Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances.
Fail. Fail. Fail. Epic fail.
I don’t even know how to begin writing about this book. It was incredibly boring. My mind kept wandering, forcing me to re-read parts. I also could hardly understand what was happening, the way it was written was so confusing. I have to say that this is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. If I hadn’t already failed at Great Expectations I would have put this book down. It was short, so I pushed through it, somehow.
Why was this book terrible? Besides being boring as hell, I couldn’t understand what was going on. The book is narrated by an unknown person, telling the story of a man named Marlow. Nobody else in the story had a name (except one other guy) and I started to get confused who was who. Then the narrator would speak Marlow’s words, and have a conversation with other people, and I got lost trying to figure out who was talking, who did what, and who was who.
Second, the book appeared to have no point at all. What was this story about? Charles Marlow, a steamboat captain on some Godforsaken river in Africa….and what? I don’t know. Marlow’s aunt helps him get this job on a steamboat on the Congo River in Africa. It describes him getting on the boat with four other men (who are nameless and appear to have no use) and some cannibals to go up river to get this guy Kurtz. Kurtz is some kind of jack-of-all-trades, genius, ivory hunter, or some such. I never could exactly figure out why they had to go to get Kurtz.
Then there was a good deal about the river and how gloomy and dark everything was in Africa. Something about the natives (referred to as niggers) being poorly treated and how they looked like animals because of how broken down they were. I think Kurtz somehow becomes like the natives and he’s participating in raids attacking the white colonists. Then he’s sick (the narrator never exactly explains what’s wrong with him).
They find Kurtz, put him back on the boat and he’s dying. He has some papers that he wants Marlow to hang on to for him and give to his fiancee back home. Kurtz is apparently feeling a little guilty about the things he’s done in his life, but I’m sorry to say, I couldn’t exactly figure out what was so bad about him. He dies, crying out, “the horror! The horror!”
In fact, all of this I’m telling you I got from the wikipedia page, and not from the actual book because I couldn’t understand what the fuck was going on. When I got to the end of the book, I was like… huh? Normally, I would go back and re-read some sections but I just couldn’t force myself to do it. It just wasn’t worth trying to understand.
This book was supposed to represent themes of the darkness of mankind, the darkness lurking beneath the surface of a civilised person (again, stolen from Wikipedia). I guess I am not as smart as I think I am because I just did not get it. I did not enjoy this book at all. I didn’t understand it. It’s not even a book I could say I hated but yet learned something from it. I feel as if I have wasted two weeks of my life–two weeks that I will never get back.
I don’t know how decides what gets to be a literary masterpiece, but if I were in charge, this book would be set on fire.
F- for you, Mr. Conrad.
I think I’m going to go back to gothic fiction. You can never go wrong with gothic fiction. I will read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.