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Nostromo (1904)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,157522,182 (3.8)207
Nostromo is a classic anti-hero, who lives in a fictitious mining village on the coast of a fictitious South American country. Many regard the imagined setting of the novel to be some of Conrad's finest work. The characters in the novel are also more highly-developed than those of his other novels, and were inspired by a group of mental patients Conrad had met shortly before beginning the novel.… (more)

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English (44)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Ü: Lore Krüger
  HelgeM | Jan 20, 2021 |
Is this a "Classic"? It sure is good even though it is so old and outdated as to be almost irrelevant in this day and age. Would make a good soap or Netflix series. I thought it had something to do with the Alien franchise because of the occurrence of Conrad stuff in that series of movies. Nostromo was the name of the ship in the first Alien movie and the name of this mythical country is the name of the ship in the second movie.

Alas, all that ends there. This is a period piece set a long time ago in South America(ish) As a story it is engaging and all there. but I couldn't really see what it was about at all or even why I was reading it after the first 50 pages. But there I was and read it all the way through.

I do find it hard to engage with stories set so far in the past that there is almost nothing to grip on. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
Like 'Heart of Darkness' I think it's a book that I'm more pleased to have read than I was to be *reading*, if that makes any sense at all. I like Conrad's writing style, but I thought the structure of 'Nostromo' didn't do it any favours. The entire first part seemed unnecessary to me, and it makes the book extremely hard to get into. If you manage to persevere until the second and final parts, however, there's a good story amidst the descriptive passages. I didn't find many of the characters at all sympathetic, which made me a little sad because there was Good Angst to be had if I had cared more about whether the main characters lived, died, floundered or prospered. ( )
  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
While he is introduced to Conrad's novel only incidentally and fragmentarily, Nostromo gradually rises to dominate this story of a South American country tormented by constant revolutions. Nostromo himself is something of a liminal character, caught betwixt and between. Indebted to the aristocratic Blancos, his submerged resentments put him on the side of the people he defends the Blancos from. At least theoretically. For Nostromo acknowledges the oppression of his fellow cargo handlers and the peasantry and Indians that work the mine that forms the focal point of the story, the item and its treasure over which the Blancos and revolutionaries battle. No matter, because for whomever falls under the mine's temptations becomes hardened, cold, and willing to separate himself from his ethics and honor. So it is with Nostromo, who for just a portion of the mine becomes corrupted until the very end of things.

It is a marvelous story. And Conrad is on to using the full force of literary manipulation at his call. In this case, that means his subtle shifts in time and perspective as well as sliding almost seamlessly between the stories of several different characters. And he has moments of shock as well. Like a Hitchcock movie, Psycho, Conrad is not averse to doing away with a central character some three quarters way through the book with whom the reader has begun to identify as someone redeemed from frivolous aspirations, made honorable, and prepared to sacrifice love for duty.

Too, the level of psychological study is nothing short of astounding. Not just Nostromo comes under observation, but the motivations and fears of at least a dozen other characters also undergoes thorough examination. The conflicts within that make humanity such an unpredictable and sometimes terror filled or horror laden entity rounds out the landscape of Conrad's canvas ( )
1 vote PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conrad, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Järvenpää, HeidiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lavery, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthis, MoaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petersen, HenrikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Söderberg, StenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour-Smith, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warren, Robert PennIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"So foul a sky clears not without a storm"

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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.
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Nostromo is a classic anti-hero, who lives in a fictitious mining village on the coast of a fictitious South American country. Many regard the imagined setting of the novel to be some of Conrad's finest work. The characters in the novel are also more highly-developed than those of his other novels, and were inspired by a group of mental patients Conrad had met shortly before beginning the novel.

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Penguin Australia

2 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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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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