Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Costaguana. Imaginary South American republic vaguely located on the continent’s west coast, with the bulk of the country over the mountains, or cordillera, where is situated its capital, Santa Marta. Costaguana suffers under political corruption and instability, and its people live in great poverty.

Sulaco province

Sulaco province (suh-LAH-koh). Only maritime province of Costaguana and the only province in the country with a sound economy, thanks to its silver industry. The province has tried to gain its independence several times. After various military reversals, its independence is once again established by the end of the novel, with some degree of economic stability guaranteed by the mining of its silver resources.

Sulaco (town)

Sulaco (town). Provincial capital. European civilization exists here, but only as a thin veneer. The town’s main features are a cathedral, plaza, the Intendencia—later to become the presidential palace—and the Amarillo Club, where separatist leaders meet. The town bears the brunt of the damage done by the factional fighting that rages intermittently, and constantly re-invents itself. The Casa Gould, the town house of the British owner of the silver mine, represents some degree of continuity. Its English forms and customs survive the corrupting power of local politics. The corrupting force of the silver mine operates at a much deeper level.

Sulaco (port)

Sulaco (port). As the town of Sulaco lies a few miles inland, there is a small port, which plays a significant part in...

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Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Nostromo is Conrad's ultimately impressionistic novel, modeled upon his earlier experiment with form in Lord Jim (1900). Here...

(The entire section is 339 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Capitalism as it corrupts the volatile republics of South America, which were established with the demise of the Spanish Empire, forms the...

(The entire section is 259 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

While the political novels of Anthony Trollope may serve as remote backgrounds for Conrad's attempt to explore in novelistic form the effects...

(The entire section is 137 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Please see the biographical entry on Conrad for an accounting of the adaptations of Conrad's films.

(The entire section is 16 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Joseph Conrad’s “Nostromo.” New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Seven essays discuss irony, Conrad’s philosophy of history, and different views of the hero.

Carabine, Keith, Owen Knowles, and Wiesaw Krajka, eds. Contexts for Conrad. Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1993. Helpful for understanding Nostromo as part of nineteenth century colonialism, capitalism, and frontier exploration. The piece focusing on the novel shows the relationship of Nostromo to nineteenth century criticism of capitalism.

Hamner, Robert D., ed. Joseph Conrad: Third World Perspectives. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1990. Gives the perspective of the colonized on colonialism. Calls Nostromo an early conceptualization of a postcolonial world.

Jean-Aubry, Georges. Joseph Conrad: Life and Letters. 2 vols. London: Heinemann, 1927. Includes Conrad’s notes on the sources for characters and episodes in Nostromo.

Watt, Ian. Joseph Conrad: “Nostromo.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Contains a chronology of Conrad’s life and a chronology of events in Nostromo. Includes discussion of Conrad’s sources, elucidation of the novel’s narrative technique, notes on the characters as well as the history and politics in the novel, and a guide to further reading.