Constant Reader
WebBoardOrientationReading ListsHome WorksActivities
Classics Corner

Buy the paperback

Victory
by Joseph Conrad
Amazon.com:
In Victory (1915), Conrad returns to the Malay Archipelago, to the setting of his first mature novel, Lord Jim, and in Axel Heyst he creates a hero who is in many ways similar to Jim, a noble altruist destroyed by his ideals. It is a story of action and high adventure coexisting with an exhaustive study of the psychology of a man who's philosophy of life is summed up in the dying words of his father: "Look on -- make no sound."



Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (1 of 32), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 01:06 AM I began I new note for the official discussion of Victory. It's December 1, so let's begin. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (2 of 32), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 01:09 AM Now just wait one minute. It's still Nov 30 here, 10:09 pm and I still have 1 hour and 51 seconds to finish this book. Ruth Chi mangia bene, mangia Italiano
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (3 of 32), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 12:16 PM SPOILERS!!!!!! Dan- There is so much to discuss in this novel, and I hardly know where to begin. I've got marginalia all over my copy. You wrote, "a young girl is orphaned and must use her feminine wiles to garner a man in order to survive." I don't think Lena's turning to Heyst was quite that deliberate, but that was certainly the result. In "Victory," Conrad seems to see Alma/Lena as a super hero, using her wits, courage, love, and determination to do what she thinks needs to be done to protect Heyst's physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. Is the orphan in "Chance" of the same ilk, or is she portrayed as needy and incapable? Lena doesn't want Heyst to have to leave his protected world, so she takes on the responsibility of keeping him in a situation where he doesn't need to take action. I found that fascinating. Is there anything to the fact that Lena doesn't see herself as a whole person until she is called on to protect her protector? What, if anything, is that saying about Conrad's interpretation of male/female relationships? What is Mr. Jones' problem with women? It goes way beyond dislike - he absolutely detests them. He sees the same characteristics mentioned above as nothing but pure evil. There has to be more to it than him having had a bad relationship once. Did anyone else find him odd? I wonder if his problem was that he was asexual. He wasn't attracted to men, I don't think. And at the end, he killed Ricardo for being attracted to Lena and abandoning his worship of Mr. Jones as a gentleman. There is a lot of symbolism in this tale, but I shall let that rest for a bit. Unless the symbolism is part of the response to my relationship questions. I'll have to think about that one. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (4 of 32), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 02:36 PM Kay: I'm only half-way through a first-time read of Chance so I'm not comfortable comparing the characters of Lena and Flora just yet. Suffice it to say, both are female characters Conrad posits are at the end of their tether without any official place within society. And, so far in Chance, both intuitively cling to a male character as a means of escaping their social predicaments. Here are a few questions about Victory, though: (1) How do you pronounce "Heyst?" Is his name Axel Haste or Axel Heist? Pronunciation actually throws a sort of symbolic shawl around his character: "Haste" could be seen as ironic commentary whereas "Heist" is the fact that he steals Lena from the Zangiacomo orchestra and Shomberg. (2) Is Heyst based on S. Kirkegaard? Both are Swedish, both had domineering fathers, and, as a result of their upbringing, both tend to overly intellectualize everything and be out of touch with passion, with emotion. Of course, this also brings up a secondary conundrum: Whereas God is a central component of Kirkegaard; the concept of God, as far as this novel reveals, is something Heyst never considers. In other words, Heyst is the ultimate existentialist, living his life as he sees fit. There's no fate, no providence, no nothing to his world. With or without Lena's presence, what actually motivates Heyst? Is he simply "enchanted" with the islands or is there something more? (3) What do you make of the narrative shifts in this novel? Conrad creates a fictional narrator for the first part who is subsumed in the second by Captain Davidson. By the third part, we are witnesses to Heyst and Lena's island life, their thoughts. The narrative is now, with hardly a flutter, fully omniscient. EXCEPT: We never really are given a glimpse into what Mr. Jones is thinking. Think of it: The thoughts of Heyst, Lena, Ricardo, and even Wang are expressed in the course of the novel. But what does Mr. Jones really think? Who knows? And that is probably why Kay--and myself--find it so difficult to fathom Mr. Jones (no pun intended). (4) What's with Mr. Jones? His misogyny is so twisted and focused that it is arising from some pathology beyond my ken. It's cannot be simply a 19th century writer's depiction of the psychology of a homosexual, as I have seen in some research on this novel. Mr. Jones is without a soul, without guidance or motivation. What drives Heyst and what drives Mr. Jones? I think we should start with these two soulless-mates first. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (5 of 32), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 02:44 PM A moment of Victory... He swerved and, stepping up to her, sank to the ground by her side. Before she could make a movement, or even turn her head his way, he took her in his arms and kissed her lips. He tasted on them the bitterness of a tear fallen there. He had never seen her cry. It was like another appeal to his tenderness-a new seduction. The girl glanced round, moved suddenly away, and averted her face. With her hand she signed imperiously to him to leave her alone--a command which Heyst did not obey. Chapter V When she opened her eyes at last and sat up, Heyst scrambled to his feet and went to pick up her cork helmet, which had rolled a little way off. Meanwhile she busied herself in doing up her hair, plaited on the top of her head in two heavy, dark tresses, which had come loose. He tendered her the helmet in silence, and waited as if unwilling to hear the sound of his own voice. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (6 of 32), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 02:47 PM I've just consulted with the Resident Norwegian. He tells me that a Swede would pronounce Heyst as "Haste". Ruth Chi mangia bene, mangia Italiano
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (7 of 32), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 03:42 PM I just finished this book. Was it your recommendation, Dan? If so, thanks. Once Conrad shifts to the omniscient narrator the story picks up steam and it is very difficult to put down. Conrad has narrative powers I never dreamed of from reading "Heart of Darkness"--my only foray into Conrad before this book. Because so much of this story depends on plot and suspense, I think it is impossible to discuss without "spoilers." So be forewarned. ************* SPOILERS ****************** Lena -- what the heck was her real name? People "call" her Alma or Magdalene, and Heyst seems to pull the name "Lena" from thin air. Lena is a diminutive of Helena. Paris's abduction of Helen of Troy began the Trojan War. Heyst took Lena off to an isolated island, precipitating a war-like attack by three of the most disgusting villains I have ever encountered in literature. Is Heyst's choice of the name "Lena" significant? Why did he rename her? Lena is a wonderful character. Much as I liked her, I can't feel too terrible about her death because she died completely happy, in the conviction that she had saved her man. But isn't her feeling of triumph an ironic illusion? Sure, she captured the knife, but it was never used. Jones and Ricardo conveniently disposed of themselves, and Wang took care of Pedro. Dan, in 1920 Author's Note in the Modern Library version, Conrad says that Heyst was based on a real person whom he knew. I know very little about Kirkegaard, but it sounds like his philosophy had much in common with Heyst's. Heyst has been trained to see life as meaningless. He doesn't care if he lives or dies until he meets Lena, who destroys his sense of complete detachment. He is a man who has always thought too much. In the Author's Note, Conrad discusses him and remarks: "Thinking is the great enemy of perfection. The habit of profound reflection, I am compelled to say, is the most pernicious of all the habits formed by the civilized man." Too much reflection destroys the power to act. Heyst could not force himself to attack any of the three men, even though there were opportunities. Lena clearly saw this weakness, and resolved to compensate for it by taking matters into her own hands. Lena, not a brave soul by nature, was forced to rise to the occasion because of Heyst's inadequacies. I don't think that Conrad was making statements about male/female relationships in general so much as he was showing the dynamics of a rather unique relationship. Kay, why did Jones hate women so much? Good question. I was hoping for more information about Jones's history and motivation. At the end, we are told repeatedly that he acts like a mad man. He is obviously very ill. Maybe his illness has affected his mind. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (8 of 32), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 03:44 PM Dan, I liked that scene you posted. Do you suppose this book was considered racy when it was published in 1915? Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (9 of 32), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 04:01 PM Dan- You wrote, "Mr. Jones is without a soul, without guidance or motivation." In an exchange with Heyst, Mr. Jones says, "I am he that is." "I am the world itself, come to pay you a visit. In another sense I am an outcast-almost an outlaw. If you prefer a less materialistic view, I am a sort of fate - the retribution that waits its time." "Almost an outlaw"?! Retribution for what? Is Heyst being punished for his attempt to live outside the company of others? Is it possible he is punished for not taking a stand? There are several references to facts, the observation of facts, and the ultimate uselessness of facts. I wasn't sure what that thread had to do with the story. Heyst describes the trio as "...evil intelligence, instinctive savagery, arm in arm. The brute force is at the back." K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (10 of 32), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 04:14 PM Ann- You wrote, quoting Conrad, "Thinking is the great enemy of perfection. The habit of profound reflection, I am compelled to say, is the most pernicious of all the habits formed by the civilized man." That fits with the permeating, stultifying influence of Heyst's father. Heyst jr. never seems capable of breaking from that hold until he meets Lena, who gives him a sense of presence in this world. Until then, he skims the surface of life by living solely by his intellect. Though he never completely makes the leap, Heyst does start to exist beyond his thoughts. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (11 of 32), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 05:21 PM Throughout the story, Mr. Jones seemed like an incarnation of Satan to me and gave me the appropriately associated chills. In an excellent introduction to my Everyman edition, the editor, Cedric Watts, makes these observations about Jones and, also, his aversion to women: In Victory, there are hints that Jones is homosexual, but, as Ricardo indicates, the main reason for his pathological misogyny lies deeper. Jones's aversion might be termed an allegoric allergy: in the allegoric scheme of the novel, Jones, spectral and skeletal, represents the force of death and destruction, while womankind, particularly as represented by Lena, constitutes the force of life and love. The Luciferian analogy is made explicit when Heyst reports Jones's account: 'Having been ejected, he said, from his proper social sphere because he had refused to conform to certain usual conventions, he was a rebel now, and was coming and going up and down the earth.....I told him that I had heard that sort of story about somebody else before. His grin is really ghastly.....Then he said: "As to me, I am no blacker than the gentleman you are thinking of, and I have neither more nor less determination." (According to the Book of Job, 1:7 and 2:2, the rebellious Satan, having been expelled from heaven, passed his time in 'going to and fro in the earth, and.....walking up and down in it'.) Even the mundane surname 'Jones' would bear sinsiter connotations for an ex-seaman like Conrad, for 'Davy Jones' is the seaman's euphemism for the devil. So much of the theme of this book seems to be the struggle between those who would take life away and those who would promote it. And, the tragedy of Heyst who can't engage enough to take on the battle. BTW, Watts feels that Heyst's father's philosophy is based on the "bleakly pessimistic doctrines of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) whom Maupassant termed 'the greatest devastator of dreams who ever walked the earth.'" Barb
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (12 of 32), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 06:07 PM Ann, though I've finished reading the novel, I haven't read either the intro or the forward, so don't know if Lena's name is addressed in those, but I presumed 'Lena' was a diminutive of Magdalene as in Mary Magdalene, the New Testament prostitute who turned her back on her old life to follow the man she believed to be her saviour. Could 'Alma' be a symbolic reference to a sort of alms giving? Beej
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (13 of 32), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 06:15 PM ***Plot Spoilers*** Kay, Right you are that Lena pulled Heyst out of the world of pure thought and into the real world. But old habits die hard. He recognizes opportunities when he can attack and probably kill Jones, but he lets them pass. The most he can manage is to come up with the plan to have Lena dress in black and hide in the forest. At the end, when Lena is dying in his arms, he cannot bring himself to say he loves her. "Heyst bent low over her, cursing his fastidious soul, which even at that moment kept the true cry of love from his lips in its infernal mistrust of life." But if it is difficult for him to act and it is impossible for him to say the words, he undoubtedly learns to feel. He pays a heavy price. Engagement with the world results in unbearable sorrow. Perhaps even this is better than his former half-existence. Barb, thanks so much for the comments about Jones representing Satan. That ties in very well. I do not think Jones is homosexual either. The gay men I know like women. Possibly he hates women because one got the better of him in the past. You may well be right that, as a woman, Lena represents the life force, but I don't like to think of her in such impersonal terms. It's easier with Jones because, as Dan pointed out, Conrad never lets us inside his head. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (14 of 32), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 06:18 PM Beej, I hadn't even thought about "Lena" coming from "Magdalene," but that makes sense. "Alma" certainly could be related to "alms." Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (15 of 32), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 07:15 PM To expand on Barb's quote, Mr. Jones says, "Having been ejected, he said, from his proper social sphere because he had refused to conform to certain usual conventions, he was a rebel now,..." Sounds like the banishment from Heaven to me. What I find interesting is the comparison Mr. Jones makes between himself and Heyst. "We pursue the same ends,' he said, 'only perhaps I pursue them with more openness than you - with more simplicity." "Ah, Mr. Heyst, you and I have much more in common than you think." Part IV, Ch. V Was Mr. Jones basing that on the incorrect information he had on Heyst, or is Conrad suggesting that by not taking action or engaging, Heyst aids and abets the evil? That would fit with Maupassant's quote. Mis-information and projection of motives onto others played a significant role in this novel. That projection of self onto the behaviors of others fascinated me. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (16 of 32), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 07:19 PM Lena as the life force would go a long way to explain Jones' misogyny and rage when Ricardo switches his allegiance from Jones to Lena. Heyst's inability to declare his love for her, even on her deathbed, shows the damage done by his father's philosophy. He realizes this. "Ah, Davidson, woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put its trust in life!" Lena claims her victory is that over death - preventing Heyst's death. I think her victory includes his awareness of what life can offer. Too bad she couldn't stick around in that Eden for a while. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (17 of 32), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 08:12 PM "Ah, Mr. Heyst, you and I have much more in common than you think." I don't think Mr. Jones was referring to the misinformation about Heyst. And, I think Jones was correct. Both these men were islands unto themselves. Neither had any real use for personal relationships until, in Heyst's case, Lena came along. I don't believe this is a true case of misogyny..he says "I even I, have nearly been caught". I believe it's emotional attachments or, perhaps, love he detests. Or, to quote Jones, "I only know that he who forms a tie is lost. The germ of corruption has entered his soul." Rather than Satan, and tho I have read that Mr. Jones is the personification of Lucifer, I saw him as a cadaver...reed thin, bony..skeletal. Maybe more like my mental image of the grim reaper. Beej
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (18 of 32), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 10:29 PM I completely missed the Mr. Jones/Satan connection, especially when Conrad is so specific with the "going to and fro" and "condemned" references. I'm like Beej: He just seemed like a cadaver. Here is Conrad's recollection of a man he used to fashion the inimitable Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones (or whatever his name was) did not drift away from me. He turned his back on me and walked out of the room. It was in a little hotel in the Island of St. Thomas in the West Indies (in the year '75) where we found him one hot afternoon extended on three chairs, all alone in the loud buzzing of flies to which his immobility and his cadaverous aspect gave a most gruesome significance. Our invasion must have displeased him because he got off the chairs brusquely and walked out leaving with me an indelibly weird impression of his thin shanks. One of the men with me said that the fellow was the most desperate gambler he had ever come across. I said: "A professional sharper?" and got for answer: "He's a terror; but I must say that up to a certain point he will play fair..." I wonder what the point was. I never saw him again because I believe he went straight on board a mail-boat which left within the hour for other ports of call in the direction of Aspinall. Mr. Jones's different type. I will say nothing as to the origins of his mentality because I don't intend to make any damaging admissions. There you go: Conrad is no fool. He won't even peer too deeply into Mr. Jones' pathology. As for Lena's name, Lena never had a name in the novel--her real, actual name is never given. She seems to passively accept whatever name people tag her with: "Upon my word," he said before they separated. "I don't even know your name." "Don't you? They call me Alma. I don't know why. Silly name! Magdalen too. It doesn't matter; you can call me by whatever name you choose. Yes, you give me a name. Think of one you would like the sound of--something quite new. How I should like to forget everything that has gone before, as one forgets a dream that's done with, fright and all! I would try." In a way, she's like Heyst and his litany of nicknames in the opening chapter: "Enchanted Heyst," "Hard Facts," and "Heyst the Spider." Only, of course, Heyst doesn't even know he's being talked about, much less given nicknames. Another character involved with names is Mr. Jones: "My name? Oh, plain Mr. Jones--put that down--a gentleman at large." I'm sure that isn't his real name, either. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (19 of 32), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 01, 2001 10:33 PM Another moment of Victory: On the lap of that dress there lay, unclasped and idle, a pair of small hands, not very white, attached to well-formed arms. The next detail Heyst was led to observe was the arrangement of the hair--two thick brown tresses rolled round an attractively shaped head. "A girl, by Jove!" he exclaimed mentally. It was evident that she was a girl. It was evident in the outline of the shoulders, in the slender white bust springing up, barred slantwise by the crimson sash, from the bell-shaped spread of muslin skirt hiding the chair on which she sat averted a little from the body of the hall. Her feet, in low white shoes, were crossed prettily. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (20 of 32), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 12:14 AM In Spanish, Alma means "soul." That meaning takes on some interesting symbolism, especially if you consider Jones to be Satan. I'm only halfway through the book, but diligently plowing along. Ruth Chi mangia bene, mangia Italiano
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (21 of 32), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 03:17 AM Did Conrad write in English? I thought he wrote in Polish and had it translated. But my memory is sometimes faulty. But if he wrote in Polish, then analyses takes a different spin. EDD A graduate student at Trinity Computed the square of infinity. But it gave him the fidgets To put down the digits, So he dropped math and took up divinity. Anonymous
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (22 of 32), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 09:05 AM So we have two nameless characters, Mr. Jones and Alma/Lena/Magdalen. Neither seems to care what people call them. That certainly does suggest an epic, supernatural kind of battle for Heyst's soul. Beej- I like your analogy of both men being islands, uninvolved and uninterested in the world around them. They are unlike each other in intentions, though. Heyst lives a life of benign neglect, while Mr. Jones intentionally waits for opportunities to do evil. Dan and Beej- You're right - there are a lot of references to skeletons and cadavers when describing Mr. Jones. It's possible he represents Death, too. That might explain his comment that he's a kind of fate, or a kind of retribution. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (23 of 32), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 10:21 AM Mr. Jones is part of an unholy triumvirate: he's the "evil intelligence," Ricardo is the "instinctive savagery," and Pedro is the "brute force at the back." (Part IV, Ch. V) They all need each other to survive and do their work. That might be a different explanation of why Mr. Jones becomes murderous toward Ricardo. Without the savagery, the intelligence and brute force are less powerful. Mr. Jones seems passionless to me. This is the same chapter where Heyst discusses diplomacy as being a useless weapon without force. "Diplomacy without force in the background is but a rotten reed to lean upon." Perhaps intelligence without any kind of passion or will to see things through is meaningless. Whether intelligence is a benign neglect or evilly based is moot. It must be accompanied by engagement and determination. That fits with Conrad's pov concerning a purely contemplative life. I especially enjoyed Heyst's later definition of diplomacy, "A diplomatic statement, Lena, is a statement of which everything is true but the sentiment which seems to prompt it. I have never been diplomatic in my relation with mankind - not from regard for its feelings, but from a certain regard for my own. Diplomacy doesn't go well with consistent contempt. I cared little for life and still less for death." That is another way Heyst and Mr. Jones are similar. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (24 of 32), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 11:34 AM Edd, Conrad wrote in English. It was his fourth language, coming after Russian, Polish, and French. He was the son of a Polish noble, born in the part of Poland that had been incorporated into the Russian empire. He was orphaned at the age of 12, and at the age of 16 began a life of travel and adventure. Kay, those remarks on diplomacy are cynical, but true. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (25 of 32), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 12:53 PM ANN Thanks. EDD
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (26 of 32), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 03:07 PM And, while writing in English, one of Conrad's favorite words is 'physiognomy.' I challenge you to find another writer who sprinkles the word 'physiognomy' so liberally. What are we to make of Mr. Jones' ennervating fits of boredom, the ones that seem to drive Ricardo up the wall. Jones has no place in society, just like Heyst. But Heyst is able to draw on some inner drive to keep him going. He's content to be alone. Jones, on the other hand, seems unable to abide with himself without suffering ennui. And, while we're comparing, what can we infer from the demise of Heyst and Jones in the end--Heyst by fire and Jones by drowning? If Jones represents Satan, wouldn't it have been fitting that he should have burned to death at the end? Of course, his presence is what consumes Heyst, sort of speak. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (27 of 32), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 03:13 PM And now, a moment of Victory: She wanted to know whether this trouble, this danger, this evil, whatever it was, finding them out in their retreat, was not a sort of punishment. "Punishment?" repeated Heyst. He could not understand what she meant. When she explained, he was still more surprised. "A sort of retribution from an angry Heaven?" he said in wonder. "On us? What on earth for?" He saw her pale face darken in the dusk. She had blushed. Her whispering flowed very fast. It was the way they lived together--that wasn't right, was it? It was a guilty life. For she had not been forced into it, driven, scared into it. No, no--she had come to him of her own free will, with her whole soul yearning unlawfully. He was so profoundly touched that he could not speak for a moment. To conceal his trouble, he assumed his best Heystian manner. "What? Are our visitors then messengers of morality, avengers of righteousness, agents of Providence? That's certainly an original view. How flattered they would be it they could hear you!" "Now you are making fun of me," she said in a subdued voice which broke suddenly. "Are you conscious of sin?" Heyst asked gravely. She made no answer. "For I am not," he added; "before Heaven, I am not!" Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (28 of 32), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 05:45 PM The editor of my edition thinks that it is appropriate that Jones ends up in the sea, "like a heap of bones in a blue silk bag" since Conrad, an ex-seamen has given him the name of Jones and Davy Jones' Locker means the maritime graveyard for all of those who die at sea. I definitely agree with those who saw Jones as a symbol of death as well as one of Satan. And, he seems to move closer and closer to that death-state as the novel progresses. Do you think it's significant that his health seems to decline precipitously after they land on the island? Was it the result of the journey or is it due to the proximity to Lena? When Ricardo referred to Jones as being "bored", I thought that perhaps it was a euphemism for depression, that Jones literally had periods when he was in too black a state to function. Ricardo seemed seemed very worried that Jones would fall into one of those states again. Barb
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (29 of 32), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 06:12 PM "Jones, on the other hand, seems unable to abide with himself without suffering ennui." I thought the difference might stem from their basic natures. Heyst is content to live a quiet life, not making ripples, and doing good here and there along the way. His existence isn't a passionate one, but it does have an appreciation for the good and need in others. We know he's alive and sense his potential. Jones needs the stimulus of evil challenge to come to a point of action. He looks for opportunities to do ill. Until they present themselves, his personality stalls. He doesn't exist without that opportunity. Does this have something to do with being a gentleman? Ricardo's definition is an external one, relying on outward behaviors and trappings. Heyst's is internal, and has to do with honor, integrity, and kindness. Perhaps that is one difference between the two intelligences and their behaviors. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (30 of 32), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 08:34 PM Barb, I agree that Jones was suffering from depression. And I don't think he was faking physical illness once he got to the island. What you all have written about Jones representing death and Satan makes a lot of sense, but do you think Conrad consciously wanted to make him a symbol, as opposed to a real human being? Does any author try to do this. Dale, what do you think? Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (31 of 32), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 02, 2001 09:44 PM Ann: Axel Heyst? Is that a common name or a convenient way to work a symbol into the text? Remember: there was a magic circle from which Heyst is never able to escape. He's locked into a circle, spinning his wheels. With "haste?" I'm not sure how that works. The Biblical imagery of this novel is rather deep. We covered the reference to Job and Satan "wondering to and fro," but what do you make of the "cloud by day, fire by night" reference? It's what led Mr. Jones and company to Heyst's island. Is the island a promise land? Is this a destination for those undergoing some kind of exodus? Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (32 of 32), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, December 03, 2001 01:46 PM In Latin, "alma" is the feminine form of the adjective: nourishing, affording nourishment, cherishing. It is the poetic epithet of Ceres, Venus, and other patron deities of the earth, of light, day, wine, etc. Hence, genial, restoring, reviving, kind, propitious, indulgent, bountiful. I think that the story also shows that it is impossible to be outside the world so long as one is living. Even Heyst Sr. had Axel. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (33 of 34), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 03:01 PM I haven't read the other posts yet, saving them for when I get further along. I've just finished the first part. I'm finding this a bit slow, but I know several people here love Conrad so I know it will get better. Just wanted to pop in and say I'll be joining in. Sherri Not all who wander are lost - Tolkein
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (34 of 34), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 09:49 PM Speaking of names, could another name for Davidson be Marlowe? Beej
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (35 of 52), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 10:11 AM Wahoo, terrific thoughts, ideas and posts. I am in a rush...but a couple things I wanted to throw in... there has always been talk associated with Conrads various languages and his writing style. I am of the camp that his work is near perfect...that his understanding of English was excellennt. Although much of his novels have a style of description that suited the times, I believe once you get used to that, he is a brilliant writer, and he wouldn't have believed he wrote "too much" with his descriptions.(I think of the so-called Tom Swiftians in The Secret Agent...if a reader can just go with the flow of those...) And Mr. Jones is an interesting character in that he is both alluded to being gay, and he hates women. This combination I have rarely found in literature, movies or real life. Traditionally gay men and women have always had a political alligence, and a emotional and spiritual bond...and I have rarely met a gay man who "hated" women. They just didn't want to sleep with them. Big difference heh heh. love the posts! but playing catch up here...too much work and chores, yuck, back later Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (36 of 52), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 02:05 PM Candy, At first I wondered if Ricardo and Jones were lovers, but there were references to Ricardo's affairs with women even before he met Lena, and I didn't think Jones was gay for the very reason you mentioned --- he hated women. I suspect the hatred was precipitated by an affair with a woman that went wrong, one in which the woman took advantage of Jones. Jones' hatred of women was a big factor in the plot. It forced Ricardo to operate behind his back. I do wish Conrad would have explained it, and I felt cheated as a reader that he did not. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (37 of 52), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 08:24 PM Ann: I said the same as you at first, but I came across this textual evidence recently. With this, perhaps Conrad did want to cast Jones as a homosexual character: Conrad emphasizes that even the mention of women makes Jones ill, and the sight of a woman is more than he can bear. Ricardo says the girls in Mexico would ask if Jones was "a monk is disguise, or if he had taken a vow to the santissima madre not to speak to a woman or whether--." The missing word by inference is, of course, a homosexual. Conrad stresses Jones' pencilled eyebrows, mentions that he had once picked up a "bare-legged boy," and then has Jones almost identify himself when he says to Heyst, "Something has driven you out--the originality of your ideas, perhaps. Or your tastes." This is from Frederick R. Karl's work Reader's Guide to Joseph Conrad. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (38 of 52), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 08:31 PM A moment of Victory: The slanting eyes of his race could not achieve a round, amazed stare; but they remained still, dead still, and his impassive yellow face grew all at once careworn and lean with the sudden strain of intense, doubtful, frightened watchfulness. Contrary impulses swayed his body, rooted to the floor-mats. He even went so far as to extend his hand towards the curtain. He could not reach it, and he didn't make the necessary step forward. The mysterious struggle was going on with confused thuds of bare feet, in a mute wrestling match, no human sound, hiss, groan, murmur, or exclamation coming through the curtain. A chair fell over, not with a crash but lightly, as if just grazed, and a faint metallic ring of the tin bath succeeded. Finally, the tense silence, as of two adversaries locked in a deadly grip, was ended by the heavy, dull thump of a soft body flung against the inner partition of planks. It seemed to shake the whole bungalow. By that time, walking backward, his eyes, his very throat, strained with fearful excitement, his extended arm still pointing at the curtain, Wang had disappeared though the back door. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (39 of 52), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 11:11 PM Dan, Hmm, you could be right. The penciled eyebrows are suspicious, but the fact that the women wondered about his sexuality doesn't mean much to me. Conrad has some blatant prejudices -- against "Teutons" and Chinese, for example. Maybe from his perspective, it was logical for a homosexual male to hate women. It doesn't jive with the reality I know, but then I don't find Chinese inscrutable either. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (40 of 52), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 06:23 AM I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, and I think that Conrad was tackling some really big ideas, good vs. evil vs. indifference. But I had a hard time relating to the people on a purely personal and emotional level. I didn't understand what made them tick, and I didn't understand their emotional responses. It seems if you are going to make a character represent as huge an idea as evil, or Satan, then it would be even more important for that character to have a foundation based on what real people did and felt. It started with Schomberg. Why did he waste so much energy hating Heyst? I understand that he was a gossip and not a nice person, but the diligence (even before Heyst whisked Lena away) with which he pursued him didn't make sense to me. You've mentioned the Jones problem. It seems Conrad wanted to make him a homosexual, but didn't really know much about homosexuals, other than beautifully drawn eyebrows (which would seem to me rather difficult to maintain on the island, after being lost at sea). Jones was as Dickensian a character as I've ever met, and made my skin crawl. Conrad was successful at making me afraid of him, and creeped out, but I didn't understand him. The character that I think was well-drawn is Ricardo. He talked a lot, and the reader was privy to a lot of his inside information. He seems like a combination sociopath and psychopath. I'm not sure I understand him, and I certainly don't empathize with him, but I don't see any glaring inconsistencies in his personality. I sort of understand Lena, at least the quiet watchful wary part. But somehow that didn't jibe with the little girl "do what you will with me" attitude. I know literature is chock full of women with that attitude, but it grates on me, especially since I know that down in her core there is something quite steely. Heyst I don't understand at all. Did he set the bungalow on fire? Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (41 of 52), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 08:04 AM I first wondered about Jones' sexuality when the text mentioned that Ricardo insisted on connecting rooms. It's possible that Jones was interested and Ricardo was not. That would go a long way explaining the betrayal Jones felt when he discovered Ricardo's deception regarding Lena. I think Schlomberg is one of those unhappy, insecure people who don't feel they matter unless they are putting someone else down. There is a parallel between Wang staying clear of the curtain when Lena and Ricardo are in their struggle and Wang denying access to the village for Heyst and Lena. Both times, there is a physical barrier, and both times, he refuses to get involved with the white man's issues. Wang wants no part of that life and death struggle. Though we don't hear much from Wang, he seems more human than Pedro. Pedro takes orders. Wang takes action because he chooses to do so. Wang survives. The others do not. Perhaps Wang survives because he thinks for himself, outside the "civilized" world. The others base their actions and misconceptions on what they think others are thinking and planning. Wang seems more in tune with the natural background, and will survive regardless of what Man does. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (42 of 52), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 08:05 AM Another thought - Pedro joins the other side and dies as a result. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (43 of 52), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 08:15 AM Hi Sherry, I kind of accepted Schombergs hatred of Heyst. You know what it reminded me of? Billy Budd and that bastard Clattard?(oops I can't remember his name, sorry everyone). We never knew why he hated Billy Budd...other than Billy was a fantastic person, a beautiful person. I see many comparisons between some of the characters in Victory and in Billy Budd. I wonder if most of these characters aren't defined and described by their actions rather than by "the writer". I kind of feel they are handed to the reader...because we know what they do rather than why. Sometimes what they do is from love and compassion. Other characters do what they do because of hate and bitterness. I find this kind of story telling avoids the psychological "explanations" we may have become accustomed to in contemporary books. ??? But then, maybe you have heard of this theory before...that the challenge of any writer is to lock horns with Billy Budd? No? I'll see if I can find where I read this idea...it has haunted me ever since... I see Victory as showing/confirming that some people in the world whole purpose in life is to caca on others. Especially anyone they are jealous of...I think Heyst is one of the more beautiful characters in literature...and he has enemies and jerks around him to match his magic with his evil.(Don't forget that creep Schomberg was a wife beater too...) Dumb question:What do youns think of the "narrator". I find he strangely has a delightful tone. The first chapter is perfect in style delivery pace. I can barely think of anybody writing right now that could write such a on the mark knock down fine opening chapter. I've read it a couple of times, the last few days, and it's so well done. Ann, I am not so sure that the narrator of the story is the most moral person in the world. I think the story is told by someone...who? And their feelings about the events are what colors what we hear and who they are able to get gossip from. Is this Conrad? I don't know...there is someone telling the story. Last night coming home on the streetcar after a long day at work I am re-reading some sections and I get to the part where the Chinese guys climb the tree to watch a fight. I can't find it right now, but I laughed my head off. I didn't feel it was hurtful though..."Heyst? No, these two-the bandmaster, the fellow who's taking these two women about and our Schomberg. Signor Zangiacomo ran amuck in the morning, and went for our worthy friend. I tell you, they were rolling on the floor together on this very verandah, after chasing each other all over the house, doors slamming, women screaming, seventeen of them, in the dining-room; Chinamen up the trees-Hey John! You climb tree to see the fight, eh?" I dunno, that had me laughing out loud. I could just see John and his pals up there. Meanwhile we had a Chinese street car driver and some old guy next to me was going "dam Chinese". I was like, oh my god. I found the guy next to me oppressive and hurtful. I am not saying that there aren't stereotypes about Chinese in here or anything, but sheesh, this is such an exotic location for a novel and it has such an international cast of characters...I would say Schomberg could represent a case of bigotry for what? Germans? He really is a kind of caricature of some tough rough employer...I've worked for guys like him in the restaurant business, yikes. But I do understand feeling squeamish about some of the descriptions of characters associated with their towns and original locations. Many many things to think about in everyones posts... Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (44 of 52), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 11:48 AM Candy, I wouldn't expect a good writer to "explain" a character, but to have that character's actions and words explain themselves. I know that my own little circumscribed realm of emotional experience does not give me enough information to be able to connect with and understand all well-written characters. It's just that I had a hard time understanding on a deep level, any of the characters here. Maybe I'm just too removed from their experiences. But even if I imagined myself in their positions (and I have a pretty vivid imagination) I couldn't understand some of their actions. I liked Heyst, especially when he was talking to Jones near the end of the book. And there were times when I really liked Lena. Her scene with Ricardo, when she got his knife, was wonderful. I just don't know if I buy these characters as real people. Of course, Conrad may have had a more lofty idea in mind, creating good and evil, and trying to see what good will do when confronted with evil, one on one. Heyst said he didn't even know if he could have killed anyone in self-defense. Is that really good? Or is that a kind of internal immobility that arises out of an inability to plug into the real world? Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (45 of 52), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 12:33 PM I'm with you, Sherry. I realize there's a lot of symbolism here, and Conrad is after bigger fish than just a good yarn, but right from the gitgo I found little psychological or emotional rationale for any of the characters' actions. Conrad handles them as if they were cardboard cutouts on sticks, maneuvering from backstage and never letting us see the mechanism. I prefer books where the symbols also operate on the level of flesh and blood people, so that I care about what happens to them. I kept slogging away on this book, but finally threw in the towel about 3/4 of the way thru. So if anything I said here doesn't jibe with the last quarter of the book, take it with a grain of NaCl. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (46 of 52), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 03:48 PM Different strokes -- Actually I could relate to everyone as real people pretty well, except for Jones. (Perhaps that says more about me than Conrad's writing talent. :) ) Jones was intriguing, but there were too many missing pieces for me to get any real grip on him. I think there are people like Schomberg who are just downright vicious for no discernable reason. Lena was definitely very 19th century, but I felt I could understand her if I kept her limitations of age, era, and social status in mind. Pedro was described as subhuman, so I didn't waste too much time worrying about him. The heavy duty symbolism went right over my head until people here pointed it out, and plot alone isn't enough to hold my attention. So, in my case, at least the characters were certainly real enough to grab my attention and hold it til the final pages. Yes, Sherry, I believe that Heyst set the house on fire. His love for Lena had destroyed his perfect detachment. When she was killed, the result was intolerable pain, and he could no longer live in the world. At least, that was my interpretation. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (47 of 52), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 06:52 PM Hi Sherry, I hope I didn't sound like I was trying tomake you reconsider or like the book. I wasn't, and I can imagine that we all have different reading tastes. That makes these discussions fun. Not much a reader can do if one doesn't relate to the story. Hi Ruth, I admire your ability to throw in the towel, especially, after at least trying. Me? I judge a book by it's blurbs and cover too many times and often don't even try to read a book. Especially if it looks like a "chick book" heh heh. love and peace and coconuts and palm trees, I'd like to be where this story is set right now! Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (48 of 52), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 07:03 PM Hi Ann, I find that this novel works both as characters as symbols....but that's the smallest part. I find the people very real. I think of Cassablanca with this setting and the international cast of characters...and the ideas of what defines a hero-when and how and why. Or heroine. I think Jones would be an amazing opportunity for a bad guy in a movie-like Peter Lorre or someone built like Jeremy Irons, and duplicitous-charming and cheap and lying. I find such a pace and charm in some of the descriptions and passages, I see why Dan keeps putting some here. I also have laughed out loud at a few points. I find the general tone kind of whimsical at times even though some heavy things happen...it's like it's being viewed by someone who has seen the other side of the story or something...but I don't really know how to say what I mean...oops. Side track:I would love to see this as a movie, just all round. is ther eone I wonder, and how Conrads novels would make great movies. I have counted physiognomy about 6 times this reading. A couple weeks ago I counted the word "yeah" 25 times in an episode of West Wing. uh oh, counting, Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (49 of 52), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 07:05 PM For me, the mystery of Heyst is what fleshes him out. No one understands Heyst or his motives--that's what makes the opening of this novel so fascinating: They gossip about him, give him nicknames that meld into others, but never really get to know the man. He's an enigma, plain and simple. Hence the Captain Davidson's shock when Heyst--Axel Heyst?--runs off with the orchestra girl. Who would have thunk such a thing of "Hard Facts" or "Heyst the Spider" or "Enchanted Heyst?" I don't see the characters as cardboard figures--which, giving Ruth credit--is a common assessment. There's psychology; Conrad knows these people and he knows what they are likely to do. Perhaps it depends somewhat on experience, but I have felt like I have met people like Ricardo, like Jones, like Shomberg, like Wang, like Lena. Like Heyst? I never been to the south seas. He's the mysterious one. While he interests me, I find him rather pathetic. There is a blood-and-guts level to this book, which is remarkable when it seems to rely so heavy of allegory and symbolism. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (50 of 52), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 07:12 PM A moment of Pulp Victory: "And now," says I, yawning on purpose, "we've got to stand watch at night, turn about and keep our eyes skinned all day, too, and mind we don't get jumped upon suddenly." "It's perfectly intolerable," says the governor. "And you with no weapon of any sort!" "I mean to stick pretty close to you, sir, from this on, if you don't mind," says I. He just nods the least bit, wipes his fingers on the plantain leaf, puts his hand behind his back, as if to help himself to rise from the ground, snatches his revolver from under his jacket, and plugs a bullet plumb centre into Mr. Antonio's chest. See what it is to have a do with a gentleman. No confounded fuss, and things done out of hand. But he might have tipped me a wink or something. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Scared ain't in it! I didn't even know who had fired. Everything had been so still just before that the bang of the shot seemed the loudest noise I had ever heard. The honourable Antonio pitches forward--they always do, towards the shot; you must have noticed that yourself--yes, he pitches forward on to the embers, and all that lot of hair on his face and head flashes up like a pinch of gunpowder. Greasy, I expect; always scraping the fat off them alligators' hides--" "Look here," exclaimed Shomberg violently, as if trying to burst some invisible bonds, "do you mean to say that all this happened?" "No," said Ricardo coolly. "I am making it all up as I go along, just to help you through the hottest part of the afternoon." Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (51 of 52), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 07:27 PM Ha ha ha. that cracks me up. I like the "pulp victory" good one. Hey, and thanks for pointing that deal out about Heyst's name...and then Jones "identity". I don't know, I just didn't notice that as so cool first time I read this. I love that identity thing. I wonder if george-who always is intrigued by identity issues in literature- has read this? Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (52 of 52), Read 7 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Thursday, December 06, 2001 10:51 PM Victory is not a book I would have selected to read on my own. However, I was surprised at how much I did believe the characters and like the book. Initially,Schomberg hated Heyst because he never came into and spent money in his place of business. Also, Heyst was withdrawn which gave S. the impression that he felt that he was "better than" him. I've seen that phenomenon often enough, quiet or shyness interpreted as arrogance. Heyst's decision to withdraw from the world and "drift" made perfect sense to me too, given his father's outlook and the kind of psychological power that kind of person could exert on a child. Jones' "personhood" got a little obscured by his symbolism, but I still could imagine him most of the time as a real person, particularly before he went to Heyst's island. And, Ricardo was excellent, maybe the best drawn of all. I'm not sure about Lena, at times she felt real and at times not. I had some of the same reaction to her that you did, Sherry. She seemed too idealized at many points. I had a lot of trouble with Part IV, Chapter 13 when she was dying. The whole scene was much too melodramatic for me. It was the only time during the book when I was distracted away from the story by the writing. Barb
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (53 of 62), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Friday, December 07, 2001 06:49 AM Candy, it's okay to try to get me to rethink how I feel about a book. That's one of the reasons we're all here. I certainly didn't feel pushed. In some ways, I play devil's advocate with things I read. I tend to pick a couple of nits and use that as springboard to find things to talk about. Especially when the discussion has been going on a while, and a lot of the praise has already been handed out. It's not like I didn't like the book, I just had trouble relating to a few of the characters. That may be more my problem than Conrad's. Barb, I remember Schomberg being mad at Heyst for not coming into his hotel. I guess I had a hard time understanding the intensity with which he hated him. But I also have known people who were very gossipy and started rumors and seemed to revel in all the drama of it. It's interesting that Schomberg is in other of Conrad's books (according to the footnotes of my edition). What an unusual character for Conrad to use a link between books. Some authors would have used a more heroic figure, if they used one at all. I agree with you about Ricardo and Lena. I thought he was very well-drawn and Lena seemed a bit schizoid, weak as a petunia one minute, strong as steel another. Candy, as I was casting this in my head, I thought of Jeremy Irons, too, doing a great Jones. I can just imagine him cadaverous with well-drawn eyebrows and his beautiful British voice. Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (54 of 62), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Friday, December 07, 2001 07:45 PM I was thinking Benico del Tor for Ricardo... I keep reading his dialogue (Ricardo's)over and over...I can just see this guy talking. As for "who" is Mr Jones...I thought I had read Ricardo say himself and Jones were one and the same...then Schomberg thinks... "It flashed through Schomberg's mind that these two were indeed well matched in their enormous dissimiliarity, identical souls in different disguises." I feel we see more of who Jones is by knowing/finding out who Ricardo is. I would love to see someone-Irons,yes?- play repulsed by women. It's not as one note that Jones is gay. It's different than hate too,it's that he has this phobia about women. I find it hilarious. Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (55 of 62), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 08, 2001 08:58 AM Ricardo, Mr. Jones, and Pedro are presented as a unit. Each has his own role, but is dependent on the other two. I was struck by Conrad's ability to write ominous suspense. He uses the natural tropical setting and the continuously threatening volcano as backdrop to the human evil menacing Heyst and Lena. Nature is almost a character, acting as an audience for the drama taking place amongst the humans. In addition, Conrad seems to ally Wang and the native inhabitants with the natural forces on the island. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (56 of 62), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 08, 2001 04:31 PM Kay: Conrad often used weather as an outward symbol of interior turmoil. Think of the ending of the novel where the storm begins to thunder and boom as the conflict reaches a climax: Heyst confronting Jones, Lena confronting Ricardo, and Wang (as we discover later, though) confronting Pedro. The description of the rumbling thunder is of a battle ground, cannons firing as the inevitable conflict finally occurs. It is a strange coincidence that this book is published just when most unattached nations were sucked into the first world war. Volcanoes and thunder on the horizon, fer sure. Conrad's little work Typhoon as well as his novel Chance employs a similar technique. Seems a little hack when overdone or done with less finesse. But by the time Victory finishes the reader is enured to symbolic occurrence and accepts them as part of the novel's enchantment. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (57 of 62), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 08, 2001 04:40 PM A moment of Victory: "And I am here," she finished, "with no one to care if I make a hole in the water the next chance I get or not." Heyst told her that he thought she could so a little better than that, if it was only a question of getting out in the world. She looked at him with special attention, and with a puzzled expression which gave to her face an air of innocence. This was during one of the "intervals" between the two parts of the concert. She had come down that time without being incited thereto by a pinch from the awful Zangiacomo woman. It is difficult to suppose that she was seduced by the uncovered intellectual forehead and the long reddish moustaches of her new friend. New is not the right word. She had never had a friend before; and the sensation of this friendliness going out to her was exciting by its novelty alone. Besides, any man who did not resemble Schomberg appeared for that very reason attractive. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (58 of 62), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 08, 2001 06:38 PM Dan- I agree that nature is reflecting the turmoil occurring on the island. For me, though, Nature was a character, separate from the human goings on. The humans didn't seem to be a part of it. Nature was apart somehow. The message was, no matter what you do, I am mightier and will last forever. There was an elemental, primitive aspect to it. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (59 of 62), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, December 09, 2001 12:29 PM From Victory: "And I, the son of my father, have been caught too, like the silliest fish of them all,"Heyst thought to himself. He suffered. He was hurt by the sight of his own life, which ought to have been a masterpiece of aloofness. He remembered always his last evening with his father. He remembered the thin features, the great mass of white hair, and the ivory complexion. A five-branched candlestick stood on a little table by the side of the easy chair. They had been talking a long time. The noises of the street had dies out one by one, till at last, in the moonlight, the London houses began to look like the tombs of an unvisited, unhonoured, cemetery of hope. He had listened. Then, after a silence, he had asked-for he was very young then: "Is there no guidance?" His father was in an unexpectedly soft mood on that night, when the moon swam in a cloudless sky over the shadows of the town. "You still believe in something, then?" he said in a clear voice, which had been growing feeble of late. "You believe in blood, perhaps? A full and equable contempt would soon do away with that too. But since you have not attained to it, I advise you to cultivate that form of contempt which is called pity. It is perhaps the least difficult-always remembering that you, too, if you are anything, are as pitiful as the rest, yet never expecting any pity for yourself." "What is one to do, then?" sighed the young man, regarding his father, rigid in the high-backed chair. "Look on-make no sound," were the last words of the man who had spent his life in blowing blasts upon a terrible trumpet which had filled heaven and earth with ruins, while mankind went on its way unheeding. That very night he dies in his bed, so quietly that they found him in his usual attitude of sleep, lying on his side, one hand under his cheek, and his knees slightly bent. He had not even straightened his legs. His son buried the silenced destroyer of systems, of hopes, of beliefs. He observed that the death of that bitter contemmer of of life did not trouble the flow of life's stream, where men and women go by thick as dust, revolving and jostling one another like figures cut out of cork and weighted with lead just sufficiently to keep them in their proudly upright posture.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (60 of 62), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 09, 2001 01:59 PM Kay: Your take on the use of weather reinforces the existential atmosphere of this novel. Heyst carves an existence out of himself despite society, geography, and climate. Candy: Great quote. "Look on--make no sound" is strange advice, but I never noted Heyst's question: "Is there guidance?" For me, this novel explores a realm without guidance of any kind. There's no fate at work--just humanity going about its beautiful, cruel business of being human. It involves helping Morrison, helping Lena, and helping yourself to some good swag. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (61 of 62), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Monday, December 10, 2001 06:28 AM Still not reading posts, still struggling with this book. I find I can only read a little at a time. I am struggling with the writing, with the wordiness or something. I'm in book 2 where Heyst and the girl have met and he tells her he can't buy out her contract but can steal her. And I'm wondering what kind of hard, depressing, lonely life these orchestra women must lead. And a young girl must be "ripe for the picking" but what is there about Heyst that she trusts, or is attracted to? Is it just the total lack of kindness in her life, that she succumbs to his kindness? Sherri, still plodding along. Not all who wander are lost - Tolkein
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (62 of 62), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, December 10, 2001 06:52 AM Sherri, the book picked up for me at the point where Heyst meets the girl. I think she was so mistreated, so lonely, that she would respond to any kindness from any source. No one had ever noticed her or appreciated her plight before Heyst. Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (63 of 73), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 12:58 PM I haven't read all the comments about Victory yet but there were many interesting notes in the ones I have read. I think the symbolism of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is unmistakable in this book. Heyst and Lena are alone on an island and it is really the beginning of a new life for both of them. (They aren't truly alone since Wang and his wife and many other villagers are there but they regard themselves as alone). Then Jones and his cadre who represent Satan invade their world bringing death and an end of life as they had known it. When Heyst is speaking he also says that he was "tempted into action" and also "beguiled into action". I like the juxtaposition of the volcano and Heyst as I think they represent each other. Heyst tries to live a life devoid of action or emotion but is unable to do it. Like a volcano, at some point he has to burst. By making us familiar with the volcano at the beginning of the novel I think Conrad is foreshadowing some dramatic action in Heyst's life. I also think that Heyst and Jones are great foils. Heyst representing the life and good and Jones representing evil and death. Heyst's father tried to convince him that since life holds nothing but misery he should live a life devoid of attachment or action. Even if life did hold nothing but misery, would the father's method lead to a less miserable existence? It obviously didn't work for Heyst. Is Conrad trying to make a statement about a passive/observant life vs. an active/participative life? Kay - In some reading I had done on Victory I saw that R.W.B. Lewis said that Jones hated women because he represented death and women represent the giving of life. Daniel - I also noticed the change of narratives and thought it was an interesting technique. It's interesting that we never really do get into Pedro's head at all. All of Conrad's language describing Pedro is animalistic and I suppose Conrad is making one last statement as to the fact that Pedro is more animal than man by not giving us any indications of his thoughts or motives. I also found it interesting that each character appears so unique and represents a different type of person in society. There isn't too much crossover. I'm out of time but I will try to get back to this later. Thank you to whoever recommended Victory. The only other book of Conrad's I had read was Heart of Darkness which I didn't enjoy but this one was great!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (64 of 73), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 10:50 PM Thanks Jody for those very perceptive comments. Like you, my only previous exposure to Conrad was Heart of Darkness, and I much preferred Victory. Pedro was really a strange character, wasn't he? Conrad apparently modeled him on someone he had actually seen, but I personally have never met any human that close to an animal. I thought he might turn on his keepers eventually, but that didn't happen. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (65 of 73), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 01:16 AM Here is another passage (Part Four, Ch. 12) which uses Eden imagery: She had done it! The very sting of death was in her hands; the venom of the viper in her paradise, extracted, safe in her possession - and the viper's head all but lying under her heel. Ricardo, stretched on the mats of the floor, crept closer and closer to the chair in which she sat. [Recall Ricardo's words when he was sitting in Lena's room after he attacked her, "What is a fellow a reptile?"] Here is the Bible passage to which this alludes (Genesis 3:14-15): 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will crush your head, and you will strike its heel." Whereas Eve had to wait generations for her victory over Satan, it was Lena herself, not her offspring, who was victorious over the "serpent." Heyst as the innocent "Adam" would never be able to say that he lost his paradise because his companion was complicit with "Satan." Lena's victory was complete. When I read that she had sent Davidson to visit Heyst, I thought that Mrs. Schomberg, as well, was victorious in not being complicit with her "Satan." In the preface to the Penguin edition which was written in 1920. Conrad gives details of his prior acquaintance with each character in the story. He had shared a four days passage with "Ricardo" who was as frightening in real life as he was in the story. Of the encounter with "Pedro" he writes: "My contact with the faithful Pedro was much shorter and my observation of him was less complete but incomparably more anxious. It ended in a sudden inspiration to get out of his way. It was in a hovel of sticks and mats by the side of a path. As I went in there to ask for a bottle of lemonade I have not to this day the slightest idea what in my appearance or actions could have roused his terrible ire. It became manifest to me less than two minutes after I had set eyes on him for the first time, and though immensely surprised of course I didn't stop to think it out. I took the nearest short cut - through the wall." Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (66 of 73), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 07:49 AM Hi, Jody. Nice to see you here. As Ann said, very perceptive post. Do you think Conrad went any further with the Garden of Eden metaphor than the imagery and the two of them alone together and Ricardo as the serpent? Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (67 of 73), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 10:59 AM I didn't want to mess up my copy with the Edward Gory drawing on it, so I got another one. And it had the intro in it, and I thought it was a riot of an intro. Very funny to think of those very brief encounters spinning off into building characters. Of course I fell even more in love with his storytelling after reading that. I love all the metaphor stuff, and mirror worlds to some of our religions in this story...but what first drew me to Conrad, has always been the adventure of his books. And then the punch of his insight into people. I can see why Victory is preferred over Haert of Darkness by a few here. I like them both for different reasons...but this one is almost like Dickens in it spirit where well Hof D is more like Dante. later..gotta go watch an asshole on tv, yeah bin Laden.... Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (68 of 73), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 12:03 PM Dean,that was a great passage with Garden of Eden imagery. I think Conrad's symbolism could be explored in many areas throughout the book. There was so much symbolism in the book I would really like to read it again to do it justice but I'm not sure I will find the time this month! Is Conrad trying to teach us a moral or is he just writing a story about some interesting characters he met in his own life? One more comment is that I found it interesting that the two most passive characters of the book, Heyst and Jones, are the only ones to die by their own hands. I suppose there was really nothing left for either of them to live for.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (69 of 73), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 12:46 PM Thanks, Jody. I thought that your comments were spot on. I'm glad that Candy mentioned the humour of this book. I found it amusing from the first and she mentioned some of the funnier scenes. But the humour fades when the evil trio make their appearance and the deaths of Heyst and Lena seem completely at odds with a book which has such a light-hearted beginning. But this may actually be Conrad's moral, that victory comes not from avoiding death, as Heyst would have had Lena hide in the dark but rather that one has attained " 'Victory,' the shining and tragic goal of noble effort," as Lena did. (Definition of 'Victory' from the author's Note to the First Edition.) Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (70 of 73), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 01:55 PM I liked when Dan gave a passage and called it "Pulp Victory" I think he caught the idea that there was some banter and humor along the dark kind of humor as well in Pulp Fiction style. I am really torn up by your last post here Dean, about death and a nobel effort. I have to think about this...but it ties into a statement George said about Antony and Cleopatra...that maybe Shakespeare was showing that their attempts to live were more than how they could bargain away love but then live, or have love and die. But I am scattered...and will try to think of this clearly...also, what about Hamlet in contrast to this one? I have thoguht much about your idea of his ambition. He could have left Denmark...ignored the words of the ghost...and lived a life. One all his education, did not help him answer what action would he take...and then...isn't it more noble that he fought the corruption in Denmark? I don't know...I see something here, but I don't know what... re-reads needed on my part, flipping pages, Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (71 of 73), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, December 13, 2001 04:56 PM I look forward to hearing more about it, Candy. It's good that you mentioned Dan's quotes. Thanks, Dan. They were a treat. Meanwhile, here are a few of phrases with which I made some associations which may or may not be germane to the story. In a description of Heyst Part I, Ch. 7 (p.61 Penguin edition) Except that he stood drinks to people on suitable occasions, this observer of facts seemed to have no connexion with earthly affairs and passions. The very courtesy of his manner, the flavour of playfulness in the voice set him apart. He was like a feather floating lightly in the workaday atmosphere which was the breath of our nostrils. This reminded me of Hidegard von Bingen who referred to herself as "a feather on the breath of God." She was an Abbesse and an accomplished intellectual, musical composition being only one of her many accomplishments: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002ZGD/qid=1008265408/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_6_1/103-6095043-1923023 In Part II, Ch.7 (p.122, Peguin edition) Ricardo and Mr. Jones take stock: At that time we had only one revolver between us two - the governor's six-shooter, but loaded only in five chambers;... It was common practice when loading a revolver to leave the chamber under the hammer empty. Anyone who neglected to do this with a holstered weapon was a likely candidate for the epithet "Hopalong." Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (72 of 73), Read 4 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Saturday, December 15, 2001 11:22 PM Sorry to be so tardy posting here, but I have enjoyed reading all the comments. A couple of thoughts: Kay mentioned early on the misinformation. Throughout the book, I was struck by how misinformation or hidden information was so critical to the way things unfolded. And so totally human. There's Schomberg the vicious gossip. Mrs. Schomberg knows a lot, but she knows the danger of talking. We know so little about Lena - we're not even sure of her real name. And she never reveals her tussle with Ricardo to Heyst, or even that she has been seen. Wang has heard something, but gets the wrong idea. Mr. Jones is totally unaware that there is a girl involved in the plot against Heyst. I'm sure there are others, but I found all these characters very real as a result. Here's something I'm uncertain about. At the end, when Lena disobeys Heyst and remains in the bungalow with Ricardo, and Heyst realizes it while walking toward the house with Jones, and Ricardo is kissing her foot- does Heyst feel betrayed by Lena at that moment? It seems to me that he must, not knowing that she has jeopardized everything for him. I'm thinking that betrayal is part of the Garden of Eden theme as mentioned by Jody. Other words used a lot: desperate and calumny. MAP
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (73 of 73), Read 2 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, December 16, 2001 11:04 AM Mary Ann, I had to return my library copy of Victory, so I can't reference the text, but I definitely believed that Heyst felt betrayed by Lena until he actually arrived on the scene and talked to her. How about you? Barb mentioned earlier that she thought the deathbed scene was too much, but it definitely sucked me in. However, while reading it, I was struck by the irony inherent in Lena's belief that she had single handedly saved Heyst. The ship captain (sorry - I've forgotten his name) had arrived on the scene and surely would have saved Heyst and Lena. Or not? In any case, Heyst killed himself in the end, so Lena made her sacrifice in vain. For me, that made her death poignant, as opposed to cheap melodrama. Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (74 of 75), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor litbeej@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, December 16, 2001 01:17 PM Did Heyst feel betrayed? Even I wondered, for just a split second there, if Lena was betraying Heyst with Ricardo.. Beej
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (75 of 75), Read 1 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Monday, December 17, 2001 09:09 AM I think the only way Lena betrayed Heyst was by not telling him about Ricardo in the first place. She claimed she wanted to protect Heyst, but had she told him, they could have fought on the same side. As it was, there was a three way battle going on - kind of a power triangle. She could have still allowed R. to think H. didn't know. Heyst might have acted differently, though I'm not sure about that. He seemed so paralyzed, even when it came to defending a loved one. I found that apathy very disturbing. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (76 of 77), Read 7 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Monday, December 17, 2001 06:08 PM "Did Heyst feel betrayed by Lena's actions?" I never really thought of it; I always focused on Jones' reaction to the scene. The author had taken the time and energy to ensure that the reader would be well-versed in Jones' aversion to the feminine and, here, Jones witnesses Ricardo and we, the well-versed reader, know that Ricardo won't be around much. But, in true Conradian fashion, there's Heyst shoulder to shoulder with Jones--and he realizes that Lena had met Ricardo without telling him anything. He is as shocked as Jones, I'm sure. Let us attend to the text, shall we? Mr. Jones, after firing his shot over Heyst's shoulder, had thought it proper to dodge away. Like the spectre he was, he had noiselessly vanished from the verandah. Heyst stumbled into the room and looked around. All the objects in there--the books, the gleam of old silver familiar to him from boyhood, the very portrait on the wall--seemed shadowy, unsubstantial, the dumb accomplices of an amazing dream plot ending in an illusory effect of awakening and the impossibility of ever closing his eyes again. With dread he forced himself to look at the girl. Still in the chair, she was leaning forward her knees, and had hidden her face in her hands. Heyst remembered Wang suddenly. How clear all this was--and how extremely amusing. Very. ...He bowed his head gravely, and said in his polite Heystian tone: "No doubt you acted from instinct. Women have been provided their own weapons. I was a disarmed man, I have been a disarmed man all my life as I see it now. You may glory in your resourcefulness and your profound knowledge of yourself; but I may say that the other attitude, suggestive of shame, had its charm. For you are full of charm!" Seems Heyst does not feel betrayed; he achieves a sort of vision into the shadows that color all situations. It's like the light on the expanse of the ocean Lena detests--it lacks reality. Reality has shadows, boxes within boxes, unseen machinations. Instead of feeling betrayed, Heyst achieves a kind of epiphany. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (77 of 77), Read 4 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 12:27 AM Excellent, Daniel, but I would say that the epiphany was not a comforting one. He realizes that he has spent his whole life in a colourless dream, in the umbra of his father's shadow. Heyst's innocence was so abject that he couldn't imagine why the three men had washed up under his pier, even though the question crosses his mind. I even think that he would have given money to Jones as readily as he had given it to Morrison. Heyst was unable to discriminate. Jones, who's discrimination is honed to a razor edge of self-interest, finds Heyst incomprehensible. Lena brings Heyst to knowledge of good and evil and so life begins for Heyst and ends with her death. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (78 of 82), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 05:14 PM Dan, Interesting, but I don't see the epiphany. Heyst remembered Wang suddenly. How clear all this was--and how extremely amusing. Very. For a moment at least, I think he is mocking himself for having been "taken in" by Lena. Lena later makes it clear that her only goal was to save Heyst and he realizes his mistake. Or not? How do the rest of you interpret it? Almost everything people have written about the symbolism in this novel makes sense, but I liked it better when I viewed it as just a good story. Did anyone else have that reaction? Ann
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (79 of 82), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 09:28 PM I'm not sure I see the epiphany either. I also had to take my book back, but I'm pretty sure the segment you quoted, Dan, comes before Heyst knows about the knife and maybe before Heyst knew that Lena has been shot. At any rate, if Heyst feels no betrayal, then Jones isn't the only one who finds him incomprehensible. MAP
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (80 of 82), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 09:32 AM I still say the betrayal Heyst eventually felt was not a sexual one. It was a betrayal of non-inclusion in Lena's thoughts. I think that kind of hurt can last a lifetime and creates an atmosphere of mistrust. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (81 of 82), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 08:29 PM Perhaps "epiphany" was too strong a term for this moment with Heyst, especially in light of Ann's quote. Heyst is such an alien in this work. He's "amused," not really shocked at what he and Jones discover. Is it just me that though Heyst is a literary creation--a character adhering to a philosophical code who suddenly and tragically realizes how much it has reduced his life--which is yet still drawn realistically? His character is credible despite its literary dress. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (82 of 82), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 08:39 PM A moment of Victory... "Repentance, I should say. But how is it that Mrs. Schomberg has been selected for a confidante?" For indeed the waxwork figure would have seemed more useful than that woman whom we all were accustomed to see sitting elevated above the two billiard tables--without expression, without movement, without voice, without sight. "Why, she helped the girl to bolt," said Davidson turning at me his innocent eyes, rounded by the state of constant amazement in which this affair had left him, like those shocks of terror or sorrow which sometimes leave their victims afflicted by nervous trembling. It looked as though he would never get over it. "Mrs. Schomberg jerked Heyst's note, twisted like a pipe-light, into my lap while I sat there unsuspecting," Davidson went on. "Directly I had recovered my senses, I asked her what on earth she had to do with it that Heyst should leave it with her. And then, behaving like a painted image rather than a live woman, she whispered, just loud enough for me to hear: "'I helped them. I got her things together, tied them up in my own shawl, and threw them into the compound out of a back window. I did it.' "That woman that you would say hadn't the pluck to lift her little finger!" marvelled Davidson in his quiet slightly panting voice. "What do you think of that?" I thought she must have had some interest of her own to serve. She was too lifeless to be suspected of impulsive compassion. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (83 of 85), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Thursday, December 20, 2001 08:36 PM Thanks for posting that, Dan. For some inexplicable reason, I liked the easily ignored but all-knowing Mrs. Schomberg. MAP
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (84 of 85), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Friday, December 21, 2001 07:49 AM Dale- I'm still wondering if a theme is emerging concerning Conrad's depiction of women. Seems to me that the pattern seems to be that women are helpless only until they decide to take matters into their own hands. Conrad seems to place them into a kind of ethereal life force category. Does that hold up in "Chance?" K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (85 of 85), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Friday, December 21, 2001 10:55 AM What struck me about that presentation of Mrs. Schomberg was that in many Conrad novels there is the female character who sits very still. In The Secret Agent, it's Verloc's wife. In Heart of Darkness it is the old women who sit knitting outside the main office. In Chance, it's Captain Anthony's sister, who is able to shrug and affirm matters without moving a single muscle. However, besides the Buddhaesque women who watch the action mutely in these novels, there is Lena in Victory and Mrs. Anthony in Chance seizing the reins of their destiny by latching onto the first available man who comes along. Lena possesses a sense of guilt, however, that seems to drive her to attempt to rid their island paradise by her own means. Mrs. Anthony does not do the same; instead, she becomes Mr. Anthony's problem. He has to live up to the standards and consequences of his altruism--his eloping with the destitute woman--for life. Then again, Heyst is the same: He stays with Morrison as a victim of a momentary altruistic moment on a busy street. He will stay with Lena after rescuing her from the talons of the orchestra and Shomberg hotel. On another note, someone mentioned earlier if Captain Davidson was just Conrad's narrator Marlow with a different name. Having read Chance, I would have to disagree. Marlow's character has a penchant for philosophy and for coloring his interpretation of events. Had it been Marlow visiting the islands instead of Capt. Davidson, then the story of Victory would have been longer and, imagine, even more convoluted. Imagine sifting through Marlow's philosophy on Heyst's philosophical character. Boggles the mind. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (86 of 88), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Theresa Simpson theresa.a.simpson@gte.net Date: Monday, December 24, 2001 03:42 AM I finally finished this book, and read all of your comments. Much of what I had to say has already been addressed, natch. I thought Conrad was playing a bit of a game; using all of the elements of a melodrama to create a book with a lot more to say for itself. Often he walked - teetered - a mighty fine line in this quest. Candy, I'm shocked that you find Heyst admirable. I would have guessed you would find him abhorrent. This isn't a troll; it's my honest reaction. I was especially struck by Jones' comment that he and Heyst were the same. This was my own impression as well - they were both utterly removed from feeling as a motivation. Jones was a gamesplayer with evil on his mind; Heyst played his own games with others' lives. He paid off the schooner/coal company guy's debt not from altruism or feeling for a fellow human being - I can't remember the guy's name, nor the text's comment on Heyst's motive, but it definitely wasn't charity. He didn't rescue Lena out of love, or attraction, or pity, or anything of the sort - the situation was thrust upon him, and he went with the flow. And, whether or not his actions seemed altruistic, they resulted in tragedy for all in the end. So in a sense Schomberg had it right, though he got there by the wrong path. By the way, "Lena" means temptress, and also "illustrious" according to a name origin web site. I don't konw how much stock I'd put in this site, though. I thought the meaning might derive from Mary Magdalene's rep, but the site says Magdalena means a woman from Magdala. And says that Theresa, which I always thought had something to do with the harvest, comes from Terence and means tender, good and gracious (well, I knew that . . .) Finally, Lena's death seemed to fall on the wrong side of the melodrama/literature line. Lena's great wish was to have Heyst's love; or Heyst's declaration of love. She is depicted as having only his best interests in mind. Does she want his love for her own gratification, or for their mutual gratification? If the latter, her "dying for him" is surely rather sadistic - is he to be left to live with grief? It's almost a revenge - and it works, doesn't it? Heyst's detachment is broken, and he apparently can't bear to live in the world any longer. Gotta say Condrad's constant references to "slant-eyed" Wang started to grate after a while. If this was put in for what journalists call "color", one or two references would have sufficed. Fifteen or twenty says something else altogether. It did seem to subvert the dominant pardigm, so to speak, that only Wang and the Alfuro were left standing at the end. The so-called primitives or lesser races knew what to do to protect themselves - and Wang protected his Alfuro woman, whereas Heyst did a piss-poor job of taking care of Lena, didn't he? Conrad might be showing shades of a Rousseau like admiration of the vitality of "savages" here. I'd hope he'd be capable of more complex thoughts on the subject. I think I'd have to read the book again to get a better idea of what he was after. There is lots and lots of subversion going on though (it's Lena, the damsel in distress, who acts to protect Heyst, for example.) Finally, IMO, the only admirable character was Anderson (name? the ship captain who kept any eye on Heyst). He acted out of human feeling, appeared connected to the world and it's pleasures (note he was fat, whereas Jones was a spectre). He had the upper class Englishman's fear of intruding on the life of another of his class, but did his best to help without doing so. He's the true hero of this story. Theresa
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (87 of 88), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, December 24, 2001 08:04 AM Very perceptive post, Theresa. (Especially since I agree with almost all your points). Sherry
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (88 of 88), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Monday, December 24, 2001 03:57 PM Theresa: Excellent commentary, but I wonder about Heyst's motives in relieving Morrison's debt. Seems he crosses the street because he sees someone he wants to have a drink and some company with. I went back and found an utterly fascinating conversation between Morrison and Heyst, providing yet another moment of Victory... "Upon my word, I don't know why I have been telling you all this. I suppose seeing a thoroughly white man made it impossible to keep my trouble to myself. Words can't do it justice; but since I've told you so much I may as well tell you more. Listen. This morning on board, in my cabin, I went down on my knees and prayed for help. I went down on my knees!" "You are a believer, Morrison?" asked Heyst with a distinct note of respect. "Surely I am not an infidel." Morrison was swiftly reproachful in his answer, and there came a pause, Morrison perhaps interrogating his conscience and Heyst preserving a mien of unperturbed, polite interest. "I prayed like a child, of course. I believe in children praying--well, women too, but I rather think God expects men to be more self-reliant. I don't hold with a man everlastingly bothering the Almighty with his silly troubles. It seems such cheek. Anyhow, this morning I--I have never done any harm to any God's creatures knowingly--I prayed. A sudden impulse--I went flop on my knees; so you may judge--" They were gazing earnestly into each other's eyes. Poor Morrison added, as a discouraging afterthought: "Only this is such a God-forsaken spot." Heyst inquired with a delicate intonation whether he might know the amount for which the brig was seized. This passage amazes me--I have overlooked its import every time I've read this novel. Morrison's prayer is what attracts Heyst's interest--I find that odd. Given the action after this passage (which is the second chapter of the novel), it's easy to forget it ever happened. Now later in the novel--much later--Heyst explains the situation to Lena: "...What captivated my fancy was that I, Axel Heyst, the most detached of creatures in this earthly captivity, the veriest tramp of this earth, an indifferent stroller going through the world's bustle--that I should have been there to step into the situation of an agent of Providence. I, a man of universal scorn and unbelief..." "You are putting it on," she interrupted in her seductive voice, with a coaxing intonation.... "...What you call fun came afterward, when it dawned on me that I was for him a walking, breathing, incarnate proof of the efficacy of prayer. I was a little fascinated by it--and then, could I have argued with him? You don't argue against such evidence, and besides it would have looked as if I had wanted to claim all the merit. Already his gratitude was simply frightful. Funny position, wasn't it? The boredom came later, when we lived together on board his ship. 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 his soul." Though he found it amusing, Heyst was altruistic in his initial dealings with Morrison. Sure he didn't want to go against being "evidence of the efficacy of prayer," but what drove him towards Morrison in the street and what possessed Morrison to bear his soul to Heyst? Could it really be that they were both white and that that provided the commonality needed to behave as mates? Dan
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (89 of 96), Read 60 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 03:07 PM Theresa, I really enjoyed your comments and agreed with them for the most part, although, like Dan, I am considerably more sympathetic towards Heyst. Like you, I soon tired of the "inscrutable Oriental" bit. Although I tried not to judge Conrad by today's standards, I wonder if his his attitude towards other races indicates that he never really knew non-whites very well, in spite of his travels around the world. I suspect his contacts were restricted to servants. I know that some African writers, such as Achebe, have been very offended by Conrad's Heart of Darkness because the natives, magnificent as they are in some respects, are never fully human. In Conrad's world, I suppose that this unquestioned assumption of white superiority was very widespread, but I like to think that there were some people who were more enlightened.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (90 of 96), Read 50 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 27, 2001 10:57 AM I thought Conrad deliberately kept Wang and the island natives separate because they were a part of the natural setting. It seemed to me that there was a battle between Good and Evil that was observed by a neutral Nature. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (91 of 96), Read 47 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Thursday, December 27, 2001 09:42 PM Casting calls for Victory: directed by Carl Franklin(One False Move, Devil In a Blue Dress) or the Coen Bros. Heyst: William Hurt, or a bald, red handlebar moustached Bill Pullman Mr Jones: Jeremy Irons Ricardo: For the cat-like, bisexual slinky one? Johnny Depp. It could be his Oscar in a bag. Wang: Tony Leung or John Lone Lena: Reese Witherspoon Mrs Schomberg, Lena Olin or Frances McDormond
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (92 of 96), Read 46 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, December 27, 2001 10:39 PM You cast Wang but not Herr Schomberg, Morrison, or Captain Davidson? Do you allow Hollywood to give this film a happy ending? And why not allow Christopher Nolan to do a tropical "Memento?" He could even strive to create the narrative of this novel cinematically. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (93 of 96), Read 51 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Friday, December 28, 2001 06:39 AM I like that...I uh just couldn't think of any body for those parts...except Morrison I kind of thought of a very gentlemanly presented Steve Buchemi... Nolan for director, yeah, I can see that. I liked Memento, especially the first time I saw it. I watched it again last week...and felt it was too formulaic and not as good as I liked it the first time. I don't know why, because I thought it was pretty cool the first time. I see a mood of this as movie like Key Largo. No happy endings.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (94 of 96), Read 43 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Friday, December 28, 2001 06:57 PM I also was intrigued by Heyst, Jones and Lena. I have a vague feeling for what Heyst was like. Perhaps someone who has learned to live within himself as a means of self defense. An oversensitive person who did not want to get involved with others for this reason. But, he has a complex and rich inner life. I can't recall any references to other women in his life and that is also the way he acts toward Lena. A person who loves a woman but does not know what to do about it. She was needy and intuitively saw through him, noted his decency and helpfulness and so decided that he was the man she felt save with and who she could love. Actually Mr. Jones seems a bit far fetched to me. I never met anyone like him (nor do I wish to). Schomberg types you will find all over the world. They are no rarity. A contemporary man of this nature can just live around the corner from one of us. Martin Ricardo, reminds me of a jackal and is one of the most disgusting character in literature I remember. I found him worse than any of the others. He is clever enough to be dangerous and lives by his mean and morbid wits. Well there is an almost saving grace about this guy, he likes girls, while his boss hates them. Well, this is how I see the characters. Now to the matter of literary merit and the way Conrad presented his story. I found his command and use of English absolutely fantastic. I know from experience how difficult it is to become that proficient in a foreign language. But its more than that, Conrad uses a literary styles that few could equal. I kept marvelling about it. Next the story. I was fascinated by it but the way he drew out the apprehensive climax, the ending, leaving the reader on tenterhooks hooks was perhaps overdone. This is the only very minor criticism I can come up with. This book was a great experience for me and perhaps for most of the readership of Constant Reader. Ernie
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (95 of 96), Read 34 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dale Short dshort@bham.rr.com Date: Friday, December 28, 2001 07:29 PM Ernie: Enjoyed your thoughts on VICTORY. You say you've never met a real-life version of Jones, but I was curious whether in the years of your practice you encountered people who stand out in your memory as particularly frightening, and why. My best to Pat, >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (96 of 96), Read 32 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Friday, December 28, 2001 07:49 PM Hi Ernie, I feel very similar to you the characters as your descriptions. I think Heyst really was internal because of self defense. Martin Ricardo is one of the more disgusting persons in a book, I agree. Having said that, I found I was laughing...somehow Conrad also showed how idiotic his sneakiness could be...I would laugh when he was crawling about the island. And Mr. Schomberg, sheesh I think I have run into him myself, god help anyone who has to work for a guy like that. For me, the writing is also outstanding. Perfect. His literary style is no accident and my awe only improves as I read him again, and again. You're right, this book was a great reading experience! A bit of Lena, for sake of her actions...as she realizes the predicament, and just what a creature Ricardo is... it compares to Heyst's memory of Morrison's devotion to Heyst...we read... "This new enemy's attack was simple, straightforward violence.It was not the slimy, underhand plotting to deliver her up like a slave, which had sickened her heart and had made her feel in her loneliness that her oppressors were too many for her. She was no longer alone in the world now. She resisted without a moment of faltering, because she was no longer deprived of moral support; because she was a human being who counted; because she was no longer defending herself for herself alone; because of the faith that had been born in her-the faith in the man of her destiny, and perhaps in the Heaven which had sent him so wonderfully to cross her path." I thought some of the descriptions of Lena in shock and in fear were accurate in a physiological way, how she was solid and quiet, all the time figuring out their new state under siege on the island. Also, "swag" is slang for loot, but it also means a garland or valance...maybe like the one Lena was wearing in the concert. I just thought it was weird when Ricardo says he was coming to get "the swag". "As often with women, her wits were sharpened by the very terror of the glimpsed menace" "Duplicity-the refuge od the weak and the cowardly, but of the disarmed,too! Nothing stood between the enchanted dream of her existence and a cruel catastrophe but her duplicity. It seemed to her that the man sitting there before her was an unavoidable presence, which had attended all her life. He was the embodied evil of the world. She was not ashamed of her duplicity. With a womans frank courage, as soon as she saw that opening she threw herself into it without reserve, with only one doubt-that of her own strength. She was appalled by the situation; but already her aroused femininity, understanding that whether Heyst loved her or not she loved him, and feeling that she she had brought this on his head, faced the danger with a passionate desire to defend her own." One thing I found interesting in this character and that kind of passage was how it compared to Mrs. Verloc, a femme fatale-perhaps the prototype for all CONTEMPORARY femme fatales to follow in Jim Thompson or Chandler or Hamett. The contrast between Lena and Mrs. Verloc is only slight...minute...but what a difference in character that slight difference is, it's massive. The wile of Verloc is used for selfish, murderous ambitious motives...yet the kind of internal thoughts are almost the same in the two characters...what alternate personas in the slightest maneuvering of words Conrad produces is part of his charm to me. Lena also seems like a template for the heroines of popular Harlequin-romantic novels, the kind with strong long haired vixens crushing into Fabio on the covers. Candy
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (97 of 97), Read 3 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 29, 2001 09:35 AM "frank courage" of women Mrs. Schomberg showed that kind of courage as well as Lena when she helped Lena and Heyst escape. I find it sad that she could not find the inner resources to get out from under Schomberg herself. She could only be called to action by the dilemma of someone else. Perhaps that gave her the strength to carry on with her own situation. It was a secret inner resource she used to endure. I just hate that she could not use it for her own self defense. I suppose that happens a lot, even today. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (98 of 100), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Saturday, December 29, 2001 01:21 PM I see what you mean Kay. I think of the difference between the two Schombergs. To me, evil is when someone is a sore loser and acts on it to spread loss to others. Mr Schomberg took his losses and shit all over other people. There Mrs Schomberg worked within her limitations for the good of somebody else. She knew her own life suffered loss, but she wasn't out to spread loss to anyone else. I was comparing Kurtz from heart of Darkness to Jones, and there was Kurtz who experienced extremes of life...mostly as a result of finding out civilization was not able to protect him from his basest ethics and motives. But Jones...he travels the world specifically it seems to crap on others. Each feeds their ego with feelings of power...but even though Kurtz was vile and dark...it's almost like it happened to him under duress by accident. Different to me than Jones.
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (99 of 100), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, December 29, 2001 07:30 PM Yes, Jones is a portrait of deliberate, invasive evil. He's a caricature of a human being, as is Lena. Heyst and Ricardo seemed more human - more real - than the others. Not sure why. K
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (100 of 100), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Saturday, December 29, 2001 11:17 PM Kay and Candy, You made an interesting comparison between Mrs. Schomberg and Lena. Lena was able to move and act regardless to what it would lead to. Mrs. Schomberg was trapped and her fate was so similar to that of woman of her and earlier generations. Reading Moll Flanders not too long ago gave me a good taste of what position women were in in those timers. Working as a domestic, engaging in crime or prostitution or just any kind of marriage was their fate. Reading this book I finally understood the underlying power and motivation of the feminist movement. Yes women in the past had little if any freedom of choice. Marriage, no matter how unhappy and unsatisfying it turned out at least provided for food and the benefit of children and a home. What I am driving at was that Lena had few choices to look forward to before she found Heyst but Mrs. Schomberg had no choice at all, she was the prisoner of a crazed slave driver. Dale, your question is interesting and I am thinking back of my many years of practice. Well, I was threatened and almost killed by a patient who imagined he was dying and wanted me along for company. This was the point when my office door suddenly got opened and one of these pretty young nurses told me that coffee was being served in the conference room. I turned away from the threatening patient and went out with her to have coffee. The patient who threatened me was actually a nice guy and the story had a happy ending when an effective drug for his rare mental state was discovered and pretty much cured him. Another story: A psychologist I shared an office with asked me to see his woman patient while he went on vacation. She was the weirdest and strangest person I ever encountered in my life. Can't really describe her but she seemed to live in a dream state and tried to draw me into the same unreality she was in. I had to fight off her otherwordlyness which was infectious. Thank god this only lasted a few weeks but I don't know how her regular therapist faired in the long run.... Yes, I did see weird characters and often wondered why I picked psychotherapy as my life work. There must be easier (or more honest ways?)of making a living -I may assure you. Ernie
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (101 of 102), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Daniel LeBoeuf dan1066@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 08:42 AM I may be missing the main point here, but I find Mrs. Schomberg and Lena more alike in their characters. Both are active without the knowledge of their men. Mrs. Schomberg is able to aid Heyst and Lena's escape. When the need arose--and Mrs. Schomberg saw Lena as a potential threat to her surroundings--she took the initiative and helped Heyst get rid of her. Could Heyst have been as successful without Mrs. Schomberg? Seems doubtful. Lena is only able to take action when a male figure materializes to help her. Without Heyst, Lena would have toured with that orchestra in misery her entire life--which is strongly hinted was heading towards suicide anyway. Once on the island, Lena operates without Heyst's knowledge is alleviating the problem of invaders. In a sense, both Lena and Mrs. Schomberg use the arsenal they possess to rid their worlds of potential disrupting forces, be it Mr. Schomberg's lust or Ricardo's knife--which, I'm sure Candy observes--is basically the same symbolically. And Ernie, you should read Chance which was written at the same time. There a woman is left completely alone and has nothing and no one. Conrad does a good job of presenting just how limiting the options of an unmarried woman without wealth were at the turn of the century. Dan It's OK--they're all smoking!
Topic: Victory: Post Notes Here (102 of 102), Read 9 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Candy Minx candyminx@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 11:24 PM Aah, I think you made wonderful associations between Mrs. Schomberg and Lena, I hadn't thought of their "actions" and "inertias" so lined up quite like that way before. A kind of yin and yang idea going on there with Heyst and the women too. I've got Chance in my suitcase, somewhere between Humphries and Kingsolver and the New Jersey turnpike...

 
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad

 
Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com