Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Review of 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad

"Heart of Darkness follows one man’s nightmarish journey into the interior of Africa. Aboard a British ship called the Nellie, three men listen to a man named Marlow recount his journey into Africa as an agent for the Company, an ivory trading firm. Along the way, he witnesses brutality and hate between colonizers and the native African people, becomes entangled in a power struggle within the Company, and finally learns the truth about the mysterious Kurtz, a mad agent who has become both a god and a prisoner of the "native Africans." After "rescuing" Kurtz from the native African people, Marlow watches in horror as Kurtz succumbs to madness, disease, and finally death. Marlow’s decision to support Kurtz over his company leaves readers wondering about his moral integrity, and possibly asking the question: "He did WHAT?!" The novel closes with Marlow’s guilt-ridden visit to Kurtz’s fiancée to return the man’s personal letters."
--Summary courtesy of Schmoop beta

This was a novella assigned to me for my AP English class.

What I disliked about this book is what I like to call The Wall of Words. It's basically just that. Joseph Conrad has this story laid out where his main character, Marlow, is telling the story. So whenever Marlow talks, it's in one long paragraph... because he talks the entire time. When he's back on the boat with the other sailors, the format reverts to how we're used to reading books; every time someone says something, there's a new paragraph and it's broken up more. In my opinion, it would be a more effective book if it had been written this way. But I guess we'll never know.

I thought the characters were interesting. Kurtz was this mysterious character that was only a voice and an influence for 2/3 of the novella. Finally, he's given a physical form in part 3.

Another thing that bothered me was that I could grasp what was going on half of the time. I don't know if it was a problem with my inner wiring, or the time of day that I read the book, or if it was the format of the book. More than likely, I'm the cause of this problem because a lot of other people in my class were able to pick up on certain things that I had missed.

There was a lot of repetition as well. That made the book feel like it was lagging.

Overall, this was an okay book. It had a basis in reality (the themes were very real as well as the parts about ivory) and the characters were fine. It could have been better though. Feel free to disagree, but I give this book:
Of course, I would like to make one amendment to this star system. It wasn't a waste of time, it's just a two-star book for me.

Thanks for reading!


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