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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 24 August 2011
When selecting which of the many available versions of this classic novel to buy for my Kindle, I tended toward those editions that clearly stated who the publisher is/was. (There are several "free" .pdf versions on the web, I notice, with varying degrees of copyright clarity). Next I considered the quality of the appearance of the editions hoping that this would guide me to a good imprint, and I plumped for this one. Unfortunately this edition has been transferred to Kindle format without chapter cues or a navigable table of contents, which makes it cumbersome to get around. There are also quite a few stray line spaces at various locations. I therefore feel obliged to give this edition of Nostromo an unfavourable review, however this is solely a reflection of technical inadequacy of the Kindle transfer and not a comment on the quality of the novel itself.
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on 22 February 2013
Not something that i would read normally as it was free i downloaded it and rather enjoyed it, wish i had read his books at school
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on 2 October 2009
Conrad wasn't a native English-speaker, so he deserves great credit for this and other works where he proves mastery of the language. However...
The title of this book refers to one of the characters. 'Nostromo' does not become involved in the story until approximately one-third into the book. By that time we eagerly await his arrival having been assured that he is 'magnificent' for all manner of unspecified reasons.
By the time the story has finished there still appears to be no reason why the character was ever considered magnificent, apart from his possessing an impressive moustache and an ability to swim at short notice.
Conrad apparently constructed the fictional 'nation' in which this fable is set, and spent two years ignoring his family and everyone else while writing it. It shows.
Everything about this 'novel' feels constructed, as if by lego, tiny brick-by-brick - the characters, the scenery, the plot, the political shenanigans. It feels like watching a grown man regressing whilst playing soldiers with an elaborately equipped scale model.
'Heart of Darkness' had its detractors, but many fans. This effort was perhaps intended to be grandiose, epic, philosophical and prophetic, but the result is a turgid cartoon where not one character - least of all the character whose name it bears- emerges with any semblance of credibility.
It is, in short, a real stinker, and one wonders what his wife had to say about the two-year absence he required to produce it.
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on 22 April 2016
A great book by one of my favourite authors and very cheap. Only 4 stars because the print is on the small side.
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on 1 October 2015
Conrad's tale of colonial exploitation and personal corruption is still relevant today.
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on 1 January 2016
A great story, beautifully read. It kept me entertained for hours of driving.
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on 31 August 2014
As described, well packaged and promptly sent. A classic of story telling.
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on 16 January 2015
excellent story depicting the character of humanity. read it .
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on 9 April 2013
Leavis considered it one of Conrad's two masterpieces. Not sure I can agree or whether I am being conned by the reputation when I read this. I am not averse to reading long sentences or involved syntax. I've tackled Proust and Gibbon with enjoyment. Here I am not sure whether the pay-off is worth the effort. It really does feel sometimes like the dry coinage of a ship's technical manual that has not been sufficiently transmuted into art. It might be worth all the effort of getting through the dense verbiage (rather like a S.American jungle in fact - was the claustrophobic grip intended? hmm, a clever critic's reading, but I suspect that's attributing more art than Conrad intended) if one really cared about the characters,the country or their destiny. The Secret Agent is a much better novel imho - shorter, punchier, decent plot, well-developed characters, atmospheric in a dark, Londonish way, tending to melodrama, but still you get drawn in to reading to the end. Nostromo is a slog, one of those novels beloved of "academics" who feel it ought to be great by virtue of its very tediousness.
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on 1 September 2011
Nostromo seems to appear in most of the authoritative lists of the best novels of the twentieth century, so the fact that it's a brilliant, intricate, masterful book is too obvious to waste words on. A good review should take this all for granted and instead deal with what sort of brilliant book it is. Thematically, it's political, sort of philosophical, a bit existential, and a tad polemical. Prosaicly, it's poetic, purple, expository, and occasionally infuriating.

Many people have commented that the exposition is often essentially prose poetry. This is true, and a shame. Conrad and the famous prose poets, like Ginsberg and Whitman, share a fondness for the esoteric and the impenetrable. Many of the phrases are so metaphysical and abstract that I doubt they have ever been properly understood outside of Joseph Conrad's head. There is stuff in this book that would make Jacques Derrida throw it across the room with a snort of infuriated resignation.

The lack of dialogue and Conrad's preference for the paraphrase accentuate the slow pace of the narrative. This author does not like to characterize his cast through dialogue, preferring the synopsized biography. And he can't always pull it off. Incongruity arises from the discrepancy between virtually all of the characters as they're introduced by Conrad and as they later manifest through dialogue. In the first few pages of narrative Conrad tells us about an emotionally talkative and idealistic man, Señor Gould, who spends every subsequent page "taciturn", to use Conrad's favourite synonym for 'quiet'. Decoud is a coward, a delicate European pansy, a draft dodger and a worthless dilettante, then a brave, witty and idealistic swashbuckler. Nostromo, impenetrable, taciturn, mysterious, gruff; loquacious, passionate, socialistic.

Some of the ideas are as dense as the prose. I'm sure there is a subnarrative about a conflict between men of ideals and men of material, but I missed it. If you read this book or any other Conrad book, read it quickly and without long intervals. I read Heart of Darkness during an exam season and I'm fairly sure that I only got half of it. I went on holiday for a week whilst reading this one and had to re-familiarize myself with the characters, all of them with difficult foreign names. Yes, it's one of those novels. if you're bad with names you might want to take notes.

The salient theme is political. Conrad lived in the last few decades wherein it was acceptable to voice support for Voltaire's notion that the proletariat are too dull and easily startled to be allowed any sort of executive power, and that the only acceptable form of government is that of a benevolent dictatorship composed of the business classes. That is the program of the Ribierists, an authoritarian pro-business ideology which most of the protagonists are the core constituents of. Democrats and socialists are invariably lazy, fat and greedy -- bad Ayn Rand characters.

However, party hacks make terrible writers and Conrad is manifestly a free thinker. The concluding political sentiments are that although capitalism might create wealth, it's product corrupts everybody, even the incorruptible Capataz.
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