Marty's Reviews > Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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Aug 01, 10

bookshelves: attic-bookshelf
Read in July, 2010

You must know my background experience with this book. This was the book that I was required to read in AP English in order to salvage my grade from an F, which I and a group of about a dozen others were threatened with in order to make up for sluffing class one day (in my defense, it was after the test, and the teacher had not shown up to class for at least fifteen minutes after class started … what were we supposed to do, diagram a sentence??!!). I patently refused to even touch the book (while all of the competing valedictorians in our sluffing group fought back their tears as they greedily snatched the thing that would rescue them--oh how I pity them).

So, you might say that Heart of Darkness and I got off to a bad start. Well, it is 13 years later. I have slowly reconciled myself to many of the AP books that I did not read for any number of reasons that year: The Scarlet Letter and The Brothers Karamazov are two excellent examples of that reconciliation. I’m glad we have now met, put our differences behind us, and now can recognize them for they marvelous works of literature they are. Heart of Darkness had long been one that I felt I should reach out to in a gesture of goodwill. So I did.

Well, now that that is done I can assure myself that at least once in my AP English class, I made a correct decision. Oh, and Heart of Darkness you aren’t welcome in my house any more. We’re through … and this time for good.

I won’t say that Joseph Conrad’s book is not well written, because it is. And I will not say that I don’t see the potential it has, especially as an allegory on human nature, especially as found in the character Kurtz. But what I will say is this: what good is proficient writing or an allegory if you can’t even make the story interesting enough to care about either of those things? My answer: no good. As much as I can appreciate the supposed character development and/or supposed big plot moments … well, I had a difficult time paying attention to them. And the more I thought to myself: this is a short book, how come it seems so long? When will it come to an end?

Mercifully, the book did come to an end. And so has our relationship for at least another decade. Perhaps, when I’m back into reconciliation mode, I’ll revisit Heart of Darkness … actually, no, no I won’t. And neither should you.

P.S. The teacher found out that I did not read the book and I still received an A in the class. I have plenty more I could say about that, but I’ll just leave it for your Book Club Discussion Questions.
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