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Nostromo is a 1904 novel by Polishmarker-born Britishmarker novelist Joseph Conrad, set in the fictitious South American republic of "Costaguana." It was originally published serial in two volumes of T.P.'s Weekly.

Background

Conrad sets his novel in the mining town of Sulaco, an imaginary port in the occidental region of the imaginary country of Costaguana. This town and its denizens are believed by many to be among Conrad's greatest literary creations.

The book has more fully developed characters than any other of his novels, but two characters dominate the narrative: Señor Gould and the eponymous anti-hero, the "incorruptible" Nostromo.

Plot summary

Señor Gould is a native Costaguanero of Englishmarker descent who owns the silver-mining concession in Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and puts his weight behind the Ribierist project, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, the silver mine and the wealth it has generated become a bone for the local warlords to fight over, plunging Costaguana into a new round of chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Señor Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, entrusts it to Nostromo, the trusted "capataz de los cargadores" (head longshoreman).

Nostromo is an Italianmarker expatriate who has risen to that position through his daring exploits. ("Nostromo" is Italian for "mate" or "boatswain," as well as a contraction of nostro uomo — "our man.") He is so named by his employer, Captain Mitchell. "Nostromo's" real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning "trust" in archaic Italian.

Nostromo is what would today be called a shameless self-publicist. He is believed by Señor Gould to be incorruptible, and for this reason is entrusted with hiding the silver from the revolutionaries. He accepts the mission not out of loyalty to Señor Gould, but rather because he sees an opportunity to increase his own fame.

In the end it is Nostromo, together with a ruined cynic of a doctor and a journalist (all acting for self-serving reasons), who are able to restore some kind of order to Sulaco. It is they who are able to persuade two of the warlords to aid Sulaco's secession from Costaguana and protect it from other armies. Nostromo, the incorruptible one, is the key figure in setting the wheels in motion.

In Conrad's universe, however, almost no one is incorruptible. The exploit does not bring Nostromo the fame he had hoped for, and he feels slighted and used. Feeling that he has risked his life for nothing, he is consumed by resentment, which leads to his corruption and ultimate destruction, for he had kept secret the true fate of the silver after all others believed it lost at sea, rather than hidden on an offshore island. In recovering the silver for himself, he is shot and killed, mistaken for a trespasser, by the father of his fiancée, the keeper of the lighthouse on the island of Great Isabel.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

  • In 1991 David Lean, the famous British director, was to film the story of Nostromo, with Steven Spielberg producing it for Warner Bros., but Lean died a few weeks before the principal photography was to begin.




  • Andrew M. Greeley's 1985 novel "Virgin and Martyr" has much of the story set in the fictional country of Costaguana. Many of the place names are borrowed from Conrad's novel.


References in other works



See also

  • Thomas L. Jeffers, “The Logic of Material Interests in Conrad’s Nostromo,” Raritan (Fall 2003), 80-111.
  • Politics in fiction
  • The novel Historia secreta de Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, tells the fictional story of José Altamirano, the Colombian "informant" of Joseph Conrad that the Polish-born author all but erased from his famous tale.


External links




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