Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Victory” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition


3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,595 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
Axel Heyst, a dreamer and a restless drifter, believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others. Then he becomes involved in the operation of a coal company on a remote island in the Malay Archipelago, and when it fails he turns his back on humanity once more. But his life alters when he rescues a young English girl, Lena, from Zangiacomo's Ladies' Orchest ...more
Paperback, 410 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Penguin Classics (first published 1915)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Victory, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Matt My version is called "Victory. An Island Tale."

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Victory by Joseph Conrad is a dark, psychological thriller.

Like all of Conrad’s work, his mastery of the English language is immediately evident and he uses descriptive language of which D.H. Lawrence would be envious, especially when describing the villains. Victory is also reminiscent of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and in turn may have influenced Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Conrad created two of the most devilish, animalistic and brutish villains that ever plagued a story and a
Henry Avila
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Axel Heyst, the "Swede," is running away, but since it is himself he wants to escape from, that is clearly an unattainable goal. Growing up with his crank of a father, a widower, in London Town, the elder Heyst, writes little books of his unpopular philosophy , making a small profit, from the few, who like them, and just gets by ... Having fled his native land, they didn't understand the Baron's unusual ideas ( not sure if he deserved that title), as nowhere else does, either. He despises the wo ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglese
1919, di Maurice Tourner (il padre di Jacques), cinema muto.

Ho deciso di leggerlo perché in un’intervista Joan Didion diceva che prima di iniziare un nuovo romanzo rileggeva sempre Victory di Conrad.
I have never started a novel, I’ve never written one without rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing.

Mi sono chiesto perché.

1930, “Dangerous Paradise” di William A. Wellman.

E adesso che anch’io ho letto Victory di C
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
My victory over ‘Victory’ by Joseph Conrad was last-gasp and hard-fought. Unfortunately, I am not going to build any triumphal arches to commemorate it.

I feel like a veteran. For a few weeks I have been bombarded with boredom. Stabbed with a bayonet of disappointment. Outflanked by the characters I didn’t care about. Shot with conversations which led nowhere.

To cut a long story short, ‘Victory’ turned out to be almost a defeat. It doesn’t comfort me much to realize that one of my brothers in ar
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Now and then, we must leave the literature of our day and delve deeper--in time and in literary style. Joseph Conrad has survived time as a classic, because his work is of classic quality. I submerged into Victory as into cool, deep water, to emerge refreshed and moved by the literary experience.
Woe, yes, to the man whose heart has not learned to hope or love (and is love without hope possible?) or trust in life. Without hope, without love, without trust, life is but a living death. Axel Heyst,
Ivana Books Are Magic
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you feel like reading a complex psychological novel that will make you ponder the meaning of life, this is a book for you. Not that you will be provided with any definite answers, mind you. Victory strikes me as a rather ambiguous work, one that is (intentionally left) open to interpretations. Consequently, if you like clear questions and answers, this is not a novel for you, for there is a lot to ponder in this one. Nevertheless, I must hurry to add the novel is not written as a meditative/p ...more
Jan Szczerbiuk
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read pretty much everything Conrad wrote back in the 80's but having booked a holiday in Indonesia I had to take one of his far-eastern novels. Great to read about the "dead-calm Java Sea" while looking out over the dead-calm Java Sea. Anyway,
1. No-one writes better than Conrad in English. Some are as good (but different - Pynchon, Dickens, even Updike) but no-one is better.
2. Only those that haven't read him associate him with adventure books for boys. What he is really about is the psycholog
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Conrad fans
I enjoyed this novel from the pen of Joseph Conrad - it may be my favorite of his works although Conrad has the knack for writing consistently good novels that makes it hard to rank them. Victory's most striking formal characteristic is its shifting narrative and temporal perspective with the first section from the viewpoint of a sailor, the second from omniscient perspective of Axel Heyst, the third from an interior perspective from Heyst, and the final section. I found the character of Axel in ...more
Mike Robinson
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I will in all likelihood remember "Victory" as one of the more inconsistent reads I've ever encountered, not in terms of tone, style or plot but in terms of my fluctuating interest in the tale Conrad spun and what he wanted to say with it. Often I felt myself pushed away by a lumbering pace and wooden caricatures to the outer ionosphere of reader absorption, nearing a point where the thin gravity of my interest in its grander themes was the only thing keeping me from snapping off into orbit and ...more
Aug 19, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-classic
[Note: Joan Didion's favorite--she reads it before every novel she writes. "It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing."]
Jeremy Allan
Strange to read a classic, be caught up in its story, only to find myself surfacing two thirds through and realizing that the thing is flawed. Heavy-handed Christian allegory, bizarre and artificial conceptions of gender (even for the time), unresolved narrative gaps—Victory is a book that wants to be beautiful, but stumbles too much in being meaningful. Yes, this isn't out of character for contemporary works (or even some unfortunate books of our moment), but the further the narrative carries, ...more
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre.

It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island.

He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here he meets and falls in love with
Gláucia Renata
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eu já havia lido 3 livros dele e os achei um pouco difíceis. Esse aqui foi diferente, me senti envolvida desde as primeiras linhas.
Publicado em 1915 traz como protagonista Axel Heyst, um homem que sofreu desde a infância a influência de seu pai, filósofo pessimista que pregava que o mundo era local de dor e ilusão. Heyst acredita então que viver isolado, sem ter nenhum vínculo humano evitará que ele possa ser derrotado pelo mundo. O livro mostrará os dois momentos de sua vida em que isso não foi
William Wren
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: joseph-conrad
What is interesting about Conrad is that he is a writer with one foot in the Victorian age (as in the manner of his storytelling) and one in the modern age (as in his characters and themes). The book’s sensibility is reflective of this disconcerting dualism.

For me, the main theme that emerges is that of detachment and isolationism and their consequences. For various reasons, Heyst removes himself from the world, wanting no part of it. But the world will not be ignored and eventually comes to fin
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know anything about this book when I started it other than 2 facts: it was written by the author of The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, and it was on the Guardian's list of 1000 novels everyone should read.

After I started, I quickly found myself engaged in this somewhat odd story about a very odd man, Heyst. A little farther into the story, I went back to find in which category the Guardian's list had placed this book & was surprised to find it was in the "Love" category rather t
Scott Sigler
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I often struggle with the classics and classic authors. This book is delightful in that it's a slice of another time, but it's "literature" in the sense that nothing fantastical happens. Nothing much happens at all, really.

We have characters in an tropical locale, a small town in the Malay Archipelago. Axel Heyst is a loner who seems to have a stereotypical heart of gold — he's willing to help anyone that asks, even though he largely prefers to keep to himself in an abandoned coal mining compou
Patrick McCoy
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
One of my favorite writers is Graham Greene and one if his favorite writers is Joseph Conrad-thus I feel he deserves my attention for that reason alone. But Conrad casts a much larger shadow than that. I read Heart of Darkness in high school and was impressed by the artistry of the story as much as the film it later inspired. I felt the need to read more Conrad in my post-college days and read Lord Jim and in recent years and The Secret Agent since it was referenced heavily in the post 9/11 days ...more
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Conrad is pretty damn near the the top of his game in this book!
Which since he's such an exceptional writing genius means that a good time can be had by anyone who's reading - though I don't think it's a spoiler to say that (almost) all of the book's participants come to a bad end.
Unsurprisingly, the colonial content is ... well ... very colonial. Though the smartest, straightest character is Chinese. And the most evil is European.
The women here are clever (either emotionally, or practically) -
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
Victory is the kind of book I never imagined that I would ever read. It starts from the title, the cover page and the story itself. However, there are certain authors that you cannot just run away from. They keep taunting you everywhere you look and at last you just give in. Makes one feel like a person who has been coerced into giving a confession. Only this time, it does not lead to guilt but points to my innocence.

Reading this book like all relationships was full of ups and downs. I really a
Jim Leckband
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Conrad really nailed it with this one. In the preface he writes that he wrote it as a single piece - not as a serial published in periodicals - and it shows. The narrative hijinks that he deployed in his earlier novels has been tamed. This makes this novel succeed as a thriller.

But like the books of John le Carré, another author I'm reading the complete works of, "Victory" is a thriller with benefits. These benefits are astounding characters, unmatched psychological depth and the best writing fr
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Shelves: spring-2014

BBC description: The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre.

It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island.

He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here
Aug 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, fiction
Like Nostromo, the pacing of this is slowish in the first half and picks up in the second half. Unlike Nostromo there is much less back-story in this novel. While the father of the main character is discussed and is important although dead, most of the rest of the characters have a history only within the scope of the story.

One thing that came to me strongly was an echoing of "The Tempest". Particularly the characters Pedro and Wang seemed to be sort of inverted images of Calaban and Ariel.

Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, fiction
A pretty amazing climax is the high point of this Conrad novel, which explores love and identity on a remote island.
There's a lot to dislike about this book -- the blatant racism (often a challenge with Conrad) is pretty ridiculous, with it the most over-the-top with the Chinese character repeatedly described as "inscrutable" but also evident in the absence of humanity or complexity in any of Conrad's other non-white characters. It's incredibly frustrating -- Conrad's white characters are compl
Kenneth Iltz
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
The book was first published in 1915. Axel Heyst ends up living on an island in what is now Indonesia, with a Chinese assistant Wang. Heyst visits a nearby island when a female band is playing at a hotel owned by Mr. Schomberg. Schomberg attempts to force himself sexually on one of the band members, Alma, later called Lena. She flees with Heyst back to his island and they become lovers. Schomberg seeks revenge by attempting to frame Heyst for the "murder" of a man who had died of natural causes ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Audio book version. George Guidall narrating.

I really wanted to like this more, but I felt that it dropped off in the final third of the book and I found the ending to be somewhat predictable, and beyond that predictability the dénouement felt slapdash and was unsatisfying.

Despite those criticisms the book is a worthwhile read and has many interesting moments and aspects to recommend it. The trio of antagonists are engaging and reminiscent of some of Cormac McCarthy's characters, at least to my
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
The more Conrad I read, the more I love Conrad. Victory is a not just your standard story about good v. evil, innocence and savagery. It is about being an actor in life and love and not just an observer. It is beautiful, sad and powerful.
Camila Augusto
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Non è stato facile addentrarsi in questo libro.
Conrad ha una scrittura a cui non ero abituata, non avendo mai letto nessun'altra sua opera in inglese, e l'approccio è stato difficoltoso; ma, più di tutto, ogni volta che iniziavo rimanevo come ipnotizzata dalla prima pagina, da quell'incipit così... beh, stranamente ammaliante.

La storia si dipana lentamente agli occhi del lettore, dapprima narrata tramite un noi collettivo non specificato che a volte diventa un io e che non esprime alcun giudizio
Geoff Wooldridge
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is always a pleasure to read Conrad. His mastery of the English language, his third tongue, never leaves me anything less than impressed.

Published in 1916m Victory is one of Conrad's later novels and, though less well known than, say, Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent, it definitely measures up amongst his best work.

Set in the exotic East Indies, the action takes place mostly on Samburan, once a coal mining island, now the home of the enigmatic Swede, Heyst, and on Surabaya, where the oa
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Joseph Conrad 2 16 Jan 03, 2013 10:29PM  
Does anyone have one copy to sell? 2 9 Jul 27, 2011 01:10PM  
  • South Wind
  • Maurice Guest
  • Love For Lydia
  • The Best American Humorous Short Stories
  • The Echoing Grove
  • An Outline of Abnormal Psychology
  • The Egoist
  • Life of Jesus
  • The Tragic Muse
  • Look at Me
  • The Parasites
  • The Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley
  • The Silent Duchess
  • The Revolt of the Angels
  • Within A Budding Grove, Part 1
  • Green Mansions
  • From The Fifteenth District
  • The Horse's Mouth
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...
“Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put it's trust in life!” 12 likes
“The use of reason is to justify the obscure desires that move our conduct, impulses, passions, prejudices and follies, and also our fears.” 9 likes
More quotes…