Lyn's Reviews > Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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it was amazing
bookshelves: all-time-most-favorite-books

“We live in the flicker -- may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.”

Marlow is not just a narrator or an alter ego of Conrad, but a universal everyman, timeless. And that, to me, is the greatest appeal of this book, it is timeless.

“Like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker.”

The scene of Marlow sitting Buddha like as the Thames dreams into slow darkness and his voice takes on a disembodied, spiritual cast is iconic and Conrad's vision of history repeating itself as wicked and despotic civilization "discovers" it's ancient cousin is a ubiquitous theme in Conrad's work and one that is masterfully created here. As the Britons and Picts were to the Romans, so to are the Africans to the Europeans and Conrad has demonstrated his timely message.

“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.”

A search for hidden meaning, a quest, mysteries solved and others unanswered, self realization and epiphany. Conrad winds it all up in this classic.

“The horror! The horror!”

***** 2018 re-read

I think there was a recent poll about what was the book you have re-read the most. No doubt for me, it’s this one, read it a couple times in HS, few times in college and innumerable times since. Looks like this is the third in the Goodreads era.

As a scholar I have to be concise and methodical, precisely citing and referencing to a given treatise or authority. When reading for pleasure, I’m much more intuitive, allowing my mind to wander and to muse and to collect abstract thoughts and make obscure connections as I read.

This time around I payed more attention to this story as it was written, a tale told in the gathering darkness near the mouth of the Thames, Marlow’s voice a disembodied narration spinning an account of a time before but one that is ageless nonetheless. The connection he makes between the Romans coming up the Thames and the Westerners traveling up the Congo is provocative and somber.

As always, this is a story about Kurtz and his voice, that eloquent but hollow voice in the darkness, a civilized man gone native, but more than that, a traveler shedding away the trappings of an enlightened age and looking into the abyss.

Whether the natives are dark skinned or white with blue tattoos, the image is the same and the message is all the more haunting.

On a short list of my favorites or all time, this may be my favorite.

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Reading Progress

July 19, 2011 – Shelved
January 8, 2016 – Shelved as: all-time-most-favorite-books
Started Reading
February 21, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)

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message 1: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Beautiful and haunting - book and review.


message 2: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks Cecily, I will read it again and again


Apatt Lyn wrote: "Thanks Cecily, I will read it again and again"

Read Feb 9 eh? No wonder I haven't see this review before. Great review Lyn! You make me want to give the book another go. I read it a couple of years ago and found Conrad's prose to be often impenetrable. I'm going to go "audio" next time, if I still don't like it at least I can use my review as a platform to slip in the odd Whovian references.


message 4: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Ha! Thanks Apatt, I've never listened to it before, need to try that too


Apatt Lyn wrote: "Ha! Thanks Apatt, I've never listened to it before, need to try that too"

I made a note of the link: https://librivox.org/heart-of-darknes...
:)


message 6: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Apatt, if I had to pick one book, just one, that I had to designate as my favorite, it would probably be this one, I've read it many times since HS. Thanks for the link.


Apatt Lyn wrote: "Apatt, if I had to pick one book, just one, that I had to designate as my favorite, it would probably be this one, I've read it many times since HS. Thanks for the link."

Wow! If somebody ask me to pick a favorite book.. I'd probably tell them to eff off... I dunno, I think Jonathan Strange would be near the top...


message 8: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn I am now enjoying Jonathan Strange


Apatt Lyn wrote: "I am now enjoying Jonathan Strange"

So looking forward to your review! I think it's like Austen meets Gaiman (not Tolkien).


message 10: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Nice, I'm liking it so far, especially the setting, early 1800s don't get alot of press


message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Ooh, I'm reading this one next month. Great review.


message 12: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks!


message 13: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary HOD- I listened to it until I could recite the next line, usually.


Annie One of my favorite reads of last year. Such a hypnotic book... Glad to see you reread it too!


Fabian {Councillor} Great review, Lyn! This feels like a very important book to read, one I definitely aim to read one day.


message 16: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks Councillor


message 17: by Lilqnz (new) - added it

Lilqnz Babez Hi I know it's random I was wondering if you could help me answer this prompt that is related to heart of darkness "Demonstrate how power magnifies a person natural inclination"


message 18: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn I think it just magnifies what they are already going to do


message 19: by A. (new) - rated it 1 star

A. Dawes Agree to disagree about this one, but enjoyed your review.


message 20: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks A.


Chris Gager Good job as usual Lyn. I think I've read this 3 times, but you've got me beat!


message 22: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks Chris


Ghost of the Library fantastic review! this is a firm favorite of mine, glad to see it being this loved by others :)


message 24: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks! Has been a favorite since HS, reread several times


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Lyn, In my initial reading years I picked it for its size, taking it to be a quick read but loved to remain in the verbal wildernesses of the haunting atmosphere, and it'd stayed with me.
I'll revisit after this great review.


message 26: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks Michael


E.H. Alger Thanks for a great review. I’ve read all of Conrad’s novels, short stories and memoirs - he was a very great writer. Amazing when you think that English was his third language.


message 28: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn Thanks EH I agree he was a great writer


message 29: by Max (new) - rated it 5 stars

Max Nova The Kenneth Branagh audiobook version is amazing.


message 30: by Lyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lyn I need to watch that


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