Sunday, 13 May 2012

Heart of Darkness - #4

I was excited for this book. It's been sitting on my shelf for a little while and had been so built up. You know, one of those turn of the century novellas that shaped English literature into what it is today and challenged the ideas of morality and what not.

And you know what it felt like? It felt like reading an Old Spice ad.

It was the characteristic flowery over-description that I can tolerate, but after Purge was a bit of a smack in the face of how old Londoners (not English, Conrad was Polish) waffle on a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. Now don't get me wrong, I like a good old fashioned, Victorian/Edwardian waffle. Oscar Wilde is my prime example.

However, what Mr Wilde does, that Conrad doesn't, is mix it with wit. Conrad however mixes it with self-indulgent musings. And I can't deal with them at any time. It's like when you go on a date with some guy who spends the whole time giving a soliloquy (as he won't let you get a word in edge wise) on why what he thinks is so insightful and fantastic, and let him enlighten you on that (not that you have a choice). In fact, the only enlightenment you get is how much you want to stab him in the eye with your fork.

But back to the Old Spice ad. The bit that frustrated me the most was that he was telling the story, or narrative for those English teachers among us, about how they were fixing a boat and couldn't ever get parts because they are in deepest darkest Africa. Then he went on to a paragraph of self-indulgent, let-me-tell-you-how-clever-and-insightful-I-am drivel. And the next paragraph they are sailing down a river. On the broken boat. That wasn't broken any more. What the hell? I re-read it 3 times, I have no fricking idea how they got there. Suddenly it was all "I'M ON A BOAT!". And any person who gets that in my head while I'm reading a book needs to be taken out the back and put down.

And you know what? Do you think that Mr Conrad was content with doing that to me once? No. Not at all. He does it again. In the climax. The guy has attention issues!

This book, I can concede, was probably very confronting and thought provoking in 1902 or whenever the magazines where first published (that's the book publication date). I was more confronted by the use of the n-word and the term savages. Otherwise, the book was a meh, and has been added to the list of books that have been thrown once finished 

So, in the end, this boils down to

Next: Mexico with The Lacuna

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