Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


I read Lord Jim when I was a kid because I had been given to understand it was a classic story of adventure in the South Seas- and scarcely understood a word of it. Then they made me study Nostromo for "O" level or "A" level- and I found it really heavy going- though- remarkably- I didn't hate it. At some later stage I read Heart of Darkness,  the two prophetic books about terrorist cells- The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes- also The Shadow Line. From each encounter I came away grumbling that Conrad was bloody difficult but rewarding if you coulf bear to stick with him. It was like wrestling an angel- not a pleasant experience- but  you brought away unforgettable things.

Now I'm reading Victory- and finding that little of this is true- or not true any longer. Victory is an easy read, a page turner. There's a man on an island and he's got a girl with him and his enemy has sent these three colourful, evil dudes to hassle him. It's got "movie starring Bogart and Bacall" written all over it. The writing is muscular and witty (I don't remember ever laughing at Conrad before) - and it keeps you on your toes with a lot of jumping around in time and place of the kind Conrad pioneered with his (one-time) big buddy Ford Madox Ford. Actually it's Ford that directed me back to Conrad. If I loved The Good Soldier and Parade's End- and I did-  then I felt I should give him one more try.

So once I've finished Victory I'm going to work my way through all those other books I half admired, half-resented. I thnk I may now- finally- be old enough to love them.

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