In this short story, Joseph Conrad sets out to show the horrors he witnessed during his time in the Congo. The colonization of this are of the world was brutal; ruled only by passion and greed. It was a dark and dangerous time, and surviving it would have altered any person with a conscience irrevocably.
The story itself is incredibly difficult to read. There is nothing pretty about it and I can completely understand why it so disliked. However, I found it deep, riveting, and thought-provoking. It is a tale that makes me question who I am, my place in the world, and how I got here.
I think Conrad is an incredibly gifted author, but this short story felt incomplete. It was very choppy and at times jumped rather too quickly from one event to another, making me wonder if it was missing something. I wonder if that was Conrad's intent, or if he had planned on eventually adding to it, but never getting the chance. It would make an interesting companion read to Achebe's Things Fall Apart
and has definitely convinced me to read King Leopold's Ghost
, a non-fiction account of what really happened during the colonization of the Congo.
This is definitely not a book for everyone, but a student of history and the soul, it is a must read.