Heart of Darkness (1902)
Amazon.com Top 100 Books of the Millenium
BUT WE NEVER WENT NUCLEAR...:
Death of a dirty fighter (Richard S Ehrlich, 7/08/03, Asia Times)
Anthony A "Tony Poe" Poshepny, a decorated former official of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who collected enemy ears, dropped decapitated human heads from the air on to communists and stuck heads on spikes, was buried on the weekend in California. Poshepny, who waged failed secret wars for the United States in Indonesia, Tibet and Laos, was often compared to the Marlon Brando character Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now.
Apocalypse Now is, as most everyone will be aware, based on Joseph Conrad's great, but little understood, novella Heart of Darkness. You'll probably recall that Kurtz's dying words, a moment of clarity in what's become his brilliant nihilistic insanity:
"One evening coming in with a candle I was startled to hear him say a little tremulously, 'I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.' The light was within a foot of his eyes. I forced myself to murmur, 'Oh, nonsense!' and stood over him as if transfixed.
But few seem to notice or remember how the tale ends. Marlow returns to Europe a seeks out Kurtz's fiance, events he relates to our narrator:
"'Forgive me. I -- I have mourned so long in silence -- in silence.... You were with him -- to the last? I think of his loneliness. Nobody near to understand him as I would have understood. Perhaps no one to hear....'
The fiance is the very quintessence of civilization, yet here Marlow names her "the horror" and that tranquil waterway is not the Congo, but the Thames. The horror, Conrad was saying, is not so much what Kurtz did, but that European civilization required actions like Kurtz's if it was to subdue the savages. Similarly, Tony Poe's actions are less horrific than the blithe self-satisfaction with which we tell ourselves the Cold War was noble and our refusal to use our nuclear weapons and military dominance to end it something for which we are to be congratulated.
See also:Joseph Conrad (4 books reviewed)
Amazon.com Top 100 Books of the Millenium
Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels
Library Journal: Top 150 of the Century
Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
-ONLINE STUDYGUIDE: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (SparkNote by Brian Gatten)
-Resources for the Study of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
-LECTURE: Africa and Africans in Conrad's Heart of Darkness : A Lawrence University Freshman Studies Lecture (given by: Candice Bradley, Associate Professor of Anthropology)
-ESSAY : Joseph Conrad Never Jumped (Frank Kermode, NY Times Book Review)
-ESSAY : New Light on the `Heart of Darkness.' (Angus Mitchell, History Today)
If you liked Heart of Darkness, try:
Marlow's journey and quest into the dark depths of the jungle to find the enigmatic Kurtz seem to be an analogy for a journey inward to find himself. Given the Modernist preoccupation with psychology it seems a fair assumption to make. I think this novel can be interpreted in many ways and that all interpretations are valid. It could be a comment on Empire and the idea of white supremacy, all that ivory! Whatever it meant to Conrad, it always, no matter how many times I read it, shows something new to me.
- Dec-02-2003, 14:22
While your review of Heart Of Darkness covered the basic plot line of the story, I am inclined to disagree with your final comment. The point that Conrad is trying to make is that the “very notion of a civilising mission” is corrupting. This is seen through the exploitation and abuse of the native people by these missionaries such as Kurtz and the manager. Conrad is making the point that all people originated from these so called “savages”, and therefore all people have some elements of their primitive being within them. This is demonstrated through Kurtz’s involvement and inability to abstain from the natives lifestyle. Conrad is emphasising Kurtz’s disgust through his comment “The horror! The horror!”, not only of his own experiences in Africa, but of the attitudes and actions of all of humanity. Marlow’s experiences have taught him the true values of human indifference and values, and I don’t think your review captured the essential message and depth of the novel.
- May-27-2003, 23:39
Copyright 1998-2015 Orrin Judd