|"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad is required school reading in many countries, but that does not mean the book is boring and not worth reading.
Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born English writer. In his works, he made use of autobiographical themes. Hence, his books are mainly associated with seamanship and his maritime years (he worked as a sailor and later as a ship captain).
The book describes observations on Africa during his time as a steamboat captain in the Congo during the 1890s, and it is about the people and the prevailing customs there. The main character - Marlow - steams up the Congo River to meet with the mythical Kurtz, who is the head of a remote ivory trading outpost. Marlow (the main character, and thus the second narrator) talks about his journey into the heart of the continent. Making use of contrasts, he reveals the differences between white and black men. There is a chapter that deals with morality and humanity, as well as the inconsistency between the lofty goals of men, and methods of their implementation.
Conrad’s book was important to me for many reasons. It was written by a foreign-born author – he was not able to speak English fluently until his late 20s and this book, as well as others, became a tremendous success and took its place in the canon of English literature! I believe that it is very influential. The book is full of symbolism, which can be interpreted in many ways. It was adapted as a film and became an inspiration for many other artists.
The book raises many ethical issues that we forget about every day. I encourage everyone to read this novel, not only to get to know the reality of African life in those times, but also the dark side of our personalities. If you don’t have time to read the book, just try to see its most famous film adaptation – Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and a star filled cast.