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An Outcast of the Islands

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  393 ratings  ·  33 reviews
An Outcast of the Islands (1896), Conrad's second novel, is a tale of intrigue in an eastern setting. Love and death are the major players in this parable of human frailty - the story of a man unable to understand others and fated never to possess his own soul.
Paperback, 303 pages
Published August 15th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1896)
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Henry Avila
What makes a man evil, or good? Family, friends, environment or your own nature? This is what Joseph Conrad's novel, An Outcast of the Islands, tries to find out. Peter Willems , a Dutch born, poor boy, leaves his miserable home, to seek a better , more prosperous future. The Sea, will be his salvation! Deserting his ship, in colonial Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), during the late 1800's, the British and the Dutch, compete for territory, in the area, it's the Imperialist age, of conquest. He bec ...more
I first read this book many years ago and remember liking it somewhat. This time, I read it on a long flight from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Los Angeles and loved it. Joseph Conrad is one of your better Eye-of-God writers, and in An Outcast of the Islands, he rises to his subject of colonialism in 19th century Indonesia.

Peter Willems is a clerk in a Macassar mercantile firm who is cashiered for "borrowing" money without permission from Hudig & Company. As he haunts the docks, wondering whether t
Abandoned after reading half of the book. The first few chapters were good, as was the writing. Then it seemed the author wanted to tell the story mainly through one character telling another character what had happened "off stage", which made for alot of info dumps and confused this reader. I think the author should've just made the story into a novella, tightened up the plot, and let it play out in "real time" in front of the reader.
Mar 07, 2015 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
7 MAR 2015 - a group read with the 19th Century Literature Group. Copies may be downloaded from - - -

Project Gutenberg -

Also, remember to please support your local library. They are certain to have a copy or will find one for you. Plus, the librarians will be happy to see you.
Thom Swennes
Born in Rotterdam to an impoverished family, Peter Willems escapes that life and travels to Malaysia where he jumps ship and begs asylum. In later years, when he had worked himself up to a position of trust and importance, one stupid act brings his life and world tumbling down around him. Willems is a man, like so many, that doesn’t recognize the kismet, luck and fortune in front of him and squanders it away without even realizing it. This makes the discovery of his folly even more painful. Seld ...more
As a prequel to its predecessor, Outcast of the Islands can be read together with Almayer's Folly to form a larger saga of Lingard, Almayer, and the various denizens of Sambir. Indeed, both books contain many of the same elements - exotic, primitive locale; a enveloping natural environment that becomes a character in the story; distasteful brooding protagonists who are outcasts and/or fallen men; strong, scheming half-caste women. In Outcast of the Islands, Conrad's writing has matured greatly f ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
If anybody is a role model for me in writing and I can read everything he wrote and everything written about him, it would be Joseph Conrad. He compels my utmost respect and huge admiration. We are talking about a Polish who was taught French first and he mastered, but then later English to learn was a necessity and so he learns and masters it. This was a sea man and his heroes and heroines have a lot of who he is. In this book, Outcast of the Islands, the Malay Arab woman as he liked to call he ...more
It's a perennial mystery how one can enjoy a book when there are no likeable characters and the trajectory is relentlessly downward to tragedy. It can only be that Conrad is such a superb writer, with his ability to analyse and describe emotion and to reflect it in the setting. The raw misery of these lives, especially of the women, seeps out of every page but you can't stop reading. If this book has a flaw, then some of the speech patterns, especially of Almayer, are a little stilted - just occ ...more
The Yahoo group is reading this soon and I always enjoy their choices (view spoiler) so I read alongside. The ladies know that I am crap at bookclub reads so I shall fly in tandem - seperate but together.

Read here

Front Quote: Pues el delito mayor Del hombre es haber nacito - CALDERON


Opening: When he stepped off the straight and narrow path of his peculiar honesty, it was with an inward assertion of unflinch
The narrative dragged for a bit, I've been reading a lot of Conrad lately; but the prose, the sense of isolation, the cross cultural love and lust, the tortured character of Willem... Brilliant. So many quotable moments, each as exquisite and uniquely 'Conradian' as the last. The old softie could have easily been the John Green of our days, with more darkness and existential angst :) Admittedly, though, that would detract from his observations about the evils of colonialism and racism of the tim ...more
Nick Jones
Joseph Conrad’s second novel and my favourite amongst his early work – but that is partly a sentimental attachment: it was the first Conrad work I read. I have now read it for a third time, but as the three readings were over a period of almost 40 years I don’t think I can be accused of overdoing it. It lacks the integration or sharpness of Conrad’s finest, later work, but it is more than an apprentice work: Conrad’s methods and interests are all there. Formally, for instance, while it doesn’t c ...more
For some reason I couldn't get into this book. Normally I enjoy Conrad.
Marts  (Thinker)
Firstly, you can read this online from here:

Willems ends up in a scandal in Makassar, betrays those who do him good, and ends up as a fugitive...
pure Conrad. slow, detailed, reflective. when i got done reading it i felt like i had lived it, so vivid were the memories.
Dillwynia Peter
This is definitely an early Conrad, altho many of his favourite themes are here.

The writing is a little loose & the dialogue occasionally contrived, compared with his later works. However, the feeling of being trapped in the tropics, and being an obvious alien & outcast was obvious from the early pages.

The downfall of the hero - a common concept - was weak as compared to say Nostromo or Lord Jim. (Yes, I am a Conrad fan) It definitely seemed to happen way too quickly with little provocat
Tom Leland
Could follow this one more than I could his first, Almayer's Folly -- but still struggle
with understanding the hierarchies and dynamics of characters -- but worth it for
Conrad's occasional brilliant life observations
Haythem Bastawy
This is Conrad's Second novel and the sequel to his first, Almayer's Folly. It is similar to it in structure and narrative and Conrad sounds more confident and more certain of his undercurrent themes of European racial superiority over everyone else.
Conrad still finding his feet. There are moments where Conrad channels H.P. Lovecraft.

Example: "She came up close to Lingard, with the wild and stealthy aspect of a lunatic longing to whisper out an insane secret—one of those misshapen, heart-rending, and ludicrous secrets; one of those thoughts that, like monsters—cruel, fantastic, and mournful, wander about terrible and unceasing in the night of madness."

A typical Conrad protagonist: deeply flawed, morally ambiguous, but given to moments of se
Conrad writes about Willems making a "minor indiscretion" that causes his employer to fire him. Willems meets with an old friend, Cptn Lingrad, who takes him to a remote island. This time Willems' indiscretion is more severe, isolating him from Lingard and the only other European on the island. He falls in love with a native woman and soon blames his behavior on her. Theme deals with common self-motivated choices. Metaphors abound, as is Conrad's wont. In the end, Willems' lover kills him. No ch ...more
Leo W.
Prequel to Almayer's Folly, I found it ponderous and a little depressing (although this may say more of when the book found me than anything about the book itself).
Brian Johnson
Another great Conrad novel. If you like his other books, you'll like this one, all internal struggle and a diminutiveness before nature and fate.

This is Conrad's second novel and is very similar to Lord Jim.However its style is slightly less convoluted in the descriptive sense,but it still retains the intensity and dark turn of phrase of his later works.The emotional depth of the characters and their sufferings in a strange and savage land is profoundly portrayed and is rarely equalled,this is an excellent introduction to this author.
Man, this was dramatic! It has a very different feel to it than Heart of Darkness, which makes sense since it's an earlier work. It didn't flow or hang together quite as well as Conrad's later stuff, and I kind of felt like every single character in this book was crazy, but I still enjoyed it.
A história não me cativou por aí além, mas é difícil ficar indiferente ao poder descritivo de Conrad, das paisagens naturais aos estados emocionais dos personagens. Tenho o livro todo assinalado de passagens marcantes, e já não é pouco de trazer para casa desta viagem ao índico sul.
Greg Clough

Conrad's novel "Outcast" is a good read for those interested in colonial literature about the Malay archipelago. I'd choose Lord Jim if I was reading the sublime Conrad for the first time. Conrad requires a bit of effort, but the pay off is well worth it.
Not quite as good as Heart of Darkness, but good nonetheless. The final chapter is better than most of the book because it is taken from the main characters' point of view. Reminded me of As I Lay Dying by Faulkner.
Jim Shaw
I was good to return to Conrad after so many years. He does a great job with imagery, particularly the topics. His characters are complex and compelling. Wonderful use of language.
Aug 22, 2007 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglo-phobes
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book that was actually randomly picked from a big shelf of non-American writing. I mean I knew Conrad was good, but know I have a better idea why.
a pretty bleak tough read. Read his others before this... if you must.
William Thomas
William's edition is an earlier Folio Society release, part of a set.
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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 Br
More about Joseph Conrad...
Heart of Darkness Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer Nostromo

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“It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.” 2407 likes
“A half-naked, betel-chewing pessimist stood upon the bank of the tropical river, on the edge of the still and immense forests; a man angry, powerless, empty-handed, with a cry of bitter discontent ready on his lips; a cry that, had it come out, would have rung through the virgin solitudes of the woods as true, as great, as profound, as any philosophical shriek that ever came from the depths of an easy chair to disturb the impure wilderness of chimneys and roofs.” 1 likes
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