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Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard

Joseph Conrad

Book Overview: 

Señor Gould is a native Costaguanan of English descent who owns the silver-mining concession in Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and puts his weight behind the Ribierist project, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, the silver mine and the wealth it has generated become a magnet for local warlords to fight over, plunging Costaguana into a new round of chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to Nostromo, the trusted "capataz de los cargadores" (head longshoreman).

Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to that position through his daring exploits. ("Nostromo" is Italian for "mate" or "boatswain".) He is so named by his employer, Captain Mitchell. "Nostromo's" real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning "trust" in archaic Italian.

Nostromo is a shameless self-publicist. He is believed by Señor Gould to be incorruptible, and for this reason is entrusted with hiding the silver from the revolutionaries. He accepts the mission not out of loyalty to Señor Gould, but rather because he sees an opportunity to increase his own fame.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .out of his house with his three pretty daughters, to make room for the foreign senora and their worships the Caballeros. All he asked Charles Gould (whom he took for a mysterious and official person) to do for him was to remind the supreme Government—El Gobierno supreme—of a pension (amounting to about a dollar a month) to which he believed himself entitled. It had been promised to him, he affirmed, straightening his bent back martially, "many years ago, for my valour in the wars with the wild Indios when a young man, senor."

The waterfall existed no longer. The tree-ferns that had luxuriated in its spray had died around the dried-up pool, and the high ravine was only a big trench half filled up with the refuse of excavations and tailings. The torrent, dammed up above, sent its water rushing along the open flumes of scooped tree trunks striding on trestle-legs to the turbines working the stamps on the lower plateau—the mesa grande of the San . . . Read More

Community Reviews

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 to...more

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 coun...more

Joseph Conrad, who knew the human nature inside out, telling the story of Nostromo and portraying his personages is ironic and even slightly derisive…
Every man, somewhere deep inside, has his own share of rascality… And every human doing has two sides…
Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of th...more

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...more

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 charac...more

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 sh...more

" He was ruined in every way, but a man possessed of passion is not a bankrupt in life. " J. Conrad, Nostromo

A 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 ima...more

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 fi...more

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

Minirecensione in forma di elenco
(agosto 2014)

Trasvolare magistrale da un personaggio all’altro (dal "king of Sulaco" al "capataz de cargadores"), nell’avvolgente oscillare avanti e indietro del tempo e nel complicarsi dei punti di vista; miniera d’argento, ferrovia, feroce politica sudamericana...more

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