Heart Of Darkness And Selections From The Congo Diary

Heart Of Darkness And Selections From The Congo Diary - Joseph Conrad ***SPOILER ALERT***

I started this book aware that some people think of it as a racist book. I’m not entirely convinced of that, mostly because I’m not entirely convinced of the views of Marlow; the narrator of the story, towards the native people & the Congo.

At moments, he looks upon them as savages and I believe in one of 2 instances has described them in quite a derogatory way, for example, when he sees a native dressed in Western clothing, saying “to look at him was as edifying as seeing a dog in a parody of breeches and a feather hat, walking on his hind-legs.” This was quite shocking to hear from him because I didn’t get a feeling of hatred, derision, or apathy towards them. In fact, I find that he described commonalities in terms of certain emotions to situations & religion etc between himself & the natives.

The fine points of the book are the few moments of insight & clarity into the human condition in the Congo, and the rare statement of dry humour.

“ Fine fellows-cannibals-in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them. And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face”

On the whole though, the all too often rambling dialogue, and lack of connectivity between the author and the story led to my disliking this book.
The character Marlow was also quite confusing; I felt like I was watching a monkey swinging from tree to tree, and then back again. Just when I thought I got a sense of who he was, he did or said something contradictory, which didn’t make for a satisfying read.