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Victory: An Island Tale

Thus, Victory becomes a sort of test for how to live in that universe. Initially, Heyst chooses complete avoidance; he will not be implicated in the game at all. The story, if told in a linear way, which you will never get from Conrad , is simple.

The book opens on Heyst extending a no-strings-attached loan to a man named Morrison. The loan is granted so casually it seems like an outright gift. In exchange, Morrison gives Heyst a stake in a short-lived colonial coal operation. Once the business fails and Morrison dies, Heyst becomes the center of speculation and rumor in Java. Wilhelm Schomberg, a hotelkeeper on the island, who is not just notoriously unreliable but a known liar, manipulates the plot.

Heyst and Schomberg soon find them themselves bound by more than gossip when Heyst casually decides to rescue a young showgirl named Lena, who is being tormented by Schomberg.

Who is Joseph Conrad's winner in Victory?

Heyst takes her to his island, and eventually becomes her lover. Victory is far from a smooth or easy book to read. Points of view shift suddenly, often with a jerk; long passages of dialogue set up exposition that could have been revealed a little sooner. Instead we spend a lot of time with Schomberg and the three scoundrels, two of whom are some of the least complex characters in the Conrad canon.

Famously tough Conrad sentences are waiting for you at every turn. Conrad, on the other hand, drops it right at the moment of urgency and resolution in the novel, as if using an elaborate metaphor comes as naturally as drinking as glass of water. And yet, Victory deepens despite these difficulties, further illuminating how Conrad thinks about human life.

Schomberg may be the central villain of the novel, but in a classic play of Conrad ironies, he is basically an ordinary man living according to the norms of the day.


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Schomberg and his actions can all be explained; he is even banal in his own way, compelled by familiar human vices, like jealousy and lust. When he stalks and harasses Lena, the reader can see his motivations openly: he is unhappy with his marriage, he has nothing in his life but petty power plays and small-time gambles. He games Lena out of petty dissatisfaction and unquenched desire. It is against the background of Schomberg and his banalities that Heyst reveals himself as particularly strange character in the Conrad canon.

Victory an Island Tale

It is also through Schomberg that Heyst eventually gains an attachment, becoming implicated in the world despite his better judgment, going against the set of rational criteria he has set for himself. This is where Victory gets interesting for the contemporary reader, and why it has proven to be so compelling for so many.

Furthermore, Heyst, in his knowledge of the world, knows what is ahead of him. There is a noble despair a recurring Conrad virtue in his choice of Lena and his decision to take her back to his island. According to his life philosophy, he has made precisely the wrong choice and he knows it.

Victory , then, can be understood in two ways: choosing Lena is the story, and how Heyst chooses Lena is the novel. Love, as a singular ideal, is a genuine enigma in an otherwise determined world. It is something that cannot be chosen yet must be chosen.

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In Victory , we find this paradox on the far side of the world, in a man who is, or was, attached to nothing. Michael Newton.


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Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description In Victory 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.

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. Victory was the first of Conrad's novels to be completed after the commercial success of Chance had transformed Conrad's fortunes and made him internationally famous.

It is a more complex example of the literary form which Conrad evolved for Lord Jim: a story of action and high adventure coexisting with an exhaustive study of the psychology of the central character. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions Other books in this series. To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf. Add to basket. Thus Spoke Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche.

Discourses, Fragments, Handbook Epictetus. On the Genealogy of Morals Friedrich Nietzsche. The Poetic Edda Carolyne Larrington. Meditations Marcus Aurelius.

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