Bob's Reviews > Nostromo

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
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Mar 26, 2012

it was amazing
Read in March, 2012

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 edition) sort of a blank everyman - everyone projects their ideas of virtue onto him as admirably self-possessed and self-sufficient but nonetheless subservient to the local ruling establishment, which is the British merchant marine and a British-owned mining company.
The point where he is finally developed as his own character, his true last name, Fidanza (obviously some romance language variant on trust or fidelity) is revealed and ironically he begins to unravel and betray the various trusts which have been reposed in him.
Not to give it all away; the book is incredibly rich in its commentary on colonialism and capitalism, while simultaneously an important modernist text - the point of view is subtly shifting, often in the middle of a page and the question of who is the narrator bubbles under the surface, usually yielding to the wealth of action but nagging every time you stop to consider it.
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