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Joseph Conrad: Victory

Victory is the story of Axel Heyst, a solitary Swede. He worked for the Tropical Belt Coal Company in partnership up with the good-natured Morrison. But Morrison died and the company went into liquidation. He drifts around but spends most of his time on his island retreat, his only contact with the few natives there. However, while at Schomberg’s Hotel he meets Lena, an itinerant musician and takes her to his island retreat. Meanwhile, a gang of rogues has come to Schomberg’s -“Mr. Jones” and Martin Ricardo – who are professional gamblers but also crooks in general. Hearing that Heyst has money, they go to the island, pretending to be shipwrecked. Heyst puts them up but there is finally a showdown and Lena is killed. Suspecting something, Davidson, a ship’s captain, in the neighbourhood, intervenes but is too late.

Heyst is one of Conrad’s typical gloomy heroes, a man who does not fit in with the rest of his kind, partially, though only partially, because of a setback in his career, like Lord Jim. With Heyst it is in part because of his father but in part because he is that way inclined. It seems that he might find his way out, with the help of Lena but, inevitably, at least in the Conradian universe, this is not to be.

Publishing history

First published in 1915 by J. M. Dent