Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad

I knew this would be a gory book when Marlow started his story with a mini-story about a man getting beaten to death by a fearful tribesman with a big stick. And I was pretty much right. With the successive detailed description of the sick savages and the bloody scene with the spear-impaled wheelman being only a few examples of the violent and ominous happenings. I don’t like disgusting descriptions anyways, but Conrad really seems to love the morbid details, which makes this book all the more unappealing to me.

Also, he made up some of the weirdest characters, like the woman at the beginning who he described as the fateful guardian of “the door of Darkness.” Foreboding right? Or the manager who makes people feel “uneasy” and has no apparent sense of humanity, I mean how does Conrad think of these things?

To add to my unhappiness at the idea of reading this book, the beginning was not only boring with its wordy descriptions, but also extremely confusing, jumping between storytellers and creating quick, choppy conversations within the story that I couldn’t follow, and Conrad randomly decided to slip these things in throughout the rest of the book as well.

Of course, I did find some things I didn’t absolutely hate about this book.

I immediately fell in love with Conrad’s poetic style and sound. His old fashioned dialect, although it sometimes used words which I had never heard before, was very eloquent and created perfect visuals for me most of the time. It reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, where the characters would always seem to find the perfect words for a situation and would have the most graceful speaking prose which made it sound so sophisticated.

Thanks to Mr. Moore and the text we read last year in which the author made a simile with the mind and tea leaves clogging a drain, I also love unique comparisons, and so, apparently, does Conrad. He did everything from comparing changing times to a lightning flash in which we only live in a flicker, to Marlow comparing himself to a little bird fascinated by a giant snake. It’s amazing how a simple description can create such precise visuals for a situation: when Marlow is describing the raised land which served as a fork in the river he was sailing down, he compared it to a man’s backbone showing just beneath his skin, and immediately the image of that river popped into my head. Typically I can never accurately picture an image which an author is trying to explain, so I was a little shocked at how easily that illustration worked for me. I suppose that it is just an easier form of writing for my brain to perceive, which made it so much more enjoyable for me to read this book.

1 comment:

  1. "I immediately fell in love with Conrad’s poetic style and sound." Me too. Even when I wasn't sure what he was saying, I was captured by the way he said it. I think his way with words is the only thing that makes this book survive the test of time. Great observations!