The Loathed Required Reading, or in other words, “The Horror, the horror!”

I took a British Literature course my sophomore year of college, and I went in prepared to loathe it. My experience with ye olde British lit was never a positive one. Surprisingly though, I adored the class, I adored the teacher, I adored the discussion, and I adored the literature.  Most of it anyway. I did, however, absolutely hate Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (oh, the horror, the horror!).

The novella is about Charles Marlow, who took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company to captain a ferry boat in Africa. Through his travels, Marlow is exposed to the dark side of European colonization in Africa as he faces the darkness of the wild jungles, the darkness of the Europeans’ cruel treatment of the native people, and the darkness that is found in every person who has ever committed an evil act. The subject matter of the novel seemed promising, but I just couldn’t endure it. I admit, I enjoyed a few pages– the bit about the map(s) and his childhood, if I recall correctly. But, the further I got into the story, the harder I wanted to through the book at my wall. It was dull, dull, dull! It was the kind of dull that reverted me back to my three-year-old self; I seriously had the urge to throw a full-out temper tantrum– crying, kicking, screaming, arms flailing. So, after 10 pages (7 of which I “speed read” and didn’t retain any knowledge of), I put the book down, and I refused to pick it up again. Needless to say, I didn’t participate in any of the discussions in class that week, and I failed my two quizzes that were about the book, but that’s a small price to pay.

I also loathed The Republic by Plato, Paradise Lost by John Milton, and  Beowulf by that one guy. I was forced to read these in 9th grade since I was supposed to be an advanced reader an all. But really, who thought it would be a good idea to force a 9th grader to read that?

If you’ve read these books, did you enjoy them? Most people I talk to rave about these books; I just don’t get it! What books would you have preferred to pass on?

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Twenty-something. Michigander. Bookkeeper by day, superhero and blogger by night. Some of my favorite things include: travel, the Japanese language, photography, video games, sweater-weather, and of course books and tea. The Harry Potter books are my favorite, and I can never have too much peppermint tea.

12 thoughts on “The Loathed Required Reading, or in other words, “The Horror, the horror!”

  1. Heart of Darkness is a difficult, but rewarding book. Conrad really fills his pages with a (literal and literary) jungle of metaphors and allusions. There’s no shame in reading it with a commentary or even Cliff’s Notes to help you along. I loved Heart of Darkness when I read it in high school, but I had a great teacher to help me along.


  2. I had to read Beowulf in high school too, but I actually really liked it, though my English teacher was terrible and never explained anything about it, but never the less I liked it.

    I’ve read a lot of people who complained about Heart of Darkness and know a few who really liked it … so I guess when I finally read it I’ll be able to judge.


  3. I do love Heart of Darkness, but I confess, I can’t separate it in my mind from Apocalypse Now. I think knowing there’s a great movie based on the book somehow reflects back and makes the book better for me. Thanks for hopping by.


  4. I read this a couple of weeks ago and had to keep rereading pages because my eyes would glaze over. I can appreciate its standing as a classic…blah blah blah blah. I recommend this book as a cure for insomnia. For real.


  5. A funny story about Heart of Darkness. My husband took a philosophy class in high school and one of the requirements was to read a classic text and write an essay about it. He was not much of a reader and desperately wanted to snag Heart of Darkness (the teacher did not allow duplication of texts and HOD was by far the thinnest book). To this day, he holds a grudge about Mike M. who chose HOD out from under him.

    And now you are the third literary blogger who has moaned about this book! Can’t wait to share that with my husband.


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