Joseph Conrad had already cemented himself as one of the greatest English novelists with books like Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness, but it wasn't until Victory that he achieved his peak fame. This tale of love, jealousy, and adventure is rife with all the tension and drama fans have come to expect from the great Conrad. Performed with a powerful dedication by award-winning actor George Guidall, Victory is the suspenseful tale of Axel Heyst and his misadventure on a small island in the South Seas.
From one of the greatest modern writers in world literature comes a magnificent story of love, adventure, and rescue, played out against the shimmering South Seas. Alone on a tropical island, a Swedish baron and a beautiful violinist discover the long-lost joys of love. But when two treasure hunters arrive on the beach, the lovers know that evil has invaded their romantic paradise—an evil they are powerless to stop.
Victory is a timeless classic that showcases the probing psychological insight, the masterful drama, and the breathtaking atmosphere that have won Joseph Conrad generations of fans.
Public Domain (P)1995 Recorded Books, LLC
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
"I had, in a moment of inadvertence, created for myself a tie. How to define it precisely I don't know. One gets attached in a way to people one has done something for. But is that friendship? I am not sure what it was. I only know that he who forms a tie is lost. The germ of corruption has entered into his soul."
The more Conrad I read/listen to, the more I love Conrad. Victory is a not just your standard story about good v. evil, West v. East, innocence and savagery. It is about being an actor in life and love and not just an observer. It is beautiful, sad and powerful.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In Part One of Joseph Conrad's Victory (1915) the narrator introduces Axel Heyst, a Swedish "baron" drifting about the Tropical Belt of Eastern Asian islands (Timor, Saigon, Manila, and many small ones). Heyst is a mystery because he doesn't do anything to make money, unlike the narrator and his peers who cruise around on their ships trading with the locals. Everyone calls him derisive nicknames: "Enchanted Heyst," "Hard Fact Heyst," and "Utopist Heyst." Everyone thinks he's a harmless eccentric except for Schomberg, a coarse and cowardly Teutonic hotel owner who hates him with a passion and spreads foul rumors about his perceived perfidies. Heyst is completely unaware of how people see him.
Heyst, it develops, was molded by his failed philosopher father to live life as a rootless and detached spectator, feeling contempt and pity for the follies and plights of human beings who, after all, have nothing to do with him. Will he discover that it may not be so easy to go through life untouched and unentangled? What will become of his father's philosophy when Heyst's aloof observer orbit collides with four Brits? There is Morrison, a pathetic trader who never calls in debts, Lena (AKA Alma or the Magdalen), a beautiful, laconic, audacious, and sad damsel in distress, and "plain Mr. Jones," a cadaverous and misogynistic "gentleman" who has fallen Lucifer-like from his proper class and country to languidly gamble, thieve, extort, and kill up and down the world with the help of Martin Ricardo, his faithful lower-class feline thug of a "secretary" henchman.
Victory is a character study, a tropical romance, a crime thriller, and a philosophical debate. It may also be, not unlike Lord Jim, a triumphant tragedy involving a Pyrrhic victory leading, perhaps, to a romantic redemption. Its themes concern gender, class, race, colonialism, civilization, fate, love, and life in the world and apart from it. The novel is often strangely funny, and of course (Conrad being Conrad) it is shot through with wonderfully evocative and vivid descriptions of sea, sun, and people and cool insights into human nature.
Here is some neat humor, description, and character:
"His nearest neighbour--I am speaking now of things showing some sort of animation--was an indolent volcano which smoked faintly all day with its head just above the northern horizon, and at night levelled at him, from amongst the clear stars, a dull red glow, expanding and collapsing spasmodically like the end of a gigantic cigar puffed at intermittently in the dark. Axel Heyst was also a smoker; and when he lounged out on his veranda with his cheroot, the last thing before going to bed, he made in the night the same sort of glow and of the same size as that other one so many miles away."
Here is some serene beauty:
"The islands are very quiet. One sees them lying about, clothed in their dark garments of leaves, in a great hush of silver and azure, where the sea without murmurs meets the sky in a ring of magic stillness. A sort of smiling somnolence broods over them; the very voices of their people are soft and subdued, as if afraid to break some protecting spell."
Here is some ominous suspense:
"Behind his back the sun, touching the water, was like a disc of iron cooled to a dull red glow, ready to start rolling round the circular steel plate of the sea, which, under the darkening sky, looked more solid than the high ridge of Samburan."
And here are some wonderful lines:
"For the use of reason is to justify the obscure desires that move our conduct..."
"The Zangiacomo band was not making music; it was simply murdering silence with a vulgar, ferocious energy."
"The world is a bad dog. It will bite you if you give it a chance."
"Man on this earth is an unforeseen accident which does not stand close investigation."
"That girl, seated in her chair in graceful quietude, was to him like a script in an unknown language, or even more simply mysterious, like any writing to the illiterate."
"An insane bandit is a deadly combination."
"I find it easier to believe in the misfortune of mankind than in its wickedness."
If there were an American I'd like to listen to reading a British novel, it would be George Guidall. Instead of affecting British accents he speaks a limpid international English, all the while enhancing the various emotions and agendas and personalities of the characters with his at times sardonic at times sympathetic and always savory voice. However, for the interplay between Mr. Jones and Martin I did long for greater differentiation between their high and low classes via accent than Guidall conveys.
Fans of Joseph Conrad, great prose, and bleak yet hopeful visions should give Victory a try--though Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness would be better Conrad works with which to begin an acquaintance with the twinkling-eyed master of existential exotic adventure.
Terrific reading highlighting the subtleties of Conrad's prose. Well done.An incredibly villainous villain and a naive hero.
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