Unlike many here, I found this one to be overwritten and ponderous. The story was predictable and took rather too long to unfold. The characters, too, were less deep than I'd have liked and the tale, of a loner adrift in the Pacific Islands who is the object of rumour and jealousy and yet who blindly finds love, is not particularly fresh. For much of the time I was reading the book, I had in mind those old films from the thirties and forties with Bogart and Peter Lorre, et al. And yet, I suppose that is a compliment in itself since Conrad's work came first and set the tone which these films clearly set out to emulate thereafter. So cliche or no, the book, in its time, was fresher than it manifestly is now. Still, I found the slow and ponderous way Conrad "grows" his tale dated and less efficient than more modern narrative forms. And, in this case, the depth of the tale did not suffice to offset the lumbering explication. Allusions to Milton's Paradise Lost are clever but they are only that, not the tools needed to advance the tale. And the bad guys are clearly, as others have noted here, more symbolic than real. Heyst, the honourable loner, never comes clear to us, in his miserable isolation from others, and Lena, the fleeing maiden in distress, never grows into anything more. Yes, Conrad has a good name as an author, but not, I suspect, for this book.
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About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky (swmirsky)
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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