Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Story 5.5

Writing 6.5

Characters 6

Readability 5

I’m almost hesitant about writing this book review. No, scrap that, I am really nervous. Why? Well Heart of Darkness is a classic. Heart of Darkness is a deconstruction of human nature, it teaches about love and jealousy and life – It’s been compared to Hamlet!

But… I didn’t enjoy reading it…which is odd, because I enjoy reading trashy novels as well as books brimming with life. This is something I want to talk about, later on in this post, but for now I’ll keep to the review.

Conrad narrates this story through the main character who I found to be very difficult to empathize with, or even understand. I think this is because he’s a canvas, of sorts, on which we imprint our own personal experience and values.

The book begins with the main character undertaking a journey into the centre of Africa – the Heart of Darkness. On his way (via steamboat – it’s 1899) he hears about the enigmatic and mysterious Ivory Hunter, Mr Kurtz. By all accounts Mr Kurtz is a enviable man, a gifted hunter, a poet, a dancer, attractive, smart – all the things anyone would want to be. Finding Kurtz takes up a good portion of the book, while suspense and anticipation is built toward this moment. But when we finally meet him and our expectations are totally wrong. We’re left thinking, what’s happened to the great Kurtz?

“He had summed up – he had judged. “The horror!” He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth – the strange commingling of desire and hate.”

I’m glad I finished this book despite not enjoying the majority of it. I found the language dated and complex, and the characters untenable, but the idea of the book is quite interesting – what happens when you take a great man out of his great place, and put him into another place. Will he still be great?

Has this happened to you? Have you ever been reading a book and wondered if you should still keep reading it? Did you finish it? Do you regret not finishing it?

I’d love to know how you feel about this.

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