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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Class exploitation in Costaguana, and maybe elsewhere as well?: Nostromo

Conrad didn't forget: Nostromo has been off stage for maybe 200 pages as the revolution sweeps through the coastal town of Sulaco - it seemed as if these events took place over many weeks - but of course things are happening rapidly and as we come back to Nostromo, shaking himself awake after a long sleep following his ocean swim from the island to the mainland, we realize all these events took place over a 14-hour span. When Dr. Monyghan, almost by chance, comes across Nostromo - whom he and everyone else assumed was dead - the very complex plot takes another twist: Monyghan wants Nostromo to carry a message and try to make a deal w/ one of the rebel generals in an effort to save the Gould silver mines, but only Nostromo knows that the silver bullion was not lost at sea (and that Decoud is still alive); Nostromo will keep that knowledge to himself - inevitably, he'll have to get back to Decoud on the island, and what they do with the bullion is an open question. This section of the novel involves one of those typically Conradian extensive dialogue, as Dr M and N go over the details of the coup and the attempt to escape with the silver, Nostromo holding back on key information. Nostromo's character begins to emerge as well, as for the first time we see him bristle against the way the English colonists take him for granted, expect him to solve every problem, and pay him very little - and he particularly bristles at Dr M's suggestions that he should have raised a lantern to avoid the collision w/ the steamship - that would have been better than losing the silver altogether: N thinks, so you wanted me to be a coward? To fail in my mission? N has the clearest insight into the class and ethnic exploitations that are at the heart of the socioeconomic system in the small country of Costaguana - and, just maybe, in other countries as well.

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