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. Heyst is emotionally crippled by the influence of his dead father, a sceptical philosopher who has bequeathed to Heyst an attitude to life summed up in the father's dying words: 'Look on - make no sound.' Despite this injunction Heyst allows himself to become inextricably involved with an English Cockney girl whom he rescues from Giancomo's Travelling Ladies' Orchestra and carries off to his isolated retreat on the island of Samburan. His action incurs the fatal wrath of Schomberg, the island's innkeeper, who sends in pursuit of Heyst three demonic strangers whose invasion of his island paradise leads rapidly to the novel's violent and tragic close.
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In his early years, long before he got so becomingly bald on the top, he went to
present a letter of introduction to Mr. Tesman of Tesman Brothers, a Sourabaya
firm—tip-top house. Well, Mr. Tesman was a kindly, benevolent old gentleman.
Out there he was by profession a hotel-keeper, first in Bangkok, then somewhere
else, and ultimately in Sourabaya. He dragged after him up and down that
section of the tropical belt a silent, frightened little woman with long ringlets, who
“Why, in Sourabaya—where else?” The Tesmans had their principal counting-
house in Sourabaya. There had long existed a connection between Heyst and
the Tesmans. The incongruity of a hermit having agents did not strike us, nor yet
Solitude, shade, and gloomy silence—and a faint, treacherous breeze which
came from under the trees and quite unexpectedly caused the melting Davidson
to shiver slightly—the little shiver of the tropics which in Sourabaya, especially,
“I never knew him even as that—not till this time, when you were so obliging as to
take me to Sourabaya. I went to stay there from economy. The Netherlands
House is very expensive, and they expect you to bring your own servant with you.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - DanielSTJ - www.librarything.com
Conrad managed to develop characters, imperfect, that all drove themselves forward on their own agendas to the story's conclusion- facilitating and enabling it along the way. He manages to keep the ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Cecrow - www.librarything.com
In the first part we get an outsider's view of Axel Heyst's character, actions and motives without being certain who he is or what actually drives him. I found this off-putting until the second part ... Read full review