Discussion of Heart of Darkness

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Daffers
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Re: Discussion of Heart of Darkness

Post by Daffers » 21 Jun 2013, 17:52

I've read this three times over 30+ years and each time I find something new in it. It's always dark, always challenging - but I think what you take from it might be down to your own state of mind at the time of reading it.
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Amyh_03
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Post by Amyh_03 » 17 Jul 2013, 07:36

I read this about 6 months back and found it pretty tedious. I had to force myself to keep reading it, which, given that I'll usually read anything you put in front of me, doesn't bode too well.

I may have missed something, but from what I could tell most of this book was just the random ramblings of a racist who was traveling down a river and obsessing over some guy he's never met. I get that there is subtext about the attitudes of europeans towards black people at that time, but Marlow at no point sees the error in this. Although at points Marlow seems to be heading for some sort of realisation this is just Conrad dangling the carrot that we might get something worth wile out of this book before rudely snatching it from us. After I realised the whole racism thing was going nowhere I started to anticipate something deep and meaningful happening when Marlow and Kurtz finally met, but as it turns out thats as much of a non-event as the other 3/4 of the book.

I enjoyed the backdrop and the language (except for this bits where its glaringly obvious Conrad didn't learn the language until he was in his 20's) but as far as I could tell plot and story telling are non-existent in this book. All in all I found The Heart of Darkness to be one of the more overrated books I've read and a little bit of a was of a week

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creatseolink
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Post by creatseolink » 31 Aug 2013, 08:14

I too agree with you the whole story revolves arround both the brutality of civilization and of primitivism.
:) :)

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jessicaj62593
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Post by jessicaj62593 » 16 Sep 2013, 15:45

This book was a very dense read requiring a lot of attention. However, I love all of the symbolism present in this novel, such as dark versus light: it really makes one meditate on the effects of imperialism. It gives off a historical fiction vibe while critiquing imperialism at its worst. Although this book became annoying whilst trying to decipher the symbolism, it proved to be very enlightening.

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AmericanBlotter
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Post by AmericanBlotter » 24 Dec 2013, 09:42

The book is a play on how close for man the line is for good and evil. Sort of like they say the only difference between a cop and a crook is the badge. To me it would be a better short story it gets a little boring.

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Post by Fran » 24 Dec 2013, 09:46

AmericanBlotter wrote:The book is a play on how close for man the line is for good and evil. Sort of like they say the only difference between a cop and a crook is the badge. To me it would be a better short story it gets a little boring.
And how susceptible humans are to being seduced by the exotic.
We fade away, but vivid in our eyes
A world is born again that never dies.
- My Home by Clive James

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Post by shayna » 17 Feb 2014, 02:49

Heart of Darkness was interesting the say the least, especially when directly compared to Dante's Inferno. It can be interpreted several ways. I personally say it as Kurtz being an embodiment of the Devil, while Marlowe descends through the layers of hell as Dante himself.
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Post by Nathrad Sheare » 17 Feb 2014, 21:42

This is one of my favorite classics of all time! What a story... It truly does take you into the heart of darkness, the pit of human feeling and philosophy, its conditions deplorable. The images of African natives slaving for the white ivory runners, starving, diseased, and near- dead, were frightful and truthful. Prejudice is at its most horrendous in Conrad's prose, prose that captures the reader with its great eloquence, surprising for its being the thoughts of a sailor named Marlowe... His discovery of Kurtz was probably the most disturbing part of the plot. The shrine- like hut in which he's housed by natives as if he were a prince of their gods' realm, the battle with the enemy queen, and the sight of his withering form on a home- fashioned stretcher were deliciously sinister and unexpected. I knew the novella wouldn't have a pretty ending, but DANG!

Anyway, loved the book. I got an edition containing a few of Conrad's short stories, which were also rather unnerving, wonderful. Joseph Conrad is one of my favorites and one of the best English authors I've ever read. I also liked his novel, Lord Jim. Anyone here read it? I, personally, liked the novella we're now discussing a little better, and so do the critics, with whom I agree when they call it a masterpiece, but the other is his most famous work. Try it out!
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Post by scriptbunny » 10 Mar 2014, 18:15

Conrad is definitely an author whose work I need to read at least twice to really appreciate. Heart Of Darkness the first time round was only okay for me, but upon the second reading I really was able to start flowing with the book. I think part of it has to do with the rhythm since English wasn't Conrad's first language, his syntax is unorthodox, even choppy at times. But the book is so so good. I felt like I was being dragged into a miasma of grief, putrescence, anger, and despair.
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Post by AMP76 » 16 Mar 2014, 14:18

Heart of Darkness has been sitting on our bookshelves in the classics section, collecting dust for a couple of years now. It is an older printing, not flashy, and never drew my attention. King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Horthschild referenced Heart of Darkness in numerous passages, so I decided to pick it up, perhaps to add more discussion to the book club meeting for which I read King Leopold (which, I thoroughly disliked, by the way, but that is entirely another topic).
Psychological. If I had to summarize Heart of Darkness in one word, psychological. The main character, Marlow, narrated by another guy, is basically given free reign to explore his very own evil nature in the Congo. Without consequences. “The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary, men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” Channeling Faust, Marlow bargained his soul to witness what mortals should never see.
Which leads one to ask, who is the narrator and what exactly did he see? Is this entire story just a yarn told to pass the time while sailing? Or is the narrator implicit to the fall of Marlow’s soul? Is the narrator Marlow’s other self? I don’t think so. I think the narrator is an impassive observer, chronicling events and the downfall of a particular man. But it does lead one to wonder, what did the narrator think? Why has he chosen to retell the tale? Perhaps it is my own failing as a reader to have these questions. I understand that Heart of Darkness is considered a classic and perhaps I am just not getting it. At the same time, in my defense, I thought there was a lot of missing information in chronological events and important conversations and that Conrad made assumptions to his readers knowledge or else left quite a lot up to the imagination of the reader. I haven’t read anything else by Conrad, so I have nothing to compare it to. I am not saying this was a bad book, I am just not entirely certain that I enjoyed it. I enjoy the psychological Faust theme, but the lacking information and Conrad’s style left me vaguely confused. And what was additionally confusing to me was that my husband informed me Apocalypse Now (movie) was based on this book, and I am just not making the connection there at all.
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Post by Nathrad Sheare » 19 Mar 2014, 19:00

Odd... I thought Marlowe was the one narrating the whole thing... Of course, we switch to him right after one of his passengers tells us he and the rest knew they were in for one of his stories... Maybe I'll have to check again...

I loved this novella. I haven't seen Apocalypse Now! and I probably won't. I've never had much of an interest in movies like that... But I think Conrad's prose is just great. He gives us a lot of detail and lets us see into man's deepest parts, the ones people didn't talk much about at the time the book was written. Fascinating stuff, I think. For good reason, I believe, he was offered knighthood in England after the publication of his novel, Lord Jim, though he turned it down.
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Post by AMP76 » 28 Mar 2014, 06:22

Oh, we have Lord Jim, sadly, it also is collecting dust on the shelves until I get to it. Its not a high priority in my queue at the moment. And I could definately be wrong about the narrator in Heart of Darkness. I could be wrong about a lot of things! That was the impression I got when reading it, that's all. I admit, I don't generally know much author biography. It's not that it doesn't interest me, it does at a certain point, by which I mean that I probably have to read a couple of their books before researching the author. I guess its not a big deal to me who the author is as long as I enjoy the book. That being said, I am mildly interested in Conrad because Heart of Darkness is so good and evil, what sort of person comes up with this stuff?!?? ;)
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Post by jamespoet » 30 Mar 2014, 09:28

Joseph Conrad is such an amazing writer. I think that his coming to the English language late in life helped shape his beautiful use of the language in his novels and short stories.
The joys of literature transcend the evils of the world. I believe in its miraculious baptism and emotional power of the words trickling down the page. To me, there is no higher artform...
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Post by JuliannaSilva » 19 May 2014, 09:44

I found this book hard to get into, the style of narration was good but I didn't find it to be particularly interesting or engaging. This may be because I had heard so many good things about it and had expectations that were too high. I also find it to be too over-analysed at times.

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Post by zedie12 » 27 Aug 2014, 08:13

What I find extremely thought provoking and fascinating about 'Heart of Darkness' is its cover photo. Its a photo of the earth placed on a plate and two men slicing it into parts. Its suggestive of the brutality of colonizers and their greed to acquire more land, which is the major part of concern of the book.

Even though it is a small read, it engages the reader in dealing with complexities narrated by Marlow. Marlow is a conscious disguise as well as synonymous to Conrad who has ventured into the 'Heart of Darkness' before submitting as a writer about it

The most interesting and ambiguous part of the book is its metaphorical title.
I believe its the colonialists who have gone on missions to civilize the "savage" people are those who have hearts of darkness. They are alone in an unknown land, among people whose culture differs vastly from theirs and in order to conquer their loneliness the colonizers end up becoming the barbaric savages they had gone to civilize.

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