Monday, August 07, 2006

Heart of darkness post I

I am on holiday this week camping so have opted for short bursts of bullet points from a shortage book to make life simpler than struggling to sit down and write long posts in email cafes across Dorset.

There are certain books that have become synonymous with films, without necessarily sharing the same name. One of the best examples is Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which will forever be linked with Apocalypse Now.

In the Francis Ford Coppola film Martin Sheen’s military agent is sent deep into the jungle to locate and kill Marlon Brando’s character, soldier that has gone wild and set up his own laws, and it is often mentioned as a throwaway comment that it is based on this book, without too many people even bothering to read it.

The slim volume is not too daunting and if you liked the film, and the Redux version is excellent, then there is really no excuse for not reading it.

My reason for picking it up is that reading the section on going into the jungle to the trading station in Journey to the end of the night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine reminded me of the film and I thought it was high time to read the book.

I am reading the Penguin Classics version, which has a 20 page introduction.

Bullet points for pages 7 - 47

Intro highlights: light is very important in the book so it starts as darkness falls and there is a combination of actual darkness and the metaphorical. The book is based on Conrad's own bitter experiences in the Congo.

* The story starts on a boat is moored up in Gravesend with four crew members and the Director of the company onboard

* One of the characters Marlow starts talking about how London had once been a place of darkness,– undiscovered and talks of how a Roman might have seen it as a river leading to death and misery in the past, a hostile wilderness

* He goes on to talk about his own experiences and his search for some place on the map to discover: “It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery – a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness.” Pg12.

* Marlow tells of how he became a skipper of a boat owned by a foreign trading company and headed out to replace a captain who had been killed

* He sails for thirty days and then enters the mouth of the river that will lead into the heart of the country and he starts to see strange things inclFrencha french man-of-war firing into the bush at 'enemy forces' and then once at the trading station the colonialists are blowing up bits of the mountain for no apparent reason

* In searching for the shade he comes across a group of natives that are the victims of the plans to build a railway and again the darkness of the trees is hiding death

You feel that as he gets ready to head up stream that you are leaving reason and goiunchartedhartered territory emotionally as well as physically

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