Tuesday, February 9, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: "Heart of Darkness"

Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad
Copyright 1902
William Blackwood & Sons Publishers
Classic Literature
3 1/2 Bookmarks

When I was in high school, "Heart of Darkness" was on a required reading list for Mrs. Brown's AP English class. At the time, it affected my 17-year-old psyche in ways that not many other things have (either before or since). The theme of the book revolves around the idea of restraint. An old river captain named Marlow tells a tale about a trip to find an elusive ivory agent named Kurtz. Everyone seems to know Kurtz and paints a picture of his grandeur for the narrator. Marlow cannot wait to meet Kurtz, to discuss philosophy and swap tales of adventure. Marlow's description of the events that occur along his journey are intriguing and disturbing, especially when he finally does come upon Kurtz only to discover that he is not the man Marlow had been led to believe.

This novel speaks volumes about how people in society make the choice to be "normal" or not, to follow societal norms or to step outside those boundaries to boost their own rank among the masses. Choosing a right or a wrong becomes more difficult when faced with the prospect of hero worship and adoration.

I did like the book, although it didn't seem quite as entertaining to me as an adult as it did to my 17-year-old mind back in the day. Conrad does throw in some great quotes. My favorite--now, as it was back then, is-- "Droll thing life is--that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose." Seriously! What a great quote! Soooooo, to sum up: Good book, great wording, quotable quotes, freaky story, and you get to say you read a classic. All plusses. Hmmmm....I wonder what ever happened to Mrs. Brown?

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