Monday, June 20, 2011
We Have Met the Enemy: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Given the theme of European colonialism, the novel is broader than Apocalypse Now in the scope of its treatment. And because it focused more specifically on the inherent duality within each human soul, the novel is also more terrifying. Conrad is a master of prolonged tension and in the subtle treatment of difficult and controversial themes--including colonialism--and both the topic and the prose gradually work their way under the reader's skin until he's strung as tight as a bow. But there's never a release, at least not one that completely diffuses the tension, and the reader is left with a feeling of unsettling anxiety long after the work is read.
Truth be told, Heart of Darkness is one of those few works that keep us up at night, not simply because of the story or its basis in colonial reality, but because of its undeniable application to human existence. Does anyone share this reaction to the work? What other works, if any, keep you up at night?