Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (3.5/5) [re-read]

First published: 1899
Page count: 260 (the story itself is probably a mere 90 pages, but I had to read the nonsense before and after it)

The back says: Heart of Darkness tells the story of Marlow as he travels upriver in central Africa to find Kurtz, an ivory agent as consumed by the horror of human life as he is by physical illness.

I say: First of all, I hate this. Really, really hate it and have since I first read it back in 2000 for uni. Coincidentally (not really) I re-read it now for uni and I still hate it.

Possibly more than before.

I have just handed in an essay about this, which means that I am sick and tired of it, and therefore this review will be very short because I can’t be arsed am going to watch some Law & Order: SVU to get my mind off “the horror. The horror.”

Yeah, I went there.

So, before anyone gets me wrong, this is a very well-written work and Conrad has an amazing command of the English language – and hyperbole – and the imagery really draws you into that boat going deeper into the Congo. The story itself is layered in such a way that one could discuss it for all eternity (and some people have), so that is the reason this gets a 3.5/5. It’s thought-provoking and elicits strong emotions, which is always a nice thing. However, most of those feeling are, for me, negative.

Which is why I hate it.

Imperialism, racism, the white man’s burden, and so on and so forth until my migraine blossoms up and I just want to cry. I don’t like Conrad’s agenda with this and I don’t like the seemingly sneaky way he goes about it. I say “seemingly” because some people just don’t seem to see or get it.

Linguistics, people – study it. I did and it ruined enhanced my reading.

So, yeah. That’s my review.


  1. Ah, that will be the problem Chinua Achebe had with him them. This book seems to be on every English Lit degree reading list. Always been curious about it but have never got round to picking it up because I also had the feeling I would hate it.

    1. Yeah, I quoted Achebe in my essay, and I agree with a lot of what he says (not everything, though), including questioning those who say this is one of the greatest stories ever writ. It's a matter of taste, I agree, but even so... It's a short read, but it'll mess with your head in some way - we had a great discussion about this in class where I, hailing from a former British colony, had a completely different take on it than my Swedish classmates. I get that it's my heritage that plays a part in my hating it, but that is also why I think Achebes essay is so important because he voices those issues Africans have when reading this.

      And now I'm talking to much. If you ever get around to reading it, do let me know what you think.

    2. That's interesting, the fact that heritage influences how you see the book. Not a lot of books do that I would imagine. It's got me interested again. If ever I do get myself a copy I will let you know.