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?