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Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

Nostromo (1904)

by Joseph Conrad

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English (25)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (29)
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Available as a free audiobook from https://librivox.org/ ( )
  captbirdseye | Mar 6, 2014 |
Supposedly Conrad’s most complex novel, I will admit only that it is his most boring. I seem to have a jinx when it comes to not only reading Latin American authors but also books based there. I positively can’t stand them… at least so far.

Nostromo is some hero guy who ends up saving a bunch of silver bullion from falling into the hands of rebels when a military coup engulfs the fictitious Costaguana (Coast of Guano?) Quite why he’s a hero, I’m not sure, except that he does things that risk his life and earn him the respect of the privileged class who are desperate to hold on to the power they’ve consolidated by controlling the silver that is the country’s only major resource.

Eventually, it all goes horribly wrong, so there’s some redemption there. But I found it long, drawn out, superficially complicated, over-elaborate, melodramatic and, well, Latin really. It’s only redeemed by the fact that he did do some work on character development and the legacy of this novel (i.e. what everyone but me thinks of it!) ( )
  arukiyomi | Feb 1, 2014 |
A novel in the romantic style set in a fictitious South American country. As is typical of Conrad, the sea, sailors, and sea-going vessels feature prominently in the story. However, most of the action takes place in a town wedged between sea and mountains that possess immense silver deposits. The silver is the economic lifeblood of the country and becomes an enormous burden for several key characters in the novel. Conrad spends hundreds of pages essentially doing character studies of the town's residents: the English administrator of the silver mine and his English wife; a pompous, lazy, but intelligent boulevardier recently returned home from Paris; several local politicos and clergy; and, of course, Nostromo. Nostromo is a Genoese sailor who settles in the town and becomes the brave and courageous savior of the place. Believed to be absolutely reliable and absolutely incorruptible, the key plot of the novel is how Conrad lets Nostromo evolve into something unexpected. The structure of of the novel is a bit odd in that, after hundreds of pages of developmental material, the actual action of the story is not only foreshadowed, but is essentially de-emphasized through its retelling by Captain Mitchell, a character who is treated by Conrad as something of a joke. The ending of the novel has the feel of being a tacked on love story, making the story a true romance.

Conrad's writing is excellent, of course, and only occasionally suffers from English-language anachronisms. Nigel Anthony does an excellent job of narrating the Naxos audiobook version of Nostromo. ( )
  ninefivepeak | Jan 4, 2014 |
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! ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
With Nostromo Conrad plumbs the depths of human frailty, offering an intimate study in psychology and human relations. Unlike other of his novels he uses a greater canvas to consider the wider political and economic world.
The story is one of a silver mine in the Occidental Province of “the imaginary (but true)” Latin American country of Costaguana, and the crisis by which the province passes from the chaos of post-colonial misrule to the unquiet prosperity of Anglo-American imperial capitalism. With the country beset by instability and warfare, Senor Gould, the mine's owner, decides to remove the silver and keep it out of the hands of the warlords.
To do so, Gould turns to Nostromo, the top stevedore and the most trusted man in Sulaco. Nostromo is resourceful, daring, loyal and—above all—incorruptible. His illustrious reputation is his most prized possession. Says one character, "the only thing he seems to care for...is to be well spoken of." Well, you can see the tragic flaw right there. Even the most incorruptible are, ultimately, corruptible.
The book's psychological depth and narrative structure, with its distorted timeline, were innovative for the era. The huge array of characters and interactions have been compared to War and Peace. Irony abounds: the non-chronological plotline tips us off to consequences before we know what led up to them—and results in a sense of inexorable fate pulling characters to their ultimate destiny.
This story combined with a love triangle between Nostromo and two sisters Linda and Giselle make for an entertaining and intriguing novel. Told in Conrad's inimitable prose style this is one of his greatest achievements. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Jul 26, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph Conradprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Matthis, MoaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petersen, HenrikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Söderberg, StenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, Robert PennIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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So foul a sky clears not without a storm - Shakespeare
To John Galsworthy
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In the time of Spanish rule, and for many years afterwards, the town of Sulaco—the luxuriant beauty of the orange gardens bears witness to its antiquity—had never been commercially anything more important than a coasting port with a fairly large local trade in ox-hides and indigo. The clumsy deep-sea galleons of the conquerors that, needing a brisk gale to move at all, would lie becalmed, where your modern ship built on clipper lines forges ahead by the mere flapping of her sails, had been barred out of Sulaco by the prevailing calms of its vast gulf. Some harbours of the earth are made difficult of access by the treachery of sunken rocks and the tempests of their shores. Sulaco had found an inviolable sanctuary from the temptations of a trading world in the solemn hush of the deep Golfo Placido as if within an enormous semi-circular and unroofed temple open to the ocean, with its walls of lofty mountains hung with the mourning draperies of cloud.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014018371X, Mass Market Paperback)

A novel, in which Charles Gould returns to South America determined to make a success of the inheritance left to him by his father, the San Tome mine. But his dreams are thwarted as the country is plunged into revolution.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:39 -0400)

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One of the greatest political novels in any language, Nostromo reenacts the establishment of modern capitalism in a remote South American province locked between the Andes and the Pacific. In the harbor town of Sulaco, a vivid cast of characters is caught up in a civil war to decide whether its fabulously wealthy silver mine, funded by American money but owned by a third-generation English immigrant, can be preserved from the hands of venal politicians. Greed and corruption seep into the lives of everyone, and Nostromo, the principled foreman of the mine, is tested to the limit. Conrad's evocation of Latin America -- its grand landscapes, the ferocity of its politics, and the tenacity of individuals swept up in imperial ambitions -- has never been bettered. This edition features a new introduction with fresh historical and interpretative perspectives, as well as detailed explanatory notes which pay special attention to the literary, political, historical, and geographical allusions and implications of the novel. A map, a chronology of the narrative, a glossary of foreign terms, and an appendix reprinting the serial ending all complement what is sure to be the definitive edition of this classic work.… (more)

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Nine editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441631, 0141389443

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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