Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
For my Reading Challenge, I needed a book that I was supposed to read in high school, but didn’t. I chose Heart of Darkness because it’s short and reading it brings anyone one step closer to the title well-read. So this book is good for me? Right?
Most of the discussions I remember from my English class centered on the symbolism of the darkness. The idea that the darkness was not necessarily evil, but merely the absence of sight. Not light. I don’t really remember the typical light versus dark, or good versus evil type discussions.
Instead, darkness sometimes enveloped in serious fog, is blindness. I remember that idea striking me. Perhaps evil is defined as our not seeing, or our not choosing to see.
Now that idea intrigues me. Why not give this story with the ominous title a go?
And so, I settled down with the free LibriVox audiobook of Heart of Darkness. I’ve never used LibriVox before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Volunteer narrator Kristin LeMoine was a steadfast reader and the recording was of great quality.
Here’s the one benefit of listening to this recording: I’ll be looking into LibriVox’s catalog to see what other public domain books there might strike my fancy.
Otherwise, my reaction to this novella is best summed up wth Kurtz’s famous line, “The horror!”
I do not understand why we inflict this pain on high school students. Perhaps if only excerpts were taught to convey the criticism of Imperialism, then students could discuss the corrupting nature of power.
But to create this extended metaphor of darkness where Marlow journeys up the Congo encountering all variety of mankind all of whom are savages is just over-the-top. We’re all innately evil. Yep. Thanks. I’ve received this memo before.
At least Conrad does wrap up his story well. He has an incredibly low opinion of women, which is sprinkled into the story, but made perfectly clear with the final conversation between two characters. But this low opinion does serve as an excellent resolution to a thoroughly agonizing read.