Jim, first mate on board the Patna, is a simple and sensitive young man who dreams of becoming a hero. But when the Patna threatens to sink, Jim takes the cowardly way out and jumps clear. His unbearable guilt and shame at having violated the unwritten moral code of the sea lead him to become an exile in a remote Malay state.
This is the only novel that Conrad set in London, and it communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894. Verloc, a Russian spy who is also working for the police, is ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho.
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''The girl he had come across ... that human being so near and still so strange, gave him a greater sense of his own reality than he had ever known in all his life.'' Damaged by his father''s nihilistic philosophy, Axel Heyst has withdrawn from the world to live in near-isolation on the island of Samburan. His solitude ends when he rescues an English girl from her preying patron, but their heady existence will face tragic consequences when the outside world intrudes once more.
First published in 1915, ''Victory'' is arguably the most psychologically complex of Conrad''s novels, in which he creates an extraordinarily compelling love story and one of great erotic power: Axel and Lena are what set this novel apart from the other works of one of English language''s greatest writers.
This Collins Classics edition is published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of this remarkable novel.