Heart of Darkness
By: Joseph Conrad
My Rating: Three out of Five Stars
Best for: 14 and up
I read Heart of Darkness as a buddy read with my HS senior who was assigned this slog of a book for her AP Lit class.
The good: it’s only 96 pages.
The bad: It’s boring as heck.
The message: British imperialism was bad. The-sun-never-sets-on-the-British-empire aristocrats were at best naive, at worst intentionally ignorant. It’s never a good idea to try and “civilize the natives.” Kind of refreshing that there were great thinkers during the height of the British Empire who got that.
The value as literature of a HS Lit Class: Um…They’re getting a well-rounded view of the power of books to spread opinion? Although I strongly suspect getting that message from reading this book is probably too nebulous to grasp for your average HS senior. The only message about books being delivered? See above. And below.
That being said, I was impressed by Conrad’s ability to write such a layered novel going after the world’s greatest super power. The guy was certainly bold–which I suppose is exactly the novel is so important. Not to mention his grasp off the English language…he was Polish, and I read that he didn’t learn English until he was in his 20’s.
The only content warning is a frequent use of the ‘N’ word and a 19th century view of women as decoration.
4 responses to “#HeartofDarkness: Bold, Brave, and Boring”
Sorry, but if you’d actually read Heart of Darkness you’d have noticed that it is set in the Belgian Congo, not in any part of the British Empire, and as it was written by a Polish author, not a British one, it is difficult to see where you are coming from with your “The message: British imperialism was bad. The-sun-never-sets-on-the-British-empire aristocrats were at best naive, at worst intentionally ignorant.”
Hi Kanti! Nice to meet you! Sounds like you were a fan of Heart of Darkness. It definitely has merit as classic literature, but I also found it boring to read–especially for the High School students who were assigned to read it.
You’re right, the story takes place in Congo, on the African continent. And right again, Joseph Conrad was Polish, not British. That’s one thing that I pointed out in my review–how impressive his grasp of the English language was for only learning it in his 20’s.
One thing even cooler about Heart of Darkness is Conrad wrote the book as a challenge to the 19th Century British Empire’s policy of Imperialism. The entire book is an allegory!
Anyway, thanks for taking time to comment.
I ended up giving this 4stars when I read it, but I wasn’t expecting to. I was more prepared for your kind of experience 🙂
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Yeah, as I think about it from a technical writing point of view and what he accomplished in its writing, I’m pretty impressed. But at the same time, boring is boring.
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