Heart of Darkness

I finished reading Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, two weeks ago, but wanted to think about it awhile before writing about it. It’s the kind of book that stays with you, the story powerful and haunting, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that in reading it I have been exposed to greatness. And I understand now why my husband has so much respect for this book, his copy well-worn by many re-readings. I will need to reread it, too, partly because I know I didn’t understand everything, but also because the writing is so beautiful. It is incredible that Conrad didn’t learn to speak English until he was in his twenties … and then was able to use the language so brilliantly. This is a book I’ve shied away from for years, thinking it would be too depressing. I’m glad I’ve finally read it, at an age when I can truly appreciate it for the brilliant writing and for its profound truths.

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8 thoughts on “Heart of Darkness

  1. Chris

    I’d like to read this one too, Robin. I know it’s required reading for a lot of high school kids and I’ve always wondered if that’s the right age range or not to read this one…maybe it should be read at an older age? Of course, I’ve never read it, so I wouldn’t know…Glad you found it to be a rewarding read though. Definitely adding it to the list!

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  2. Robin

    Chris, I suspect this is one of those novels that should be re-read at different stages and ages of your life. I think my husband may have read it first as “required reading” (long ago) and it had a powerful effect on him then, but he keeps rediscovering it in new and different ways. It’s a very powerful story.

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  3. jenclair

    I love the novel. Not exactly enjoy, but love it. I always combined it with T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men and a section from Canto III in Dante’s Inferno. Here’s just a bit from Canto III:

    “This miserable state is borne by the wretched souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise. They are mixed with that caitiff choir of the angels who were not rebels, nor fraithful to God, but were for themselves.”

    Doesn’t that describe the majority of the “pilgrims”?

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  4. Kay

    My husband really likes this book and wrote a really good paper on it in college I think. He really liked the movie APOCALYPSE NOW, which he said was based on HEART OF DARKNESS.

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  5. Petunia

    I loved this book when I first read it about 2 years ago. It is so beautifully written. It was my first experience with loving something that was not exactly pleasant.

    I hated Apocalypse Now. It is gruesome and very disturbing but not in the same way as the book.

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  6. Robin

    Jenclair, that’s a very interesting quote. I haven’t read either The Hollow Men or Dante’s Inferno. I should read them now that I’ve finally read this book.

    Kay, my husband really liked Apocalypse Now, also, although it’s definitely not the book! I watched it one time, and found it very disturbing. It’s not a film I could watch again.

    Petunia, you described my own feelings about it very well…”loving something that was not exactly pleasant.”

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  7. fandakutubuku

    Hmm… I failed my first reading of Heart of Darkness. I did finish it, but, like you, didn’t understand everything. There are a lot of things I didn’t understand. But reading your review, I think maybe I need a rereading someday. I have read this many years ago, maybe now I would have read it in different POV. Hopefully…

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