24 April 2009

Heart of Darkness

Reread Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness the other day. Fascinating little book - quite possibly the first great 20th-century novel - that tells of one man's journey into the heart of the African continent. If you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do. I love Conrad's style of writing. My four favorite Heart of Darkness quotes are:

1. Concerning sunset: "The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist of the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds. Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun."

2. Concerning life: "It is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence - that which makes truth, its meaning - its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream - alone..."

3. Concerning cannibals: "Fine fellows - cannibals - in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them. And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face: they had brought along a provision of hippo-meat which went rotten, and made the mystery of the wilderness stink in my nostrils."

4. Concerning death: "I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary...I was within a hair's-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say."

Oh, to be able to write like Joseph Conrad!! One can only dream...

Cheers, Readers,
That girl in Switzerland


  1. sounds like a good read, I shall put it on my ever growing list, which I am likely to never finish.

  2. Ah, I left that one at home and now feel inspired to read it again :) I'll have to grab it next time I'm there.
    Someone told me you've got non-posted news... Methinks I need an email or phone call.

  3. :-) it is a really wonderful book. I always get a sort of knot in my stomach at the end when Marlow tells Kurtz's fiancée that his last words were her name instead of his real last words, "the horror." (oops, sorry, nichole...didn't mean to ruin it...read it anyway.)

    Yes, Mel, I have interesting news. I will call. :-( I've owed you a phone call since November. Don't think I've forgotten. I'm dreadfully sorry.