evocation of exotic life and colour. Sulaco, standing beneath snow-clad Higuerota, with its population of Indians, mixed-bloods, Hidalgos, Italians and English engineers, is brought before us in irresistible reality, along with the picturesque and murderous public drama of a South American state. This aspect of Conrad's genius in Nostromo has had full recognition; indeed it could hardly be missed. What doesn't seem to be a commonplace is the way in which the whole book forms a rich and subtle but highly organized pattern. Every detail, character and incident has its significant bearing on the themes and motives of this. The magnificence referred to above addresses the senses, or the sensuous imagination; the pattern is one of moral significances. ( 1941, 1948)
It seemed to him that every conviction, as soon as it became effective, turned into that form of dementia the gods send upon those they wish to destroy. But he enjoyed the bitter flavour of that example with the zest of a connoisseur in the art of his choice.--( Nostromo)
A CURIOUS LEGEND has formed around Nostromo, the legend that this novel is based mainly on Conrad's impressions received during a two days' visit to Venezuela, in 1876. The whole legend (for it is nothing else, as we shall see) has arisen from Conrad's own ambiguous statements, and has come to be accepted simply because of the insufficient knowledge of Conrad's Polish past, on which the novel is really built.
When Conrad was working on Nostromo, he wrote to R. B. Cunninghame Graham, in a letter dated 8th July, 1903:
I am dying over that cursed Nostromo thing. All my memories of Central America seem to slip away. I just had a glimpse twenty-five years ago--a short glance. That is not enough pour bâtir un roman dessus. And yet one must live.
The idea has been taken up by John Galsworthy, who wrote in his Reminiscences of Conrad [ 1925] that "in Nostromo Conrad made a continent out of just a sailor's glimpse of a South American port, some twenty years before."
This view does not stand a closer examination of the facts. Very few things in that novel can be called typically Central American, and even these Conrad might have got to know through his reading. All the really____________________