most boring book in the canon
also incredibly thick for such short prose
also so imperialist it hurts
the thing is even if it weren’t a bag of racist imperialist patriarchal garbage, it’s still TERRIBLY WRITTEN. the whole thing could’ve been done in 20 pages max. and that’s coming from someone who is an admittedly verbose writer.
That’s actually why I own a copy. I don’t like it for its content. I only like it because of much of a fail of a book it was. It didn’t do half of what it was meant to do according to Conrad, which was to show the ~darkside~ of European imperialism in Africa [the Congo specifically]. I just like to show it as a great example of how white thoughts and opinions can just turn into a novella of fuckery.
I wrote my graduate school admissions writing sample on the uncanny/hauntology in Heart of Darkness, and while I maintain that the novel is “racist”/Orientalist (in the broadest sense), I go a bit further to show how the book can function on a theoretical level, how it subverts its own imperialist narratives. Yeah, okay you can say it’s racist and write it off and blindly hate the book—or you can engage in a thoughtful critique that might actually be productive. Here’s a short selection from my paper, for those interested:
…[Heart of Darkness] allows for glimpses of Africa as properly Other, not sublimated into the greater imperialist narrative of the text. Likewise, while I agree that “Marlow’s narrative leaves us with a quite accurate sense that there is no way out of the sovereign historical force of imperialism, and that it has the power of a system representing as well as speaking for everything within its dominion,” there are moments when the voice of the Other is heard, even if only a ghostly, barely-audible whisper (Said 24). This voice is not one construed by the author himself per se; it is rather, a voice that follows from the specter of the other—Africa as ghost—never fully glimpsed yet irrefutably present at those moments when the text deconstructs itself. My hope is that through a hermeneutic tracing of the uncanny and an investigation of haunting in Heart of Darkness, the novel might present us with the possibility of a relation to the Other not completely dominated by imperialist, or Orientalist, as Said might call it, discourse.
Oh, and here’s a link to the Said article I mention.