intense sensations

The heart of an immense darkness

Posted on: September 22, 2011

Heart of DarknessHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The people who call this book racist are not really reading it, I think. It is by far one of the saddest, most enlightened, most profound and most beautiful books I have ever read.

The story opens near where I now live, in Gravesend, on the River Thames.

The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman lighthouse, a three-legged thing erect on a mud-flat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway—a great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars.

“And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”

And it’s to Gravesend and England that the story returns after an unflinching examination of the complete and horrific disintegration of moral values once they are no longer anchored in the superficially civilising cities of Western Europe.

Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. “We have lost the first of the ebb,” said the Director, suddenly. 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.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

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