Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness discussion


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Heart of Darkness analysis, themes, trivia, audio, video

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message 1: by Barriodude (new)

Barriodude Hi all -

Just wanted to get feedback on a new website that a bunch of us (mostly Ph.D. and Masters students from Stanford and Berkeley) just recently launched.

Here's our coverage of Heart of Darkness. We'd love to hear what you think.

http://www.shmoop.com/intro/literatur...

Thanks!


message 2: by Fatihah (new)

Fatihah I love the "why I should care" part! and yes, the interface and that it's easier to go through than sparknotes


Adrian There's a lot of great info there. I bookmarked it as it's one of those books I re-read every so often.

My only quibble is the color theme, although there's probably not much you can do about it as it's hosted on a 3rd party site: It needs to be darker.


Daniel well i just tried to go there and it's gone, not there, vanished


Alaric Pratt Pretentious


Feliks no link!


message 7: by Feliks (last edited Feb 20, 2013 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Alaric wrote: "Pretentious"

Let's take a look at this more closely. This is a kind of jeer which baffles me.

They're English lit students at the master's and Phd level. They're paying a ton of money to attend school for 6-7 years of their lives, specifically for these topics. They could have just taken BA degrees and joined the workforce of drones, plinking away on computers all day.

Instead, they're rigorously studying; investigating; and then forming and framing their results and their opinions for the academic community to review and approve. They probably have to read 40 books each semester.

On the strength of their ability to do all this, they will probably remain academics the rest of their lives; publishing papers and books of their own year after year. (That's what is expected of professors, you know.)

So: howsoever their analysis may 'seem' to your eyes; (or mine) they're clearly not "pretending" to anything. They're paying their dues and improving themselves to a position of hard-won knowledge which makes claims of 'pretentious' an utterly meaningless slur.


Alaric Pratt Feliks wrote: "Alaric wrote: "Pretentious"

Let's take a look at this more closely. This is a kind of jeer which baffles me.

They're English lit students at the master's and Phd level. They're paying a ton of mo..."

I was referring the book Not the Review. I apologize if I offended any one.


Feliks My sincere apologies back to you. Oh this internet.. is wonderful for lucid, crystal-clear communication, isn't it? :D


Alaric Pratt Feliks wrote: "My sincere apologies back to you. Oh this internet.. is wonderful for lucid, crystal-clear communication, isn't it? :D"

It was my error, to post something that was not even a sentence. At the time I hit the enter key I had the realization that my post was a poor one and could be misconstrued. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to correct it.


Feliks I confess the question of 'what is pretentious?' is fresh in my mind from another thread; so I am also at fault because I leapt to dissect it here. Still..no harm, no foul. cheers mate


Roger Penney "Mistah Kurtz, him dead." Then the 'little' lie at the end also that he died with her name on his lips.
It could be called A Tale of Two Rivers, the Thames and the Congo. The darkness is exploitation and the effects the darkness has on the human soul.
The darkness is meaningless as the warship firing its guns at the coast where no target actually appears. There is something Existential about this. About this meaninglesness.
Someone above has mentioned the professors toiling away to publish a book or an article in a journal each year, becaus that is what what professors do.
So exploitation is what the capitalist system does as did the feudal system before it. People get ground down and others live what seems a life of adventure but which turns out to be as deadening and degrading as the nine to five, or more so.
As for the narrator he was too busy dealing with leaky steampipes to really notice much.
Do not expect Conrad to cheer you up. Do not expect 'a ripping yarn' Sailor he might have been as I once was but he tells it 'like it is'. No escapism here.
As in the Congo so the Thames, this too was one of the dark places of the earth.
Quotes are from memory, I am decorating and all my books are in boxes so my apologies if I have made mistakes.


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

Greg Roger I like 'A Tale of Two Rivers, the Thames and the Congo'. I'm going to use that next time I'm hanging out with book lovers.


Roger Penney You'r welcome Greg. The book has fascinated me ever since I read it for the first time at the end of 1972.
Have you uread "The Secret aGent"? Another one with a romantic title but sordid and seedy as the real world of the secret agent must really be/


Feliks I'm reading 'The Rescue' right now, almost at the end--its really changed my appraisal of what Conrad could do. Very unlike his other works.

"Someone above has mentioned the professors toiling away to publish a book or an article in a journal each year, becaus that is what what professors do."

I mentioned this. Let me clarify slightly: its what they're expected to do by their universities; not so much that simply do it in a listless or reluctant manner. Publishing demonstrates their chops; and adds luster to their school.

"So exploitation is what the capitalist system does as did the feudal system before it. People get ground down and others live what seems a life of adventure but which turns out to be as deadening and degrading as the nine to five, or more so."

I'm of two minds about this statement. Yes and no; depending on the book, is my reaction..

Good insights Roger!


Roger Penney Thanks Feliks. I am finding this a valuable discussion it sharpens one's perceptions. Yes professors are expected to behave in a certain way. It gives their employers the Unis brownie points in the academic pecking order.
I have it on good authority that many academics are torn between real research and teaching. A friend of mine wishes he could spend all his time in research and with 'high power' students.


message 17: by Kev (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kev I love the opening of the book, the way Conrad describes the Thames - the water. It seems like there is a lot of water in the book. It's fascinating to think that water joins the Thames and the Congo in an un-interupted flow; a flow that caries the sailor back and forth. Do you think this was deliberate? That Conrad, as opposed to telling a tale of two rivers, was actually saying that it's all one: that Kurtz was no different in kind than say the King of Belgium, just different in degree?


Feliks Well sure. He drew parallels like that throughout the tale. Like the one about how England itself, used to be a spooky, shadowy wilderness confronting the Romans


Roger Penney Yes! You are right "this too was one of the dark places of the earth." He was a highly skilled writer and in a way soemof his word pictures are poetic, they say so much that in ordinary prose would take many paragraphs. There is also the meaninglessness like the warship bombarding the coast with no target visible.
Is it an Existentialist book do you think? Or does it have connotations for today? What about the betrayal of the working classes, dumbed down by the schools, forced economically into dull uninteresting jobs while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the politicans increase their power?


Indeneri Link isn't working.


Anthony Unable to review your site must be a broken link. Would love to see the opinions of young academics on Conrad's book.


☯Emily  Ginder The original post is more than 4 years old. I think this is the correct link today: http://www.shmoop.com/heart-of-darkness/


message 23: by Tim (last edited Apr 06, 2013 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Chambers I recently reread the book and had something to say about it here. Basically, I felt it could have gone a lot further in exploring the darkness of the human heart. But perhaps that would not have sat well with Conrad's readers, or the authorities, at the time.

As for the shmoop page, it's a valuable contribution.


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

Greg Cummings The Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who died last month, wrote an eloquent criticism of Heart of Darkness: http://kirbyk.net/hod/image.of.africa...


message 25: by Tim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tim Chambers Greg wrote: "The Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who died last month, wrote an eloquent criticism of Heart of Darkness: http://kirbyk.net/hod/image.of.africa..."

Thanks for pointing that one out. It's a great essay. I added the link to my blog as well.


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

Greg Cummings I too have written a book set in the Congo, Gorillaland by Greg Cummings . Although it takes place in modern times, the story draws much from the themes in Heart of Darkness. In researching it I found an abundance of material at www.archive.org - many written at the same time as Conrad's novel - essential reading for understanding the context of the Congo conflicts, old and new. I especially recommend 'Fall of the Congo Arabs' by Sidney Langford Hinde and Henry Morton Stanley's 'Through the Dark Continent'


Richard Personally I'd love to see a similar page to that linked above but for undergrad/postgrad level students or simply other curious adults. I loved the novella when I recently read it but it does throw up a lot of questions, a lot of which for me are to do with Conrad's sublime writing rather than questions of racism. I was surprised to read of the Chinua Achebe controversy, because I felt the book was anti-racist and the lack of detail in, or impressionistic detail of, the African characters reflected somehow the way anyone experiences going somewhere unfamiliar, alien and dangerous for the first time. In today's world that is a rare experience indeed. Having said that, I haven't read Mr. Achebe's essay and he might convince me otherwise, and I can probably relate to his feelings anyhow.


Indra Barrios Lasso Tnanks Greg! Really loved it.

Tim wrote: "Greg wrote: "The Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who died last month, wrote an eloquent criticism of Heart of Darkness: http://kirbyk.net/hod/image.of.africa..."

Thanks for pointing that one out...."



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

Sam King Utter rot what Achebe said. he assumed Conrad was British. Wrong - Polish by birth. 2nd Conrad was a victim of Imperial Russia who essentially killed both his parents. Third and I am soooo glad you put the "dog in a parody of breeches" quote it refers to his great uncle Bobrowski who ate dog in Lithuania while retreating with the French from Russians. it was an image that haunted Conrad through childhood. Compare with HOD "looked as those they wouldn't kill a cat. (ch.2). You will find the dog image in A Personal Record (Conrad's notes on his own life). You will also find it in some of his other novels. The gloomy elements of colonialism is something Conrad despises. He cannot be seen to be too friendly towards the people in far off countries. And his "Nigger of the Narcissus" tells the same story. It is the colonialists who are at fault (of which he is 1). He was only in the Congo a short time as he took ill. And that is perhaps why he does not mention the local language. He had to play his cards close to his chest though and he does it very well. As English is his 3rd language after French and Polish it also shows how clever he is to avoid flying the anti-colonial flag too obviously. read The Secret Agent if you really want to get to know how he thinks. Ossipon is an anagram of Poisons. That is how he viewed Colonial Russia and colonialists. Poison appears in other works including Heart of Darkness and Youth. :) How do I know all this? Lectured on Conrad in Poland by invite.


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