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The Heart of Darkness (Critical Studies, Penguin)
The Heart of Darkness - Critical Studies, Penguin Author:Richard Adams A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious tra... more »der Kurtz. Joyce Carol Oates on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness: "Heart of Darkness has had an influence that goes beyond the specifically literary. This parable of a man's 'heart of darkness' dramatized in the alleged 'Dark Continent' of Africa transcended its late Victorian era to acquire the stature of one of the great, if troubling, visionary works of western civilization."« less
This novella tells the story of Marlow, a man commissioned to bring back Kurtz from the "heart of darkness" that was the African jungle. Marlow becomes fascinated with the stories of Kurtz and longs to discover why Kurtz retains a hold on the hearts and minds of those who know him. I'd like to refer to this as a "vitamin" or "medicine" book. It's good for me, but it doesn't mean that I enjoyed the process. This was the type of book that I can appreciate for what it represents... a struggle between light and dark, the natural world versus civilization, colonized people versus the imperialists, etc. you get the picture. However, it was a struggle for me to get into and read. I'm not really too certain why. It reminds me of how I felt after reading "The Old Man and the Sea"- I understand why it was written and can appreciate the message, but I didn't like reading it.
Heart of Darkness is my favorite classic book. I loved the unveiling of the terror of the ivory coast to the naive Englishman who went to see what the shipping company was really about. Kurtz's last line "the horror, the horror" will stay with me forever.
Stay away from this book! Perhaps because of the time in which it was written, you'll need a dictionary to decipher practically every sentence. I had to look up literally at least one word per page, often many more. The story (because of this?) did not flow and seemed to digress more often than not. (What is it with men writing nautical journey stories and digression? Melville's _Moby Dick_, Simmons' _The Terror_?)
I know it's a classic, but honestly, save yourself the four weeks of your life and watch "Apocalypse Now" instead; it's the same thing.
I had to read this for a college literature class and it was a horrible read in my opinion... short book but took me a long time to understand what he was actually saying. I found myself drifting off and thinking about something else while reading this then having to go back and reread. After the professor explained to us what was actually going on it was more enjoyable but still difficult to read.