Joseph Conrad: An Island Tale



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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 DH Lawrence would be envious especially when describing the villains Victory is also eminiscent 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 are as bad as characters from Dickey or McCarthy Additionally Victory displays some of the most complex characterizations of Conrad s bibliography A careful student of Conrad s work can see shades of Kurtz in Mr Jones As with many of Conrad s writings this deals with isolation world weariness and distinctions between civilized and native societies and the ironies of atypical behaviors in each Between the antagonists there is a ecurring theme of tame versus untamed actions It seems that fans of Conrad generally fall into two camps those who choose as their favorite Heart of Darkness and those who would select Lord Jim I am definitively in the Heart of Darkness group though I ecognize the power of Lord Jim F Scott Fitzgerald said of Nostromo that if he could have written but one book he would have wanted that book to be Nostromo Victory though it deals with many common themes of Conrad s work is a uniue work in his canon and has a charm all its own and I could see where someone could say that it is his or her favorite 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 itI 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 ealize that one of my brothers in arms was Vladimir Nabokov who almost fell in the field of glory too He felt irritated by souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of omanticist cliches in Victory Mind you I m not a ecruit It was the fourth novel by Conrad I ve ead after Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Almayer s Folly All of them were masterpieces each in its uniue way I have been always impressed by Conrad s style his ability to depict far away places and express moral dilemmas The uality of writing in Victory is exuisite too which sadly can t be told about the est though the novel operates on an interesting premise Malay Archipelago between Java and Borneo a girl stolen out of orchestra omance solitude shade and gloomy silence Mostly solitudeIf we could distil the beauty of Conrad s language of his descriptions and observations it would taste like nectar of the gods I m astonished every time I ealize that Joseph Conrad was Polish and started to learn English in his twentiesChances are my musings are being ead now by somebody who is about to start his or her literary acuaintance with Joseph Conrad I m begging you on my knees don t begin with Victory This novel may give you a false image of the truly wonderful writer Have it for an eccen. Axel Heyst a dreamer and a estless 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 emote island in the Malay Archipelago and when it fails he turns his back on humanity.

Tric exotic dessert which will accentuate the taste of the nourishing main dishes you ve had before Conrad himself seemed to be a bit embarrassed by this novel You will sense it for yourself while eading his preface By the way if you are a literary kamikaze and decide to embark on Victory anyway please don t ead the introduction before the novel as it eveals too much I was a literary kamikaze myself Orsodimondo whose dazzling eview was my inspiration warned me that this is not Conrad s best novel Moreover Orsodimondo s three star 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 uality I submerged into Victory as into cool deep water to emerge efreshed 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 Conrad s hero of Victory is a complex man we are deeply drawn to for he has the heart and he has the high ideals if not the hope or trust In his vulnerable youth Heyst s father stripped him of these tools without which living a meaningful life is a barren if not futile prospect Yet a man s heart is a stubborn thing in its will to beat with ed blood Even in his willful isolation a woman s love finds the hermit Conrad indulges in a little formula damsel in distress escue and Heyst brings Lena to his solitary island of Samburan where they slowly develop a kind of haven Life has a way of being messy and intrusive Conrad knows and so he brings the conflict of the story to the island undeservedly bad eputation following Heyst there in the often comic and villanous figures of Ricardo and Jones This showcases the figures of Heyst and Lena If Heyst s heart does indeed love and passionately so then Lena s heart has within it the unconditional devotion perhaps only a woman can fully express And so woman gives life The tragedy of Heyst is that he so arely knows how to express his love Perhaps the story ends then in the only way it can in sacrificeThe true victory of this novel is the gift of Conrad s writing Characters have depth and motion plot is not overwhelming but enough to hold suspense dialogue is eal and evealing Conrad does plenty of tell not show which writers are today admonished not to do but I loved every moment of the skillful telling He is a master taking on themes and characters that have lasting value I plan to ead and eread his other works 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 ank 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 interesting primarily due to his complexity On a superficial level the novel eads like a melodrama suited to a muddled opera libretto than a serious work of lite. Once But his life alters when he escues a young English girl Lena from Zangiacomo's Ladies' Orchestra and the evil innkeeper Schomberg taking her to his island etreat The affair between Heyst and Lena begins with her elease but the elationship shifts as Lena.

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Rature But upon eflection the allegorical and psychological implications of the action landscape and narrative structure edeem it as a modern novel worthy to be included with the best of Conrad I am always impressed when the author can make a serious work of literature appear on the surface to be merely a good story eg Moby Dick The story line follows through a business misadventure the European 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 evenge by attempting to frame Heyst for the murder of a man who had died of natural causes and later by sending three desperadoes Pedro Martin Ricardo and Mr Jones to Heyst s island with a lie about treasure hidden on the island The ensuing conflict does not end well and has been compared to the ending of an Elizabethan drama where the stage is littered with corpses The obust omanticism of Axel and Lena s story continues to haunt the eader long after one puts the novel downAnother of my favorite writers Joan Didion had this to say about VictoryI often eread Victory which is maybe my favorite book in the world The story is told thirdhand It s not a story the narrator even heard from someone who experienced it The narrator seems to have heard it from people he uns into around the Malacca Strait So there s this fantastic distancing of the narrative except that when you e in the middle of it it emains very immediate It s incredibly skillful I have never started a novel I mean except the first when I was starting a novel just to start a novel I ve never written one without ereading Victory It opens up the possibilities of a novel It makes it seem worth doing From a 2006 interview in The Paris Review Although dreamlike this was a delicious journey through the dilemmas of existence and fate I started this novel with no expectations as I often have ecoiled from Conrad s works in the past However after eading his The Secret Sharer and Falk A Reminiscence ecently I had become a bit curious His language is different in its swirls and syntax at the same time as he attempts to describe layers of the psychology of his characters intertwined with the pulsations of nature It is charming in its own uniue way The destinies of the Swede Heyst and Lena unfold in conjunction with the waves wind the blazing heat of the tropics and the seemingly majestic force of the trees plants and insects surrounding them Human lives seem to matter less in this almost eternal setting of nature but Conrad yet attempts to focus on the patterns of existence and motivation as different lives intersect The I ead the curious I became about Joseph Conrad as he seemingly occupies his own uniue niche with his writing style as well as themes As the pages unfolded I became engaged and appreciated the novel and Is this work about love fate or civilization and its discontents Or perhaps a combination of all and ultimately a eflection of aspects of our own inner lives and dreams Stellar. Struggles to save Heyst from the detachment and isolation that have inhibited and influenced his lifeMarked by a violent and tragic conclusion Victory is both a tale of escue and adventure and a perceptive study of a complex elationship and of the power of love.

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 AfricaConrad 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