Showing posts with label joseph conrad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label joseph conrad. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (23)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. caesura. "...although she talks openly and easily about being a child and about her life with my grandfather, there is a caesura in the time line of her life, a break of years, a derailment."  (from The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult)  

noun
1. (in poetry) a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. (in poetry) a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

Oooh I like this one.  Pretty word and it's cool that it's not being used in the usual way.

2. etiolated. "He looked so small and etiolated."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)

verb (etiolate)
1. to cause (a plant) to whiten or grow pale by excluding light: to etiolate celery.
2. to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.
3. (of plants) to whiten or grow pale through lack of light.

I have been really impressed by Dubow's creative use of words.  This highlights that yet again.

3. august. "We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories."  (from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)
adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
2. venerable; eminent: an august personage.

And I here thought August was just a month!

What are your new words this week?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Let The Door Hit Ya, February: Month in Review

UGH.  February.  What a craptastic month.
Likeness of me in February
I didn't THINK it was going to go that way, but it did.  I got slammed with a pretty awful personal situation in the middle of the month, something that really knocked me for a loop.  I am not ready to post about it here yet, but I think I will in the future.  For now, suffice to say that it just made last month into a very difficult one.

As such, I apologize for my relative absence.  I know my posts have been kind of "blah" lately, and that I've been Twitter MIA, but the calendar has flipped to March and I am going IN LIKE A LION!!  Watch out, world.  Rawr.

(I guess I should say that there was ONE good thing about February, and that was the creation of the Harlem Shake.  I could sit on YouTube for HOURS and watch this crap.  Amazing.)

Anyway, let's talk about books!

The February 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors go to:

February 2013 Favorite: Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
February 2013 Least Favorite: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
Political Suicide by Michael Palmer
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of the Good Night Our World books.

In other book talk, we discussed cover snobbery, I was spotlighted by Christine, I had another fun giveaway, and I MET JODI PICOULT.  Total highlight of my book month!

So, here's hoping for a much better March.  Peace out, February.  Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad



Title: Heart of Darkness
Author: Joseph Conrad
Publisher: Blackwoods Magazine (originally published there in three parts)
Publication Date: 1899
Source: personal purchase

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

One of Conrad's finest stories, loosely based on the author's experience of rescuing a company agent from a remote station in the heart of the Congo, Heart of Darkness is set in an atmosphere of mystery and lurking danger, and tells of Marlow's perilous journey up the Congo River to relieve his employer's agent, the fabled and terrifying Mr. Kurtz. What Marlow sees on his journey horrifies and perplexes him, and what his encounter with Kurtz reveals calls into question all of his assumptions about civilization and human nature. 

My Review:

Last week, when I reviewed Just One Day, I was complaining to myself that there is nothing harder than reviewing a book that is a wildly-popular current fave.  But I was wrong--it's harder to review a classic!  What can you say about a book that's been around for 100+ years that hasn't already been said?

And what if you thought it was...just okay?  How do you approach a review of a classic with, "Eh, you know, it was so-so"?  English professors the world over would promptly drop dead.

Well, English profs, get your heart meds handy, because Heart of Darkness is going solidly in my "meh" category.  (The horror!)

...yes, that was a bit of a meta-joke, for those who got it.

Anyway, I think part of the issue for me was that my expectations were high.  I had no idea that the movie Apocalypse Now was based on this novella, and I think we can all agree that Apocalypse Now is a fan-friggin-tastic movie.  So when I found that out, I was pretty stoked.  However, I quickly realized that the movie is based more on the themes and tone of this book, rather than the actual details.

Heart of Darkness is the tale of Marlow, currently on a ship in England, who is telling his shipmates about a previous journey he took as a steamboat captain in the Belgian Congo.  The purpose of this journey was to recover Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader gone rogue in the wilderness.  Which, if you've seen the movie, will get you amped up for some really weird stuff, because the movie-version Kurtz (Marlon Brando) is CRAY-CRAY.  However, the book-version Kurtz actually has very little physical presence in the story--he is only around for a small portion of it.  Instead, the "idea" of him and what he represents plays a much bigger role in the plot than what he actually says and does.

Don't get me wrong, the book is not a total disappointment.  I understand why it's used so much in literature classes, because Conrad touches on a lot of important themes (good vs evil, roles of women, colonialism, etc).  And the narrative style is interesting: Marlow is telling the story to his shipmates, so you get steeped in the plot for a while, and then randomly get pulled out of it as Marlow jumps back to present day at times. If I felt like doing a lot of analysis and interpretations, there's plenty here to keep me busy.  However, as far as just straight entertainment value, the book moved a lot slower than I expected, and ended on a rather anticlimactic note.

Overall, it's a classic, so I won't deter anyone from reading it.  It's one of those books you just have to say you've read at some point (at 105 pages, you have no excuse!).  But it's certainly a book to save for when you have the time for thoughtful reflection.

What are some of the best classics you've read lately?
 
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