"Nostromo, A Tale of the Seaboard" is set in the South American country of Costaguana, and more specifically in that country's Occidental Province and its port city of Sulaco. Though Costaguana is a fictional nation, its geography as described in the book resembles real-life Colombia. Costaguana has a long history of tyranny, revolution and warfare, but has recently experienced a period of stability under the dictator Ribiera. Charles Gould is a native Costaguanero of eng descent who owns an important silver mining concession near the key port of Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and uses his wealth to support Ribiera's government, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, Gould's refurbished silver mine and the wealth it has generated inspires a new round of revolutions and self-proclaimed warlords, plunging Costaguana into chaos. Among others, the forces of the revolutionary General Montero invades Sulaco after securing the inland capital; Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, orders Nostromo, the trusted "capataz de los cargadores" (head longshoreman) of Sulaco, to take it offshore so it can be sold into international markets. Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to his position through his bravery and daring exploits. Nostromo is a commanding figure in Sulaco, respected by the wealthy Europeans and seemingly limitless in his abilities to command power among the local population. He is, however, never admitted to become a part of upper-class society, but is instead viewed by the rich as their useful tool. He is believed by Charles Gould and his own employers to be incorruptible, and it is for this reason that Nostromo is entrusted with removing the silver from Sulaco to keep it from the revolutionaries. Accompanied by the young journalist Martin Decoud, Nostromo sets off to smuggle the silver out of Sulaco. However, the lighter on which the silver is being transported is struck at night in the waters off Sulaco by a transport carrying the invading revolutionary forces under the command of Colonel Sotillo. Nostromo and Decoud manage to save the silver by transporting it to a smaller lifeboat. Decoud and the silver are deposited on the deserted island of Great Isabel in the expansive bay off Sulaco, while Nostromo manages to swim back to shore. Back in Sulcao, Nostromo's power and fame continues to grow as he daringly rides over the mountains to summon the army which ultimately saves Sulaco's powerful leaders from the revolutionaries and ushers in the independent state of Sulaco. In the meantime, left alone on the deserted island, Decoud eventually loses his mind. He takes the small lifeboat out to sea and there shoots himself, after first weighing his body down with some of the silver ingots so that he would sink into the sea. His exploits during the revolution do not bring Nostromo the fame he had hoped for, and he feels slighted and used. Feeling that he has risked his life for nothing, he is consumed by resentment, which leads to his corruption and ultimate destruction, for he has kept secret the true fate of the silver after all others believed it lost at sea. He finds himself becoming a slave of the silver and its secret, even as he slowly recovers it ingot by ingot during nighttime trips to Great Isabel. The fate of Decoud is a mystery to Nostromo, which combined with the fact of the missing silver ingots only adds to his paranoia. Eventually a lighthouse is constructed on the Great Isabel threatening Nostromo's ability to recover the treasure in secret, but the ever resourceful Nostromo manages to have a close acquaintance, the widower Giorgio Viola, named as its keeper. Nostromo is in love with Giorgio's younger daughter, but ultimately becomes engaged to his elder daughter Linda. One night, in attempting to recover more of the silver for himself, Nostromo is shot and killed, mistaken for a trespasser by old Giorgio. (Excerpt from Wikipedia)
About the Author
Joseph Conrad (3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Though he did not speak English fluently until his twenties, he was a master prose stylist who brought a non-English sensibility into English literature. Conrad wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of what he saw as an impassive, inscrutable universe. Conrad is considered an early modernist, though his works contain elements of 19th-century realism. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced numerous authors, and many films have been adapted from, or inspired by, his works. Numerous writers and critics have commented that Conrad's fictional works, written largely in the first two decades of the 20th century, seem to have anticipated later world events. Writing near the peak of the British Empire, Conrad drew, among other things, on his native Poland's national experiences and on his own experiences in the French and British merchant navies, to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world—including imperialism and colonialism—and that profoundly explore the human psyche. (Wikipedia)
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
This novel follows in Conrad's rich style, which I love, but it bores others. If you're willing to explore Conrad's world, you'll find it realistly and beautifully complex. I particularly love the inclusion of Spanish, Italian, and French phrases. Conrad pulls you into South America. Conrad focuses on characterization, not plot, so if you're an action-lover, you'll be disappointed.
Alongside Ulysses, my favorite novel of the 20th century. There is something so evocative in the life of this sailor, his thoughts and misgivings, in the middle of the political turmoil of a fictional Latin American country. A novel that explores the moral corruption of the most outstanding individuals, and the weaknesses of humanity, both in individual men and the community.
Since Joseph Conrad's novels were mentioned in the last two books I read, I decided it was time for me to read him. The title story in Howard Norman's My Famous Evening tells of Marlais Abernathy Quire, a Nova Scotia woman who in 1923 left her husband and young children and made her way alone to New York just for the chance to hear Joseph Conrad read from his works at a rare public appearance. Marlais became acquainted with Joseph Conrad's works through her sister, who had traveled to Europe and brought back two of his books as a gift for Marlais. Nostromo was one of those two books. I thought reading it might help me understand why Marlais would abandon her home and family just to hear Conrad speak.Nostromo wasn't an easy read for me. The sentence structure, while grammatically correct, was unusual, and I frequently had to back up and re-read sentences in order to interpret them correctly. I concluded it's probably because English wasn't Conrad's first language. As new characters are introduced into the novel, Conrad frequently weaves flashbacks into the text, but without the visual clues of font and/or spacing common in today's novels. Finally, this is a long novel. Conrad uses an omniscient narrator, who describes in detail the physical appearance, thoughts, and motivations of even the minor characters in the novel, as well as the back story of events. I much prefer novels that show rather than tell.I'm glad I persevered and finished this book. I doubt it's one I'll read again, and it will probably be a long time before I pick up another Conrad novel. I'm no closer to identifying with poor Marlais Quire than I was before I started the book.
just fantastic ....some of the best sentences ever written in English