Nostromo

Nostromo

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Overview

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.

Conrad's foresight and his ability to pluck the human adventure from complex historical circumstances were such that his greatest novel, Nostromo — though nearly one hundred years old — says as much about today's Latin America as any of the finest recent accounts of that region's turbulent political life. Insistently dramatic in its storytelling, spectacular in its recreation of the subtropical landscape, this picture of an insurrectionary society and the opportunities it provides for moral corruption gleams on every page with its author's dry, undeceived, impeccable intelligence.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679409908
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1992
Series: Everyman's Library
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 632,842
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Tony Tanner is Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and author of Adultery in the Novel, The Reign of Wonder, Venice Desired (forthcoming) and Studies of James, Bellow, Pynchon and Jane Austen.

Date of Birth:

December 3, 1857

Date of Death:

August 3, 1924

Place of Birth:

Berdiczew, Podolia, Russia

Place of Death:

Bishopsbourne, Kent, England

Education:

Tutored in Switzerland. Self-taught in classical literature. Attended maritime school in Marseilles, France

Read an Excerpt

Nostromo
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.

On one side of this broad curve in the straight seaboard of the Republic of Costaguana, the last spur of the coast range forms an insignificant cape whose name is Punta Mala. From the middle of the gulf the point of the land itself is not visible at all; but the shoulder of a steep hill at the back can be made out faintly like a shadow on the sky.

On the other side, what seems to be an isolated patch of blue mist floats lightly on the glare of the horizon. This is the peninsula of Azuera, a wild chaos of sharp rocks and stony levels cut about by vertical ravines. It lies far out to sea like a rough head of stone stretched from a green-clad coast at the end of a slender neck of sand covered with thickets of thorny scrub. Utterly waterless, for the rainfall runs off at once on all sides into the sea, it has not soil enough--it is said--to grow a single blade of grass, as if it were blighted by a curse. The poor, associating by an obscure instinct of consolation the ideas of evil and wealth, will tell you that it is deadly because of its forbidden treasures. The common folk of the neighborhood, peons of the estancias, vaqueros of the seaboard plains, tame Indians coming miles to market with a bundle of sugar-cane or a basket of maize worth about three-pence, are well aware that heaps of shining gold lie in the gloom of the deep precipices cleaving the stony levels of Azuera. Tradition has it that many adventurers of olden time had perished in the search. The story goes also that within men's memory two wandering sailors--Americanos, perhaps, but gringos of some sort for certain--talked over a gambling, good-for-nothing mozo, and the three stole a donkey to carry for them a bundle of dry sticks, a water-skin, and provisions enough to last a few days. Thus accompanied, and with revolvers at their belts, they had started to chop their way with machetes through the thorny scrub on the neck of the peninsula.

On the second evening an upright spiral of smoke (it could only have been from their camp-fire) was seen for the first time within memory of man standing up faintly upon the sky above a razor-backed ridge on the stony head. The crew of a coasting schooner, lying becalmed three miles off the shore, stared at it with amazement till dark. A Negro fisherman, living in a lonely hut in a little bay near by, had seen the start and was on the lookout for some sign. He called to his wife just as the sun was about to set. They had watched the strange portent with envy, incredulity, and awe.

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Nostromo 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Livingstone More than 1 year ago
I really struggled to get through this book. I mean really, really struggled. Whereas I can usually get through a book this size in about 10 days, it took a month and was highly unenjoyable for the first half. Now I really didn't like Heart of Darkness to begin with, but this story is completely written differently. In that book as well as Lord Jim, Conrad uses Marlow as a narrator who tells a progressive, linear story. I hear that Nostromo is written in a way similar to Ulysses, In Search of Lost Time, and To The Lighthouse in that it is not a flowing, chronological story--but a sting of scenes that appear in an order that has no rhyme or reason. It's supposed to be part of the "fun" for the reader to piece together, but I found it difficult when the author digresses to something that happened who knows when in relation to the main plot. The characters were also hard to form a picture of as Conrad refers to each one with several different names. Nostromo is also known as Capataz de Cargodores and Gran Battista--none of which are his actual name! And the way the author uses words from French, Italian and Spanish is also confusing, but the B&N Classics edition is good at providing footnotes. All of this notwithstanding, the basic plot is a good one. It has a moral and a powerful tone. Among the redeeming qualities, it compares the incorruptible, pristine silver to the "incorruptible" Nostromo (who barely appears in the novel until the latter half). At the end of the novel (a few pages from the finish), there is an exchange between said main character that did bring tears to my eyes and a sympathy to a seemingly incorruptible man. The message of the book is timeless, and that's why I suspect this is hailed as one of the best of all time--though I considered it a tough read. Conrad considered it something, but not what he was hoping for. I agree, but I'm glad I read it. Conrad was rushed by his publisher and even had to have Ford Maddox Ford help him with the manuscript (thanks for an informative introduction Barnes and Noble). If one wishes to try their hand at reading this, I suggest not to get bogged down trying to keep track of all the characters or what's happening to whom--hang in there until Deccoud's letter to his sister (about halfway) and it will become much better.
Atthebeach More than 1 year ago
Decided to read Nostromo when I read that F. Scott Fitzgerald said if he could have written any book, it would be Nostromo. High praise. I think if Fitzgerald had written it, it would have been at least 100 pages shorter. It is high literature. The writing is colorful and even elegiac at times. There pages and pages of description without any action. And chapters and chapters of dialogue without action. It takes a very long time to get into the plot or even know what it is. But I knew I was reading something great and kept going. The first half was very slow. The third quarter started to fill out the story. And the last quarter tells the whole of the story. By the end, I was very happy that I stayed with it. The characters, once totally revealed, the full story, once totally told, are grand. The ending is far beyond imagining. It takes some patience, but it is very worth the read.  
Guest More than 1 year ago
NOSTROMO was a long book to get through - I had to stop a few times to look up a word in the dictionary, but it was a fascinating story that sparked me into critical thought. However, this is not a book for someone looking for a quick literary revelation, so to speak. Even as an advanced placement (AP) English student in the middle of my senior high school year, it took patience and concentration to get drawn into this book. But once that was done, the richness of the characters, the descriptive narratives, intricate symbolism, and enlightening themes drew me into the author's mind. And having finished NOSTROMO, it would almost be an understatement to say that Conrad must have been brilliant. If you absorb this book with all of its essential elements, it is absolutely incredible what lessons you can learn for your life just from the pages.
ngmcd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like all Conrad books, the reader has to concentrate to fully appreciate it. The ending could be accused of being melodramatic but the best thing about the novel is the vast array of characters. As a political-historical novel, it is excellent.
whiteberg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book once you get into it. Liked the shifting perspectives and the thick irony. I don't understand why this has been labelled as a book on colonial exploitation - the capitalists in this book seems to be the only half-sensible human beings around, even though money only leads to more greed and more robber barons throwing themselves up as 'democrats'. Noone escapes Conrad's irony though and all characters are flawed and helpless in the end.
jackkane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'Nostromo' is good, but it is a difficult read. The thematic focus is uniformly dark and unpleasant. Every single character of the large cast is defeated. Conrad must have been depressed out of his mind when he wrote this work. The language is heavy but strong. On a technical level a very impressive novel.
Aerodynamics on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of 'Nostromo' hinges on the enormous wealth of treasure contained in the mountains of the fictional South American country of Costaguana. I felt as though I carried that silver on my back from page one to page four-hundred and fourty-four. Judging from his correspondence of the time (Nostromo was published in 1904), Conrad felt much the same about the writing of it.The plot of this novel is tangled, its characters largely inscrutible. An early work of the Modernist peroid of literature, it's time line is fractured and scattered. Nearly every page contains words or lines in Italian, French, or Spanish. I read 'Nostromo' with a dictionary close at hand, in order to devine the meanings of such words as "stentorian" or "imprecation" or "execrable".Despite its anguished genesis and it's dense and difficult nature, Conrad's prose is lovely and he litters the page with profound comments on society and human nature. There is much to think about here.This is a novel rife with ambiguity. Conrad seems to be struggling to come up with answers, and arriving a none. Despite this, the struggle seems paradoxially worth the effort, as though the very act of raising these questions and battling these demons has value in itself, even if the battle is ultimately lost.I know that the characters, places, themes, and ideas of 'Nostromo' will be with me for a long time to come. Lacking a satisyfing conclusion or resolution, the reading of 'Nostromo' was nevertheless a worthwhile endeavor. It has been said of 'Nostromo' that it is one of those books you can't read without having read it before. We'll, now I've read it once.
gypsysmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In high school we read Victory by Joseph Conrad. Any one I have mentioned this to since can't believe that it was considered a good idea to have Conrad read by high school students. Certainly it did nothing for me and, as a result, I refused to read anything else by Conrad. Until now when some online friends were reading Nostromo and I decided to join them.I am happy to report that as an adult I managed to make it through the book and even found parts of it to admire. The story can be summarized quite briefly. In a fictional South American country, a large silver mine run by an Englishman, Mr. Gould, flourishes and brings prosperity to the local economy. However, in the rest of the country political unrest is common. When Mr. Gould learns that the moderate president has been unseated and that the revolutionaries are going to come for the mine he decides to send all the silver bars off-shore for safekeeping. The person chosen to undertake this dangerous mission is Nostromo, an Italian sailor who has become indispensable to the town and seaport. In the dark the small boat carrying the silver is sideswiped by a boat of revolutionaries coming to take over the seaport. One man on board, a stowaway, manages to grab hold of the anchor rope and he is brought up onto the boat. He tells the master that the silver has sunk with the boat. In fact, Nostromo and another man have survived and manage to get the boat onto a nearby island. They hide the silver there and Nostromo returns to the town. There he is persuaded to undertake a hazardous ride and bring help which he does. By the time he returns the man left on the island has killed himself so no-one knows that the silver is safe. Nostromo decides to keep the silver for himself.In the style of the times, I suppose, there is a lot of description and slow movement of plot. Conrad is fond of long, multi-phrase sentences that are often difficult to follow. Although Nostromo is the title character, he doesn't appear in much of the narrative. I found this strange and awkward.However, having broken the curse of hating Conrad I may try Heart of Darkness which many people feel is his greatest work.
hudsy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A bit of a snooze so far. Read Lord Jim instead.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't finish the book. The characters were two-dimensional, the exposition difficult to follow, and the premise disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smiles