Thursday, April 30, 2020

222. Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
1902
Around 200 pages








I remember reading this novel during my last week of high school, so I will always have feelings of euphoria and relief attached to this story. Of course, these emotions are quite inappropriate for the actual plot.

Charles Marlow is our narrator, and was previously featured in Lord Jim. While anchored on the River Thames, he entertains his fellow sailors with the story of his voyage up the Congo River. Marlow's fate becomes entangled in the fate of Mr. Kurtz, an old fat guy (which thanks to Brando is how I will forever picture him) who is pretty much the embodiment of Western tyranny.

I never really enjoyed this novella very much, although I am appreciative of Conrad's style and brevity. By now, we have seen quite a few these anti-colonialism adventure novels. And while many still carry an anti imperialism message, they never do much in the way of humanizing the natives. Of course, I know writers can only write what they know, but I just didn't feel like this novel was that revolutionary. Considering all the praise it receives, you would think it would have to be.

Definitely deserving of a place on this List, but I would take it off a high school syllabus as the literary introduction to imperialism. Make everybody read Chinua Achebe instead.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Joseph Conrad did not receive much praise for the novella when it was published, and didn't consider it a notable work.

Criticized by Chinua Achebe for its offensive depiction of Africans.

UP NEXT: The Wings of the Dove by Henry James. Snore. Luckily I have read this already, so a new review should be up shortly.

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