Aboard a yacht anchored in the Thames Estuary five men are waiting for the tide to turn. Among them is Marlow, who reflects on what Roman invaders must have felt as they arrived in that very spot, when it was 'one of the dark places of the earth'. His mind turns to a past experience and a journey into a different wilderness. So begins Marlow's ...
Aboard a yacht anchored in the Thames Estuary five men are waiting for the tide to turn. Among them is Marlow, who reflects on what Roman invaders must have felt as they arrived in that very spot, when it was 'one of the dark places of the earth'. His mind turns to a past experience and a journey into a different wilderness. So begins Marlow's tale of a young steamboat captain employed by a Continental trading company with business interests in Africa. When he arrives at the colonial outpost, Marlow witnesses the rapacious greed of the ivory traders and the brutal exploitation of the natives. He also hears of the enigmatic Mr Kurtz, the company's top agent based deep in the interior, who is said to have fallen ill. Marlow is filled with growing unease as he journeys upriver, where he discovers the harrowing truth underpinning Kurtz's elevated status and high reputation. Heart of Darkness is a haunting nightmare, a journey into the darkest reaches of man's soul exposing the venality and baseness lurking beneath the veneer of civilisation. Its sombre theme, said Conrad, necessitated that he endow the story with 'a sinister resonance, a tonality of its own, a continued vibration that, I hoped, would hang in the air and dwell on the ear after the last note had been struck'.
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"Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, 'When I grow up I will go there.' The North Pole was one of these places, I remember. Well, I haven't been there yet, and shall not try now. The glamour's off. Other places were scattered about the hemispheres. I have been in some of them, and... well, we won't talk about that. But there was one yet - the biggest, the most blank, so to speak - that I had a hankering after."
Heart of Darkness is a deep, enigmatic book containing many hidden metaphors. I'm sure I didn't catch half the metaphor illustrations in the text.
The entire book is a dialogue of a story being told. Marlow, an old sailor, is retelling the time of when he steamed through the Congo searching for the mysterious Mr. Kurtz. It might even cause a chill to go down your spine in the sincerely bleak parts.
"I remembered the old doctor-'It would be interesting for science to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot.' I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting."
It is a revelation of mankind's fatal instincts. It's about the hidden depths of the mind and the secrets inside mankind's heart.
"The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there."
Mar 7, 2013
Heart of Darkness
Interesting look into Colonial practices of the English in their "out there" where young men went to make a name for themselves, sometimes in brutal ways. Coincidental (?) similarities to "Apocalypse Now " (river trip, native attack, Mr/Col. Kurtz). Enjoyed it greatly!
Apr 18, 2007
Intriguing look at colonialism
Joseph Conrad's novella provides readers with a stunning critique of British and Belgian colonialism at the turn of the century. Conrad's vivid language and his descriptions of the "horrors" that Kurtz encounters and causes within the African Congo demonstrate the brutality and amorality of colonialism and imperialism. This book is a must-read for those interested in investigations of "otherness," Africa, and colonialism.
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