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Victory: By Joseph Conrad - Illustrated (Comes with a Free Audiobook)

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How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Victory (also published as Victory: An Island Tale) is a psych How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Victory (also published as Victory: An Island Tale) is a psychological novel by Joseph Conrad first published in 1915, through which Conrad achieved "popular success." The New York Times, however, called it "an uneven book" and "more open to criticism than most of Mr. Conrad's best work." The novel'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. It has been adapted into film a number of times. 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 revenge 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 three die (Wang kills one) but Lena dies as well and Axel is overcome with grief and commits suicide.


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How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Victory (also published as Victory: An Island Tale) is a psych How is this book unique? Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Short Biography is also included 15 Illustrations are included One of the best books to read Best fiction books of all time Bestselling Novel Classic historical fiction books Victory (also published as Victory: An Island Tale) is a psychological novel by Joseph Conrad first published in 1915, through which Conrad achieved "popular success." The New York Times, however, called it "an uneven book" and "more open to criticism than most of Mr. Conrad's best work." The novel'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. It has been adapted into film a number of times. 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 revenge 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 three die (Wang kills one) but Lena dies as well and Axel is overcome with grief and commits suicide.

30 review for Victory: By Joseph Conrad - Illustrated (Comes with a Free Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    Axel Heyst the "Swede," is running away but since it is himself he wants to escape from that is clearly an unattainable goal. Growing up with his crank of a father, a widower in London Town the elder Heyst, writes little books of his unpopular philosophy making a small profit, from the few who like them, and just gets by ... Having fled his native land, they didn't understand the Baron's unusual ideas ( not sure if he deserved that title) as nowhere else does, either. He despises the world and t Axel Heyst the "Swede," is running away but since it is himself he wants to escape from that is clearly an unattainable goal. Growing up with his crank of a father, a widower in London Town the elder Heyst, writes little books of his unpopular philosophy making a small profit, from the few who like them, and just gets by ... Having fled his native land, they didn't understand the Baron's unusual ideas ( not sure if he deserved that title) as nowhere else does, either. He despises the world and they would dislike him too, if he was known. But Axel, listens to his cold father maybe not the best for him, if no other reason than peace of mind . The boy feels alone when his father passed away, nothing new. Always a loner as if life was just a mirage, not real nothing to get excited over, a walking, unfeeling machine the detached man, floats about on land and sea. At last the dreamer, arriving in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) with no plans in his aimless life. After a failed business collapses, he goes to a second - rate Inn on a rather unimportant island to hear an all girls band, Zangiacomo's Ladies Orchestra, a novelty in the 1890's, they play loud but not well who cares ? Except the wanderer it hurts his ears, besides the women are no girls and their profession is not exactly being musicians. The lonely, placid Mr. Heyst sees a young and pretty damsel in distress (the other members are middle aged women), being physically hurt by the wife of the Orchestra's leader, she seems in need of help. Lena the name he gives her, she wanted something different for a fresh start , Alma before, didn't mingle with the audience between sessions, men of course . What worse is the odious inn-keeper Wilhelm Schomberg, has been harassing Alma/ Lena and he a married man with a homely wife. Mr. Heyst working fast with the helpful assistance of Mrs. Schomberg, she has good cause her husband is a beast ... in secret, the new couple fly to a remote exotic isle. Nobody is happy not the corrupt Mr. Zangiacomo or his evil wife or the rest of the notorious band, certainly neither is the vile and disappointed Mr.Schomberg who spreads wild rumors about his enemy Axel Heyst, to anyone silly enough to listen, yes maybe just the two love birds care. An opportunity happens when a trio of desperadoes stay in Schomberg's inn they cause trouble, illegal gambling in the back room, Pedro as big as an ape and as smart too, sleazy Martin Richardo a born killer with delusions of adequacy and their boss skeletal Mr. "Jones", dead man walking a gentleman almost, before being asked to leave society for unspecific wrong doings . The vengeful Schomderg spinning an elaborate crazy tale of hidden loot on Axel's island, so the three criminal travel to the active fiery volcano isle much to the relief of the inn-keeper, breaking the tranquil isolated existence in the shall we say unique"honeymooners" paradise. The couple liked to climb a high mountain reveling in the vast remote empty blue sea, below. Only the servant Wang for company in their modest house. Death awaits the unfortunate, on Samburan Island ...Joseph Conrad shows again his genius a man who learned a new language (several) and excelled in each.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    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 D.H. Lawrence would be envious, especially when describing the villains. Victory is also reminiscent 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 a 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 D.H. Lawrence would be envious, especially when describing the villains. Victory is also reminiscent 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 recurring 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 recognize 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 unique 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jola

    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 it. I 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 realize that one of my brothers in ar 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 it. I 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 realize 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 romanticist cliches’ in ‘Victory’. Mind you, I'm not a recruit. It was the fourth novel by Conrad I've read after Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and Almayer’s Folly. All of them were masterpieces, each in its unique way. I have been always impressed by Conrad's style, his ability to depict far away places and express moral dilemmas. The quality of writing in ‘Victory’ is exquisite too which sadly can't be told about the rest, though the novel operates on an interesting premise: Malay Archipelago between Java and Borneo, a girl stolen out of orchestra, romance, 'solitude, shade, and gloomy silence'. Mostly solitude. If 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 realize that Joseph Conrad was Polish and started to learn English in his twenties. Chances are my musings are being read now by somebody who is about to start his or her literary acquaintance 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 eccentric, 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 reading his preface. By the way, if you are a literary kamikaze and decide to embark on ‘Victory’ anyway, please don’t read the introduction before the novel, as it reveals too much. I was a literary kamikaze myself. Orsodimondo, whose dazzling review was my inspiration, warned me that this is not Conrad’s best novel. Moreover, Orsodimondo's three stars twinkled alarmingly, but I was so determined to experience the author's sense of humour and see the portrait of woman so different from his other female characters. It looked as if Conrad took into consideration some complaints of his readers and critics. As if they approached him and said ‘Look, Mr Conrad. You write great books, we like them a lot, except for two things: they are utterly depressing and misogynistic. Could you please do something about that?’ This is of course an imagined situation and its possibility is less than scarce. But I had the impression that Conrad was doing his best to fulfil such a request. There are sparkles of humour in ‘Victory’ indeed: 'What an impenetrable girl you are, Lena, with those grey eyes of yours! Windows of the soul, as some poet has said. The fellow must have been a glazier by vocation.' Nevertheless, I found the overall impression devastating. The humour exists but only on the surface. Conrad’s ironical remarks are like rare fireflies in complete darkness. Darkness as black as the dress Lena had to wear to be invisible in the forest. As for women, Alma alias Lena is definitely the most profound and complex female character I have encountered in Conrad's novels so far but I’m afraid nowadays some readers might get slightly infuriated with excerpts like: 'Women can deceive men so completely. The faculty was inherent in them; they seemed to be created with a special aptitude.' I appreciate Conrad's attempt at a more ambitious literary form. ‘Victory’ resembles two other genres: a parable with a clear moral and a melodramatic love story. The contrast between them is an abyss and being constantly stretched over it, I wasn’t having the time of my life. Will I read anything by Joseph Conrad after Pyrrhic 'Victory'? Time will tell but I'm willing to take the risk. My wounds weren't mortal, after all.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    What is this for story? I have completed it and I still do not know. Is it a tale of adventure? If that is what Conrad meant it to be, it moves too slowly. All of the action takes place at the end. Is it a romance, a love story? It cannot be classified as such either. The characters are too aloof, too lukewarm toward each other. Is it meant to be a character study? Perhaps, but I felt not a thing toward any of the characters, neither the primary nor the secondary ones. An attachment develops bet What is this for story? I have completed it and I still do not know. Is it a tale of adventure? If that is what Conrad meant it to be, it moves too slowly. All of the action takes place at the end. Is it a romance, a love story? It cannot be classified as such either. The characters are too aloof, too lukewarm toward each other. Is it meant to be a character study? Perhaps, but I felt not a thing toward any of the characters, neither the primary nor the secondary ones. An attachment develops between the expatriate London-raised Swede, Axel Heyst, and Lena, an orphaned and destitute fiddle player. Axel lives as a hermit on a small island in the Java Sea where he had been manager of a coal company which has gone bust. Lena is one of an eighteen-strong women’s orchestra mistreated and bullied by the group’s owner and conductor. They are shipped from port to port as cattle, as things, at the whim of their boss. They are to “please” the men at the shows. Now they are playing at a hotel in Surabaya, on Java, which was at this time a Dutch colony. The story covers the period from October 1912 to 1914. These are the two central characters. The story evolves around them, but I doubt any reader will care a fig for either. There are a handful of secondary characters--a hotel keeper named Schomberg and a trio of three scoundrels who visit the hotel. It is at this hotel where the women’s orchestra is playing. One of the scoundrels, a Caribbean alligator hunter is drawn as a hirsute beast! The lead figure of the trio abhors women, all women. Readers are t-o-l-d of these characters’ peculiar traits but why they are as they are is not explained. Are they put in the story for shock value? For excitement? Because this is intended as an adventure tale? Probably. No, I do not think we are to analyze these figures. What they do doesn’t make sense. Information is lacking. At least Schomberg’s hatred toward Axel should have been explained so readers get a better grip on the events that follow. Wang is another secondary figure in the tale. He works for Axel. Now I know that racism was commonplace during the colonial era. One might say that Conrad is simply depicting what did exist. In Conrad’s telling, Chinamen are referred to as chinks and Blacks as niggers. Always and many times. There is not the slightest hint that indicates the author sees this as wrong. Not everyone of the early 1900s was racist. I find this aspect of the writing revolting. It disturbed me more than I thought it would. The author’s nonchalance disgusts me. Finally, I also dislike the prose style. It is wordy. It is too fancy, too grandiose. A writer must fit the prose to the story told. This is not done here. So maybe this story is meant to be a romance, an adventure tale and a character study, a mix of all three. The problem is that none is done well, in any case, not to my liking. David McCallion narrates the audiobook. He dramatizes, but not in excess. You can hear what is said. There is too much of an uppity English twang for my liking. I have given the narration two stars. It’s OK. ******************** *Typhoon 4 stars *Heart of Darkness and Other Tales 3 stars *A Personal Record 3 stars *Victory 1 star *Under Western Eyes TBR *Lord Jim TBR *The Secret Agent TBR *The Nigger of the Narcissus maybe

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zinta

    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 quality. I submerged into Victory as into cool, deep water, to emerge refreshed 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, 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 quality. I submerged into Victory as into cool, deep water, to emerge refreshed 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 red blood. Even in his willful isolation, a woman's love finds the hermit. Conrad indulges in a little formula damsel-in-distress rescue, 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 reputation 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 rarely knows how to express his love. Perhaps the story ends, then, in the only way it can, in sacrifice. The 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 real and revealing. 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 read and reread his other works.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    If you feel like reading a complex psychological novel that will make you ponder the meaning of life, this is a book for you. Not that you will be provided with any definite answers, mind you. Victory strikes me as a rather ambiguous work, one that is (intentionally left) open to interpretations. Consequently, if you like clear questions and answers, this is not a novel for you, for there is a lot to ponder in this one. Nevertheless, I must hurry to add the novel is not written as a meditative/p If you feel like reading a complex psychological novel that will make you ponder the meaning of life, this is a book for you. Not that you will be provided with any definite answers, mind you. Victory strikes me as a rather ambiguous work, one that is (intentionally left) open to interpretations. Consequently, if you like clear questions and answers, this is not a novel for you, for there is a lot to ponder in this one. Nevertheless, I must hurry to add the novel is not written as a meditative/philosophical essay or anything like that. Not at all. This philosophical aspect of the novel is what first comes to my mind because it is what (personally) interests me the most, but really there is the main story, sub- stories, plot and all- for some perhaps this main ‘story’ is the most important aspect of the novel. For me it is the character study, but these things are always subjective. So, If I were to be more objective, I would have to add that there is a romantic story within this novel. On surface, it is a love story with elements of adventure. You have a typical 'damsel in distress' syndrome- a young lady in love with a man who offered her protection plus a whole cast of villains to spice things up. That does sound like an adventure, doesn’t it? There is more than romance and adventure to this novel, though. Once the action picks up, Victory turns into a psychological thriller. In a way, perhaps it is possible to say there are elements of psychological thriller from the very start- but naturally this is open to interpretation. I won’t attempt to put this novel into any fixed category. However, I will say that if you go into this one expecting Conrad to weave infinite meaning into a story and show off this mastery over language, well you won’t be disappointed. Basically, many typical ‘Conrad’ elements and formulas are present in this one. In Victory you will find an impressive cast of characters, introduced and described within a complicated narrative that somehow manages to feel intimate. I always wondered how Conrad manages to do that, but now that I think of it, he’s hardly the first English author who has used a complicated narrative voice (think of Wuthering Heights) and managed to make it sound plausible. Conrad is a great writer, no doubt about that- and as I already said, Victory is written in his signature style. Typically for Conrad, the protagonist of the novel will face moral dilemmas and re-examine his view of the world. The setting for this novel is a tropical destination, inhabited by both locals and Europeans. Hence, there are some ‘colonial’ references. I would say that a motif of cultural and civilization clash is present, but not very prominent. The ending might appear rushed, but I think it was actually carefully planned. The slow introduction is necessary because of the detailed character study. The protagonist of this novel, Heyst, needs a long introduction because it is the only way we can truly understand his actions (in my opinion). Imagine if we didn't know anything about his past, well, we (readers) would probably judge him insensitive. Personally, I found Heyst absolutely fascinating. As a young man, Heyst was disappointed in life. His dying father installed mistrust towards life into him, resulting with the young man somewhat autistic attitude towards life. He is content with only observing life. However, when Heyst stumbles against a desperate Portuguese man, he decides to pay his depth. This bounds him to his man, both in friendship and in a feeling of responsibility. For isn’t a feeling of responsibility one of the defining characteristics of friendship? This friendship is perhaps the very first connection between the reader and the protagonist because it is what makes us emphasize with Heyst and see him as a real person. What follow is a sad but memorable tale. The sadness of this novel is for most part subtle, only reaching its peak towards the end, but for me that makes it none the less profound. I have read the Note to the first edition written by Joseph Conrad himself, but I'm still not certain why this novel is called Victory. Taking in consideration the ending and the atmosphere of Shakespearean tragedy, one does wonder what the title is supposed to mean. Conrad explained it as a some kind of omen, saying that: The last word of this novel was written on 29 May 1914. And that last word was the single word of the title. Those were the times of peace. Now that the moment of publication approaches I have been considering the discretion of altering the title-page. The word “Victory” the shining and tragic goal of noble effort, appeared too great, too august, to stand at the head of a mere novel. There was also the possibility of falling under the suspicion of commercial astuteness deceiving the public into the belief that the book had something to do with war. Of that, however, I was not afraid very much. What influenced my decision most were the obscure promptings of that pagan residuum of awe and wonder which lurks still at the bottom of our old humanity. “Victory” was the last word I had written in peace-time. It was the last literary thought which had occurred to me before the doors of the Temple of Janus flying open with a crash shook the minds, the hearts, the consciences of men all over the world. Such coincidence could not be treated lightly. And I made up my mind to let the word stand, in the same hopeful spirit in which some simple citizen of Old Rome would have “accepted the Omen.” Historical circumstances set aside, the title still made me wonder. Perhaps Conrad himself acted on an impulse when he choose it. Not that it wasn't a good impulse. Stil.... Who is really victorious? I gave the matter some thought and an answer presented itself. Why, Lena! Previously I read several works by Joseph Conrad ( Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim , Nostromo )but never have I met with such a powerful female protagonist. This was most refreshing. Lena's capability for love and loyalty is all the more impressive taken the circumstances of her life. This is the first novel of Conrad's that I read, featuring a female character that takes things into her hands. Lena, a young woman who finds herself growing up and living in the most unhappy of circumstances, is anything but a victim. Ultimately, you could say she's the victim of life (but haven't we all) yet there is nothing about her that suggest a victim. In other Conrad's works that I read, female characters were (almost always) distant figures. Lena takes not only her own life at her hands, but she is ready to act to save the lives of others. Needless to say, I really warmed up to her. Moreover, this character is such an important part of this story. Lena offers a fascinating study not only of relationship between the opposing sexes, but between a society and an individual. Despite being an outcast of some kind, Lena has a very strong sense of morality, of herself. She is very much a defined character and an individual. If I remember the Author’s note well, Conrad explain that he was inspired by an actual woman when he was creating Lena- it was a brief but obviously memorable encounter. On one occasion, Conrad saw a young women being pinched by her (presumably) mother while she was performing (playing piano) on stage. This cruelty inflected by one woman to another, moved him. In a similar way, the protagonist of this novel, Heyst (often called the Swede) was moved by witnessing Lena’s terror and the abuse inflected on her. Like the actual young woman, Lena was a performer (against her will). When the two (Heyst and Lena) meet, there is more than longing (on her part) and pity (on his part). I saw it as a meeting of kindred spirits and was honestly moved by it. Both of them are remarkably innocent. Perhaps their 'innocence' might seem absurd to the modern reader, but it makes sense in the context of their lives. Lena is attracted by Heyst because she senses that he is different from others- and vice versa. Aren't they clearly different from most people? First of all, they both lack emotional attachment to other people- more due to circumstances than to their own personal capacity for such emotions. One could say that Heyst in unemotional, yet his life proves it is not really the case. His hermit life is something that needs to be examined to be understood, and it seems that Lena instinctively understands it- perhaps we could call it female intuition? Interestingly, in their relationship Lena seems to be the active party, she is the one who asks for help- in a more direct way than the Portuguese (who had prayed to God but found Heyst instead). Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that Heyst is completely indifferent and passive. If he was, where would be the tragedy? And there is a lot of tragedy in this novel. As a character Heyst might appear passive but paradoxically I think he is a man of strong will. It is just that his will was directed towards renouncing the world and now he finds it difficult to find his place in this world. For all the good that exists in his heart and perhaps precisely because of it, Heyst is unable to truly become a part of this world. The author put it like this: ...It is only when the catastrophe matches the natural obscurity of our fate that even the best representative of the race is liable to lose his detachment. It is very obvious that on the arrival of the gentlemanly Mr. Jones, the single-minded Ricardo, and the faithful Pedro, Heyst, the man of universal detachment, loses his mental self-possession, that fine attitude before the universally irremediable which wears the name of stoicism. It is all a matter of proportion. There should have been a remedy for that sort of thing. And yet there is no remedy. Behind this minute instance of life’s hazards Heyst sees the power of blind destiny. Besides, Heyst in his fine detachment had lost the habit of asserting himself. I don’t mean the courage of self-assertion, either moral or physical, but the mere way of it, the trick of the thing, the readiness of mind and the turn of the hand that come without reflection and lead the man to excellence in life, in art, in crime, in virtue, and, for the matter of that, even in love. Thinking is the great enemy of perfection. The habit of profound reflection, I am compelled to say, is the most pernicious of all the habits formed by the civilized man. I do recommend Victory, especially if you're a fan of Joseph Conrad. There are many complex messages and questions hidden beneath its touching love story and adventurous plot. There is much more than meets the eye in this one. At its core I would say that Victory is a profoundly sad novel with elements of pessimism but somehow it is also a novel that carries a message of hope. You will have to wait patiently to get to the action part of the book (the second half of the novel) and even longer for everything to unfold (the last few pages are the defining one in terms of characters' destinies). Nevertheless, as readers you will be rewarded for your patience, for this novel is not only beautifully written, but written with great mastery, care and thought.

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

    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 rank 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 in 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 rank 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 reads like a melodrama more suited to a muddled opera libretto than a serious work of literature. But upon reflection the allegorical and psychological implications of the action, landscape and narrative structure redeem it as a modern novel worthy to be included with the best of Conrad. I am always more 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 revenge 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 robust romanticism of Axel and Lena's story continues to haunt the reader long after one puts the novel down. Another of my favorite writers, Joan Didion, had this to say about Victory: "I often reread 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 runs into around the Malacca Strait. So there’s this fantastic distancing of the narrative, except that when you’re in the middle of it, it remains 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 rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing.” — From a 2006 interview in The Paris Review

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jan Szczerbiuk

    I read pretty much everything Conrad wrote back in the 80's but having booked a holiday in Indonesia I had to take one of his far-eastern novels. Great to read about the "dead-calm Java Sea" while looking out over the dead-calm Java Sea. Anyway, 1. No-one writes better than Conrad in English. Some are as good (but different - Pynchon, Dickens, even Updike) but no-one is better. 2. Only those that haven't read him associate him with adventure books for boys. What he is really about is the psycholog I read pretty much everything Conrad wrote back in the 80's but having booked a holiday in Indonesia I had to take one of his far-eastern novels. Great to read about the "dead-calm Java Sea" while looking out over the dead-calm Java Sea. Anyway, 1. No-one writes better than Conrad in English. Some are as good (but different - Pynchon, Dickens, even Updike) but no-one is better. 2. Only those that haven't read him associate him with adventure books for boys. What he is really about is the psychology of life; what it takes to be a man, the nature of virtue and vice, what integrity means, how women usally result in something bad happening - you know, boy's own adventure stuff. Otherwise, what's going to happen to the Empire and how will you cope with the trenches? But seriously, I'm not going to trivially outline the plot because that wouldn't add anything. JC is a writer of immense stature and everybody should read him (even women who in my experience don't really get him). I read Carol Shields, now it's your turn.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Haaze

    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 recoiled from Conrad's works in the past. However, after reading his The Secret Sharer and Falk: A Reminiscence recently I had become a bit more 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 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 recoiled from Conrad's works in the past. However, after reading his The Secret Sharer and Falk: A Reminiscence recently I had become a bit more 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 unique 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 more I read the more curious I became about Joseph Conrad as he seemingly occupies his own unique niche with his writing style as well as themes. As the pages unfolded I became more engaged and appreciated the novel more and more. Is this work about love, fate, or civilization and its discontents? Or perhaps a combination of all and ultimately a reflection of aspects of our own inner lives and dreams? Stellar!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Drama: The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre. It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island. He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here he meets and falls in love with From BBC Radio 4 - Drama: The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre. It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island. He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here he meets and falls in love with Lena, a young English violinist, travelling across the Pacific with a small commercial ladies Orchestra. Surrounded by predatory older men, including the hotel manager Schomberg, she is drawn to Heyst and the sense of mystery that surrounds him. Together, in the middle of the night, they escape by boat to his island. Sound Design: John Leonard and Wilfredo Acosta Director: Richard Eyre Narrator: Simon Russell Beale.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    The more Conrad I read, the more I love Conrad. Victory is a not just your standard story about good v. evil, innocence and savagery. It is about being an actor in life and love and not just an observer. It is beautiful, sad and powerful.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Robinson

    I will in all likelihood remember "Victory" as one of the more inconsistent reads I've ever encountered, not in terms of tone, style or plot but in terms of my fluctuating interest in the tale Conrad spun and what he wanted to say with it. Often I felt myself pushed away by a lumbering pace and wooden caricatures to the outer ionosphere of reader absorption, nearing a point where the thin gravity of my interest in its grander themes was the only thing keeping me from snapping off into orbit and I will in all likelihood remember "Victory" as one of the more inconsistent reads I've ever encountered, not in terms of tone, style or plot but in terms of my fluctuating interest in the tale Conrad spun and what he wanted to say with it. Often I felt myself pushed away by a lumbering pace and wooden caricatures to the outer ionosphere of reader absorption, nearing a point where the thin gravity of my interest in its grander themes was the only thing keeping me from snapping off into orbit and relegating the book unfinished to the dusty shelves. Then, the book would pull me back in by way of a beautifully phrased summation of Heyst's life or philosophy, which is what I seemed to admire and/or connect with most about "Victory". In fact, my problem with the first third of the book was not knowing more about Heyst - far too many pages are used up on Schomberg and the villains, who to me felt more goofy than menacing. The book's characterizations also dip in and out of authenticity and humanity. Perhaps we are meant to feel detached from Heyst for much of the story, unable to truly "touch" him, as it were. But the girl Lena and his Chinese island companion Wang are, for the most part, two-dimensional, every once in a while popping into the third-dimension albeit all-too-briefly, yet just enough to keep my hand turning the pages. I also found the presence of the strange wildman Pedro completely inexplicable and rather campy, which served further to undermine the villains' menace. The novel retains very hearty, muscular prose throughout. It's regrettable that Conrad's beautiful line-by-line style, in conjunction with a very promising premise, wasn't married to fuller, more believable characters and better pacing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolinemawer

    Conrad is pretty damn near the the top of his game in this book! Which since he's such an exceptional writing genius means that a good time can be had by anyone who's reading - though I don't think it's a spoiler to say that (almost) all of the book's participants come to a bad end. Unsurprisingly, the colonial content is ... well ... very colonial. Though the smartest, straightest character is Chinese. And the most evil is European. The women here are clever (either emotionally, or practically) - Conrad is pretty damn near the the top of his game in this book! Which since he's such an exceptional writing genius means that a good time can be had by anyone who's reading - though I don't think it's a spoiler to say that (almost) all of the book's participants come to a bad end. Unsurprisingly, the colonial content is ... well ... very colonial. Though the smartest, straightest character is Chinese. And the most evil is European. The women here are clever (either emotionally, or practically) - if more than a little squashed by their circumstances. In one section, I suddenly realised I was reading the lightest of ironic humour - which I've never associated with Conrad. How lovely to be amused by Conrad! There is some enthralling cinematic-pace almost-horror. Very shocking! Very exciting! As well as the sultry buzz of the sweltering tropics; alongside a full assortment of the ways people can go wrong.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    William Wren

    What is interesting about Conrad is that he is a writer with one foot in the Victorian age (as in the manner of his storytelling) and one in the modern age (as in his characters and themes). The book’s sensibility is reflective of this disconcerting dualism. For me, the main theme that emerges is that of detachment and isolationism and their consequences. For various reasons, Heyst removes himself from the world, wanting no part of it. But the world will not be ignored and eventually comes to fin What is interesting about Conrad is that he is a writer with one foot in the Victorian age (as in the manner of his storytelling) and one in the modern age (as in his characters and themes). The book’s sensibility is reflective of this disconcerting dualism. For me, the main theme that emerges is that of detachment and isolationism and their consequences. For various reasons, Heyst removes himself from the world, wanting no part of it. But the world will not be ignored and eventually comes to find him. (In some ways, it’s a variation on the theme explored in his earlier book, Lord Jim.) The result is tragedy – or perhaps it’s better described as comic tragedy due to the incompetence of the three envoys of the outside world. (You’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean.) Axel Heyst is the main character but another key character is that of Lena, the young woman he rescues and falls in love with. This is the one part of the novel where I have some difficulty with Conrad (though not so much as to dislike the book). When it comes to describing her and scenes involving her (particularly those with Heyst) the prose is overwrought and melodramatic. In some cases, as when it relates to what Heyst thinks and feels about her, or in the way he speaks to her, it could be a reflection of the character’s idealization of her. Overall, however, I think it is primarily a result of the era’s view of women and men and their places in the world. Appealing though it may have been to the audience of the time, it sounds an off-key note to a more contemporary audience. Curiously, however, the female characters generally prove to be stronger and smarter (and more long-suffering) than the male characters, particularly main characters (like Heyst) in Conrad’s stories. Yet he cannot seem to write about them in that way. Once again, it’s that strange dualism of being part Victorian and part modern. In the end, this is a very good story — particularly if you like adventure stories with characters rather than caricatures. It’s a wonderful read but it is a novel that wants to breathe – it won’t be rushed. Conrad’s a wordy bugger. But if you allow it room to breathe you’ll definitely be rewarded.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Allan

    Strange to read a classic, be caught up in its story, only to find myself surfacing two thirds through and realizing that the thing is flawed. Heavy-handed Christian allegory, bizarre and artificial conceptions of gender (even for the time), unresolved narrative gaps—Victory is a book that wants to be beautiful, but stumbles too much in being meaningful. Yes, this isn't out of character for contemporary works (or even some unfortunate books of our moment), but the further the narrative carries, Strange to read a classic, be caught up in its story, only to find myself surfacing two thirds through and realizing that the thing is flawed. Heavy-handed Christian allegory, bizarre and artificial conceptions of gender (even for the time), unresolved narrative gaps—Victory is a book that wants to be beautiful, but stumbles too much in being meaningful. Yes, this isn't out of character for contemporary works (or even some unfortunate books of our moment), but the further the narrative carries, the more obvious is Joseph Conrad's gesturing. Or rather, the problem, for me, might be that his gesturing becomes obvious despite an equally obvious attempt to masque it. Like the character Ricardo, who disdains what he considers to be "artful" as in someway dishonest in how it cheats (and much more so when he can detect artfulness), I grew exhausted with Conrad's attempts at sleight of hand as soon as I noticed them. All the worse that I began the novel oblivious to his wiles, and allowed myself to enjoy the stiltedness of this uniquely colonial story. In fact, in some ways, this is masterfully written for the first half, maybe even more. But it tatters on its way out. Furthermore, in this book Conrad reminds me of an elderly relation who makes embarrassingly racist and sexist statements at the dinner table, and which I might try to ignore in knowing that "they come from another time." When it comes to a book, though, I think the expectation is that it must be superb despite its politics, and only then can we grimace through its outmoded viewpoints. I don't think the final assessment of Victory, though, gives it that same freedom. Instead, I think it turns out to be rather instructive of what "great men of letters" thought of the world, and how little that probably corresponded with reality.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    One of my favorite writers is Graham Greene and one if his favorite writers is Joseph Conrad-thus I feel he deserves my attention for that reason alone. But Conrad casts a much larger shadow than that. I read Heart of Darkness in high school and was impressed by the artistry of the story as much as the film it later inspired. I felt the need to read more Conrad in my post-college days and read Lord Jim and in recent years and The Secret Agent since it was referenced heavily in the post 9/11 days One of my favorite writers is Graham Greene and one if his favorite writers is Joseph Conrad-thus I feel he deserves my attention for that reason alone. But Conrad casts a much larger shadow than that. I read Heart of Darkness in high school and was impressed by the artistry of the story as much as the film it later inspired. I felt the need to read more Conrad in my post-college days and read Lord Jim and in recent years and The Secret Agent since it was referenced heavily in the post 9/11 days by journalists trying to make sense of the terrorist attacks. I found myself reading Victory since two separate authors in interviews in The Believer’s Book of Writers Talking To Writers said they always read this book before writing their next novels. It is set in the Indonesian isles of the South China Sea and is exotic by location alone, but it exotic in its portrayal lonely damaged Europeans residing there. It is a fairly simple story that is painstakingly told in subtle details of character and emotion-it seems people had more time to leisurely read in Conrad’s time I guess. It seems to end somewhat ambiguously despite also ending tragically. I’ll be back to read more Conrad in the future-it was time well spent.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I didn't know anything about this book when I started it other than 2 facts: it was written by the author of The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, and it was on the Guardian's list of 1000 novels everyone should read. After I started, I quickly found myself engaged in this somewhat odd story about a very odd man, Heyst. A little farther into the story, I went back to find in which category the Guardian's list had placed this book & was surprised to find it was in the "Love" category rather than I didn't know anything about this book when I started it other than 2 facts: it was written by the author of The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, and it was on the Guardian's list of 1000 novels everyone should read. After I started, I quickly found myself engaged in this somewhat odd story about a very odd man, Heyst. A little farther into the story, I went back to find in which category the Guardian's list had placed this book & was surprised to find it was in the "Love" category rather than the "War and Travel" category I had expected. By the end of the book, I understood the placement! If I had to describe it in one sentence, it would be (view spoiler)[as a cross between his earlier book Heart of Darkness and Romeo and Juliet. Heyst and Lena are surely just as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet and their end is just as tragic. (hide spoiler)] While the love story gains in prominence as the plot progresses, the other main theme remains in the forefront. That theme is the power of suggestion or illusion over reality. Schomberg doesn't know or understand Heyst but instead sets a terrible chain of events in motion through his belief in the false image of Heyst he created. Even before Heyst comes to stay at Schomberg's hotel & meets the girl Alma (later named Lena), Schomberg had a long-standing grudge against him. As Conrad puts it: "Schomberg believed so firmly in the reality of Heyst as created by his own power of false inferences, of his hate, of his love of scandal, that he could not contain a stifled sound of conviction as sincere as most of our convictions, the disguised servants of our passions, can appear at a supreme moment." This false image of Heyst is then filtered through Ricardo, who adds in his own personality traits, believing all men are like himself. These men are unable to conceive of Heyst as he really is and this inability to recognize reality without the filter of one's own personal experiences is what causes the tragedy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Leckband

    Conrad really nailed it with this one. In the preface he writes that he wrote it as a single piece - not as a serial published in periodicals - and it shows. The narrative hijinks that he deployed in his earlier novels has been tamed. This makes this novel succeed as a thriller. But like the books of John le Carré, another author I'm reading the complete works of, "Victory" is a thriller with benefits. These benefits are astounding characters, unmatched psychological depth and the best writing fr Conrad really nailed it with this one. In the preface he writes that he wrote it as a single piece - not as a serial published in periodicals - and it shows. The narrative hijinks that he deployed in his earlier novels has been tamed. This makes this novel succeed as a thriller. But like the books of John le Carré, another author I'm reading the complete works of, "Victory" is a thriller with benefits. These benefits are astounding characters, unmatched psychological depth and the best writing from sentence to sentence you could find. The plots of the characters arise from the characters and their blindness. The main character Axel Heyst is a wanderer that nobody can fathom, especially when he settles on a island in the South Pacific where his failed coal company was. The beginning of the story resides in the hotel that the clueless but malevolent Schomberg runs. He hates Heyst (because of misunderstanding him) and this sets the whole novel in motion, resulting in two bad characters paying Heyst a visit. Conrad throws in a lot of symbolism and references - e.g. Adam and Eve and the introduction of evil, The Tempest (particularly Caliban in the brute Pedro), and Hamlet (Heyst's ambivalence to action). These are subtly called out and serve to enhance the reader's experience rather than a "Look at me, I'm being clever" kind of thing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Sigler

    I often struggle with the classics and classic authors. This book is delightful in that it's a slice of another time, but it's "literature" in the sense that nothing fantastical happens. Nothing much happens at all, really. We have characters in an tropical locale, a small town in the Malay Archipelago. Axel Heyst is a loner who seems to have a stereotypical heart of gold — he's willing to help anyone that asks, even though he largely prefers to keep to himself in an abandoned coal mining compou I often struggle with the classics and classic authors. This book is delightful in that it's a slice of another time, but it's "literature" in the sense that nothing fantastical happens. Nothing much happens at all, really. We have characters in an tropical locale, a small town in the Malay Archipelago. Axel Heyst is a loner who seems to have a stereotypical heart of gold — he's willing to help anyone that asks, even though he largely prefers to keep to himself in an abandoned coal mining compound. His innocence and general good nature are interpreted as devious, even evil actions by the innkeeper Schomberg, who focuses all of his frustration at life upon Heyst. Both characters are horribly thin and one-dimensional. They are stereotypes, but this is where I struggle with classics — were they stereotypes when Conrad wrote them, or stereotypes because writers like Conrad were so influential in their time that their styles were mimicked endlessly? Halfway through the story, we get the classic/cliché plot point of the New Girl Comes to Town and Falls Hopelessly In Love With Our Protagonist. From there, jealousy and misunderstanding drive the plot to a strange and moderately violent end. The story exudes the era, though, and reads like a perfect novelization of a Humphrey Bogart movie. If you liked CASABLANCA, for example, I think you'd dig this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    [Note: Joan Didion's favorite--she reads it before every novel she writes. "It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing."] [Note: Joan Didion's favorite--she reads it before every novel she writes. "It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing."]

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    Victory is the kind of book I never imagined that I would ever read. It starts from the title, the cover page and the story itself. However, there are certain authors that you cannot just run away from. They keep taunting you everywhere you look and at last you just give in. Makes one feel like a person who has been coerced into giving a confession. Only this time, it does not lead to guilt but points to my innocence. Reading this book like all relationships was full of ups and downs. I really a Victory is the kind of book I never imagined that I would ever read. It starts from the title, the cover page and the story itself. However, there are certain authors that you cannot just run away from. They keep taunting you everywhere you look and at last you just give in. Makes one feel like a person who has been coerced into giving a confession. Only this time, it does not lead to guilt but points to my innocence. Reading this book like all relationships was full of ups and downs. I really admired Axel Heyst personality and at some point I was so cnvinced that I had a personality like his. He loves to be around himself. Isolation is his adapted way of life. He had very few friends, in fact, throughout tge novel he gets involved with only two individuals: Morrisson and Alma. The former is a friend of his who later passess on. Unfortunately, his death is blamed on Heyst. For no reason at all except his akward personality. What he does not know is that anothe companion is on the way. This companion comes with a share of her own troubles. She is the object of attraction in Heyst's bitter enemy Schomberg. She turns him down and in turn runs away with Heyst. Schomberg never yields. His rage is murderous and his target is Heyst. Together with his two newly founded friends they sail the sea in search of Heyst. He wrongfully accuses him of killing Morrission. The psychological aspect of this novel is intriguing. Now, this was my best part. Conrad was able to portray the human heart perfectly. He described our fears, desires, and nature in a manner that only we could understand. My copy is filled with green colours which I was using to highlight some of the memorable quotes in the book. Reading Conrad was not a mistake. I look forward to reading more of him now and in future before I expire.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A pretty amazing climax is the high point of this Conrad novel, which explores love and identity on a remote island. There's a lot to dislike about this book -- the blatant racism (often a challenge with Conrad) is pretty ridiculous, with it the most over-the-top with the Chinese character repeatedly described as "inscrutable" but also evident in the absence of humanity or complexity in any of Conrad's other non-white characters. It's incredibly frustrating -- Conrad's white characters are compl A pretty amazing climax is the high point of this Conrad novel, which explores love and identity on a remote island. There's a lot to dislike about this book -- the blatant racism (often a challenge with Conrad) is pretty ridiculous, with it the most over-the-top with the Chinese character repeatedly described as "inscrutable" but also evident in the absence of humanity or complexity in any of Conrad's other non-white characters. It's incredibly frustrating -- Conrad's white characters are complex mixtures of nuanced emotion, so it feels perverse and a waste that he is unable or unwilling to give the same depth of characterization to his characters of color. There's also a sense that perhaps a woman should primarily aim to do god for a man, but at least this theme is complex and opaque. Lena, the principal female character, leans a little bit too much toward self-sacrificing but is an intriguing character. And the book is not without its serious merits, even aside from that powerful climax. Conrad's prose is as remarkable as ever, and the hazy, shifting nature of 2/3 of the plot adds to the atmospherics of the novel. Axel Heyst is a suitably mysterious and powerful protagonist, and I dug the scenes where Axel and Lena are trying to communicate but just talking past each other. And many of the villains are hard to look away from. Imperfect but powerful, this novel showcases many of Conrad's talents but also (alas) how diminished he can be by his racism and (to a lesser but real extent) sexism.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b053rz5r BBC description: The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre. It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island. He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b053rz5r BBC description: The world premiere of Harold Pinter's screenplay of Josef Conrad's last major novel, in a special adaptation for radio by Sir Richard Eyre. It's 1900 in the Dutch East Indies. Disenchanted with life and humanity, Heyst, a mysterious Swedish Baron, lives alone on a deserted island. He believes he can avoid suffering by cutting himself off from others, but his life is altered when he visits the neighbouring island for a doctor's check up. Here he meets and falls in love with Lena, a young English violinist, travelling across the Pacific with a small commercial ladies Orchestra. Surrounded by predatory older men, including the hotel manager Schomberg, she is drawn to Heyst and the sense of mystery that surrounds him. Together, in the middle of the night, they escape by boat to his island. Sound Design: John Leonard and Wilfredo Acosta Director: Richard Eyre Producer: Laurence Bowen A Feelgood Fiction production for BBC Radio 4. I liked Conrad's book to a sturdy 4*, and this could be construed as icing on the cake. Maybe the BBC could make a miniseries out of it - now that would be well kewl *hint, hint*

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard Subber

    It may be that it is enough to say about Victory that it is lush prose that wraps around your mind and leaves you sated at the end of every chapter. Conrad’s style, I dare to say, is not for every modern taste. It is dialogue-rich. The action is spare. For me, the essential appeal of Victory is the reflective context of the characters’ state of mind: their imaginations, their aspirations, their candid self-assessments. In Victory, there is enough honesty, enough resignation, enough disappointment, It may be that it is enough to say about Victory that it is lush prose that wraps around your mind and leaves you sated at the end of every chapter. Conrad’s style, I dare to say, is not for every modern taste. It is dialogue-rich. The action is spare. For me, the essential appeal of Victory is the reflective context of the characters’ state of mind: their imaginations, their aspirations, their candid self-assessments. In Victory, there is enough honesty, enough resignation, enough disappointment, enough yearning to make you feel like you want to say your life is good. At least, good enough. Read more of my book reviews and poems at http://richardsubber.com/

  26. 5 out of 5

    Polly Roth

    2.5 Stars A very slow start kinda marred the entire book. It took forever to get into, so even when it got more interesting, I hardly cared.

  27. 4 out of 5

    globulon

    Like Nostromo, the pacing of this is slowish in the first half and picks up in the second half. Unlike Nostromo there is much less back-story in this novel. While the father of the main character is discussed and is important although dead, most of the rest of the characters have a history only within the scope of the story. One thing that came to me strongly was an echoing of "The Tempest". Particularly the characters Pedro and Wang seemed to be sort of inverted images of Calaban and Ariel. This Like Nostromo, the pacing of this is slowish in the first half and picks up in the second half. Unlike Nostromo there is much less back-story in this novel. While the father of the main character is discussed and is important although dead, most of the rest of the characters have a history only within the scope of the story. One thing that came to me strongly was an echoing of "The Tempest". Particularly the characters Pedro and Wang seemed to be sort of inverted images of Calaban and Ariel. This story is another one fraught with racial images. I have a difficult time making sense of what is to be said on this score, but I think it must be admitted that Conrad means to confront the issue. The parallel with "The Tempest" seems relevant given the reading of that play (reasonable to my mind) that it at least in one dimension concerned with racial relationships or more particularly colonialism. Furthermore, at one point Jones (a villian) says to Heyst (main character) "Do you believe in racial superiority, Mr. Heyst? I do, firmly." Furthermore, the main character is referred to constantly as "that Swede" by his nemesis Schomberg. It is emphasized by Conrad that this word is used in a pejorative sense. (I admit that on the surface this can be read as a merely national rather than racial difference but I'm not sure how much rides on that). Much is made of the irony of the whites who hold themselves in superiority to natives or hold them of no account. Both Schomberg and Ricardo make much of their own whiteness, and both are ironically so. On the other hand, it also seems true that the characters of any race other than white are portrayed as less civilized. Morrison's clients are objects of charity, Pedro is a half-man savage, the Portuguese are corrupt, Wang abandons Heyst and takes it as a point of pride to deny taking the revolver despite the fact that he obviously has. The people on the other side of the island are savages of a sort who block out society. But even here these are not so obvious. Heyst laughs at the naivete of Lena when she asks if all Chinese have this mysterious ability to materialize silently. There is also a certain logic to Wang's abandonment of Heyst, in that Wang is married to a local girl and his relationship with Heyst was never portrayed as much other than a matter of practicality. It must be noted however that Wang's theft of the revolver pretty squarely sets him at a lower moral level, as well as his reliance on violence. The question is whether this is meant to reflect a sort of hierarchy of the races or whether it is just that Wang represents a certain sort of moral attitude that could for Conrad have been represented by a white man but that the social context of the story makes the character more convenient to represent by a Chinese. Furthermore, I think Jones being an inverted Heyst, both being highlighted as of upper class, or gentlemen, is a related question. It seems clear that Jones is a gentleman by birth who is not so in truth. Whereas it seems that Heyst isn't really a gentleman by birth, although he is said to be one, but is very much one by his nature. I think as far as I can take it right now, it has to be said that Conrad clearly means to confront the question of race, and that his reply to this question is not a simple one. On the other hand, I can also see that it might be possible to see him as presenting a sort of hierarchy of the races and a kind of "white man's" burden take on the moral relationships between them. I am not arguing that this is in fact the case, only that in so far as I can see it at this point this is consistent with what I have seen of his writing. On the other hand I must admit that as it stands now this seems to be the most likely, and that this does diminish to some degree my enjoyment of his work, although I still have a lot of respect for him as an author and still intend to read more of his books. Notes on this edition: There's a cool map at the beginning showing the locations of many of Conrad's stories and novels. There are many annoying footnotes. Notes seem a little silly to me in the first place and often they are inflated and absurd, but actually indicating the notes with little numbers in the text of a novel is just ugly and annoying.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Joyce

    In my third language I can just about order a meal and ask directions to the butcher. In his, Joseph Conrad forged a career as one of the great novelists of the early twentieth century whilst simultaneously leading a life that makes Ernest Hemingway’s biography read like that of a provincial bank manager by comparison. Victory isn’t one of Conrad’s better-known novels and I confess I’d never heard of it until it popped up as a recommendation on Goodreads. It is a gripping, atmospheric piece of w In my third language I can just about order a meal and ask directions to the butcher. In his, Joseph Conrad forged a career as one of the great novelists of the early twentieth century whilst simultaneously leading a life that makes Ernest Hemingway’s biography read like that of a provincial bank manager by comparison. Victory isn’t one of Conrad’s better-known novels and I confess I’d never heard of it until it popped up as a recommendation on Goodreads. It is a gripping, atmospheric piece of writing that operates on multiple levels: part tropical adventure story, part melodramatic romance, part psychological thriller, part critique of empire. It is also to some extent an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with the central characters exhibiting strong parallels with Prospero, Miranda, Caliban and Arial. Conrad successfully evokes a similar atmosphere of mystery and portent, whilst the whole book has the feel of a stage play. The action unfolds within a narrow, claustrophobic space and the back story is fed in largely through anecdote and dialogue, much of it from unreliable sources. I’m not aware of Victory having been turned into a stage production but if it hasn’t then it definitely should be. It also deserves to be more widely known as a novel, being at least as good as The Secret Agent and Heart of Darkness whilst streets ahead of much of the shit churned out by several of Conrad’s contemporaries who found much greater favour with the British literary establishment. But sadly Conrad is just one in a long line of Polish immigrants who have contributed enormously to British society whilst meeting a mixture of indifference and hostility from their hosts.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Franz

    A masterpiece, in spite of its rather untidy ending. The first part is told calmly by an anonymous sailor, who seems to remember things as his story unfolds. He will interrupt the recollection of the main events to reflect upon Heyst's (the hero) character, then resume it but not quite at the point where he had left it, and not quite even from the very same perspective. He has lived in that part of the world (around the Java sea) for many years, and so has Heyst. It is a very unique landscape, a A masterpiece, in spite of its rather untidy ending. The first part is told calmly by an anonymous sailor, who seems to remember things as his story unfolds. He will interrupt the recollection of the main events to reflect upon Heyst's (the hero) character, then resume it but not quite at the point where he had left it, and not quite even from the very same perspective. He has lived in that part of the world (around the Java sea) for many years, and so has Heyst. It is a very unique landscape, and the Europeans who dwell there may be considered as though they had acquired a new nationality. So he will go on with his narrative of the Swede's drama by inviting us to sit at a table with other seafarers, some of them perhaps tipsy, as it was the case when Heyst was there five or ten years ago. Yes, the story unfolds lazily, and yet it appears clear despite all its drowsiness. This first part is simply startling. I think that Conrad himself was not conscious of what he had achieved. But if the style afterwards grows more conventional, we lack the chance to regret it, since the author is able to introduce a character as great as Lena. The dialogues between Heyst and the girl are beautiful in their translucent quality. Everything is essential there, as if Conrad were writing about the very possibility of the most complex human feelings. Those dialogues remind me of some techniques used by Kafka in Das Schloss and also by Kundera. Besides the dialogues, we are now dazzled by the irony with which an omniscient narrator continues the narrative.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    The plot of Victory is shaped like a thriller. A man is trapped on a small volcanic island with three murderous criminals who think he is hiding a huge stash of money. (He isn't.) If he had been by himself it wouldn't be so bad because he is a detached sort of person, capable of facing death with equanimity. But he isn't by himself, there is also a young woman to protect from rape and murder. In Conrad's hands this story loses some of the pacing and pep of a real thriller, but it gains psychologi The plot of Victory is shaped like a thriller. A man is trapped on a small volcanic island with three murderous criminals who think he is hiding a huge stash of money. (He isn't.) If he had been by himself it wouldn't be so bad because he is a detached sort of person, capable of facing death with equanimity. But he isn't by himself, there is also a young woman to protect from rape and murder. In Conrad's hands this story loses some of the pacing and pep of a real thriller, but it gains psychological insight and exploration into human nature. The novel's protagonist, Heyst, is the son of a very pessimistic philosopher (think Schopenhauer) who imbued his son with a desire to remain detached from the doomed mass of humanity, to be an observer, not an actor. Despite his early training at his father's knee, he gets drawn into helping a hopeless man, and later in the book, a helpless woman, and these encounters make him question his detachment. I hadn't read any Conrad in years, and Victory reminded me of what I like about him. I love his settings in the backwaters of European colonies, the grubby characters living on the fringes of society, and his lovely prose. Its hard to believe that someone who came to English as a second language could write in English so beautifully.

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