Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a contemplative and brooding work set in the early 1900s. It follows Charles Marlow on his search for the infamous ivory trader known as Kurtz. As Marlow gets closer to finding Kurtz, his enigma grows exponentially.
It is almost impossible to discuss this novella without bringing up the controversy surrounding it. It is very of it’s time and portrays native Africans in less than a shining light. They are portrayed as savage, second class citizens who only exist to serve the white Europeans. I certainly see where this opinion comes from, yet I feel that it only adds to the brutality that bubbles under the surface of every single passage in this work. This is a morosely dense tale of a man losing touch with his humanity, so I think this work portrays a callous honesty rarely seen.
I’ve never experienced a book that does such a phenomenal job of pushing the reader’s yearning to meet a character. Conrad cannot be commended enough for the way he makes you want to meet Kurtz. His legend grows to a breaking point, then when you meet him you are not disappointed. Foreshadowing has never been more perfect than it is in this book. Kurtz steals the show and the cavalcade of insanity that surrounds him makes him both indescribably eerie and utterly fascinating.
All in all this work is very worth your time. It took me almost a week to read this book, but it is deals with such heavy subject matter breaks are very necessary. I don’t know how much re-readability there is in a novella like this, but I strongly believe that everyone should encounter this at least once. It is an enthralling tale that had been adapted multiple times to other forms of media. From films like Apocalypse Now to video games like Far Cry 2 and Spec Ops: The Line this story continues to show it has a timeless appeal that is easily adapted and still very entertaining.
Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here or download his e-book here. Be sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.