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24 March 2010 @ 09:04 pm
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

What the ACTUAL FUCK was this? 1890’s answer to Avatar?

FOR ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON I COULD SEE, this is narrated by a dude named Marlow. About three pages are wasted describing his boat on the Thames, which has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY. NOTHING. He starts telling his fellow sailors about the time he joined a French company in KILLING ELEPHANTS – that is, exporting ivory from Africa. There were multiple teeth-gritting descriptions the like of which you would never actually SAY to anyone, which furthered my annoyance with the mode of narrative chosen.

ANYWAY, he travels to the ‘heart of darkness’ on a steamboat. His role is never fully explained, but he ends up going to the inner station to pick up a sick guy by the name of Kurtz, who is by way of being the best extractor of DEAD ELEPHANT around. He is also involved with the local tribes who seem to worship him as a god? Idk? He dies on the way back and entrusts his papers to Marlow, even though Marlow hates him, but also worships him – it changes from page to page. These papers suggest a way of taming the savages by benevolence or something. It’s not the main focus of the story. I don’t know WHAT the main focus of the story is. Aside from STUPID.

The library copy is a Norton Critical Edition, which I understand is for university students, but they sure make some dumb university students in Brown if they have to have ‘gingery’ explained to them. (Also, if you didn’t know what a mine was, how would the explanation ‘subterranean explosive charge’ help?) There are loads of textual appendages for a book 75 pages long, but I am too annoyed to read them, so if anyone wants to explain WTAF this book is, please feel free.

Perhaps you will think it passing strange this regret for a savage who was no more account than a grain of sand in a black Sahara.

Amazingly, I thought this book was ANTI-racist. Boy, was I wrong.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2010:
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories, Anton Chekhov
I'll take you there, Joyce Carol Oates
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
The School for Husbands, Moliere
On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks
The Famished Road, Ben Okri
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
The Sea, the Sea, Irish Murdoch
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
o hulloah!: art; uhm!bogged on March 24th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
I was going to give this a legitimate response, but every time I started to form a sentence composed of real words it devolved into the fourth panel of a FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU meme. Which, really, is a more accurate response to this "short story" than any I could come up with using words that can be found in a dictionary.

You're lucky you aren't an English Lit major in America (or at my school, at least...) because the amount of times I have been forced to read this should be enough punishment and the fact that I have come out of the other end alive should be enough of a miracle for me to qualify for sainthood.

Honestly. You think reading it alone is bad? Try reading it and then having (over the course of 4 years) a good HUNDRED college students try and tell you what they think it is REALLY about. EYE. FUCKING. ROLL.

OK really I have to stop now, because I think my gums are starting to bleed.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on March 24th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
What it is Really About:

Joseph Conrad was psychic, he could see into the future. He saw ME, stressed by exams and thinking a 75 page book was a sure bet. He went MUHAHAHA WE'LL SEE ABOUT THAT and made certain every page lasted a year. The end.

real men love discotakkatakkatakka on March 24th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
Part of this book came up under the title "The Exotic" in David Lodge's Art of Fiction, and apparently all the stuff about the Thames and the boat at the beginning is "a neat reversal of the main story... and prepares us for the novella's radical questioning of the stereotypes of 'savage' and 'civilized' in the tale."

I don't really have an opinion on it (I haven't read the book) but I thought you mind find that-- well, relevant, if not interesting.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on March 24th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
See, if that was Connie's AIM, I'd say sure. But half of eng.lit. is randomers making up shite about why writers wrote what they wrote. THIS HAPPENS TO ME AND I JUST WRITE CRAPPY FIC. I reckon very few writers put that much effort into staging - more likely Connie started writing the riverboat stuff and then said, "Oh! And now this thing happened!"

Sorry, that rant wasn't AT you.
real men love discotakkatakkatakka on March 24th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
haha, no, I agree, a lot of the stuff in the book seems pretty far fetched and it does deviate from the text, in a way (in the art of fiction, not in the heart of darkness). I think there's a limit on how much a writer can expect a reader to pick up on, too; when you set out to read a book you're not going to be scrutinizing every word for ~clues. Oh, unless you're doing it for english lit I guess.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on March 24th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty much on an anti-Englit mission. If you're writing a book simply to have it analysed in universities, you ... shouldn't be writing a book.
S.P Vinterspvinter on March 24th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you know I saw Apocalypse Now before I read this book for my comparative literature class, so I can tell you that I was expecting something a whole lot different from the book itself.

And yeah, anti-racist is kinda stretching it. Maybe by the standards of 1899 it was, but not today. It's quite some time since I read this book but I think that the point we were told it was supposed to make was that Kurtz, for all that he spoke of savages and his quest to civilize he was, or became, the worst savage of them all.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: jillicons: blue star handsscoradh on March 24th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Kurtz, for all that he spoke of savages and his quest to civilize he was, or became, the worst savage of them all.

For sure I got that IMPRESSION. But Conrad spent so much time describing, like, RIVETS, and the snags on the river and the random engineers he met that he clean forgot to describe just what it was that made Kurtz such a terrible guy. I mean, that would have been the interesting story! While this is ... not.
S.P Vinterspvinter on March 24th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
(Ugh, sorry, html fail...)

Yeah! After Apocalypse Now I was expecting a whole lot more Kurtz in the book. Imagine my surprise when the dude only makes an appearance in the very end, says very little and promptly dies. So very anti-climactic.
R.J.'s Talkback Plebe Radioluciusmalfoy on March 25th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
I love this book so much it's unhealthy, it's one of my favourites. It is just so incredibly beautiful. Sad you didn't like it, but I think from your reviews we have such opposite tastes there's no overlap at all. LOL
a kid on the lookout for transcendenceextemporally on March 25th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK AT ALL BEFORE, BUT I'M STILL INCREDIBLY GRUDGY ABOUT IT because Chinua Achebe (who wrote Things Fall Apart, which I love love love) said back in the 60s, "Guys... this book is incredibly racist" and a whole bunch of academics lined up to tell him he was WRONG WRONG WRONG. UGH.

Um, sorry for the caps. Too much ontd_skating, uh.
high and mighty mansplaining robotrimestock on March 30th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
For a while there I thought you were talking about the basis for this movie, and was going to tell you that the movie version was a lot more bearable ...

but, uh, wrong, self!

I'm sorry. :(