Yeah, yeah, don’t blame me for waiting until I’m 33 to read this. In school, we read “The Secret Sharer” instead when we got to Conrad.
I haven’t seen Apocalypse Now, either.
I read in the preface in my edition that Conrad wasn’t terribly happy with “Heart of Darkness,” because he said that he made Kurtz “too symbolic.” Shit, Joe, you made the whole damned story too symbolic. With that much symbolism, you could have at least not mixed your metaphors, and you could have just made an allegory out of it instead of trying to dress it up as an adventure yarn.
Really, I’m agreeing with his self-assessment; too much symbolism ended up actually detracting from the message he was trying to send. On the flip side, the racism in the story doesn’t, not in the way that Lovecraft’s racism does. The on-line analyses I found either tiptoed around the meaning in the racist symbolism or ignored it altogether.
What’s interesting is the adaptation of this story into a movie about Vietnam. Like I said, I haven’t seen Apocalypse Now, but the way Conrad’s themes of the evils of colonization mesh with the way France and the USA dealt with Southeast Asia is a nice fit.
Why haven’t you seen Apocalypse Now? Get thee to Netflix!
I have an image I believe I’ve gotten from Heart of Darkness. I think its a passage early on when the main character spies a native woman free and hunting on the African land. The description of the woman and her wildness is so vivid, shocking and stunning that its the primary image I always get in my mind when I think of the book (that and rivets on the boat for some reason). Its one of those great passages of writing so awesome, its almost like a painful mark on your memory.
I quite liked Heart of Darkness, I prefer more interpretive books over more concrete ones. That and Darkness has a great ending.
Agreed on both counts, Kitsune. I had to take a cold shower after the passage about the native woman.
Could you elaborate on too much symbolism? I never felt that way about the book. Actually, Kurtz is an interesting figure because he can be interpreted many different ways. It isn’t obvious what’s happened to it…there are several possibilities. Also, his dying words are vague, delightfully so, IMO. They can mean several different things too, depending on what he is referencing.
Take the two ladies in the Whited Sepulchre (Belgium). He really doesn’t need to repeat the color of their garb 137 times.
Or the fact that Belgium is only referenced as a Whited Sepulchre, and never just as Belgium.
Or the night falling as he tells his story.
There’s use of symbolism, and then there’s HEY LET’S BEAT THE READER OVER THE HEAD WITH SYMBOLISM OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL THE READER IS A BLOODY PULP.