Saturday, November 29, 2014

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Entertainment Value – C Readability – D Overall Value – B-
As most people know, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of the works that one is expected to read if he or she wishes to be recognized as an individual well-versed in classic literature. Written in 1899, it begins with the Nellie, a yawl (first sentence and already a word that you don't know), and its crew parked along the River Thames near Gravesend, England. The entire novella is the retelling of one of the ship's members, Charles Marlow, as he recounts his expedition in Central Africa along the Congo River. There he travels along the river, and as he goes deeper and deeper along the current he is greets individuals that are increasingly savage and monstrous in nature. He desires greatly to meet Mr. Kurtz, the first-class agent that brings the Company the most ivory and thus he said to one day rise in rank to even the administration in Europe. Puzzled and attracted by the mystery, the adventure no longer becomes about finding ivory but it is meet Kurtz. As he goes down the river however, he is greeted by man's heart of darkness, and the division between civilized human and savage native becomes thin and hard to discern...

Now, if you decide to undertake reading this book, I would like to offer some advice:
1. Do not stress over understand every little detail in the first read, unlike books like Gravity's Rainbow or Ulysses, this book is a novella and thus can be easily read more than once. In fact, it is expected that you read it more than once.
2. I think for the most part you are reading this for a class, high school or college, and thus I would suggest jotting down notes on how your thoughts during the text. Though you are used to annotating at a leisurely pace, I would recommend focusing carefully on recurring motifs.

I wish you the best of luck in reading the novel, but for the most part I feel that its difficulty is slightly over-hyped, especially when compared with contemporary postmodern novels.