Friday, January 25, 2008

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Title: Heart of Darkness
Author: Joseph Conrad
Publisher: Librivox
No. of pages: N/A
Rating: 2/10

Synopsis (from Librivox):
Set in a time of oppressive colonisation, when large areas of the world were still unknown to Europe, and Africa was literally on maps and minds as a mysterious shadow, Heart of Darkness famously explores the rituals of civilisation and barbarism, and the frighteningly fine line between them.

We get the tale through a classic unreliable narrator, relating as Marlow, a ship’s captain, tells how he was sent by the Company to retrieve the wayward Kurtz, and was shaken to discover the true depths of darkness in that creature’s, and in his own, soul. Conrad based the work closely on his own terrible experience in the Congo.

This work has been reinterpreted and adapted into many modern forms, the most well known being the film Apocalypse Now.

From all accounts, Heart of Darkness was based on Conrad's own experiences in the Congo some eight years before writing the book, which would, one would think, make for an interesting read. Instead, I found this dull, plodding and pretty pointless. I know it's held to be a classic full of symbols and ambiguity, but I just did not gel with any aspect of this novella - not the characters, nor the setting, nor their apparent motives (which seemed very weak) for any of their actions.

The ending, in particular, was anti-climactic, singularly lacking in any drama or discernable meaning, and seemed drawn out yet strangely abrupt (a combination that would seem impossible, but that's how it is!). Basically, it took a long time to get nowhere.

I'm not sure if it was the style of writing or the story, but I'm not much bothered about reading anything else by Conrad, at least, not in a hurry.


Blogger Sarah said...

I read this in high school, and I remember also being bored stiff by it! I haven't had the courage to either give it another try, or to read anything else by Conrad.

8:03 am  
Blogger xavierspider said...

You read 'Blood River?'

6:31 pm  

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