I usually enjoy this kind of writing from time to time, and I chose this book for the purpose of improving my vocabulary. While I didn’t have to look up as many words as I hoped for, I found the use of most words, as well as the way they were used to express scenes in great detail, were for the most part pointless.
This is the style of writing that literary snobs absolutely love; too much detail and metaphor usage that makes one feel intelligent for being able to understand it. And while you may feel superior to the average reader for understanding most of this book, I find it hard to imagine someone who can say they actually enjoy the work for the story itself.
There were times I caught myself actually nodding off during parts of this book. Even the action parts! This was written in such a way as to remind me of a James Joyce Ulysses type of book, focusing more on the style of writing than the actual story. But unlike Joyce, any cleverness is simply replaced with repetitive metaphors and word usage. I don’t know how many times the words brooding and darkness were used, nor can I count the number of pointless metaphors for said darkness, but it was way too many.
Another problem I had was how Conrad decided who was speaking. At times (remember the whole me nodding off thing) I found myself backtracking to see what character, if not the narrator himself, was pushing the dialogue forward.
This book wasn’t all bad though. I found many highlight worthy passages, words, and beautifully used phrasing. I see why schools make students read this, but I wouldn’t recommend it for “fun” reading. The idea of the story really intrigued me, but unfortunately it didn’t fulfill the preconceived notions of what I thought this book was really going to be about. The short story seemed to drag on for eternity and I found myself rushing to a finish line that I honestly felt may never arrive.
Side note: many have complained about the blatant racism of this story but I must object to those grievances. The story is set in a place, with specific character types, that actually seems to water down the racism that would have truly existed at the time; a bunch of Europeans in the heart of Africa in or around the time period of slavery. In that time, in real life, I think the racism would have been much more violent and malicious in nature. This doesn’t mean the book should have been more or less racist in my opinion, just that I find it a superficial thing to complain about siting the time period of its creation.
So my conclusion is that if you enjoy classic literature, you should give this a read. If you enjoy entertaining tales, stories that really make you think, or easy to follow styles of writing, this probably isn’t for you.
I do boring very well, meaning I can read a boring book and enjoy the hell out of it. This book to me was not that kind of boring though. This is the kind of boring where you lament the idea of getting back to reading it and find yourself procrastinating like a mofo before finishing it. (I seriously wrote half of a future shock, 2 fitness articles, and read a whole stack of comics I got on free comic day before I managed to muster up the energy to finish this very short story) So this is most certainly not the book for everyone. But I still say at least give it a try just for the experience.
3 out of 5 whiskey shots