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Heart of Darkness (1 Viewer)

a15haddad

Senior Member
I didn't know too much about Conrad until I read Heart of Darkness just a few months ago.

Heart of Darkness is now likely my favorite work of literature ever. What a masterpiece. It was the greatest example of literary genius I have ever read, and it was all contained within a novella of about 75 pages. Conrad's subtle writing style was so rich and so involving, and every one of Marlow's descriptions of the environment and of characters (his description of the man with the odd, uneasy smile was simply amazing, as was the Russian subordinate of Kurtz ) was beyond stellar. The tale of savagery, the dangers of Imperialism, corruption, moral deterioration, and most of all the Heart of Darkness was something I have never seen matched. I could go on and on about the beauty of Heart of Darkness, especially the final scene when Marlow consoles the woman who was close to Kurtz, which was so haunting; I remember reading the ending after finishing a standardized test in my middle school, completely blocking out the commotion around me, my mind focused so narrowly on the power of this sequence, and then finishing it and closing my eyes and just thinking about life for a minute or two.

Not only is the story so powerful, but the writing style is so fresh. Oh, wow... I'll leave the rest through the vehicle of discussion. Does anyone else share my love of Heart of Darkness?
 

waylander

Senior Member
I do. I took an English course at college just to be able to have this one teacher who was so brilliant and a specialist of Conrad's works.

He made us comment on many passages of this work of genius.
THere are so many striking moments in this novella that one would have to quote its whole length to do it justice.

A literary genius in the English language, Conrad was not even English, now isn't that amazing !
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
As a reader, I loved this. Amazing writing - Kurtz has to be one of the greatest characters ever. However, if I were to do a post-colonial critique of HOD, I wouldn't be so quick to praise its content. It definately posits some racist assumptions about the nature of Africa and the 'cultured' race that is ultimately corrupted by it.

Still love it, though.

An D
 

a15haddad

Senior Member
Many condemn Heart of Darkness because of what they perceive as incredibly racist overtones. I don't think so; I think this was more of a portrayal of how the Europeans portrayed the Africans.
 

evadri

Senior Member
I agree with a15addad. Often authors can portray what is happening in reality, without condoning it themselves.

Anyway, I also love this book. Interestingly, I had a hard time finishing it - but that's just me and my procrastination. Whenever I actually picked it up and read it, I enjoyed it emmensely.
I love the chinese box narrative structure.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
I agree with a15addad. Often authors can portray what is happening in reality, without condoning it themselves.

Many condemn Heart of Darkness because of what they perceive as incredibly racist overtones. I don't think so; I think this was more of a portrayal of how the Europeans portrayed the Africans.

I disagree wholeheartedly, but I am too lazy to start any sort of meaningful discussion whatsoever :D

Ah what the hell - here's a snippet from Chinua Achebe's critique of HOD:

'Africa as a setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as a human factor… Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break up of one petty European mind? But that is not even the point. The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered an continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization… can be called a great work of art. My answer is: No it cannot (“Image” 257).'

More?

' It might be contended, of course, that the attitude to the African in Heart of Darkness is not Conrad's but that of his fictional narrator, Marlow, and that far from endorsing it Conrad might indeed be holding it up to irony and criticism. Certainly Conrad appears to go to considerable pains to set up layers of insulation between himself and the moral universe of his history. He has, for example, a narrator behind a narrator. The primary narrator is Marlow but his account is given to us through the filter of a second, shadowy person. But if Conrad's intention is to draw a cordon sanitaire between himself and the moral and psychological malaise of his narrator his care seems to me totally wasted because he neglects to hint however subtly or tentatively at an alternative frame of reference by which we may judge the actions and opinions of his characters. It would not have been beyond Conrad's power to make that provision if he had thought it necessary. Marlow seems to me to enjoy Conrad's complete confidence -- a feeling reinforced by the close similarities between their two careers.'

Link:

http://www.erinyes.org/hod/image.of.africa.html

Hypocrite that this may paint me, I still love the book.


Andrew[/i]
 

a15haddad

Senior Member
I've read this entire thing; I have the Norton Critical Edition of the book which was 325 extra pages of various articles such as critical interpretation, letters between Conrad and others after he first wrote it, analysis of some of the themes, and comparisons to Apocalypse Now.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
What fun - they do enjoy pumping out new editions every year, don't they? Makes getting used textbooks for school a mother bitch and a half.
 

waylander

Senior Member
A great work of art is not about morals or dehumanization. It 's about art. Period.
Don't mix up so-called 'ideas' with art. It's not because 'ideas' and literature use the same medium, words, that they are to be treated at the same levels. Great novels can be about , and I say about, the basest things.
 

a15haddad

Senior Member
waylander said:
A great work of art is not about morals or dehumanization. It 's about art. Period.
Don't mix up so-called 'ideas' with art. It's not because 'ideas' and literature use the same medium, words, that they are to be treated at the same levels. Great novels can be about , and I say about, the basest things.

I agree perfectly.
 

waylander

Senior Member
I followed quite well, perhaps because I am also a foreigner whose English is not quite good. I can understand this desire to write in a foreign language.

Incidently, very few people (among them reliable experts) seem to share your views about Conrad's style...
Quote :
He would have been a great novelist..

He is.
 

Ralizah

Senior Member
I found it boring as hell, personally. I'm not sure if it was the rigid, occasionely incoherent narrative (I'll agree he had a horrible writing style), or the fact that not much of it I found interesting.
I might read it again someday, however.
 

a15haddad

Senior Member
The writing style is one of the most beautiful aspects of Heart of Darkness. It is so wonderfully off-hand and subtle while still describing everything so richly and hauntingly that it compels you beyond imagination. The reason why some may not follow is because they tried to read through it quickly. With a book such as this you must read slowly to fully comprehend everything. But honestly, I absolutely adore the writing style present in Heart of Darkness.
 

a15haddad

Senior Member
starrwriter said:
"A revolution only evaporates into another slimy bureaucracy."

An alternative view from Edward Abbey:

"All revolutions have failed? Perhaps. But rebellion for good cause is self- justifying -- a good in itself. Rebellion transforms slaves into human beings, if only for an hour. There never was a good war or a bad revolution."

That's somewhat ironically coincidental. Just last week I was discussing this quote with my friend. But in the end, rebellion shouldn't exist just to "transform slaves into human beings." That makes it into a sort of drug. Sure, it may have a righteous idea driving it, but that is simply a farce if you do it for the good feeling. A rebellion must be selfless and done for the good of the whole.
 
I can never understand why people like Heart of Darkness, Conrad is the most boring author to ever put pen to paper.

Regardless, Apocalypese Now was still amazing.
 

archer88iv

Senior Member
Having read Achebe and Conrad, I'ma have to cast my vote with Conrad for "better read." Took a postcolonial lit course and--of course--spent a few years talking about the racial aspect of everything. But none of that really matters, because the next semester I had Heart of Darkness again in a short fiction course.

Question 1 for the final exam of the short fiction course was, I swear to God, "Kurtz."

That was it. Not even a damn question mark. Just the name "Kurtz." Argh.
 

TWariner

Senior Member
I read it a long time ago and it was a very impressive book. Very difficult for a young teenager to read, but I could tell it was very intelligent and one of those essential classics, so I pushed through it. It was a dark book. I'll have to reread it.
 

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