Nostromo
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Nostromo

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  7,932 ratings  ·  286 reviews
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.
Paperback, 453 pages
Published April 30th 1997 by Broadview Press (first published 1904)
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Steve
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 first dense, foundation building 50 pages or so, reads quickly. Published in 1904, the book has the feel of a modern novel. It’s a book about revolutions money, and character, told through different voices...more
Dale
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 country called Costaguana at the turn of the 20th century. An Englishman named Charles Gould has inherited a ruined mining concession, and undertakes to restore it, mostly as a means of sticking a thumb in t...more
Matt
Conrad is cynical, in the best sense of that word. Lord Jim was one of my favorite books, and Nostromo is probably even better. Although it is difficult to become acquainted with the characters at first, the reader cannot help but understand them in a profound way by the end. Conrad's worldview is disturbing but also compelling, as he uses character, symbolism, and allegory to tell a realistic story with an abundance of lessons.
Jim
This is my third reading of this strange and remarkable book. As I began re-reading the first half of the story, I felt disappointed -- as if my taste as the young student who first read this book had somehow traduced me. There was no central figure in this story: It was certainly not Gian' Battista Fidanza, a.k.a. Nostromo, the handsome capataz de cargadores; nor was it Charles and Emily Gould, owners of the San Tomé silver mine; nor was it the host of other characters that Conrad parades befor...more
umberto
I found this highly-acclaimed novel, "Nostromo," by Joseph Conrad quite tough to read, I mean how to focus on its mysterious plot, lengthy narrative, unfamiliar Spanish/French words or sentences, etc. I had no choice but kept reading based on my heart's content, that is, I'd read whenever I was in the mood and regarded it as a kind of my sleeping medicine. I kept consoling myself that I loved him since I had read his "Heart of Darkness" and "Lord Jim", therefore, this was simply another reading...more
Jill
I've tried. I really have. But after one short story (The Secret Sharer) and four novels (Heart of Darkness, The Secret Agent, Lord Jim and now, Nostromo), I've come to the considered conclusion that I really don't appreciate Conrad. I admire him for his prodigious output, especially since he's a non-native English speaker who only learned to speak the language fluently when he was in his 20s (and even then, reportedly with a strong Polish accent). But with perhaps the exception of The Secret Ag...more
Aaron Arnold
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...more
Ivana
A masterpiece...

The funny thing is that for about a third of the novel, I had this strange feeling that there is something that was alluding me, something that I was not quite getting, like the story was for ever reason hard to follow and yet at the same time I felt immersed in the story and wanted to read more and more...

The characters seemed as real and as vivid as they possibly could had and still I felt a sense of distance, a fairy tale feeling. As I made my way towards to end, I had a feel...more
Darran Mclaughlin
This took me rather a long time to read because I seem to have less time to read than I used to. Many people see it as Conrad's magnum opus. I think I lean towards Lord Jim or the Secret Agent. This is a deep and wide ranging novel with several themes. I don't quite understand why it is called Nostromo, because the character of Nostromo doesn't dominate the novel in the way that the central character in an eponymous novel usually does. Nostromo in fact focusses on a number of core characters ove...more
Persephone Abbott
I feel as though I've read a few books rolled into "Nostromo" while trying to battle my way through this book. At first I found the writing beautiful and engaging, but then a fourth of the way through, the novel fell flat. I read that Conrad had a ghost writer named Ford Madox Ford who pushed through what was supposed to be a short story and shoved it on its way to becoming a paperback re-edition in 465 pages that landed in my path. Then when my patience was about exhausted, suddenly better pros...more
Jeffery
I came to this book only after having seen the BBC multi-episode TV production of "Nostromo" back in the late '90's. I regret that viewing the film resulted in spoilers which dulled the impact of reading the book because the novelty of experiencing the unfolding plot was missing. Nevertheless, I found the book fascinating. If it is true that a movie cannot approach the depth of a book, and now having experienced the story in both forms I think the BBC production only scratched the surface of the...more
Justin Evans
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, the...more
Benjamin
Fantastic. A few of the chapters among the best things I've ever read. Conrads plays around with the chronology especially in the first half, but it feels justified (I'm looking at some later Iain Banks books...) as it enables our understanding of the characters and story to develop in ways that are ultimately more rewarding and thought-provoking.

Basically, Conrad embeds a very personal story about the character of one man into a broader setting of intrigue in the development of a Latin American...more
Ugh
I'd wanted to read Nostromo for a few years, which was fortunate because I'm not sure I'd have been able to stick with it if I'd been less motivated to begin with.

The introduction to the edition I read, which should be left until after the novel itself, states that Nostromo is "notorious as the novel which cannot be read unless one has read it before" - the reason being the confusingly non-linear presentation of events. But it's not only the temporal jumps that make Nostromo hard to get into: th...more
Cyril
This is quite an enjoyable work. Unfortunately it took a long time for me to get through it due to a recent move, and it was difficult to keep track of all the characters through long pauses in reading. It is quite a complex story with meaning in practically every word.

The story takes place in the imaginary South American country of Costuanga. The title character of Nostromo is only one of the many players caught in the throes of revolution that wrack the country. The novel does not dwell on the...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Joseph Conrad strains the pleasure to effort ratio I apply to my reading. My use of that formula means that I have read Portrait of a Lady but not The Golden Bowl; Ulysses but not Finnegan’s Wake. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Conrad, but Lord Jim was a rough go. I am a morning reader, and I confess there were some mornings during the week or so I read Nostromo that I just didn’t feel up to. It’s magnificent but exhausting.

Conrad’s prose is so dense that I often lost track of the fact that this is essen...more
Alex Sarll
At once an epic Boy's Own adventure and a grand philosophical novel, in which Conrad creates a little world somewhere on the coast of South America and peoples it with heroes (who turn out to be not so much flawed as all flaw, well camouflaged), villains (for whom there are explanations, but never really excuses) and the great mess of humanity in between. The status quo is corrupt, the revolutionaries thuggish, and the incomers cannot help but destroy the very land that has drawn them. Every gra...more
Don
A big book of ideas masterfully related through compelling storytelling. A long, slow read, but oh so rich. Full of the philosophy of ethics and politics, having completed it I realize how badly I do need to go back and work through Plato and Aristotle. Nevertheless this book's numerous characters are fully realized. The title character, Nostromo, goes by at least a dozen other titles and names. In him and in his bookend character, the capitalist Gould, Conrad plays Diogenes looking for an hones...more
Brian
In the relatively narrow genre of "Polish authors writing in English about Italian sailors in war-torn South America," this novel is probably the finest. It is challenging at first, as Conrad seems to be experimenting with a few complex narrative devices, which he uses to provide an introductory history of the setting and dramatis personae. He shifts into that style again later in the book, using what we would call in modern cinematic terms a montage to speed up time as the story jumps forward a...more
Dan
Nostromo is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.

First of all, the novel is not an easy read. Many times I needed to go back and revisit whole passages and even start chapters over again - and even then I still sometimes felt a little lost and would just have to trust Conrad to actually lead me somewhere, which he always did. Add in the fact the novel is dense with imagery (light and dark, sun and shade, black and white are some of the more obvious one, while others are much more ob...more
Jim Leckband
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn
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 towards, but never wholly approaches, a Nietzschean ideal. In this aspect, Nostromo “the incorruptible” can be compared and contrasted with Kurtz. Whereas Kurtz was a tragic, fallen figure, Nostromo can be...more
Martin Sowery
On my website I recently rated Conrad as the most important modern English novelist, quite a big claim considering he was Polish, so I suppose that is declaring an interest. The reason to review today is the relevance that this book still has - it doesn't need to be read as a classic.
Conrad's interest in the contrasts between civilization and the undeveloped world is famous from his life as a sea captain and the incomparable story Heart of Darkness. Some African writers have called that work ra...more
Bob
Nostromo is a Genoese sailor in a fictitious South American country that is in a characteristic state of continuous political upheaval around the turn of the 20th century. His nickname is actually a fairly precise nautical term in Italian, nostromo (boatswain or bosun) but is, from what I can tell, derived from "nostro uomo", "our man", a somewhat generic designation which is mirrored by his role in the narrative. Despite being the titular character, he remains (until halfway through my 600 page...more
Matthew
After reading Lord Jim I looked forward to diving into Nostromo which, according to the introduction of my edition, is the best of Conrad's novels. And it's not hard to see why this book would be a darling of reviewers. With its sweeping scope that combines a rich cast of characters with history-in-the-making style swashbuckling and its willingness to tackle issues of morality, social responsibility, colonialism and the corrupting influence of wealth, Nostromo is a Big Novel in every way. Unfort...more
James
With Nostromo Conrad plumbs the depths of human frailty, offering an intimate study in psychology and human relations. Unlike his other novels he uses a greater canvas to consider the wider political and economic world. That canvas is constructed from fragmented plots containing fractures and divides that interrupt the narrative to the point that the landscape seems to "vanish into thin air" (p 31).

The story is one of a silver mine in the Occidental Province of “the imaginary (but true)” Latin A...more
Stephen Kozeniewski
Oh my God...oh my God...seriously, why haven't you read this yet? Truly, quite possibly one of the greatest books I've ever read. The first chapters are brutal...well, truth be told, the whole book is brutal and not for the faint of heart...but the only thing I can compare it to in terms of world-building is DUNE, and the only thing I can compare it to in terms of psychological, existential dread is...well, no, there's no comparison. Conrad's crowning masterpiece. If all you've read of his is HE...more
globulon
First impressions after just having finished the book. I think it's a very good book. What stood out most for me was the quality of the writing. I was impressed by this in a way I haven't been impressed in a while. It is extremely dense. There is always the conciousness of the multi-layered whole and a constant tension held between expectations and the actual narrative flow. I can see myself coming back to this book as a model of prose style.

On the other hand the story did drag a little at time...more
James Millen
I loved Heart of Darkness, and REALLY loved Lord Jim, so I was a bit disappointed upon starting Nostromo, finding it a little too quaint a fronteir story.

This was solely due to it's dense, elaborate introductory imagery. It didn't take too much time until I was drawn in by the darkness and futility of political intriguing, the weakness of the warm characters, the strengths of the cold characters.

The book ends with depressing and believable corruption of the "perfect man", symbolized by Nostromo,...more
Kris
Apr 08, 2009 Kris rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kris by: Ian Jingyo
I'm not going to finish this book. Maybe another time. I find Conrad's sentence structure to be clumsy and over-laden with descriptors. It's difficult to ascertain the meaning of one sentence even after reading it several times. I find myself asking over and and over again, "and why is this supposed to be a great author?" I've tried reading more lightly to see if I can pick up a thread, a plot, a story-line. The writing just doesn't seem coherent; it doesn't flow. It's choppy. If each page was a...more
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Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard Bri...more
More about Joseph Conrad...
Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary Lord Jim Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer

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“There is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests. They have their law, and their justice. But it is founded on expediency, and is inhuman; it is without rectitude, without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle.” 11 likes
“I suppose everybody must be always just a little homesick.” 8 likes
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