Part of studying modern literature and twentieth century texts involves reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for me, but I couldn’t even finish it.
When I’ve got so many books I’m looking forward to reading, and I’ve managed to get by my seminar where we talk about Heart of Darkness, I’m asking myself, why am I continuing to read this? I have like, a million books this year and around four seconds to do it all in. So, not even halfway through, I am patching Conrad’s snore fest.
I know, I know, it’s like a classic and it really did something for modernist literature. I appreciate. I’m just saying it’s also boring as all hell.
Usually I am a sucker for a framing device: the Turn of the Screw *turns* me on* and Wuthering Heights really…eh, wuthers my heights. Sure. Framing devices usually add some suspense and intrigue about the story you’re about to read. I said in my No Mean City review that I like reading the last page of novels because I like to see how that ending comes about, and that’s why I like framing devices so much. I even used a framing device in a novel I haven’t touched in like, a year and a half, and I through it was really fun to use and play with. I have a lot of love for the technique! But Marlow telling his story in Heart of Darkness did not interest me in the slightest. Not only did I really see what he was building towards, but he told it in such a boring way as well. Shut up, Marlow. No one gives a fuck.
This is definitely the kind of book where I found myself staring at pages for minutes and realising that I hadn’t actually read any of the words. So disappointing to realise I had to go back to the top of the page and start again. Ugh.
Conrad definitely does have an interesting style of writing, in that he presents Marlow’s story in an informal, conversational tone where he tells his group about his experiences and adventures as he recalls them, which was not usual for works written and released around that time. So, good for him.
Overall, nothing in Heart of Darkness gripped me. I kept telling myself “it’s a short book, just stick with it and soon it’ll be done,” but it just never seemed to end. Maybe I need to give it more energy and time to appeal to me but, as I said, I have a lot of other books to read this semester for uni (before I can get onto books I actually want to read in the summer time!) and as I’m pretty much done with Conrad’s text for now, I don’t see any point in wasting time on something that doesn’t interest me at all. Not all books an appeal to everyone and that’s okay. I wish I could appreciate this more but it’s just hard going.
Maybe I’ll finish it one day. Maybe.
*Henry James’ novel doesn’t actually excite me like that. I just really like framing devices.