Annie 's Reviews > Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2015

The dark masses had begun to congregate. Branches thumping against the glass and iron bars, in rhythm to some obscure, some lost song of the wild. The tendrils of darkness that took birth in the vacuums that the sun's warmth had just forsaken, had started their ascent :first shy, then bold, then complete. And when their majesty was absolute; pieces of the night sky, shining almost silver in the blackness met the pools of shades offered by the oozing earth with a coy surrender.


I opened a window. Just enough to allow the candle to hold it's flame and picked up the first Conrad I would ever read


It was lucky for me. Somehow, the elements had conspired to allow me this singular moment of authentic parallelism that made the transition to the sea faring universe of Heart of Darkness, palpable and real


In the heart of the story, Conrad's work is a treatise into the psychological variables of an innocent, who by design of fate and choice, ends up traversing the 'exotic and savage' wilderness of Africa. It seemed to me that the physical journey might not have been so much real but the beautiful handiwork of a master writer seeking to experiment the delving into the intricate mesh work of a mind's odyssey into his most intimate and savage self. In this respect, the choice of Africa lends an authentic charm to the subject, atleast to the colonial supremacist of the late 19th century with the Industrial Revolution blowing new steam into the proceedings. It was around for time when Europe launched their magnificent campaign to 'civilize' Africa. So, it is quite understandable that the choice of the land was to reinforce in the intended reader's mind the savage convulsions of psychological darkness.


The darkness is beautiful and still. The voyage of Marlow deeper into the heart of the land, via the Congo is, nevertheless, accompanied by some of the most beautiful descriptions of nature. Wild, free and untouched, something that I suppose was intended to lend an aura of fear, I found myself rejoicing in the pristine and sepulcrous land, yet untouched. I bought every word of it, and I ate it.(I wonder what the shrinks will make of that.) And if not for the very repulsive idealization of the supremacists which made towards dehumanizing the natives, that lends such an abhorrent aftertaste to my palate;my love for this piece of work would have been complete.


Heart of Darkness provides us with some very ponderable interesting characters. Two of my favorites : the educated and nomad harlequin surviving in the wild ;an adventurer, a seeker and the second, Mr Kurtz who is larger than life and a Superhuman persona, embodying madness, as is their due. He represents the lofty ideals of the educated invader who has 'ideas' and big ones too! They could not be forsaken and was considered his duty to share with the world. And he was savagery personified. A man who had given up his cultivated persona and had succumbed to sin and ventured into the darkest recesses and ultimately lost his marbles. But he still exercises a control over those that know him, an enigma, the intense magic that gives a sultry call to the journeyman and leads him astray. Marlow becomes his victim. The darkness almost engulfs him, but an act of kindness serves as his salvation.


The darkness belongs to no one. Nor the intended, neither the mistress . It is horror. The horrors! The horrors!


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Reading Progress

September 22, 2015 – Started Reading
September 22, 2015 – Shelved
September 24, 2015 – Finished Reading
November 2, 2015 – Shelved as: read-in-2015

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Parthiban Sekar Do tell about this! :D


message 2: by Annie (last edited Sep 24, 2015 11:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Annie Parthiban wrote: "Do tell about this! :D"

I find myself silenced by the finesse of Conrad's prose and nonplussed by his advocacy of certain notions.That being said, I am sure I can whip up something halfway intelligible on this splendid work of literature quite soon!


message 3: by Traveller (last edited Sep 25, 2015 03:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Traveller Yeah, this work was intended, of course, as a sharp rebuke of how Europe was exploiting Africa, which makes Conrad's own rather racist language (well, as seen through modern eyes) rather ironic.

...but then again, we are hearing the words of the narrator, Marlowe, so we are hearing the story at a once-remove.

I found this to be a strongly allegorical work, too, of the topography of the human psyche.

Enjoyed your review!


message 4: by Pramod (new)

Pramod Nair Beautifully written, Annie...


Annie Traveller wrote: "Yeah, this work was intended, of course, as a sharp rebuke of how Europe was exploiting Africa, which makes Conrad's own rather racist language (well, as seen through modern eyes) rather ironic.

...."


Yes of course it would have been quite singular if racism had been completely absent from this, considering that it was the norm then. But as modern readers it is so very tough not to take offense at the description of the natives as cannibals at worst and mindless savages as best.

Thank you, Traveller. The book is such a beautiful piece of work.


Annie Pramod wrote: "Beautifully written, Annie..."

Thank you Pooh!


Parthiban Sekar Annie, this is a great stuff, mate! Amazing!


Annie Parthiban wrote: "Annie, this is a great stuff, mate! Amazing!"

Thank you, Parth. Very happy you liked it ! :)


message 9: by Jibran (last edited Sep 27, 2015 03:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jibran Stunning review, Annie.
It seemed to me that the physical journey might not have been so much real but the beautiful handiwork of a master writer seeking to experiment the delving into the intricate mesh work of a mind's odyssey into his most intimate and savage self.

While HoD still evokes charged responses for reasons we know quite well, at its heart Conrad's internal quest is to probe the question which you have so well encapsulated in the line above. And if one goes by the quality of writing, one is bound to rate it highly, despite criticism of Conrad's limited white supremacist context.
Thank you for the wonderful review which enabled me to revisit this often misunderstood masterpiece.


Annie Jibran wrote: "Stunning review, Annie.
It seemed to me that the physical journey might not have been so much real but the beautiful handiwork of a master writer seeking to experiment the delving into the intrica..."


It has been argued that a book that doesn't encourage conversation is a waste of shelf space. The more heated the charges, the greater is the power of the word. That being said, this is a controversial book but the beauty in it is also very enchanting. I am glad I could be of service. And thank you for reading it :)


message 11: by Junta (new)

Junta Great, lyrical review Annie! Nice to see another of your styles. This book is sitting on my shelf but there are many in front of it in the queue - thanks for another voice on the work that I can mull over.


Annie Junta wrote: "Great, lyrical review Annie! Nice to see another of your styles. This book is sitting on my shelf but there are many in front of it in the queue - thanks for another voice on the work that I can mu..."

Thank you, Junta. The language is really something to be marvelled at. More than the subject matter, it is the prose (or the poetry of the prose) of Conrad that is beckoning me to pick up another one of his books. I hope you read it soon!


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