico de uma grande potência económica numa pequena nação sujeita a frequentes guerras civis e golpes de estado mascarados de libertação popular mas na verdade motivados pela ganância, violência e desejo de poder de pequenas facções e grupo de indivíduos. Seria bem fácil para um autor abordar temas tão complexos e variados de um modo secante ou “espremer” de tais questões e cenário uma considerável quantidade de páginas. No entanto, Conrad faz tais considerações sobre estes temas de um modo envolvente e entusiasmante, recorrendo não só a uma extensa galeria de personagens bem caracterizadas mas também a prosa e técnicas narrativas frequentemente estimulantes que se traduzem numa económica e cuidada estrutura narrativa. Apesar das primeiras cinquenta páginas da obra serem excessivamente expositivas e, consequentemente, requererem do leitor alguma persistência, “Nostromo” cedo torna-se empolgante não só devido às ideias e questões que aborda mas também á dimensão humana e verosimilidade que atribui ao considerável número de personagens que, de um modo ou outro, contribuem para o desenvolvimento político, social, económico e humano da fictícia Sulaco.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-04-17 16:50

    This one's tough to review. I want to recommend it to everyone, but that's probably just a waste of a lot of time. I read this about ten years ago as a young college student, and just re-read it. Even while re-reading, the only things I remember are i) wondering to myself, if this book is called Nostromo, why is Nostromo absent for most of the book? ii) a short passage about bringing people into a paradise of snakes, and iii) Nostromo saying to himself "If I see smoke coming from over there, they are lost." I have no idea why I remembered iii), but there you go. The trick is, this book is great, but only if you've already done a *lot* of reading, particularly of the late nineteenth and early century's best novelists. Proust helps a lot. So does James. Even the less difficult modernists, like Forster, are useful. But Nostromo is not like Ulysses. I didn't understand Ulysses, but Joyce's writing is nice and there are some jokes to keep you going. Conrad's style here is wonderful, but not the sort of wonderful that keeps you going on its own. You need to be able to follow the plot, and you have to learn how to follow it. But if you're either well-read or dedicated enough, this must be one of the best 50 novels- maybe even 20- of the twentieth century. The characters are hard to get a handle on, but once you do, they're extraordinary. Conrad's way of presenting the story is formally amazing. I've also been reading Genette's 'Narrative Structures,' and the tools in that book help make sense of this one (although Nostromo also shows up the problems with Genette's concepts, since they function best in first person narratives and not so well with third person narratives). The narrative seems to be all over the place. You get the consequences of and event before you get the event; you get two line summaries of what seem to be (but aren't) the most important events... and so it goes. So do yourself a favour. Read the first four chapters. If you don't get into them, just stop and try it again ten years later. But keep trying!

  • مروان البلوشي
    2019-04-15 17:13

    تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : 1999من أوائل الروايات التي بدأت فن رواية الديكتاتور

  • Tony
    2019-03-27 12:54

    NOSTROMO. (1904). Joseph Conrad. ***.I remember having to read this in college. Other than that, I don’t remember much more. I had already read “Lord Jim,” and “Heart of Darkness,” so I felt I had a grasp of Conrad’s writings. I was wrong. Since then, I’ve read many reviews of the book, and many of them stated that you had to get by the first fifty pages before the story began to open up. In my case, I found that it was more like seventy-five pages. The simple solution, of course, would have been to start reading the novel at page seventy-six; nothing much happens before that anyway. This was a big novel for Conrad, and has been acclaimed as his best. I don’t agree. “Lord Jim” is much more accessible and has a coherent plot line. This work includes a civil war, thievery on a large scale, and a variety of other action-packed devices. Unfortunately, there is really no action. Conrad is too busy describing his surroundings in infinite detail. Remember – English was his second language. He probably liked to demonstrate that he had command of it. What I think really happened was that he came across a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus and went wild. If you can put up with his interminable description of things (which add nothing to the forward motion of the story), and start on page seventy-six, you might get through it. Don’t be disappointed, however, when someone asks you about the character Nostromo after you have finished and you can’t describe him or what his role is in the novel.

  • Alex Sarll
    2019-04-07 19:07

    At once an epic Boy's Own adventure and a grand philosophical novel, in which Conrad creates a little world somewhere on the coast of South America and peoples it with heroes (who turn out to be not so much flawed as all flaw, well camouflaged), villains (for whom there are explanations, but never really excuses) and the great mess of humanity in between. The status quo is corrupt, the revolutionaries thuggish, and the incomers cannot help but destroy the very land that has drawn them. Every grand idea, once it becomes manifest, is destined to be besmirched at best and more likely monstrous. Yet there's still a majesty to it all, almost a lurking pantheism - it may help that Conrad writes some of the best sunsets in the language.

  • Tanuj Solanki
    2019-04-23 14:55

    Knottily plotted. The story hurtles forward only when a special narrative device is used. Otherwise the omniscient narrator is almost always a marker of description and stasis. The novel feels uneven; there are sharp edges, there are mellow troughs. These qualities are somewhat soaked by our eponymous hero as well. His heroism, although meant to be vain, can also be just damp at times. There are beautiful long sentences that make you go tsk-tsk regarding the state of all, even literary, writing today. But the novel's placement among the top 100 of the last century is a dubious one.

  • Davide
    2019-03-27 16:00

    Minirecensione in forma di elencoTrasvolare magistrale da un personaggio all’altro, nell’avvolgente oscillare avanti e indietro del tempo e nel complicarsi dei punti di vista; miniera d’argento, ferrovia, feroce politica sudamericana dell’Ottocento; neocolonialismo.

  • Kris
    2019-04-04 19:04

    I'm not going to finish this book. Maybe another time. I find Conrad's sentence structure to be clumsy and over-laden with descriptors. It's difficult to ascertain the meaning of one sentence even after reading it several times. I find myself asking over and and over again, "and why is this supposed to be a great author?" I've tried reading more lightly to see if I can pick up a thread, a plot, a story-line. The writing just doesn't seem coherent; it doesn't flow. It's choppy. If each page was a painting it would be muddy, indistinct, and out of relation to the others. Maybe there will be another time in my life when I will have more patience for reading this.

  • Chris Gager
    2019-04-19 18:51

    I decided it was time for more Conrad, one of the writers at the top of the pantheon, or in the pantheon ... whatever. The introduction copyright is 1961. I decided to read that after I finish upon encountering a massive spoiler in it. WHY do publishers DO that? This is not the first time that's happened to me either. BTW, I have NOT read this book before ...Moving on - slowly. Conrad employs his ironic mode to set the stage for us. Even though we're reading about an armed struggle in Sulaco, he can't resist an overall wry kind of tone. Gotta read slowly. Conrad won't work if one reads too fast. I love the way he draws the readers attention from the sea to the bay to the harbor mouth to the harbor to the human "activity" going on there. We haven't entered to town yet, not the surrounding countryside. All in good time. Nostromo himself has been presented as a sort of typical male hero. I'm sure things will get more complicated than that!It's been slow going as I wade through Conrad's sometimes difficult prose. He's not as "bad" as Henry James, but it's nearly impossible for me to read his stuff at any speed. Plus ... Conrad loads his sentences and paragraphs with content and one MUST pay attention or one misses out. The stage is still being set with a bit of chronological back and forth and more characters being introduced. Nostromo himself is still a bit shadowy. BTW, the real-life counterpart for Costaguano has to be Colombia, as it's the ONLY S. American country with coasts on both oceans. This is mentioned in passing. And ... if you look at a map of Colombia you see a city spelled Tumaco(quite similar spelling to Sulaco) sitting on a wide bay at the far down "end" of the country's coastline. Buenaventura(further n. on the coast might be another candidate). Wiki says Colombia too - for what it's worth!Finished part one as JC brings us back to the "present" and yet another political "situation" developing. I assume that this will be where the story goes from now forward. It's interesting to see how the author presents his issues. The mine is a "wealth-creating" thing about which the action has and will swirl. Everyone has a different relationship to this "thing" depending on who they are and what place they occupy in the scheme of things. Morality and motivation are the over-arching issues(I guess). I wonder if the narration is supposed to sound like a native Spanish speaker speaking in English? Sort of seems like it.- seeing connections to "Lord of the Rings"(the mining) and "The Childhood of Jesus"(the S. American waterfront milieu).Moving along leisurely - at a Conrad pace I guess you could say. I realized last night that there is a connection between this and "War and Peace." This story is shorter and simpler, and has far fewer characters but there is an overall epic similarity.- General Montero = Alfonso Bedoya ... Emilio Fernandez- Martin is introduced as the voice of objectivity and introducer of the moral-historical issues involved. Were the Monterists wrong? Isn't the history of European involvement in S. America one of rampant exploitation? What benefit do the people of Costaguana get from the mine's wealth? Ambiguity ... ambivalence ... and more to come I'm sure.Things are heating up now that the Monterist "Revolution" is in full swing. You knew it was coming as JC presented a compelling scene from it right at the beginning of the story. Interesting plot construction ... another connection - "The Sand Pebbles"(movie - I haven't read the book - that I can remember anyway).The action has picked up(though leisurely described by Conrad) and has everything to do with men behaving ... badly ... honorably ... romantically ... selfishly ... stupidly ... drunkenly etc. I had doubted the accuracy of a trivia question whose author asked what was Nostromo's most outstanding/prominent character trait until I saw that his correct answer was firmly confirmed by Conrad as he brings Nostromo to the center of the stage. Fascinating ...We are now well into the more active part of the plot as the battle for Costaguana unwinds and various winds of circumstance and human motivation are blowing. It's a challenge for both the author and the reader to keep up with what's going on here, there and everywhere. Multiple plot trains are running ... this would make for a great(though VERY expensive) TV mini-series. One 2-hour film would not be sufficient w/o losing much of the plot. Conrad is in his element now as men are behaving badly, bravely, selfishly, stubbornly etc. I've been there before with "Lord Jim"(book and movie) and "Victory"(read in h.s.)NONE of the major characters has died as yet, but I already know of one(thanks to the spoiler introduction) who's going down(literally) in "The Sound and the Fury" fashion. My lips are sealed...So ... last night I read a bit onward and encountered a plot thingee that I'm not sure I approve of. Its a fiction device, more than a reality-based and credible circumstance. I'm referring to the fact that everyone now believes that Nostromo and Decoud are drowned and the silver lost. The guy clinging to the anchor etc. Sounds like a mystery plot ...Finished with this curious book last night. Conrad spends many pages and much creative energy leading us up to a confluence of dramatic events and then detaches and describes the outcome through the voice of Old Joe Mitchell telling the tall tale to an English visitor to peaceful and prosperous Sulaco about ten years later on. As I said ... curious. The capper is the story of Nostromo himself, another curious tale told with some rather weird dialogue. The conversations of Nostromo and Viola and his daughters sound like some sort of Greek play. And then comes the end. So much for vanity! Nostromo turns out to be a fool after all. A super-human, holy fool brought low by some all-too-human appetites. Instincts out of control as Bill W. might put it! I lowered my rating because of this and because of the ongoing discomfort I felt reading Conrad's Henry James-like prose. As I mentioned before, Conrad was very much pre-occupied with the inner lives of his characters - back to the Greek drama thing I suppose. Then there's the big picture stuff about human beings and their cultures and economies. The best of Conrad's writing, as always, was contained in his many lovely, almost mystical descriptions of the various environments within which the action unfolds.- The whole Decoud story seems a bit logically shaky. He seems to have died of a literary speculation.- With some dismay we observe the trap closing around our man Nostromo, but why should he get everything he wants? - Is the ending over-contrived just to make a point?- 4.25* = 4*

  • Aaron Arnold
    2019-04-17 12:54

    Another solid Conrad novel, which I liked just a bit more than The Secret Agent. I thought the book's main points about corruption - specifically, how wealth twists and perverts people - were very effectively conveyed by Conrad's decision to set the book in the fictional Latin American country of Costaguana. Latin America is notorious for its long history of unstable caudillo government caused in part by the exact type of resource extraction displayed here in Charles Gould's silver mine, around which all the action of the book revolves (foreign companies wanting to avoid Hugo Chavez-style nationalization/expropriation of assets would do well to pay attention to how Gould handles the threat here). The back-and-forth rebellions and secession threats that the protagonists get involved in are drawn straight from real life, making this a very interesting historical read.But the actual story is interesting too. The main character Nostromo is maybe a little too superheroic (Conrad reminds the reader just a few too many times how incorruptible/indispensible/untiring/etc he is), but it makes his eventual fate all the more ironic. Lesser characters like the mine-owning Gould couple, French revolutionary agitator Decoud, expatriate Italian Garibaldist Viola, and the others are all well-drawn, with Conrad's typical psychological insight. The only thing I don't like about Conrad's writing is that he's so good at turning out these long, well-balanced sentences that it makes the paragraphs they're embedded in a little hard to parse; sometimes I'd find myself pausing to digest a well-turned phrase and then realizing that I had no idea what the larger context was supposed to be. He can also get a little heavy-handed with his symbolism - at times it felt like he was beating the reader over the head with how metaphorical things like the silver lode were supposed to be.But all in all it was a great novel, both on its own fictional terms and for its historical and contemporary resonances.