Sunday, January 31

Book Review: Heart of Darkness

Title: Heart of Darkness

Author: Joseph Conrad


Summary: Written in 1902, Heart of Darkness grew out of a journey Joseph Conrad himself took up the Congo River. The Verisimilitude that the great novelist thereby brought to his most famous tale enhances its dense and shattering power. Though controversial, Heart of Darkness ha been considered a literary classic of the twentieth century and a staple of English Literature. Taking readers with him deep into the Congo, the narrator witnesses first-hand the bitter juxtaposition of the beauty of the African jungle and the brutality dealt out to the inhabitants by Belgian imperialists. Heart of Darkness is a model of economic storytellin, an indictment of the inner and outer turmoil caused by the European imperial misadventure, and a piercing account of the fragility of the human soul.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although the book was a very short book, it wasn’t a quick read as I originally thought, as it was a very difficult read. And I’m finding it hard to convey into words, what it’s about and how exactly I feel. The story was well written, and it pointed out some very important issues, but it’s hard to explain unless you read it. For one the entire book is filled with metaphors on issues around racism, power, corruption, darkness and evil. At times the amount of metaphors made my head spin, because I was trying to wrap around what the author was getting at, maybe that was his intention, showing the corruption, evil and racism and what it does to the soul of the inflictors. But even so, it is deeply rooted in multiple metaphors and hidden images and symbols. It’s hard to pinpoint which issues and ideas I should talk about, because there are so many, and every person who reads the book will get something out of it. For example how the Natives are portrayed and are they portrayed this way because it’s told through the eyes of a white narrator? Issues surrounding imperialism and how it’s addressed in “civilizing” a native colony and issues surrounding the evils of power hungry men are just a few.

The narrative it’s self is wonderfully written, it easily keeps you into the book, even if some of the themes are uncomfortable to read. Conrad has a talent for wonderful and poetic pose, and deeply root metaphors into his story, that return time and time again throughout the book. Overall a good story, but I suggest using a readers guide to look over afterwards, or read it in a book club to help ensure you’ve have a grasp on everything. And, although it’s a short book, it’s not a short read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, but only to certain people. The book has offensive language and explains harsh treatments of the natives. It not a grotesque explanation, but the reader is left knowing the natives are tortured and beaten, treated as objects. And they are described in detail in how they're starving. I know some readers out there aren't comfortable with issues like this, so I thought I'd give warning. The book is also heavy with racism, and it is very in your face. Also, the book is very difficult to read, in how the story's told, the way metaphors are used and that's on top of the actual harsh content of the books. So Although I think it's a book a lot of people should read, I know there are some who would be uncomfortable with it. Like I said above, if you do read it, I'd recommend looking over a reader's guide when you're done, or read it in a book club discussion, to help pull out everything that is hidden within the text.

What to read next: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (Haven't read it, but checked it out on the LT recommendations, and looks interesting and similar themes.)

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
Global Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, RYOB Challenge,


  1. Joseph Conrad is a very tough writer to read. I applaud you for enjoying and finishing this one. It is one of his shortest. I enjoyed it for the most part, though it is a bit graphic and the language can be offensive.

  2. This is one of those books I have heard so much about, but never read. I do mean to get around to it someday.

  3. I've looked at this author a couple times and just never have the motivation to read anything by him.

  4. I read this one about a year and a half ago and liked it, but like you said it's a very difficult book to both read and write about.

  5. Serena - He was tough, although oddly, might look at some of his other work. I like you enjoyed it, but found it graphic a times.

    Jeane - It's worth looking at, or even attempting.

    Amanda - If your not motivated to read him, best to stay away, because he's a difficult read. Sometimes I was tempted to stop, but kept going. It has a lot of points in the book. But there are others that are similar you'd like better, and be motivated to read instead of him.

    Ardentreader - It's nice to see others, feeling the same way about how it was difficult to read and write. Thanks for coming by.

  6. I have heard a lot about this book, but haven't read it yet. It sounds like a very complex read, what with all the metaphors and descriptive prose, but it also sounds like something I would like to explore, given the time and inclination. I am glad that you got so much out of the book and that it was such a powerful read for you!

  7. I was supposed to have read this in college, but I couldn't get more than a few pages into it. It does sound like an interesting story, so I'm thinking it might give it another try at some point.

    Diary of an Eccentric