Axel Heyst, a dreamer and a restless 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 remote island in the Malay Archipelago, and when it fails he turns his back on humanity once more. But his life alters when he rescues a young English girl, Lena, from Zangiacomo's Ladies' Orchestra and the evil innkeeper Schomberg, taking her to his island retreat. The affair between Heyst and Lena begins with her release, but the relationship shifts as Lena struggles to save Heyst from detachment and isolation.
The Secret Agent
In the only novel Conrad set in London, The Secret Agent communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894 masterminded by Verloc, a Russian spy working for the police, and ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho. His masters instruct him to discredit the anarchists in a humiliating fashion, and when his evil plan goes horribly awry, Verloc must deal with the repercussions of his actions.
Nostromo, published in 1904, is one of Conrad's finest works. Nostromo -- though one hundred years old -- says as much about today's Latin America as any of the finest recent accounts of that region's turbulent political life. Insistently dramatic in its storytelling, spectacular in its recreation 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 dry, undeceived, impeccable intelligence.
This compact novel, completed in 1900, as with so many of the great novels of the time, is at its baseline a book of the sea. An English boy in a simple town has dreams bigger than the outdoors and embarks at an early age into the sailor's life. The waters he travels reward him with the ability to explore the human spirit, while Joseph Conrad launches the story into both an exercise of his technical prowess and a delicately crafted picture of a character who reaches the status of a literary hero.
Heart of Darkness
Generally regarded as the pre-eminent work of Conrad's shorter fiction, Heart of Darkness is a chilling tale of horror which, as the author intended, is capable of many interpretations. Set in the Congo during the period of rapid colonial expansion in the 19th century, the story deals with the highly disturbing effects of economic, social and political exploitation of European and African societies and the cataclysmic behaviour this induced in some individuals.
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