I’m trying to see if this works without the picture- sorry for the absence but here’s a link to the cover picture if you’re interested… http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?q=heart+of+darkness+penguin+classics&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&biw=1266&bih=544&tbm=isch&tbnid=kzWF3mgtjArzzM:&imgrefurl=http://www.campusbookstore.com/generalbooks/details/%3Fisbn%3D9780141441672&docid=1HYEDlFPpIkkvM&imgurl=http://www.campusbookstore.com/image.aspx%253Fisbn%253D9780141441672%2526size%253DLarge&w=325&h=500&ei=U1fvT6bUOuec0AXmj8zbDQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=266&vpy=122&dur=160&hovh=279&hovw=181&tx=82&ty=192&sig=104506953825754122269&page=1&tbnh=165&tbnw=107&start=0&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:73
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
I actually wrote this post three days ago and it wouldn’t send for some unfathomable reason and since then I have been incredibly busy (looking at Universities, so I know you’ll forgive me). Now I am actually quite a way through the book, so it’s technically no longer the book I plan to read next….
Basically, it’s the story of Charlie Marlow, a sailor who goes to the Congo as a missionary and is horrified by what he sees. As soon as he arrives he sees lines of slaves in chains and natives dying and quickly begins to realise that the philanthropic element of colonisation is a mere pretence- it’s all about the ivory, which he notes the missionaries “worship”. It’s quite difficult to read, especially since there is no line break during conversations. Marlow’s narration also feels very detached which perhaps reflects his difficultly coming to terms with his experience. It seems that he is unable to process his own emotions and as a result he is more of an impartial observer. However, as terrible as colonisation was, Marlow notes that its saving grace is the “idea” of it, to which one can “sacrifice” oneself. This reminds me a bit of Communism- in idea, it is a perfect society in which everyone enjoys equal high standards of living but in reality has lead to corruption, death, brutality and suppression of self-expression. Yet Communism is justified by the idea of the perfect society and so Marlow thinks that colonialism, forcing one culture onto another, is a justifiable but corrupted idea. This, amongst other things, has led Chinua Achebe to brand him a “thoroughgoing racist”, but I’m reserving my judgement until the end of the book.