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Victory (Penguin Classics)
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The protagonist, Axel Heyst, is the son of a philosopher who once wrote, "Of the strategems of life, the most cruel is the consolation of love." His philosophy Conrad compares to a "terrible trumpet which had filled heaven and earth with ruins..."After his father dies, Heyst wanders the globe, looking "only for facts" until he becomes enchanted with a South Sea archipelago. Therafter, he is drawn to two people who provide models of friendship and love. Morrison, a small craft owner whose generosity has left him bankrupt, Heyst helps out of his bind only to fail to understand why the man is so grateful and anxious to repay him. But it is the girl Lena who fills him with an emotion that he cannot express or understand until the novel's end. After rescuing her from a life of exploitation, Heyst takes her back to his island where he is determined to live apart from the world.
It's only after his island is invaded by two criminals that Heyst discovers how much his actions toward Morrison and Lena were motivated by love. When he learns that the jealous hotelkeeper, Schomberg, has told everyone that "the Swede" had swindled his friend out of all his money before sending him to England to die, Heyst becomes upset, even though he had never cared what the world thought of him. When the malefactors Jones and Ricardo threaten Lena's life, he at last becomes involved in the world that he had left behind.
Suspenseful and chilling, Heyst's fight with the criminals ends with a victory having multiple meanings.Read more ›
Conrad's works have, of course, been reviewed to exhaustion; the only thing that I could hope to add would be my emotional response to the novel as a reader.
Personally through the majority of the novel I found Heyst to be the only truly well defined character. Much of what we learn of him is revealed indirectly through the observations of others, but somehow Conrad manages to use this method to flesh out a complex and intriguing figure in Heyst. The remanding characters, while interesting, serve mostly as scenery. The villains Jones and Ricardo, while interesting, struck me not so much as human characters but as forces of impending doom; they could have as easily been an approaching storm or a plague or any other brand of natural disaster. The girl Lena in the end is the one exception; perhaps the one thing that I found most gratifying is the way in which her character developed as the novel neared its climax.
The Penguin Classics version is well footnoted for those of you (like me) that would have missed some of the more obscure Biblical references and allusions to Paradise Lost. The notes also comment on the narrator's shifting viewpoint, and on revisions Conrad made to subsequent editions. For those readers interested in an insight into Conrad's thinking I'd recommend this version.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great mingling of classic language, Shakesperian tragedy and mystery. The narrator is our guide to the interior monologue of these complex characters. Really worth the ride.Published 1 month ago by Susan
The book was very badly water damaged at one time. It smells very musty and dank, can't be shelved near other books for fear of the smell contaminating them. Read morePublished 6 months ago by CanyonWren
This edition is very poorly edited, full of head-scratching typos.Published 7 months ago by A. Marchant
Axel Heyst drifts in solitude from place to place, eventually arriving in the far eastern isles of the South China Sea. Read morePublished 7 months ago by An admirer of Saul
This is sometimes talked about as Conrad’s popular book. It is an adventure story for sure, and the tensions in the story’s action will carry you along. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Doctor Moss
Not one of Conrad's best, but even mediocre Conrad is a good stuff.Published 15 months ago by michael a. rea
A good story of events in the south Pacific with an interesting conclusion. Recommended.Published 17 months ago by Boris