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Robert Italia
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Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary

Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary - Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness is a famous classic that is referenced every time I turn around. And, as such, I supposed I should read it just to get the in-jokes. But I'm not terribly impressed. I'm convinced that Conrad must have been paid by the comma since he puts them in so willy nilly. I'm also surprised at all the mis-used words that sound similar to the correct word that should be used without actually being the correct word for the situation. But people dare not edit the classics, do they? I guess they're afraid of being haunted by rabid fans. Heck, I'm likely to get hunted by rabid fans just for insinuating that a classic has such flaws ... and for not liking it. God forbid that I not like your favorite book. You'll likely want to put my head on a pike for such a thing, won't you? But you won't because I've used your little in-joke and that should save me for now.

One thing that I find interesting is that the reviews I've seen for this book rarely offer a synopsis of the book. So I shall offer you a synopsis: A steamboat captain accepts a job to go deep into the heart of darkest Africa and is primed with stories of men going into the wild and never returning. He also anticipates meeting a charismatic man of great words whom everyone treats as a god (even turning into a tranny for him). However, the captain is convinced that he won't be impressed by this local god whose power lies within his guns and placing heads on pikes. Ah crap. I just gave away everything except that the local god dies while saying "the horror!" and that the captain tells the god's sweetheart that her name was his dying words instead. Aw. How nice of him.

The All-Knowing Sage Wikipedia says that this book is a "thematic exploration of the savagery-versus-civilization relationship, and of the colonialism and the racism that make imperialism possible." I'm a big fan of stories that explore the savagery-versus-civilization relationship, but this particular story doesn't really do much for me on that front beyond showing the savagery of a white man to put heads on pikes. But, otherwise, I didn't really see that the natives were painted in a light any better than the white man. There didn't seem to be a blatant juxtaposition between the two. I guess that the point is that the book is supposed to expose the white man as being a savage and not just a dandy planting a flag somewhere.

I think, though, that I see this more of a tale of the danger of going ga-ga over charismatic local gods and blindly following them lest you turn yourself into a soulless mime.

Anyhow, I was glad this book was short. And I'll get all those heads-on-pike references now ... thank god Kurtz.