Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad, Limited Editions Club, 1961

Nostromo, published in 1904, is considered one of the great English novels of the twentieth century.  It was written by one of the truly preeminent novelists in English, Joseph Conrad.  Set in the fictional mining town of Sulaco, in the imaginary country of Costaguana, Nostromo is much more character driven then other Conrad novels. Señor Gould and the “incorruptible” Nostromo are the main characters in the revolutionary time in which the story is set. Materialism, exploitation and the people’s response to it are themes explored (keep in mind Conrad himself was quite conservative).

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was of Polish ancestry and could not speak English fluently until his twenties. Yet, he was to become one of the great prose stylists in English literary history.  Many of his novels take place in nautical settings, and depict challenges to human mental and physical capabilities in a manner which deeply explores the human soul. Conrad is considered to be an influence on later modernism, though his work can often be labeled at least somewhat romantic. His most influential work is Heart of Darkness, though Lord JimThe Nigger of the NarcissusTyphoonThe Secret AgentUnder Western Eyes and Nostromo are also still widely read and well thought of critically.

I think this Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition is very underrated.  It can be found in fine or near fine condition for a very reasonable price. It is a large book, with beautiful, colorful, realistic and classic illustrations by Lima de Freitas (1927–1998), a Portuguese artist who illustrated over 100 books. Many of the illustrations are hand colored, and remain as bright and vibrant as the day they were completed. I will admit that the book’s spine of burlap took a bit for me to get used to, but now I like it (though the turquoise cover is still not my favorite).  All in all, the book quality to price ratio is one of the best around for LEC’s.

About the Edition

  • Designed by Adrian Wilson
  • Introduction by Rupert Croft-Cooke
  • 65 pen drawings by Lima de Freitas, 25 of which colored by hand through stencils in the studio of Walter Fischer in New York  who also signs the edition
  • 12 point Bulmer type on Basingwerk Parchment specially made for this edition at the Abbey Mills in North Wales
  • Printing by Taylor & Taylor in San Francisco (this is the last book ever printed there)
  • Binding of turquoise linen cloth stamped in aluminum foil on the front cover, with a shelf back of brown burlap bearing a turquoise linen label also stamped in aluminum
  • Binding by Russel-Rutter Company in New York
  • Lima de Freitas signs the edition
  • 8 1/2″ by 11 1/8″, 408 pages
  • Limited to 1500 copies, mine is #13

Pictures

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Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Spine
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Book in Slipcase
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Macro Detail Spine Label
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Front Cover
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Macro Detail Cover Stamp
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Title Page and Frontispiece
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Contents
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #1
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Macro Detail of Sample Text
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
Nostromo, Limited Editions Club, Macro Detail of Signature

7 thoughts on “Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad, Limited Editions Club, 1961

  1. Don:

    Nostromo is not “arguably Conrad’s best novel”. It IS his best novel, by a landslide 🙂

    As Chris noted, this is one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century and the fate of the incorruptible Nostromo has a cynical edge which has been borne out by much of the 20th Century that followed. The woven hemp-like covers and the illustrations by Lima de Freitas are perfect, as is the choice of silver lettering, silver emblem on the front board and silver foil covered slipcase — all reminders of the silver treasure Nostromo is entrusted to hide from the revolutionaries.

    The book is indeed inexpensive and is one of the nicest editions of Nostromo available. Frankly, I cannot recall another fine press or private press edition, aside from Folio Society, somewhat surprising for this masterpiece.

  2. This is one of those books which need to be read multiple times to fully appreciate it. It is arguably Conrad’s best novel. I read first the Heritage Press edition; then I purchased the LEC edition for my second reading. Chris, your post of Nostromo is going to lead me into a third reading,

    I have all the LEC Conrad books, and the full set of Conrad published a few years ago by the Folio Society. Nostromo remains my favorite Conrad novel

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