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

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Friday, July 10, 2015

The end of Nostromo

And so it ends - Nostromo - as we see that Decoud killed himself (shot dead sitting on gunwale of his rowboat, body falling in sea, weighted down by 4 silver ingots, symbolism anyone?), which Nostromo rather unconvincingly discovered (from a passing ship). Once ashore, N finds the silver and realizes that D had died (dead from despair after being left alone on the island by N for two weeks or so - one would think he would try to row to safety?) and N develops scheme to take the silver, ingot by ingot, and enrich himself over many years by pretending to run a successful business as a tradesman. So there goes his moral authority - he's a thief plain and simple (but isn't Gould, English owner of the SA silver mine, a thief in his way, too? Conrad is well aware of this, but we sense his sympathies lie more w/ the European colonizers than with the workers or the natives). N is also guilty in a way of the death of 2: the stowaway Hirsch and his compatriot Decoud - a guilt he bears till the end. N's plans almost foiled when they start to build a lighthouse on the Isabel near his trove, but he schemes to have the Italian revolutionary Viola made the keeper, and he lives there w/ two daughter, one of whom Nostromo courts - giving cover for his many visits to the ravine. But things go sour - he gets engaged to one of the sisters though he loves the younger one, they begin an affair, Viola, now quite elderly, shoots N to death, mistaking him for a ruffian whom he doesn't like courting the younger daughter. It's a complex ending to a complex book and more melodramatic than most of the material in the novel - Conrad was not much or a writer of love and romance, and the relationships at the end feel creaky and forced upon us: there was hardly a hint of N's attachment to anyone and, in a parallel narrative, he shows Dr. Moynaghan as suffering from a lifelong crush on Mrs. Gould, who's largely ignored by her husband in his pursuit of wealth. There's so much great material in this novel but by the end it's almost too much to hold in one's mind or in one book. In an earlier post I speculated about Nostromo as a film, and I think  - maybe it's been tried - it would be destined to fail - but I honestly think it might make a good series, though some of the scenes told by indirection or inference would need fleshing out.

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