My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It’s hard to really explain what this book is about. on the face of it, it is about an experienced sailor named Charlie Marlow who takes a job as a riverboat captain exporting ivory in order fulfill a dream of exploring the African Congo. In reality it is about the contrast of savagery vs. civilization and the greed of westerners taking advantage of the underdeveloped native inhabitants. Marlows journey leads to a mild obsession with a man named Kurtz, who was once noted for his brilliance and ideals of bringing culture to the savages but instead has placed himself as a deity among the natives, and who has himself reverted to savage ways.
I’ve always considered myself quite immune to advertisement, but I found it quite amusing that shortly after I began reading this book, I had the sudden urge to re-watch the first season of ‘Lost’ on DVD. Anyone who has seen Lost and experienced the book will note that the similarities are actually quite limited, but the idea of a small group of people stranded in a remote jungle surrounded by savages still remains notable; In fact Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ is referenced several times throughout the first series.
This is the sort of book I’d imagine would be far more enjoyable to read in one sitting. As a novella, and at only 111 pages in length, it should of been a quick read, but like most of the books I’ve read recently, It was not a page-turner. I didn’t dislike the book, but because there were only three chapters there were also no logical breakpoints for the casual evening reader.
The truth is I actually really enjoyed Conrads writing. I’m unlikely to pick it up again any time soon, but regardless, it was an enjoyable read despite the fact that it’s quite simply a book riddled with subtext and glaringly obvious metaphors. I’m sure back when it was published in 1988, the idea of ‘comparing two things’ and ‘comparing things to other things’ was the pinnacle of literature, but here in 2013 it feels a little bit like beating a dead horse.
Not the best book I’ve ever read, but by far not the worst.