RARA-AVIS: Re:Heart of Darkness

From: marianne.macdonald@lineone.net
Date: 30 Apr 2002

I have always loved this book.

> Why did he do this? Kurtz had
>obviously forgotten all about anything that used to matter to him at home,
>but why did Marlowe spare her feelings? The best I can come up with is that
>it was the civilized thing to do.
"'His last word--to live with,' she insisted.
"It seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head. But nothing happened. The heavens do not fall for such a trifle. ...I could not tell her [the truth]. It would have been too dark--too dark altogether.'

...for her? For him too, I think. Very laconic -- hard-boiled, it seems to me. Lessons for Chandler here.

>>My take on HEART OF DARKNESS is how close "civilization" is to barbarism.
You've forgotten the ending, perhaps. the whole book is a story which is being told by Marlowe to friends aboard a yacht moored on the Thames, which in Conrad's day still seemed like the sea road to the rest of the geographical and historical world, and above all to the colonial world with all its barbarism. But the heart of darkness is the human heart with all its dark mystery. The final lines say that the heart of darkness is universal:

"I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky--seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."

The "offing" is what can be seen from their morring; it is not safely far away in uncivilized Africa, the darkness is over London too.

Conrad was incredibly noir.

>waiting for someone to defend Mr. Prufrock's hardboiledness
Perhaps only one challenge per 24 hours....


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