First edition cover
|Publisher||Harper & Bros|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
Nostromo is a 1904 novel by Polish-born British novelist Joseph Conrad, set in the fictitious South American republic of "Costaguana". It was originally published serially in two volumes of T.P.'s Weekly.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Nostromo 47th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "I'd rather have written Nostromo than any other novel." 
Conrad set his novel in the mining town of Sulaco, an imaginary port in the occidental region of the imaginary country of Costaguana. The book has more fully developed characters than any other of his novels, but two characters dominate the narrative: Señor Gould and the eponymous anti-hero, the "incorruptible" Nostromo.
Nostromo is set in the South American country of Costaguana; though a fictional nation, Costaguana's geography as described in the book resembles real-life Colombia. Costaguana has a long history of tyranny, revolution and warfare, but has recently experienced a period of stability under the dictator Ribiera.
Charles Gould is a native Costaguanero of English descent who owns an important silver-mining concession near the key port of Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and uses his wealth to support Ribiera's government, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, Gould's refurbished silver mine and the wealth it has generated inspires a new round of revolutions and self-proclaimed warlords, plunging Costaguana into chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, orders Nostromo, the trusted "capataz de los cargadores" (head longshoreman) of Sulaco, to take it offshore so it can be sold into international markets.
Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to his position through his daring exploits. ("Nostromo" is Italian for "shipmate" or "boatswain", but the name could also be considered a corruption of the Italian phrase "nostro uomo," meaning "our man.") Nostromo's real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning "trust" in archaic Italian.
Nostromo is a commanding figure in Sulaco, respected by the wealthy Europeans and seemingly limitless in his abilities to command power among the local population. He is, however, never admitted to become a part of upper-class society, but is instead viewed by the rich as their useful tool. He is believed by Charles Gould and his own employers to be incorruptible, and it is for this reason that Nostromo is entrusted with removing the silver from Sulaco to keep it from the revolutionaries. Nostromo's power and fame continues to grow, as he daringly rides over the mountains to summon the army which saves Sulaco's powerful leaders from the revolutionaries.
His exploits during the revolution do not bring Nostromo the fame he had hoped for, and he feels slighted and used. Feeling that he has risked his life for nothing, he is consumed by resentment, which leads to his corruption and ultimate destruction, for he has kept secret the true fate of the silver after all others believed it lost at sea. In recovering the silver for himself, he is shot and killed, mistaken for a trespasser, by the father of his fiancée, the keeper of the lighthouse on the island of Great Isabel.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
- In 1991 David Lean, the famous British director, was to film the story of Nostromo, with Steven Spielberg producing it for Warner Bros., but Lean died a few weeks before the principal photography was to begin. Marlon Brando, Paul Scofield, Peter O'Toole, Isabella Rossellini, Christopher Lambert, and Dennis Quaid had all been set to star in this adaptation.
- 1996, a television adaptation Nostromo was produced. It was adapted by John Hale and directed by Alastair Reid for the BBC, Radiotelevisione Italiana, Televisión Española, and WGBH Boston. It starred Claudio Amendola as Nostromo, and Colin Firth as Señor Gould. – Nostromo at the Internet Movie Database
References in other works
- Andrew M. Greeley's 1985 novel Virgin and Martyr has much of the story set in the fictional country of Costaguana. Many of the place names are borrowed from Conrad's novel.
- In Ridley Scott's Alien the spacecraft is named the Nostromo. In James Cameron's sequel, Aliens, the Marine transport vessel is named Sulaco. (Also in Alien, the escape vessel is named Narcissus, an allusion to another of Conrad's works, The Nigger of the Narcissus.)
- In Dean Koontz's Fear Nothing The main character Christopher Snow visits a man named Roosevelt Frost in search of answers. Frost lives aboard a boat named Nostromo.
- In the Warhammer 40000 science-fiction franchise, Nostramo is a corruption-ridden world rich in minerals, eventually liberated by a brutal tyrant named Konrad Kurze; the name may be borrowed from the brutal antagonist Mr Kurtz in Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness.
- Thomas L. Jeffers, “The Logic of Material Interests in Conrad’s Nostromo,” Raritan (Fall 2003), 80–111.
- Politics in fiction
- The novel Historia secreta de Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, tells the fictional story of José Altamirano, the Colombian "informant" of Joseph Conrad that the Polish-born author all but erased from his famous tale.
- Watt, Ian. Conrad: Nostromo (Landmarks of World Literature), Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988, p. 1.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Nostromo, a Tale of the Seaboard at Project Gutenberg
- Essays and annotated text for Nostromo.
- Nostromo at Google Books
- Analysis and Commentary @ Modernism Lab Essays
- Nostromo Map