Joseph Conrad reference in Ridley Scott's [I]Alien[/I]

You gotta read Lord Jim. And Typhoon. You can skip An Outcast of the Islands. Really.

(I have no opinion on the Alien link, as I only saw the film once, during its first release.)

You may well be right about it being an under-rated classic. It must be nigh on 20 years since I last saw it and I now largely just recall a gorgeously lush style. Having had Conrad become one of my favourite writers in the interim, it’s a film I’m very curious about seeing again.

I always thought the ship’s name was a little strange ever since I saw “Alien” way back in 1979. Well, I discovered that the word “nostromo” is Italian for boatswain (or bos’n). Since it has long been a “tradition” (think Star Trek) to treat space ships as if they were nautical ships, I thought the name was somewhat appropriate.

DrFidelius, I have read Lord Jim a few times, and Typhoon as well, I would agree with you.

In case there are any potential Conrad fans lurking I would also reccomend The Secret Agent and Victory.

Under Western Eyes is the only Conrad I’ve started and not been able to get through, I’ve never attempted Outcast of the Isles .

bonzer , I would definately reccomend checking it out again, you are correct it is very lush, and sweeping. Costumes, set, and art decoration are spectacular (as is usual for Scott).

The critique that many people have (and I admit it is legitimate, but I for one am more than willing to forgive) is Harvey Keitel’s Brooklyn wiseguy take on French Napoleanic soldier.

In fact, perhaps not intended, but it actually suggest the cultural universality of macho honor codes, and vengence in the service of ego. Seeing Keitel in this historical peice when we know him best for modern crime, lends peraps a surprisingly diferent depth to the character.

But I have gone way OT on my own thread.

wolf_meister , are you certain on that? I’m not doubting you its interesting and certainly makes sense given the character Nostromo’s job in the novel.

It has been a while since I’ve read it, but I thought I recalled from the introduction of version I read that Nostromo was something of a made-up word by Conrad, influenced by Italian and sort of meanign something, but basically invented slang to mean basically, “our man”. Thus re-enforcing the everyman aspects of the character.

If so it certainly makes sense for the reasons you mention, in addition to the Conrad reference.

ANy Italian sailors out there who can verify?

Just use your friendly online language translator:

type in nostromo and select Italian to English and you get “boatswain”. Again I think this was applicable for “Alien” because if you remember the ship it was somewhat rundown and dirty. And not to be insulting to any sailors out there, but the bos’ns always get the dirty, filthy jobs in the US Navy (barnacle scraping, deck swabbing, steel brushing the rust spots, etc).

I second pfbob’s recommendation of Victory. It’s one of Conrad’s lesser known works, but I think it’s one of his most accessible (most of his more famous works are extremely heavy in pages long description), entertaining, and affecting.

It has been awhile since I’ve read Nostromo, and a little while since I’ve seen Alien. As a fan of Conrad’s work I’m going to have to check them out again for connections :slight_smile: