Sarah Fisher's Reviews > Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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did not like it

Never in all my life has 100 little pages made me contemplate suicide...violent suicide. i had to finish it. i had no choice (yay college!). every page was literally painful.

am i supposed to feel sorry for him? because i don't. i feel sorry for all of Africa getting invaded with dumbasses like this guy. oh and in case you didn't get it...the "heart of darkness" is like this super deep megametaphor of all metaphors. and in case it wasn't clear enough, conrad will spend many many useless words clearly explaining the layers of depth his metaphor can take. oh man...my heart is dark...and i'm also in the middle of Africa...and it's dark...and depressing...get it...get it...
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 23, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-50 of 63 (63 new)


message 1: by Chris (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chris No, you were way off topic, the book isn't about the character telling it, its about Kurtz, and it's about Africa. You're not supposed to feel sorry for him, you are supposed to feel sorry for the locals, for Africa, and for what Kurtz had to do, what horrors he had to force himself to go through, to survive in the black evils of society in the gut of Africa. This is an excellent book, and Im sorry you missed the beauty of his writing. If you have ever seen Apocalypse Now, it's exactly the same story, and if you haven't, maybe you should. It puts an amazing visual to this story, and although its a long one, it's one of the most powerful Vietnam movies out there. I can't say this book is the most powerful of everything that's been written about the European rape of the African world, but it's definitely a good one.


Shriram i like your review!


Lucky Teapot So when you read a story in which the main character is a penguin, you think the penguin wrote it ? :))) Your review made me chuckle, thank you :)


Saffy well....considering how Conrad tried to commit suicide before writing this book.......hahahahahahaha.

yeah....he was quite emo.


message 5: by Greg (last edited Jul 14, 2010 06:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Did you just recommend watching a film as a substitute for reading book? Really?
You'd be well-served investigating man's search for meaning broadly, or perhaps contemplating your own and its accord with your own actions, then trying this again.
I mean, all books can't be as accessible and simultaneously onionesque in layers like the Twilight or His Dark Material series'.


Sarah Fisher ok...after so many ahem snotty commentators, i felt the need to do a little follow up to this review. first of all, i wrote it as a senior in high school, taking my first college course. second of all, 7 years later...yep it still sucks. but i apologize for the mindless rant, if not the raw content.

one...greg, i didn't recommend watching the film instead. i love reading and there have been maybe 1 to 2 books that have a better movie. twilight possibly being one. because the books suck ass. and his dark materials trilogy which I LOVE is not remotely in the same category as this book...but moving on.

no actually, i was not way off topic. i'm well aware that this book is about kurtz and not the narrator. so let me draw a similar parallel to the great gatsby. i don't care for either book. in fact, i hate the characters in both of them. but at the end of the day, fitzgerald still has a certain amazing quality in the way he portrays and describes these thoroughly obnoxious characters. it will never be a favorite but it will certainly command respect.

heart of darkness, on the other hand, is a truly overrated piece of crap. perhaps the worst injustice is that this is one of the best pieces of writing on what one person states as "europe's rape of africa". because, quite frankly, i still think it sucks. the author and narrator, yes i get it, are not the same person. but this is where conrad messed up. he's too busy trying to BE the narrator and he's too self-aware of creating a super deep meaningful metaphor that exposes the true horrors while dwelling on the psychological ones. the whole point of symbolism is that it shouldn't be so damn literal. yet every other page he has to remind us that, indeed, this text has multiple layers!!! it's not JUST about Africa being the "heart of darkness" but about the characters' own hearts of darkness. And maybe it's just me but it makes the whole thing seem so shallow and self-absorbed.

And after 7 years, an undergrad and grad degree under my belt, I will still stand by my original opinion (yes it's an OPINION people....not the "one true interpretation) and say that it is still the 100 most painful pages i ever had to get through.

as this is my personal rating/reading list, i rate according to my personal opinion of the book and not on historical importance. there's a lot of shitty books out there worth reading due to the historical record and unique perspective. and i could discuss such issues at length in an academic paper. but as for a review of the book and how i liked it? eh...i think it sucked. end of story.


Tracey I loved HOD (and most of Conrad's stuff), but I also loved your review (and esp the 7 yrs later perspective boo-yah!).

I always appreciate (and, with yours, enjoy) other perspectives, esp of books that meant something profound to me.

Re: HOD, I hated the movie (AN), so much that I felt like I wanted to die watching it (much like your review of the book), LOL. Maybe that's why your review rang so true for me, even though I loved the book.


message 8: by Shacoria (new)

Shacoria I've been assigned to read this book for school too and I'm having a terrible experience thus far.


Greg Whatever faith remained in humanity, I have now lost.

You people wouldn't see great art if you were held captive in the Louvre.


message 10: by Margot (new) - added it

Margot the problem is that in occidental society anyone can get into college today. i mourne the death of the dignified middle class working class..


Tyler Heart of Darkness is brilliant. The writing is definitely rough and I can understand that it isn't an enjoyable read, but that doesn't diminish it's greatness. You are not meant to feel sorry for Marlow, and in my opinion you are not really meant to feel sorry for "all of Africa getting invaded with dumbasses," that's an obvious biproduct (and it's a perfectly reasonable, human reaction) but that's not the point behind the novel. If anything, you're supposed to feel sorry for Kurtz and his moral degradation. And if there's any character who truly redeems himself, it is Kurtz, who finally sees "The Horror" that surrounds him. Marlow is merely a bystander.


Chi-Chi A LOL @ Wayne! BEST COMMENT EVER!


message 13: by Alexander (new)

Alexander Marvellous comment. I, and after reading your personal thoughts on this little ditty, feel like I'm about to begin with mind half open, eyes in slits looking at a line at a time. I hope I have a different view anyway. Thanks for the great review anyway.


message 14: by Eryn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eryn I understand your problems with this book, but I have to say I loved it. I also had to read this book for my AP lit class in high school. I feel that the fact you were forced to read this book for class may have given you a bad taste right off the bat. Maybe it would be worth another read now that you are older and have experienced other books since then. Yes there are a lot of metaphors but there are more than just "sad" and "depressing". Another read may widen your views on the book in either direction, you may like it more or you may hate it more. It just may be worth a second read.


Madeline This book is one of the few classics I have ever truly hated! Your review almost perfectly summed up how I felt reading HOD for AP lit (did everyone who read this book read it in AP lit?) nine years ago.


Sebastien Tirino Listen, if you don't enjoy the book, thats fine. I hate Dickens, hate him. However, i will not tell you that he is untalented and knowledgeable as a writer. Seriously, Conrad is extraordinarily talented in narrative. I don't know how too much depth in a classic novel is something you can criticize it on, but it's not something that usually detracts. I don't understand how the fact that it was multi-layered was somehow a bad thing. Secondly, Conrad never tried to "be" the narrator, the story is loosely taken from his personal experiences but Marlow is set up as an unreliable narrator and the whole story can be seen as a psychological journey into his past and inner psyche, that seems to have escaped you. But hey, that's subtext, and clearly not a good thing to have, so maybe better that you didnt quite catch it


message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert You seemed to miss the point of the novel. Kind of funny considering you are a college student.


message 18: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Fulton That's the point of the story . . . The guy you're reading about isn't happy with what's going on either. He's telling you about it . . . and he's showing how other people in the situation around him are insane . . . and other people back home are insane. The guy is actually speaking directly to you about what you care about . . .


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

you seem rather cynical about this...


message 20: by Kika (new) - added it

Kika To be honestly, the comments on this thread are horrifying. She's uneducated because she doesn't like it? I haven't even read it, but the comments on this review are discouraging! It's an opinion, people! What you might consider "the most amazing work in literary history" another person considers utter crap. That's the beauty of humanity and our differences. Gosh. I've lost faith in humanity and their ability to accept one another. Well, I never really had faith...


Gretel The person above me is right. The comments on here are so snobbish and horrible. Yeah, the reviewer didn't like the book, but there's no need to go on about how your taste is the best and only taste there should be and snidely asking why she's studying literature if she doesn't like a book. That's like saying a chef can't study to be a chef if he doesn't like one type of food, Y'all need to get off your high horses. And FYI I didn't like the book. Conrad was talented but the book was a slog.


message 22: by Misterselmo (new)

Misterselmo . "oh and in case you didn't get it...the "heart of darkness" is "like this super deep megametaphor of all metaphors. and in case it wasn't clear enough, conrad will spend many many useless words clearly explaining the layers of depth his metaphor can take. oh man...my heart is dark...and i'm also in the middle of Africa...and it's dark...and depressing...get it...get it..."

You take someone who has mastered the English language, who can inspire emotion through written word... and you mock them with all the eloquence of a drunken text?

The entire story is about the unknowable. The teller of the story is clinging to decency, sanity, morality and order while being confronted with evidence that such things are merely illusions. If you would have read the book without constant eye rolling, you would have read the portion where he speaks of women living in a world all their own... being completely at odds with what mature men know to be reality.

I can't imagine you could understand the book, even if you intended to. As for not "liking" it... I'm not sure how to respond to that. Life is filled with things I don't like, but I still find things fascinating and stimulating.

I'm not shocked, though, that you have the opinion you do.

The world is full of people who just want to be told what they'd like to hear, and nothing more.


message 23: by Misterselmo (new)

Misterselmo I took a look at what you're currently reading on your page... your interests seem to be sex. Well, sorry, this was a book about serious themes. Not confusion surrounding the "ins and outs" of one's genitalia. Get it. Get it.


Catherine Well, I liked your review. Took me back to my own undergrad days when I shared similar feelings about this book.


message 25: by J.W.D. (new)

J.W.D. Nicolello Keepeth thy whoredrunk.


message 26: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Scanlon Just found out I'm about to read this book next semester...can't wait. #yippee


message 27: by Natalie (new)

Natalie I want to read it for this review alone. lol


Granny Weatherwax Thank you for hating this book as much as I did. It's worse trash than a book like twilight.


message 29: by cat5280 (new)

cat5280 This book sucks so bad I'm currently reading it right now and I literally hate every page


message 30: by cat5280 (new)

cat5280 This book sucks so bad I'm currently reading it right now and I literally hate every page


message 31: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Fisher Oh my, people are still reading my review! Here it is, the year 2015. I first tried to read this book in high school. And then, I had to read it freshman year in college and slogged my way through. Yes, I wrote the review in a rant. I still hate it!!! Basically, I don't like symbolism handed to me on a VERY obvious silver platter. Time and experience have not helped (1984 ...that is another matter).

Let's visit another book I hate. The Great Gatsby. It's boring. It's rich people complaining about being rich, and I wasn't feeling it. And the green light symbolism was slapping me in the face over....and over...and over....

But, for me, there is a difference. The Great Gatsby, as a novel, failed for me. But as beautifl prose? It weirdly works and I appreciate it more with time. I've never felt that connection with this book. Maybe it's personal, but, ya know, personal review. So please leave your twisted panties elsewhere.

~sidenote, as someone who became a bit of a history nerd, I realize the historical importance of this book and teaching it. There aren't a lot of go-to sources for this, often disregarded, area of history. The crimes of Leopold II should not be underplayed. For historical importance, this book gains major points. As an enjoyable (or say "intellectually interesting") novel, I'd pass it up.


Jenny I agree. If depth in books are like sandwitches this one is a well stacked double decker with ham, cheese, onions, tomato and salad, and someone tries to murder you with it.


message 33: by Tom (new) - rated it 1 star

Tom Zwolenski agreed, I was forced to read this terror of a novel in British lit... I'd rather to organic chemistry over again than read Conrad's Heart.


Ilenia Raponi I completely agree with you!!! I'm Italian and I have to read it in English because of the will of my teacher and I really hate every page of this book. I find it boring.


message 35: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe Miller I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate the book. The audio book version with Kenneth Branagh narrating it is sublime.


message 36: by Soplada (new)

Soplada every page is painful hahhaa yes! :P


message 37: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma Really people? Can you stop hating on other people for hating a book you revere and go write your own dang reviews?


Kerfe Let it go for now; read it again in 40 years.


message 39: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J Hey Emma can you stop hating on people for hating on stupid people who write vapid reviews about classics so they can feel like an iconoclast when really they are just as vapid as their words.


message 40: by Kieran (new)

Kieran Miller The fact that you graduated upsets me. A lot of the book is a critique of imperialism and the middle and upper classes. Everything you say you hated about the book is acknowledged by the text. You say you hate how the natives were treated and yet not only were they time and time gain used to demonstrate the horrors of humanity itself and of imperialism, the system that put them into that position is being questioned and criticized throughout. Side not: I didn't realise life, death, humanity, human existence and the human condition were shallow subjects.


message 41: by Kieran (new)

Kieran Miller Ohhhh wait you're an internet troll, no one can be this stereotypically stupid


Olivia That's odd because I remember the book being about how colonialism turned the Europeans into monsters; going to this "heart of darkness" with a sense of greed and ownership over the land and people warped them beyond recognition, and Conrad is observing their capacity for evil with introspection and sarcasm. In real life, Joseph Conrad was forever changed by what he witnessed on his travels to Africa, and Heart of Darkness is his philosophical critique.

Kieran, even if she is a troll, what upsets me is how many people agreed with her review.


Olivia I have a feeling you went into this book with the expectation that it was "another racist outdated book by an old white man from ages ago about his love for imperialism," and read the entire thing through that lens.


Audrey Pereira sarah fisher


Feliks I have a feeling that this book reviewer will spend most of her life on Facebook.


Christine Greg... not to fight but I've been to the Louvre, also the Vatican, the British National Gallery, Von Gough Museum, Musée d'orsay and many other museums across Europe and I am also of the opinion that this book is pompous, horrifically dull and is written with such blatant metaphors that only someone charmed by its fame would find it worthwhile.


message 47: by Tim (last edited Oct 28, 2016 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Mitchell There's no rule on opinions - but having to read something is very different from assessing it purely on its merits. My son hates 'Life of Pi' with a fury - my perspective on 'Howards End' is very similar. Nothing wrong with saying 'I hate this because it's a set text' - but if that decision's been made, the rest is simply wrapping.

Plus - find me someone who can write this well in their fourth language (Conrad's first three being Polish, Russian, French then English) and then complain about their word selection.


message 48: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg Sarah, I agree with all your points.


message 49: by Becky (new)

Becky B. This book was only 100 pages?? I remember reading it (trying to read it) in high school, and hating every word. I remember it as a MUCH longer book! I was not one to balk at a difficult read. I was contemplating a reread to see what I missed, but I think I might pass.


message 50: by Brian (new)

Brian This review read like it was written by a petulant 14 year old.


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