Saturday, December 24, 2016

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

This has been on my to-read list for a bit but just never made it to the top until this last week. I'll be honest, it made it to the top because it was very short (130+ pages or about 4 hours) and I wanted to hit my goal of 50 books for 2016. I'm not sorry I picked this book but I am sorry I listened to the audio and didn't linger over the writing. The audio from Librivox was just fine, don't get me wrong, but I think this book needed to be read and mulled over.

Apocalypse Now (the movie) was based on this book and I'll admit to being very curious to see it now. Marlow, our narrator, is on a ship going up the Congo River in Africa. He takes a job as a riverboat captain on his way to see Kurtz, a "remarkable, respected, intelligent" ivory trader in charge of the trading post. He's infamous and there is much legend and lore about him. Marlow encounters multiple setbacks on his journey, including having his steamboat sunk. While he waits out the repairs at Central Station, he notices "with horror" how the natives are treated. They are worked to death by the so-called civilized white people, abused and treated abhorrently. Yet, while talking to the white folks working for Central Station, it's a constant stream of how savage and horrible the natives are. This all sounds very familiar from an American standpoint too, eh?

Marlow finally gets his crew of pilgrims and cannibals and makes his way to Kurtz. Again, multiple problems seem to try and derail him, but he makes it there. Once there, for all his bluster about exterminating the "brutes" (the natives), Kurtz seems to be revered by them, seen as a god. He is very ill and is put into a cabin on the steamboat.  Kurtz tries to leave the boat and go back to his station and Marlow realizes how overcome with madness Kurtz really is.

I might put this on a re-read list. The writing was quite interesting and I discovered after Googling, that I missed some things through the audiobook that I might have caught while reading.

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