Saturday, July 13, 2013

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Ever since learning that Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness I've wanted to read the latter. Somehow I got through my school years without having done so. And when I got the audiobook home from the library I mistook it for an abridged version because it was only 4 CDs. Nary a novel - nay, a novella. Quite a contrast to the 55 CDs of Atlas Shrugged.

Heart of Darkness is the tale of a 19th century steamship captain, Charles Marlow, hired to sail deep into the African continent to locate and return an ivory trader named Mr. Kurtz who's apparently having some trouble. Other than that, the plot involves the juxtaposition of officious white Europeans in Africa among Africans. It was impossible for me to listen to it without thinking of Apocalypse Now.

Because it's a classic that most everyone (except me apparently) has read, I'll forgo the literary criticism. You can look that up on the internet. But my reactions are these. First, Conrad's writing is as rich, lush, dense, and vibrant as the jungle into which Marlow descends. Second, the dark heart to which the title refers must be Kurtz's as he attempts, and ultimately fails, to reconcile civilization with incivility. It reminds me of Faulkner's assertion that all good fiction involves the human heart in conflict with itself.

Now I want to watch Apocalypse Now again.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.


Francis Shivone said...

Love the Faulkner quote.

John said...

Now I want to read Faulkner again!