Category Archives: Heart of Darkness


I’ve recently been trying to read a book called Nostromo by the author of Heart of Darkness, but while I’ve found it occasionally amusing I’ve given up on it.

Nostromo is (allegedly) about an Italian mariner (the nickname translates as “boatswain” [aka bo’sun]) who works at a small port town of a fictional South American country prone to revolutions. The reader barely meets Nostromo, though; he’s very much in the background (at least as far as I’ve read). Supposedly he is eventually embroiled in a scheme to steal a boatload of silver from the nearby mine, but I’ve seen no evidence of it so far.

Heart of Darkness is short enough that there are fewer dull patches and you are motivated to push through them. With Nostromo, even after 150-ish pages the real plot hasn’t gotten going; it’s all introducing characters and meandering through backstory (most annoyingly by skipping merrily back and forth along the timeline to the extent where I was frequently confused as to when various events were happening). There is also no sense that things will change anytime soon. I’d moved from part one to part two of the book, but it seemed an arbitrary distinction (c.f. What is a Chapter?).

This sort of beginning is the sort of thing that writers are frequently advised to never do. I know good writers learn the rules then break them, but the rules are there for a reason, and any breaking of them should be done consciously and purposefully. It’s possibly a stylistic choice to convey the laid-back and haphazard governance of the country, and various characters’ focus on history (to a greater or lesser extent). And that’s all well and good, but I still feel it’s gone on too long, and I’m not interested in slogging through the remaining 300-odd pages.

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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Heart of Darkness, Other


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Heart of Darkness Review

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Heart of Darkness

Published: 1899
Pages: ~80
Completed: Yes
Enjoyed: Yes

Seriousness: Introspective
Genre: Adventure/Exploration
Difficulty: Fairly easy
Rating: M – Nastiness happens. Again, a story that could be told to younger people, but they probably wouldn’t be able to relate to it.

Recommend: Yes

Up next … The Time Traveler’s Wife (which I’ll manage to read if I can extricate it from the hands of Rose Red).

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Posted by on July 24, 2010 in Heart of Darkness, Review


People don’t always make sense

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Heart of Darkness is finished, and it’s a thought-provoking story. In some ways, whether we agree with Marlow (the in-story narrator) or not reveals our own biases and ability (or lack thereof) to forgive. Can you respect someone who doesn’t share your preferences? Can you respect someone who has done horrible things, but repented? It’s not easy.

The final scene raises another interesting question; is it better to tell the truth, or lie to preserve someone’s reputation/spare someone’s feelings? It’s important to point out that this was over a question that only one character could answer (he was the only witness). It’s been an issue that I’ve been uncertain about for some time – is lying always wrong? Is lying saying something you know to be incorrect, or does it relate to motive? I don’t have answers, but I’m glad to be asking the questions.

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Posted by on July 24, 2010 in Heart of Darkness