Monday, April 20, 2009

Images of Darkness

I wanted to have a picture on here today, but I don't have my camera with me and my small attempts to take a picture of the inside of my book with my laptop's camera didn't work out so well. Not that I tried very hard. . . So just imagine a page inside my copy of Heart of Darkness. It's quite frightening, actually. I like annotating in certain books, especially this densest of densest, so there are now marks from that first time I read it (about a year ago) and the ones I'm making now.

This book has countless layers upon layers, so it's interesting to see which things I'm picking up on now that I didn't get before or which things I noticed before that I might not have this time.

Unlike many, I didn't hate Heart of Darkness the first time I read it, but it was a challenging read. I couldn't get through more than seven pages in one sitting. This time, however, I'm in awe of the imagery in here. Like this part: "We called at some more places with farcical names, where the merry dance of death and trade goes on in a still and earthy atmosphere as of an overheated catacomb; all along the formless coast bordered by dangerous surf, as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders; in and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair."

Lots of doom and gloom, but it's beautiful darkness, at least. The personification of the rotting banks and writhing trees is just amazing. Books like this are like puzzles. Not just the mystery in the plot, but in these layers of meaning that Joseph Conrad put in here. Every sentence carries so much weight; that's why it can be a difficult read if you're not used to it. But it's definitely worth it if you can get past all the heaviness.

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