Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the AAAHH!!

Another depressing book, with no characters that are likeable and an ending that left me unsatisfied (just like Apocalypse Now!), leaving us with the sad image of a mourning widow being lied to. I've got to hope that Things Fall Apart is a light romantic comedy, otherwise I don't know what I'll do.

I'm surprised that Heart Of Darkness was published in a British magazine at the time, considering how reserved it is on choosing sides with the colonial project. I don't know who comes off worse, the white colonisers or the black natives, but it certainly isn't an X good, Y bad situation.

There's a part of the novella, when they're waiting for the boat to be repaired, when I really had no idea what was going on. People were talking, there was an expedition (or something), and we see some pilgrims, but I found it all a bit confusing.

Another question: why is Marlow so unmoved by Kurtz's death, when he was 'obsessed' by him beforehand? Did the honeymoon phase wear off?

The depictions of evil in all it's many manifestations is very gripping though. Was everyone this evil in the late 1800s? It must have been due to all the violent video games they played back then.

A few years ago, I went to Disneyland Paris with my family and I had to take my baby brother on the 'It's a Small World' ride over and over and over again. It is due to this that I feel I can empathise with Marlow and his similarly horrifying boat ride, though I guess his probably had less upbeat music.


  1. I think the confusing part about the central station might be at least partly on purpose. The fact is, from what I can tell, that there really was nothing going on. There were people there acting like they might be doing things, or supposed to be doing things, but they didn't actually get anything done. The general manager was just complaining about Kurtz b/c he was taking all the ivory, the expedition just wanted to get booty for themselves (ivory I guess), the brickmaker couldn't make any bricks, and the pilgrims seem to have just been walking around with their staves doing nothing except barking orders at the Congolese and trying to put out fires with leaky buckets.

    I am not sure why Marlow is unmoved by Kurtz's death; he seems more moved by the death of the helmsman from the ship--or at least, he expresses missing the helmsman, whereas with Kurtz he seems not to care at all. I think he was just fascinated before he met Kurtz; he had heard so much about him as if he were some great man, and then when he met him Marlow realizes that he was nothing more than a voice, just a shadow, a shade, something hollow and without substance. Marlow even talks of Kurtz as already dead when he meets him, a "disinterred body" (p. 122 in our version), a "phantom" in a "winding sheet" (136), and "as good as buried" (139)--so maybe he thinks of him as already dead so when he dies it doesn't seem like much has changed. Perhaps that's just in reference to his physical condition, though.

  2. I was pretty absorbed by the depiction of evil too. I think theres such an intense focus on expressing horror because Conrad wants readers to see the evil in the congo as potent/big enough to be reflected back upon themselves (maybe as something they brought there themselves)