“The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver — over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could see through a somber gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmmer.”
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad 1910
The horror, the horror. Another traveling book. Another along the river book. But this book makes Jim and Huck’s river adventures seem like a jaunt in the park. Traveling down this river, the obsession of this river, of Kurtz. The fog and dark mingling to make most of the area impenetrable. Conrad creates the jungle, the villages, the inhabitants in a way that Rick Steves could never envision. The entire vision of this book is an oppressive world. Reading at an earlier time, it was pretty cool to say that Conrad was a favorite. It gave some credence to your inner tortured soul. Kind of like expressing an appreciation for Francis Bacon or Goya’s Black Paintings. I experienced the jungles of Suriname, going deep down a river into a village with no electricity or English. Huge snakes, groups of decidedly unfriendly loud monkeys, spiders, bugs of ridiculous size. Electric eels in the river and jaguar tracks on the banks. Not benign Colorado. Painting the jungle and river was an obvious challenge. But I wanted to convey the darkness, the horror. Looking for the glimpses of light on the water, the moon poking through. Brief glimpses of clarity for the narrator Marlow and the reader. But who wants to really push these branches aside and see what lies beyond them?