Heart of Darkness: Another Hike up the Literary Canon

Another piece of the canon that I’m just now getting to. Still not sure how I made it through my English undergrad without reading this. I guess professors are just sick of teaching it. Oh Well. Glad I’ve rectified my mistake.

I’m struck by how similar this reading experience was to my first reading of Moby-Dick in 2014. While there are some thematic similarities, (an oral storyteller waxing eloquent about his adventures on an aquatic vessel, seeking a legendary entity that takes on a mythological significance) they both resonated especially on the level of their respective influence. It’s impossible to read Heart of Darkness in a vacuum. So much of 20th/21st century art and storytelling has used either the ideas or the expression of Conrad’s work. As I read, I found myself remembering everything from contemporary literary fiction to Loony Toons. This novel has seeped so deeply into the collective unconsciousness that the entire narrative arc, the environmental foreboding, the prose stylings, and specific turns of phrase have become archetypal.

None of this diminishes the reading -it merely alters it. There is a reason this thing is a mainstay in academia. It’s perfectly paced, (what the hell happened to good pacing, anyhow?) memorable, and powerful in its language. There’s not much else to say. It clearly deserves its acclaim.

Recommendation: Read it if you haven’t. Read it again if it’s been awhile.


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