Review: Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad

Amy Foster by Joseph Conrad
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“Yes; he was a castaway. A poor emigrant from Central Europe bound to America and washed ashore here in a storm. And for him, who knew nothing of the earth, England was an undiscovered country…” 

This is a powerful story of a young man, Yanko, who intended to go to America to gain some money for his family. However, his ship wrecks near the shores of Kent. He is the only one who survives. Literally swept from the sea he is disoriented, shocked, and looking like an asylum runaway. The natives who totally fail to connect him with the wrecked ship find him scary, and the way they treat him is rather shameful.
Yanko is without doubt inspired by Joseph Conrad himself, because he indeed felt like an exile in England. There are only a few people who help and accept Yanko. One of them is the narrator Doctor Kennedy who used to live in different parts of Europe, so his cosmopolitanism is the reason why he's not afraid to accept someone so different from his own culture. Obviously the main purpose of this story is to capture the feeling of alienation. Alienation that can be very torturous, but alienation which can also, quite unlikely, connect you with other people. And that's what happens to Yanko when he meets Amy Foster, a rather plain and dull woman who is an outsider in her own country. So two outsiders fall in love, not an unusual thing, but its tragic ending in this case makes this a powerful and heartbreaking story.


Anonymous said...

Oh, no! It doesn’t sound like a happy ending is in store for these characters, but then this is Joseph Conrad so it is to be expected.

Petra said...

Well, the ending was rather devastating, true, but there is something mesmerizing about it.
My first Conrad, must read some more :)

s.n.mnguni said...

yes it is quit a sorrowful ending but i put all the blame to yanko himself. he should have taught his wife his native language for such emergencies.

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