Kathy's Reviews > Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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Apr 04, 08

bookshelves: books-i-own, classic, fiction, literary, drama
Read in April, 2008

I started this and then read a couple of other books and just finished this one off today. I've been trying to read some more classics in the past year or so and I am truly learning why they are classics. It definitely makes me less tolerant of all the junk out there. There is just something uplifting about good writing, even when it's a depressing story like this one. Somehow it just draws you in. This book is very dark, mysterious, and dreamlike. You sort of travel with the narrator, a sailor named Marlow, who I guess actually is narrating the story to our narrator, into this primitive world in the heart of Africa during colonial times, far from civilization. Marlow focuses on a man he meets there who was so intelligent and had so much promise and then got drawn into mysterious tribal rituals and into really dark and evil behaviors. I don't claim to completely understand this book, but I will say it did really capture me. I just felt the atmosphere so much and it was interesting to see how Marlow reacted to it all and how it affected him. I was really struck by the following description of how he felt going back to civilization after so many months in the jungle and seeing the dark side of the human heart and almost dying from illness.

"No, they did not bury me, though there is a period of time which I remember mistily, with a shuddering wonder, like a passage through some inconceivable world that had no hope in it and no desire. I found myself back in the sepulchral city resenting the sight of people hurrying through the streets to filch a little money from each other, to devour their infamous cookery, to gulp their unwholesome beer, to dream their insignificant and silly dreams. They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces so full of stupid importance."

It is a dark and somewhat strange little novel, but it's passages and insights like this one that make me really glad I read it. I did read it in high school and really didn't remember much of it other than the mood, so I'm glad I picked it up again, and I imagine it won't be the last time.
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