The Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad
Reading Order: Book 11
Categories: 2019, Stuart Browning
Suggested By: The Original Manchester Book Group
Date Started: April 1, 2019
Date Finished: April 3, 2019
Reason Book was Chosen: This book was chosen by The Original Manchester Book Group for discussion at our May 2019 meeting. As a group we normally try and find a theatre production of a novel / story as a day out and read the book that the production is based on. This year Imitating the Dog are bringing The Heart of Darkness to The Lowry theatre in Salford. Co-produced by Marche Teatro and Cast. Supported by Arts Council England, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University and Theatre by the Lake. Following the popular and critically acclaimed adaptation of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, imitating the dog turn their attention to Joseph Conrad’s extraordinarily influential novel, Heart of Darkness. Written more than 100 years ago, amid the optimism at the turn of a new century, it’s a tale of lies and brutal greed and of the dark heart which beats within us all. Now re-sited in a timeless Europe, in a forsaken landscape lost to the destructive lust for power, it emerges as a tale absolutely for our time.
My Thoughts

Another book I read for the second time.  I first read Heart Of Darkness in 2008, I wrote at the time that I read it because I was a big fan of Apocalypse Now and I wanted to know the source material.   Back then my review was brief in that “I liked the narrative of Marlow’s trip up the river on his quest to find and bring Kurtz back to civilization.”

On re-reading I found the slowness of the novel quite fascinating it’s a short novel but somehow Conrad still manages to give the impression that it’s a long, dull journey. I remember think it takes too long to get to Kurtz and then helped with the suspense.  I really enjoyed the ending when Marlow came home and went to visit Kurtz wife and their brief conversation.

During our book club meeting there was a lot of discussion about race and if Conrad was a racist.  My opinion is it’s difficult to argue either way and you’d need to put yourself in the age when the book was written, this was first published in 1899, and the race question was considerably different to today.  I’m not sure this would be published if it was written today but I think it’s a valuable book.  This time around it’s got me thinking and reading various articles on the history of King Leopold II’s colonial rule in the Congo and his treatment of the local people, and yes it’s truly horrific and difficult to comprehend.

All in all a fascinating read, very thought provoking and a novel I’m glad I’ve read.

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