3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A dark classic - dated but fascinating,
This review is from: Heart of Darkness: AND Youth (Paperback)
Probably one of the most studied novels in tertiary education today, The Heart of Darkness is one of those books which we all 'should' read. Having read several other books on the Congo, I was attracted to this edition due to the introduction by Tim Butcher. The introduction was good, placing the story in its time, but recognising its timelessness.
The book is a story within a story - the narrator, Marlow, describes an event in his past where he is sent up the Congo River in a dilapidated steamboat in order to rescue an enigmatic man named Kurtz. The river and the country are never named directly, but the story is clearly set in the colonial period of Belgian Congo - a time when racism and exploitation was rife. Although the plot is very simple, the story explores themes of civilization and depravity, black and white, and cruelty and kindness. It is grim reading, although it is a grim period of history. The prose is dense but evocative, and the story remains relevant as Tim Butcher points out.
Perhaps because the novella has been so talked about, it has lost its shock value somewhat. Conrad's ideas are certainly of his time, and his characters lack a little bit of depth. Nevertheless, this edition with the inclusion of Youth at the end, is worth the read.