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Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

A question about that. Conrad is one of my favourite writers and he never fails to impress.

The funny thing is that for about a third of the novel, I had this strange feeling that there is something that was alluding me, something that I was not quite getting, like the story was for whatever reason hard to follow and yet at the same time I felt immersed in the story and wanted to read more and more...

The characters seemed as real and as vivid as they possibly could had and still I felt a sense of distance, a fairy tale feeling. As I made my way towards to end, I had a feeling of sudden clearness...the same that a person coming out of the dark must have once his eyes get accustomed to the light, a feeling of seeing what you had hoped to see, that is usually joyous in its essence. Not that I wouldn't mind having a second look at it. A novel like this one should be read twice. I still have a feeling that I have missed something.

I was and (usually am) immensely attracted to Conrad's prose, to his words, to his rhythm... However, this time there was something in his writing that had reminded me of South American writers who favor magic realism (but for the life of me I wouldn't be able to define what). It is not exactly the usual definition of it, there are no ghosts and no event that is impossible or hard to believe...but in want of a better word "magic" will have to do.

Nostromo, our men...his name brings recollection of "he was one of us" (Lord Jim)...but who are "we" and who are "they"? The ones to whom we are "the other"? In some ways everything (and everyone) in this story resolves about "our men". He is the personification of the people..and yet such a cast of powerful and credible characters is created.

What a novel! Such a tale of pride, sadness and madness I'm not sure that I will ever read again. It felt as tragic as ancient plays, as beautifully sad to the core as the best of them. The only difference is that this novel hasn't dated...not even a day. Sadly, the tale of exploration, of lords and servants, of desperate fight in the name of "material interest" hasn't aged a day. Sadly, one has to say, for it would be so lovely to be able to say "this sort of thing doesn't happens anymore.", while on the contrary one is forced to say "it happens every day" if not "it happens more and more often..."

For me, the words "material interest" will forever haunt every memory of this novel. However, I guess that to fully understand the implications, you really have to read the novel. Or perhaps I'm just saying that to get you to read the novel...just in case my (pretty obvious) praise had failed. Read it!


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