Idealism as Egoism in Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo.
The Contradictions in a Depressive’s Dystopian World View.
Things fall apart and apart and apart…
“I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.”
A. Prologue and Warning.
Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo is one of the most highly regarded novels that is least read. This is a dubious distinction that it shares with such novels as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Each of these novels is long, with a complicated narrative structure, lengthy descriptions of scenes and things, and abstract philosophical interludes. Each is full of soliloquys, speechifying, and long internal monologues that can seem stilted and unrealistic. They are challenging reads.
First published in 1904, Nostromo has been called “a novel that one cannot read unless one has read it before.” It is chock full of characters, and the plot would be complex enough if it was narrated in a linear fashion, which it isn’t. Conrad repeatedly switches from the novel’s present to the past and then to the future, and he gives the reader little clue when he has done so. He also repeatedly switches the perspective on events, with different narrators presenting differing pictures of the same events. There is no clear master narrative to the book, and not even common ground among the narrators or between the narrators and other characters. The result is that the reader can never find a secure footing. Staying with the book is an effort. Many have questioned whether it is worth the effort, and decided that it isn’t.
I first read Nostromo some forty years ago. I remember finding it exciting but disconcerting, and I wasn’t sure why. I recently read Maya Jasanoff’s new biography of Conrad, The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World, which inspired me to reread Nostromo. Once again, I found it exciting and exacting, but still disconcerting. I think, however, that I now know why the book disturbs me. I have also concluded that it is well worth the effort. It is a beautiful, inciteful and haunting book about ideals, idealism, and ideas that forces you to rethink your own principles. But I must add the warning that taking this book out of context could be hazardous to your mental health, and to your political and intellectual will. I hope, herein, to explain what I mean.
B. The Plot: Making a Long Story as Short as I Can.
Nostromo is the story of a political revolution in the imaginary South American country of Costaguana (coast of bird dung). The country is caught in a seemingly endless cycle of violent upheavals in which brutal dictatorships alternate with inept republics, over and over again, so that nothing ever really changes. The current disorders revolve around a silver mine which is coveted by both would-be dictators and erstwhile republicans. The republicans are portrayed in the book as the good guys, the dictators as bad guys.
In my reading, Nostromo is a story about the futility and fatality of idealism. Jasanoff claims that Conrad believed that “force will crush ideals – and that ideals have victims,” a theme that “recurred throughout his writing” and particularly in Nostromo. The story is full of idealists, the bad guys as well as the good, who idealize all sorts of things that they think will make for a better world, but whose dreams invariably become nightmares.
The conflicts and contradictions among the characters’ ideals, and the egoism that lies behind them and pushes them forward, is the substance of the story. It is not an uplifting tale. Conrad opines in his own voice that “A man haunted by a fixed idea is insane. He is dangerous even if that idea is an idea of justice.” Idealism, according to Conrad, is a form of egoism, and idealists are pitiless in pursuit of their respective ideals. That is what repeatedly happens in the book.
Nostromo, the book’s namesake, is an ostensibly incorruptible employee of the shipping company that serves the silver mine. He idealizes himself and lives only for the purity of his reputation. He is a sympathetic character, but one who is clearly defined by egoism, and it is his egoism that leads to his downfall. Other characters are not so openly egoistic, but egoism still underlies Conrad’s descriptions of their idealism.
Charles Gould is the owner of the mine. He is an upright and universally respected man, whose materialism – his belief that money makes the world go around – is the basis for his idealism. He believes his mine will provide the material foundation for a peaceful Costaguanan republic, and he openly speaks of himself as the savior of the country. His efforts to develop the mine are backed by an American financier who also seeks to do good, so long as it is profitable.
Don Jose Avellanos is an aristocratic republican who was tortured almost to death by the previous dictator. He upholds the ideal of noblesse oblige. Antonia, his daughter, idealizes and supports her father. Martin Decoud idealizes and pursues Antonia. Giorgio Viola is a former follower of Garibaldi in Italy who idealizes heroic leaders, including Gould and Nostromo.
Mrs. Gould, Charles Gould’s wife, is a self-consciously saintly woman who idealizes humanity, and cares for the misfits and outcasts of Costaguanan society. She is the exception that seemingly proves the rule in the book, as she is the one idealist who is not an egotist.
There are many other good guys in the book, and variations on the idealist theme. There are also bad guys who are idealists, albeit idealists of evil. They are exemplified by Guzman Bento, the previous tyrant who had tortured Don Jose Avellanos, and by General Montero and his brother Pedro Montero, would-be dictators in the current crisis.
In Conrad’s view, evil can be idealized. He says, for example, of Guzman Bento that “The power of Supreme Government had been in his dull mind an object of strange worship, as if it were some cruel deity and it was incarnated in himself.” Bento is an idealist. Each of these bad guys has an ideal of an orderly society in which he is the dictator. And the fact is that the dictatorship of Guzman Bento brought peace to Costaguana, even if it was temporary and bought at a high cost in human suffering and death.
In the midst of the competing egos and ideals of the would-be saviors of Costaguana, the masses of ordinary people are rarely in evidence and invariably described in disparaging terms by the various narrators, including the voice of Conrad himself. Conrad is no democrat. The people are “the mob,” and victims of their own “mental darkness.” He opines that “The popular mind is incapable of skepticism; and that incapacity delivers their helpless strength to the wiles of swindlers and to the pitiless enthusiasm of leaders inspired by visions of a high destiny” which, in turn, leads invariably to violence, brutality and oppression.
None of the idealistic hopes of any of the characters is fulfilled, and this outcome is foredoomed by the fact that the idealism of each is essentially a form of egoism. Each holds fast to an idea of an ideal world in which he/she rules and his/her ideas reign. There is very little connection between and among these people or their ideas. To each of them, it is “my way or the gallows.”
The book ends with the defeat of the Monteros and the installation of a weak and seemingly temporary republican regime. More upheavals are inevitably in the offing. The conclusion of most of the characters, and the book itself, is disillusionment. Mrs. Gould speaks for most of the characters, and seemingly for Conrad, when she bemoans “Is it this we worked for, then?” Symbolizing the moral of the story, Nostromo performs heroically and righteously on behalf of the republican forces throughout three quarters of the book but dies ignominiously at the end after having compromised his integrity by stealing a consignment of silver from the mine.
C. Interpretations: Capitalist, Socialist, Imperialist, Anti-Imperialist, Racist, Humanist, Nihilist…You name it.
Nostromo has almost as many differing interpretations as it has interpreters. Commenting on this, Jasanoff says that “Conrad’s characters whisper in the ears of new generations of antiglobalization protesters and champions of free trade, liberal interventionists and radical terrorists, social justice activists and xenophobic nativists,” just to name a few. I think this diversity of interpretation is largely a function of there being so many narrators with different perspectives in the book. They all take turns in being the voice of the book, even the bad guys. Depending on which narrator you think that Conrad is favoring, you are likely to come up with an interpretation along the lines of that narrator’s perspective.
Some critics, for example, claim that the central message of the book is Gould’s argument that “material interests” will be the means of civilizing Costaguana, specifically in the form of his silver mine. This ostensibly makes the book an encomium to capitalism. Others claim that Nostromo’s affiliation with the workers in the book and his support for their wage and other claims makes the book an argument in favor of socialism.
Some argue that the book is an apology for imperialism because the main voices in the book are those of Gould, Mrs. Gould, Decoud, and Nostromo, all of whom grew up and lived in Europe and who, thereby, represent a Western imperialist view of Costaguana. These Europeans plus some European engineers and seamen are also the only competent people in the book. Native Costaguanans are almost invariably portrayed as incompetent. This argument is bolstered by the fact that Gould’s mine is dependent on the investment of an American financier who openly proclaims that America will one day rule Costaguana. At the same time, other interpreters claim the book is effectively an anti-imperialist story because it portrays the futility of these Europeans to establish their republican government and civil society in Costaguana. Costaguana is, after all, in as big a mess at the end of the book as it was at the beginning.
Since native Costaguanans in the book are invariably portrayed as ignorant, incompetent, and irrational, mostly appearing in the form of rioting mobs, Nostromo has been condemned as racist. At the same time, since the book repeatedly portrays ordinary Costaguanans as being exploited and oppressed by elites from all political parties, European and Costaguanan alike, the book has been praised as humanistic and humanitarian. Finally, with all of the confusion and contradiction among the characters and their points of view, and with an overall picture of Costaguana as a worst of all possible worlds, Nostromo has been characterized as an exposition of nihilism and an example of post-modernism before its time.
I think that each of these interpretations is plausible. But their differences leave us readers as confused as the characters in the book. What are we to think? I think we can safely say that Conrad’s descriptions of things in the book are beautiful, even stunning. His characters are brilliantly etched, and his transcriptions of their internal monologues are moving and convincing. His portrayal of the action is riveting. And Conrad’s discussion of social and political issues is incisive. Finally, I think we can say that the book is disconcerting. This is in part because the book’s characters are uniformly depressed and the plot is thoroughly depressing. But, even more, I think it is disconcerting because Conrad’s view of the world is a contradiction in terms.
D. The Dangers of a Disillusioned Idealist.
Conrad’s world views, according to Jasanoff, were derived from his personal experiences which were filled with hardships and disappointments. Conrad was a Polish refugee from Russian oppression who had difficulty finding a country in which to settle. He was from a self-styled aristocratic family but had to work as a young man in menial jobs and as an ordinary seaman. He began his literary career writing popular sea stories, and had trouble being taken seriously when he began writing more serious fiction. He also suffered most of his life from clinical depression. Jasanoff opines that Conrad had a “blighted childhood” that “inspired a fatalistic sense of the world as a realm where, no matter how hard you tried to make your own way, you might never slip the tracks of destiny.”
Conrad’s parents were idealistic activists for Polish independence from Russia. His antipathy to idealism seemingly was initially derived from the futility of their idealism. His parents fought, and they and he suffered, as the Russians persecuted his parents for their activism. Conrad’s anti-idealism also stemmed from his disappointment that what he remembered as the brotherly community of seamen on the ships on which he sailed did not prevail on land. Conrad idealized merchant ships as cooperative societies in which superior authority was respected. Based on his shipboard memories, Jasanoff claims, “he treasured a misty ideal of personal honor, commitment to duty, a community of people willing to sacrifice themselves for something bigger.” Conrad’s dismay that he did not find this ideal being honored on land, especially among erstwhile idealists, was acute.
As a result, Conrad disdained idealism and saw himself as a realist. Most critics have agreed, but I do not. I think that in Nostromo he is a disillusioned idealist who has become a pessimist but is still an idealist. Conrad rejects idealism but still judges the world in idealistic terms. What he is really condemning is idealism that takes the form of ideology, as opposed to idealism that stems from an ethical ideal. While condemning idealism in toto, he applies an ethical ideal to those he is condemning. This contradiction between what he preaches about the world and what he practices in his judgments of the world leads him to a view that is solipsistic, dystopian, and hopeless. It is a view that is unrealistic, unhelpful, and unnecessarily demoralizing. It is inherently inconsistent, and I think Conrad does not really believe in it. Its inconsistencies undermine the book’s credibility, and they are disconcerting to readers trying to make sense of it.
I will elaborate on this argument and make some comparisons of Nostromo with Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart which, like Nostromo, is a story about a third-world society in crisis. In Achebe’s book, what had been a fairly stable and well-functioning African peasant society is disrupted and ultimately destroyed by an invasion of Europeans, many of whom are idealists of one sort or another intent on civilizing the natives according to Western standards.
E. Idealism as Ideology and Ethics: Give Peace a Chance.
Conrad makes a sustained attack on idealism in Nostromo, blaming the mess in Costaguana primarily on idealistic politicians blinded by egoism. He then, however, applies to the behavior of these misguided idealists an ethical ideal even as he condemns the idealism in them. This contradiction between what Conrad preaches and what he practices is disconcerting.
Idealism is commonly defined as the pursuit of perfection. “Pursuit” is the operative term in the definition. Perfection is to be perpetually sought after but is never expected to be achieved. One can, however, distinguish between conceiving idealism ideologically and conceiving it ethically.
An ideology is a body of doctrines, a set of fixed ideas with definite meanings and boundaries. It is something to be followed and tends to be exclusive. It defines right versus wrong, and good versus bad. Those who don’t agree with your ideas become the opposition, and even the enemy. In Nostromo, Conrad portrays ideals as ideologies and idealists as people who seek to impose their fixed ideas on the world. These people all too easily become fanatics in their single-minded idealism, and it is a fanaticism rooted in egoism. The ideologue insists that reality must fit into the Procrustean bed of his/her ideas.
Idealistic ideologies in Nostromo include Charles Gould’s ideal of a capitalist society in which peace and prosperity would be ensured by the mutual interests of all people in the free flow of commerce. This was a favorite ideal among the upper classes in Western Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Guzman Bento’s ideal was an authoritarian society in which peace and prosperity were ensured by the iron fist of a dictator, himself. This was, and still is, a favorite ideal among the upper classes in Eastern Europe, among other places.
Idealism is for Conrad the insanity of the man with a fixed idea who will destroy anything in the way of his ideal of perfection, and who will slaughter people to save the world from their imperfections. In this conception, idealism almost invariably generates the fear, hatred and vengeance it is supposed to eliminate.
An ethic can be described as a set of principles and a process of applying those principles. An ethic can be seen as an image of perfection which has core values but can be fuzzy around the edges. Images can be more flexible in form and substance than ideas. An ethic can be more inclusive than an ideology, and an image can be seen as overlapping with those of others, or at least not inconsistent with them. People’s ethical principles don’t have to match exactly for them to cooperate with each other, and the way ethical principles are applied can depend on the situation. Idealism can then respond creatively to changes in circumstances, rather than ignore or deny them. It can be pragmatically inclusive, rather than ideologically exclusive.
The Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you if you were in their situation” is an example of such an ideal. The Golden Rule is flexible, inclusive, and its operation depends on the circumstances in which it is applied. And it is the antithesis of egoism, requiring empathy, the acceptance of differences among people, and cooperation with others in devising the solution to a problem. There is a version of the Golden Rule in almost every religious and philosophical system in the world, which makes it a potentially unifying ethic.
The Golden Rule is the sort of “one for all and all for one” ethic that often arises spontaneously among people working on a project together. If Conrad had been interested in exploring the ways of life of ordinary people in Costaguana, he could probably have conceived it in operation, at least to some extent, among the Costaguanan peasants and workers. Chinua Achebe portrays this sort of cooperation among ordinary people in Things Fall Apart and it cushions some of the pessimism in his book.
With the exception of Mrs. Gould, Conrad does not explore this concept of idealism in Nostromo or imagine how it might have played out among ordinary people. If he had, the book might have had a different outlook. Of course, it is not for a reader to tell an author what book to write. The author gets to make that choice. It is ironic, however, that the Golden Rule ethic exemplified by Mrs. Gould is the ideal to which I think Conrad himself holds, and by which he judges the book’s characters. With the exception of Mrs. Gould, they all fail to be empathetic, inclusive, cooperative or pragmatic. Each and every one of them runs off on his own tangent, insisting on his way is the only way. And Conrad condemns them for failing to practice what I am describing as the Golden Rule ideal. This generates a disconcerting contradiction between the anti-idealism he preaches in his narrative and the idealism he practices in his judgments.
Bob Dylan expressed something of the Golden Rule ethical ideal in his “Talking World War III Blues.” The song is a dystopian dream of the world following a nuclear war. In his dream, the narrator of the song sees himself as the only person left in the world. He is lonely and does not see the purpose in living. The narrator then goes on to say that he is finding more and more people who are having dreams of nuclear war in which they are the only ones left. So, he concludes his song with a proposal to everyone who is having such dreams that he will let them be in his dream if he can be in theirs. The song is an ironic expression of hope in the midst of dystopian fears. It is a minimalist hope, but still something to build upon.
F. A Fall from Grace without Grace: Humpty Dumpty at least had a wall.
The society Conrad portrays in Nostromo is ostensibly a fallen world of the sort we would today call a dystopia. Almost everything that can go wrong in the book goes wrong. There are no good options from which characters can choose. They are continuously faced with trying to choose between the lesser of two evils, making that choice, and then having the greater evil come to pass. Things fall apart and apart in an endless dissolution.
The problem with this picture is that you cannot fall if there is nowhere to fall from, and things cannot fall apart if they were never together. That is what is missing from the story. There is no starting point or reference point in the book that is not dystopian, and seemingly no time when things were not dystopian. There is, therefore, no benchmark by which you could say that society has fallen. This is not merely an analytical problem — about how to measure the amount the society has fallen – it is a disqualifier. You cannot describe a situation as a mess if you have no conception of what a non-messy situation would be like, or from whence the mess derived.
In Things Fall Apart, for example, Achebe begins the book with a description of Nigerian society before the Europeans arrived, and then proceeds to describe how the advent of the Europeans brought down the hero of the book and his society. One thing led to another, and things fell apart. This is the way most stories work, even those that like Nostromo begin in media res, that is, in the middle of things. Things cannot fall apart if they were never together. A story either begins with a “Once upon a time” description of an original status quo or refers to some prior time and situation that constitutes a reference point for the story’s action.
Not so with Nostromo. We are apparently supposed to believe that chaos reigned eternally in Costaguana. That cannot be, and Conrad knows it. He also knows that his readers will inevitably try to make sense of the Costaguanan situation by imagining some sort of normalcy that preceded the cycle of crises in which Costaguana is caught. In failing to provide an explicit normalcy reference point, Conrad is, in effect, cheating. He is counting on the fact that humans will instinctively and intuitively fill in the gaps in a story, so that we readers will imagine a benchmark with which to describe Costaguanan society as fallen.
Conrad seemingly does not want to admit that ordinary Costaguanans were ever able to exist peaceably and productively. Conrad thinks the masses are irrationally emotional He is not a democrat, and the word democrat is repeatedly used disparagingly in the book. In Nostromo, brutes who disguise themselves as populist leaders mesmerize the masses. Claiming to idealize “the People,” they sell dictatorship as democracy, and this ersatz democracy inevitably succumbs to “Caeserism.” Conrad prefers an aristocratic republic for Costaguana, but he cannot see how such a government can survive the idiocy of the masses and the malevolence of the demagogues. The result is the vicious cycle of crises that he describes in the book.
But the reality is that the current state of chaos in Costaguana that Conrad describes could not exist without there having been some past state of relative normality, some functioning society of ordinary people, that underlies the present crisis and sustains the country even in the midst of the chaos. And Conrad knows this and knows better than he is letting on. Conrad’s unwillingness to describe a past state of normality seems to be a function of his disdain for the Costaguanan natives who would, after all, be the ones who created and supported any such state of normalcy, and who he repeatedly describes as ignorant, incompetent and idiotic.
Conrad’s disdain of native Costaguanans in Nostromo, and his disregard of natives in his other books as well, has been described as racism by Chinua Achebe, among others. I do not agree. I think his disparagement of native peoples is primarily a function of Conrad’s class-ism, his disdain for the working classes. Conrad was himself from an aristocratic family that fell on hard times. His elitism and ignorance of how ordinary people live is evident in Nostromo.
Conrad is unwilling or unable to recognize that normality is a result of ordinary people doing ordinary things – growing food, making things, transporting stuff around, and providing necessary services, which are the foundation of any society. Without this foundation, the elite classes could not engage in the shenanigans that he portrays in his book. And as a reader, it is disconcerting trying to figure out how a society can be fallen from nowhere, and how an elite class can exist without a functioning underclass and a social system that supports it.
G. Solipsism without Sincerity: You talkin’ to me?
The world Conrad portrays in Nostromo is peopled with characters who are unable to make meaningful intellectual and emotional contact with each other. It is a solipsistic world in which people essentially talk to themselves even as they talk to others, without making a real impression on each other. Conrad seems to be saying that people cannot meaningfully understand each other, even if they try very hard.
In Nostromo, the Europeanized political elite, both the good guys and the bad, talk past each other, caught up in their respective egoistic ideals. They also talk over the heads of the masses and there is nothing the ordinary people have to say to them. In contrast, in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the European colonists often talk past each other, and there is very little meaningful contact between the Europeans and the Nigerian natives, but there is meaningful communication among the natives. Conrad does not portray this sort of thing and, so, we are left with a picture of almost complete dysfunctionality.
The problem with this view is that in writing and publishing this book, Conrad seems to be assuming that he and his readers can make meaningful contact. As such, he seemingly contradicts his book’s thesis in writing the book. We have become used over the last century or so to writers who are intent on expressing themselves irrespective of their legibility to the reader. But this was not the case with Conrad. Nostromo is not a book that he just tossed off without caring if anyone read it or understood it. Conrad was not a proponent of art for art’s sake, or an expressionist writer. Nostromo is a complex book, but it is essentially a conventional narrative. It is also a passionately written book, and Conrad cared very much about reviews of the book and readers’ responses to it.
As such, Conrad’s conclusion that people cannot make meaningful contact seems to be contradicted by his premise in writing the book, and Conrad’s message does not seem consistent with his medium. It can be disconcerting for readers to try to understand a complex narrative that seems to be saying that we cannot understand each other anyway.
H. The Moral of the Story: What can we say and do?
Nostromo is a depressing book that almost saps the reader’s will to work for progressive social change. Conrad would seemingly have us believe that the situation in Costaguana, and seemingly in the world at large, is hopeless, what with inevitably egotistic people invariably talking past each other, and unable to act in meaningful consort. But I don’t think he believes it.
Conrad refused to find hope or to imagine hopeful choices in the Costaguanan situation. He proclaimed a reign of hopelessness. But in so doing he contradicted himself. For despite their depressing circumstances, the surviving characters in Nostromo were all planning for what they hoped would be a better future as the book ended. So, there must be at least some hope.
To be hopeless is to be without future prospects. No one but a dead person is without future prospects. You may feel hopeless, but it is instinctive to be continuously looking forward to the next moment. That’s just part of the psychology and physiology of life. Arthur Schopenhauer, for example, whose philosophy of hopelessness depressed generations of Germans during the nineteenth century, was something of a gourmet who, despite his philosophy, had no problem with looking forward to his next meal. That was a man with hope.
Since hope is inevitable, the better part of wisdom would seem to be to seek the best of all possible choices even in a worst of all possible worlds. It does no harm to a truthful picture of a grim reality to look for possibilities of change for the better, even if they are slight. We have no choice but to choose, so the reasonable thing is to choose what looks better, rather than pretend to give up but still go on looking forward to your next good meal, as Schopenhauer did, or your next book, as Conrad did.
Idealism is not necessarily a vehicle for egoism. Mrs. Gould exemplifies this point, and while she is portrayed as an exception in Nostromo, this is not inevitably the case. In Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the main character is an egotistical idealist, whose egoism brings him down and significantly harms his community. But Achebe also credibly portrays many people whose idealism is combined with a form of communitarianism, and who subordinate their egos to the needs of the community. That idealism is a hopeful point in an otherwise dystopian picture.
Conrad described in Nostromo a situation in which political regimes rapidly succeeded each other and tried to overturn whatever the previous regime had done. This scenario led him to despair of progressive social change. But social change is a long-term game, and while progressives need to survive short term reversals of fortune, progress depends on long-term cultural and demographic changes, especially among ordinary people.
Conrad refused to focus on the ordinary people, and so he missed the underlying foundation of Costaguanan society. In turn, he missed an opportunity to imaginatively explore the possibilities for long-term cultural and demographic changes in a country like Costaguana that might support progressive social changes. In focusing his story solely on elite politicians whose primary goal was to overthrow each other and impose their own will on the world, Conrad, not surprisingly, came to a pessimistic conclusion about the possibilities of social reform.
We are seeing this sort of short-term political reversal in the United States today under the Trump presidency and with right-wing Republican ascendancy in Congress and on the Supreme Court. These right-wing politicians are trying to overturn whatever had been achieved by the progressive presidency of Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional majorities. A short-term focus on politicians and politics might lead progressives today to a pessimistic conclusion like Conrad’s. But I think that would be a mistake.
As I write this essay in March, 2018, long-term underlying cultural and demographic changes seem to favor progressives in the United States, which perhaps helps explain the extremism and seeming desperation of the regressives in charge of our federal government and some of our so-called red-state governments. Using something like the Golden Rule as our image of the ideal, and keeping our eyes and efforts on the long-term while seizing whatever short-term possibilities that present themselves, we can rescue hope from despair. And while realizing what is missing from Nostromo – interest in ordinary people and on how things get done in everyday life – we can read the book for the beauty and insights it affords without losing our political and intellectual will.
 Kenneth Ligda. “Nostromo.” Yale Modernism Lab at modernism.coursepress.yale.edu
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. pp.82, 283.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. p.350.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. p.160. Also p.357.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. pp.231, 357, 384.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. p.453.
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. p.9.
 Matthew Waller. “The Allegorical Nostromo.” nostromoonline.com
 Jacek Gutorow. “The Paradoxes of the European Narrative: Edward Said’s Reading of Joseph Conrad.” culture.place 4/22/08. Kenneth Ligda “Nostromo.” Yale Modernism Lab. modernism.coursepress.yale.edu M. Wilding. “The Politics of Nostromo.” openjournal.library.sydney.edu.au 2014.
 Kenneth Ligda “Nostromo.” Yale Modernism Lab. modernism.coursepress.yale.edu Jacek Gutorow. “The Paradoxes of the European Narrative: Edward Said’s Reading of Joseph Conrad.” culture.place 4/22/08.
 Ironically, Conrad disdained Herman Melville as merely a writer of popular sea stories. The irony is that Melville faced the same prejudice as Conrad when Melville turned from writing adventure sea stories to more serious fiction such as Moby Dick. See Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. p.11.
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. p.53.
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. p.149.
 M. Wilding. “The Politics of Nostromo.” openjournal.library.sydney.edu.au 2014
 Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. p.350.
 Joseph Conrad. Nostromo. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. pp.372, 384.
 Maya Jasanoff. The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. p.305.