Friday, May 27, 2011

Heart of Darkness - by Joseph Conrad.

I am sorry to be getting out my blogs later this week.  I am a good researcher and have been spending some time online helping people who have lost people and animals in the tornadoes.  (I am not in that area, we are in extreme drought in San Antonio, Texas.)  So, I apologize for that and will do better in future. You will always get two blogs a week, and I try to do them Tues & Thurs.   We really have had a series of devastating and ongoing weather events here in the States, including terrible river flooding which continues.

Another problem I have had is finding free books in the UK!  I have gone through a half dozen titles I wanted to review that were free on Amazon US and more than £5 on Amazon UK.  Not fair!

So being of a darker mood, I settled on one of the darker books I know, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. (UK Edition) (DE Edition)

You may think this book has something to do with Vietnam because of its association with the enduring movie Apocalypse Now.  It is actually, on the surface, a trip through the Belgian Congo.  But it really can’t be read that way.  It is a trip straight into madness and an exploration of the darker possibilities of human nature.

Here is a discussion of a Roman soldier in one of the dark places of the Earth.  And they haven’t even left England, yet!  This is a musing on what it might have been like for a soldier of the Russian empire stationed on the Thames.
But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine—what d'ye call 'em?—trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries,—a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been too—used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here—the very end of the world, a sea the color of lead, a sky the color of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina—and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sandbanks, marshes, forests, savages,—precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay—cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death,—death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh yes—he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had gone through in his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by-and-by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga—perhaps too much dice, you know—coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him,—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination—you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate."
 Have fun!  I bet this is Hannibal Lecter's favorite book . . .

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