Joseph Conrad's foresight and his ability to distill human adventure from complex historical circumstances were so keen that his greatest novel, "Nostromo" though more than a century old says as much about Latin America as any recent account of that region's turbulent political life.
Conrad's story is set in the fictional Costaguana, a South American republic with a troubled history of tyranny and revolution. When wealthy businessman Charles Gould decides to use his valuable silver mine to support the current dictator in hopes of achieving stability, he instead sets off a new round of chaos and warfare. Fearful that his silver will fall into the hands of invading revolutionaries, Gould entrusts Nostromo a man of the people considered by all to be incorruptible with the task of escaping with and hiding a boatload of ingots from the mine. Nostromo's heroic actions save his city from revolution, but the fate of the silver becomes his dark secret, one that will destroy him.
Insistently dramatic in its storytelling, spectacular in its re-creation of the subtropical landscape, this picture of an insurrectionary society and the opportunities it provides for moral corruption gleams on every page with its author's impeccable intelligence.
About the Author
Polish author Joseph Conrad is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novelists, a remarkable achievement considering English was not his first language. Conrad s literary works often featured a nautical setting, reflecting the influences of his early career in the Merchant Navy, and his depictions of the struggles of the human spirit in a cold, indifferent world are best exemplified in such seminal works as Heart of Darkness, Lord JimM, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and Typhoon. Regarded as a forerunner of modernist literature, Conrad s writing style and characters have influenced such distinguished writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell, among many others. Many of Conrad s novels have been adapted for film, most notably Heart of Darkness, which served as the inspiration and foundation for Francis Ford Coppola s 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
Tony Tanner was Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Cambridge.