Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heart of Darkness

So I finally finished Heart of Darkness.  It's not that it was bad, it's just that I have stacks and stacks of fun, new YA books that always call my name.  But I did it, and I am now on more of a roll with my AP summer reading.

Wow.  That's the first thing that really comes to my mind.  This book was intriguing.  This book was difficult.  I know that this is one that I will learn more and more about every time I read it.  I had seen Apocalypse Now in college, so I sort of knew a little bit about the main idea of traveling down the river in search of Kurtz.

The original story here, though, of course, is set in Africa.  I was interested to find out that this is a frame story.  I love the frame of Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights.  This story had that feel to it.  Marlow, who "narrates" the story is really speaking to a group of men on a boat with him as they wait to leave on their journey.  The main connection I really made when I read this book was with Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  I usually teach Rime with Frankenstein, since Shelley mentions the poem directly.  I also feel that this story connects with Rime.  In Rime, the mariner has to tell his story.  I feel that Marlow is the same.  This experience was so surreal, so disturbing, so incredible, that he has to keep telling it - no matter what.

The writing took a while to get used to.  I really took copious notes and looked at the end notes often.  But I think all that work pays off with this book.  I felt intrigued by the idea of Kurtz.  I felt more and more interest in him just as Marlow did.  I am very interested in the issue of race as described in this book.  I have printed and will read Chinua Achebe's essay soon.  I also felt pain as I read about and saw through Marlow's eyes what these men had done to the natives and the land.  They used it up.  They ruined it.  They destroyed whatever they needed to.

I have a lot of processing to do now that I have finished.  I am excited to give a shot at teaching this book with my AP students this upcoming semester.  

1 comment:

  1. oh man. i remember when this was assigned for summer reading in my AP english class. i bought it, saw that it was only like 100 pages long, and proceeded to ignore it until a day or two before school began, thinking i could blast through it in a couple hours. i was so wrong. i think i read bleak house in about the same amount of time as heart of darkness. ok maybe it didn't take quiiiite that long...but still. conrad's prose is so dense, so descriptive...not to say it isn't beautiful and a pleasure to read...but you have to concentrate really hard and reread passages multiple times if you want to have any idea what's going on. good luck teaching it!!!

    by the way. i am passing on the VERSATILE BLOGGER award to here:

    happy saturday!