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Communities in Fiction$
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J. Hillis Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263103

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263103.001.0001

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Conrad’s Colonial (Non)Community

Conrad’s Colonial (Non)Community


(p.139) 4 Conrad’s Colonial (Non)Community
Communities in Fiction

J. Hillis Miller

Fordham University Press

Conrad’s Nostromo is his largest, most complex novel. It has the widest cast of characters, all presented in detail. Its origins are complex and contradictory. Nostromo came partly from Conrad’s own experiences, partly from his reading about South America. Unlike many of Conrad’s novels, Nostromo begins with a panoramic view of the scene of the action. That scene, however, is presented as just what happens to be there, in a “material vision” of the sea, the seashore, the harbor, the little town, with the snow-covered mountains behind. Nostromo has a double theme. It is the story of a civil war that leads to the founding of a new nation, with the connivance of “material [as well as imperialist] interests” from the United States. It also tells the stories of a whole series of characters whose lives are intertwined, but whose fates are decided by secret obsessions that make them isolatoes.

Keywords:   Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, South America, Isolatoes, Imperialism, Material interests

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