About this website

  I created this website out of sheer admiration for the level of art and insight in Nostromo, and a desire to contribute to the appreciation of this amazing book. In The Condition of Art Joseph Conrad wrote, "A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line." This website is intended for anyone who thought he was exaggerating.

What you'll find here, in the essays and especially in my annotations that accompany the text, is an analysis of the hidden artistic nuances of Nostromo. Like its subject matter of buried treasure, the surface of this novel's story deliberately conceals a wealth of extra meaning that, when uncovered, enriches the reader's experience immeasurably.

My annotations fall into two broad categories. On the one hand, I analyze the techniques of Nostromo's construction -- its layers and codes, its use of symbolism, metaphor and allegory, the ways in which Conrad's rich, beautiful language builds, repeats and cross-references itself -- showing how each tiny detail contributes to the unified thematic whole. On the other hand, I analyze the philosophy of that theme, for Nostromo sets out to present nothing less than a complete, all-encompassing vision of the universe and the human condition, with especial insights into the truths of the modern industrial age.

A note to Conrad scholars. This site is purely about Nostromo and does not discuss Joseph Conrad the man, his life and times, or his other writings. In my analysis of the text you will find none of the following:

  • Its possible origins in Conrad's life or psychology.
  • Its place in relation to other Conrad works. (Actually, I do have one such reference in my annotations for the Author's Note, but I think Conrad invites it.)
  • Its interpretation by other Conrad scholars or literary critics over the years.

Instead, what you'll find here is simply a look at Nostromo as a work of art. Treating the work alone as an artistic and philosophical masterpiece has been enough to keep me happily occupied for years.

--Matthew Waller

About me

I'm 41 years old, currently employed as a technical writer, and I live in Seattle with my wife. My qualifications for doing this site are very little. I have a B.A. in English from Haverford College, where I had my first mind-blowing encounter with Nostromo way back in 1981 in a class taught by the magnificent Joanne Hutchinson. Since then I've remained unaffiliated with any educational or larger Conradian institution.

Contacting me

To contact me, please send e-mail to mattwaller@nostromoonline.com. I welcome your comments!