Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Heart of Darkness

So it has come to my knowledge that Heart of Darkness is one of the greatest pieces of British Literature you will learn about in school. At least that is what my British Literature professor is telling our class. I have noticed across the review boards, that you either hate Heart of Darkness with a great passion or you really know why it is in the literary canon.

The novel is about an adventurer sailor-man named Marlow who is sitting around and telling his tale of his venture into Africa on a mission to bring back this guy names Kurtz. This trip to Africa changes Marlow's perspective about everything he has ever known about the society he was brought up in (england). This book is the typical anti-imperialistic book from the eighteenth century when countries were claiming African land as their own. In some light, this book is really racist, often comparing the natives to "savages" "prehistoric men" and "hyenas". So if racism bothers you, do not bother with Heart of Darkness.

Heart of Darkness lacks in adventure and in plot. But, the writing is truly beautiful. No one can deny Conrad's elaborate prose. Seriously, the guy is deep. But, Conrad's writing style tends to make the book really hard to read and comprehend for most readers. There is just SO much to digest in such a short amount of time. The first 40% of the beginning of Heart of Darkness, I was completely lost. But as soon as I sat down and really started to concentrate on the writing I highly enjoyed the book.

I would recommend Heart of Darkness really only for english majors and classic literature lovers. If you are looking for a simple book, a few pages in you will find yourself flustered. My tips would be to take it slow and really enjoy the sentence structure and the comparisons Conrad makes throughout the novel.

Some of my favorite quotes...
"For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long" (pg 15)

"And for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced. Of course, a fool, what with sheer fright and fine sentiments, is always safe" (pg 38)

"I would just as soon have expected restraint from a hyena prowling amongst the corpses of a battlefield" (pg 43)

and my favorite...

"And perhaps in this is the whole difference; perhaps all the wisdom, and all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible" (pg 72)

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