Length: Approx. 4 hours
Reader: Kristin Luoma
The book: Conrad's notoriously difficult book is like the jungle it depicts: full of mystery, intimidating, but with great wonders lurking beneath the surface. The surface story tells the tale of Charles Marlow, an ivory trader sent into the wilds of Africa to find and bring back Kurtz, another ivory trader who has gone insane. As Marlow continues his journey up the river, the narrative grows more nightmarish and dense. It's a daunting experience for the reader, but rewards with nesting questions of the nature of good and evil, civilization and wildness, European and colonial.
Like a jungle expedition, this one is made much more enjoyable with a good guide. Fortunately, the first time I read this book in high school, I had a great teacher as a guide. The characters' words and actions are not always in line with what Marlow as narrator or Conrad as author really believe. Readers, even knowledgeable ones, can read different meanings into the book. Though it's interesting to debate the symbols and motivations within the book, I think Conrad's real purpose is to show that we sometimes can't know a jungle (or man or culture) fully, only appreciate the complexity.
Rating: 8 /10
The reader: Kristin is a experienced reader for LibriVox. She doesn't put the emotion and dynamism into the reading that some other readers do, but reads with a clear, steady pace and neutral tone. In such an ambiguous novel as this, that means that it's up to the listener to interpret meaning. There's more work on the listeners' brain, which makes it harder to listen to, but ultimately can be a more free experience.
(entered in Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday. Follow the link for more reviews of other books)