Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:25 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 47 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Why is this book a classic on the literature circuit ? 
Author Message
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6348
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1844
Thanked: 2030 times in 1537 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Robert Tulip wrote:
The trouble with Kurtz is that the 'redeeming idea' is so flagrantly at odds with the sordid reality that a rather gross deflation is inevitable on the slightest examination. I think the horror is what Kurtz has done to other human beings to get ivory.


I like this idea, that the wasted and rather pathetic man we meet instead of the Great Kurtz is symbolic of the hollowness at the core of the Europeans' professed ideals. The main problem I have with it in the context of the novella, though, is that Marlow continues to find something extraordinary about Kurtz. I dismissed M's view at first, but I think it deserves more attention in light of the trust M. establishes as an observer. He is wise, I think. He knows, for example, that the Eurpoeans are a rapacious bunch and that their talk of improving the Africans is bunk.

Marlow has a sense that he is identified with Kurtz; he comes recommended by the same people that recommended Kurtz, and he finds that the traders think he might have an "in" with Kurtz. So he has this sense of relation to Kurtz that he doesn't welcome, but it's there. (Conrad developed this idea of shared identity fully in his story "The Secret Sharer.")

What's there to admire about Kurtz, though? His achievement, although perverted, is impressive. He single-handedly forges an empire of sorts in the Congo, which would take considerable charisma. (Later, an aquaintance tells M. that K could have been a politician who could ignite the masses).

M. admires him, in death, for a different reason. When K. says his last words ("The horror, the horror"), M. says, "I went no more near the remarkable man who had pronounced a judgment upon the adventures of his soul on this earth." He seems to think that K.'s last words show that he has a moment of illumination at the end, realization that he had let himself be captured by many "powers of darkness," as M. says earlier. Or maybe "the horror" is not just about Kurtz, but applies in a wider way to the humans, who all have this darkness at heart.

Most of us wouldn't be capable of such a "summing up," Marlow says. He himself would have probably spoken only a word of "careless contempt" because, at the end of life, we don't have thought of much besides the pity of our own demise. K.s cry at the end was "an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions. But it was a victory!"

M. doesn't die of his own illness, but remained "to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My Destiny!"

Not saying I understand this entirely or accept it, but it has a depth that makes it hard to dismiss. And it seems, to me, to be the "heart" of the novella.



Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:50 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
One more post ought to do it.

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 3257
Location: Cheshire, England
Thanks: 329
Thanked: 675 times in 521 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United Kingdom (uk)

Post 
DWill - you posted this three times......We are having gale force winds here......and the Internet keeps going off.......

Are you having the same problems?.......

a good point is worth making three times.....You and Robert Tulip are so erudite that I need to read you three times anyway.

:lol:



Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:08 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Sophomore

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 259
Location: San Francisco, CA
Thanks: 1
Thanked: 15 times in 13 posts
Gender: Male

Post really liking this thread....
no, not that DWill's post was done 3x :lol:

but what's discussed here is really the heart of the matter. I can remember the discussion from high school about 30 years ago now (wow, i'm old!) about this exact point. What is being said here by Conrad.

While M has established himself as a credible observer, there is always the possibility that he is still blinded by his longstanding reverence for K. This can be a reason why he still supports him in the end. while I'm not completely convinced by this argument myself, I don't think it can be completely discounted.

And K's last words: What exactly is the horror? Is it K's own actions? What K saw? What K did? Is it that K couldn't believe that he wasn't 'successful': i.e. made it out of there with his fortune? Is it really a final moment of self reflection that he couldn't believe what he had become or was it that he had not learned anything: the 'horror' of dying among the 'savages'?

I think it's the fact that we can sit here and have an interesting discussion about these issues that make this book a revered work of literature. It's long enough that the characters are developed enough that you know enough to ask these questions about them. However, it's short enough that you are not completely sure of the answers. There is just the right amount of ambiguity that people can come to different answers in good conscience.

Personally, I don't think Kurtz learned a thing. I think his dying words are his own disappointment at the way things turned out for him. He would do anything for money and felt it was his due. He was the consummate imperialist. Marlow however, is the conscience of the book. The one Kurtz doesn't seem to have. He struggles with many things, and he (perhaps) doesn't always come up with the right answer. Just like every conscience. However, it's his process of the struggle that makes good reading. It also taps into something personal in each of us as we recognize the struggle, although perhaps not this one exactly.



Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:25 am
Profile YIM
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Oddly Attracted to Books

Gold Contributor

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1543
Location: France
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 35 times in 35 posts
Gender: Female
Country: France (fr)

Post 
Ginof wrote:

Quote:
It's long enough that the characters are developed enough that you know enough to ask these questions about them. However, it's short enough that you are not completely sure of the answers. There is just the right amount of ambiguity that people can come to different answers in good conscience.


Thanks Ginof, for me this goes right to the heart (!) of the matter.


_________________
Ophelia.


Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:24 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
One more post ought to do it.

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 3257
Location: Cheshire, England
Thanks: 329
Thanked: 675 times in 521 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United Kingdom (uk)

Post 
I echo Ophelia here....this is an excellent post and right on topic!!!!

Ginof said:-

Quote:
However, it's his process of the struggle that makes good reading. It also taps into something personal in each of us as we recognize the struggle, although perhaps not this one exactly.


This would answer the question as to why Kurtz is such a vague character when he is meant to be so charismatic and powerful. If Conrad had given us a fuller description, we might have begun to sympathise - and even like Kurtz.....but he gives us just an outline sketch.

Because the book is not about fatal charisma......it is not about the mesmerising effect Kurtz has on Marlow. It is about Marlow's reaction to it and how he deals with it. How we all deal with people and circumstances that effect us on a deep subconscious level. I think that is a great and helpful observance
Quote:
'Marlow is the conscience of the book'


So thank you for that Ginof.....it has helped me to begin to see the subtext. :roll:

PS - This post might appear twice - if it does, it is not because I am trying to be emphatic. We are having gale force winds and the computer keeps having a little blimp. :cry:



Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:06 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Oddly Attracted to Books

Gold Contributor

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1543
Location: France
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 35 times in 35 posts
Gender: Female
Country: France (fr)

Post Rent a copy of Apocalypse Now
I hope you will forgive me for repeating myself:


Constance wrote: "I have not seen "Apocalypse Now" myself, but if people are interested in discussing it, I'm sure I can pick up a rental copy."


I haven't heard from HD readers about the film yet, I hope you are considering it, I really enjoyed watching it in this context.


_________________
Ophelia.


Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:16 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
One more post ought to do it.

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 3257
Location: Cheshire, England
Thanks: 329
Thanked: 675 times in 521 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United Kingdom (uk)

Post 
Ophelia - if you and the others 'order' me to watch the film - I will.

Can't get motivated.....can't work up the initiative.....you will need to give me strict instructions....... 8)



Sun Mar 02, 2008 7:51 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Oddly Attracted to Books

Gold Contributor

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1543
Location: France
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 35 times in 35 posts
Gender: Female
Country: France (fr)

Post 
Hmm, this is a strange one.

I wasn't expecting people to write in answer to every single one of my postings in HD, and I was prepared to give up the postings that got no response.

Still, about "Apocalypse Now", I find it would really be a shame if people didn't have a go at it. I explain in posting XIII-1 that I din't like the film when I saw it over twenty years ago, and the second viewing was such a good surprise.



What can I say to tempt you?
The visual aspect of the film is stunning, this was the main pleasure for me.

The part about the crazy French colonizers in Cambodia is also quite something and very well made.
By the way, get the REDUX DVD version of the film (I'm told "redux" is from the Latin and means "brought back") if you have the choice, it's better.

Marlon Brando is fine, but it would be wrong to think he's the main attraction of the film.

Again, if people told me they did not like the film and had nothing to say, I would leave it at that, but in the absence of such comments, I thought I would mention the film a few times and see what happened.

I'm going to add a few questions in my HD- XIII heading in case that's what is missing.


_________________
Ophelia.


Sun Mar 02, 2008 8:37 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5823
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2284
Thanked: 2211 times in 1671 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
ginof wrote:
While M has established himself as a credible observer, there is always the possibility that he is still blinded by his longstanding reverence for K. This can be a reason why he still supports him in the end. while I'm not completely convinced by this argument myself, I don't think it can be completely discounted. And K's last words: What exactly is the horror? Is it K's own actions? What K saw? What K did? Is it that K couldn't believe that he wasn't 'successful': i.e. made it out of there with his fortune? Is it really a final moment of self reflection that he couldn't believe what he had become or was it that he had not learned anything: the 'horror' of dying among the 'savages'? ...There is just the right amount of ambiguity that people can come to different answers in good conscience. Personally, I don't think Kurtz learned a thing. I think his dying words are his own disappointment at the way things turned out for him. He would do anything for money and felt it was his due. He was the consummate imperialist. Marlow however, is the conscience of the book. The one Kurtz doesn't seem to have.

Thanks very much for this Ginof, these are good comments. I agree that Marlow is blinded by reverence for Kurtz, but I interpret it a bit differently as I imagine Kurtz dying with a sense of self-knowledge. In my reading, Kurtz represents the actuality of Europe's relations to the rest of the world. Marlow represents the liberal intelligent community who are repulsed and fascinated by the colonial enterprise in equal measure. Marlow has these powerful contradictory thoughts of repulsion and fascination, a fruit salad of Marx and Kipling. His sentiments are corrupted as well by the financial benefit the liberal classes received from the loot of empire. No doubt there is an underlying racism, a sense that European invasion of Africa was justified by technological and cultural superiority, and so a sympathy for the 'whatever it takes' approach of Kurtz. I imagine Kurtz as entering Africa with mixed motives, open to partnership with Africans but finding the technological chasm so immense, and his freedom to exploit so untrammeled, that he degenerated into the tragic-comic figure collecting ivory that he would never sell. Marlow, for his part, is impressed by the amazing achievement of Kurtz as we are impressed by any wildly successful entrepreneur, but in this case the impressive achievement is hollowed out by its uselessness, venality and oppression. Marlow falls short of being the conscience of the book as he is too detached. If he really was the voice of conscience he would not have lied to Kurtz's girl about her hero's last words. Really, 'the horror', as a description of the colonial enterprise overall, is the key statement of conscience in the book.



Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:21 am
Profile Email WWW
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6348
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1844
Thanked: 2030 times in 1537 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Sorry 'bout that!
I have a touch of malaria, maybe, am raving a bit like our dear Kurtz, saying essentially the same thing over and over? No, really, I didn't pick up on how the posts are cached and thought mine weren't going through. You all deserve an "A" for your suffering.

Will



Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:57 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
One more post ought to do it.

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 3257
Location: Cheshire, England
Thanks: 329
Thanked: 675 times in 521 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United Kingdom (uk)

Post 
I wonder what that long conversation with the powerful African lady was about?

She didn't want him to go did she? She must have known he was dying...but wanted him to stay at the settlement with her.

I keep wondering about her and what she symbolised......because actually there is quite a long description of her appearance......strutting up and down the beach. She, like Kurtz, seems to be a powerful character. Nothing namby pamby about her. Marlow could have told her the truth couldn't he? When he couldn't bring him self to do so to the European woman.



Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:02 am
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6348
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1844
Thanked: 2030 times in 1537 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Ophelia,
I'll make an effort to watch "Apocalyse NOw." It's been an awfully long time since I saw it.

The African woman at least seems to have more going for her than her main competition, the lovely Intended!

Another thing to add about Kurtz's final words. Why does Marlow hear them being "spoken" as he visits the Intended? He may be hallucinating, but doesn't his hearing them also bring the "horror" home, so to speak, right back to the Sepulchral City where, we could fairly say, the horror originated? This view seems in line with what RT has been saying about Kurtz realizing, perhaps, what larger forces he has been an agent of.

I don't agree that Marlow ever admires Kurtz for his insane achievements. I think admire would be the wrong word. He's fascinated, I think, by someone who has become so totally a renegade and who has been taken over by the powers of darkness. At least there is something majestic, if still perverse, about Kurtz. You couldn't say the same about the other traders. They are cowardly, venal, and arrogant. His admiration of Kurtz seems to be confined to how he turned out in the end, strangely enough.



Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:21 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Oddly Attracted to Books

Gold Contributor

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 1543
Location: France
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 35 times in 35 posts
Gender: Female
Country: France (fr)

Post 
Quote:
Ophelia,
I'll make an effort to watch "Apocalyse NOw."


:clap2:


_________________
Ophelia.


Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:30 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Sophomore

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 259
Location: San Francisco, CA
Thanks: 1
Thanked: 15 times in 13 posts
Gender: Male

Post 
[quote="Robert Tulip] a fruit salad of Marx and Kipling. [/quote]

that is just bloody BRILLIANT! :lol:

Hi Robert,

You have some good thoughts there, along with the great fruit salad. Again, this is why this is an great book: There is so much to think about in such a small package!



Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:20 pm
Profile YIM
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Likes the book better than the movie


Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 825
Location: Wyse Fork, NC
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 1 time in 1 post
Gender: None specified

Post 
Isn't 'the horror' that if the darkness can strip the veneer of civilization from one so strong as Kurtz then it can do the same to anyone?

Tom



Fri May 02, 2008 9:03 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 47 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank