Sunday, February 1, 2015

Let's Booktalk: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

“I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work--the chance to find yourself. Your own reality--for yourself not for others--what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.” from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Marlow is a man of philosophy, skepticism and independence. As such he craves escape within his employment that will take him away from the mundane life amidst "civilized" society. So, when he is hired to be captain of a crew bound to enter the heart of the Congo he believes he has found what he wants. Yet, he becomes infatuated with the idea of the man Kurtz. Kurtz is the object of his exploration, as he is to deliver aid to a man who is overcome with illness. But is it a sickness of the body or of the mind?

Kurtz is the chief of the central station, however he has fallen ill from some sort of disease. He is known to be a man of artistic talent, but he has the power to bend men's wills in order to follow him. He is also a conspirator against his employers, and perhaps more. 

Is Kurtz's ability and prowess what has caused his illness and hunger for power? Or, has the illness caused this great man to become a representation of darkness itself? Can Marlow put a stop to the man he has come to admire? Or will he join him?

Apocalypse Now, a film by Francis Ford Coppola (1979) 
and based on Conrad's novel.

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