Heart of Darkness (1902): novella

By Joseph Conrad

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Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad about a narrated voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State in the Heart of Africa.Charles Marlow, the narrator, tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad about a narrated voyage up the Congo

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Book details

Paperback, 56 pages
October 13th 2019 by Independently Published
ISBN
169953697X (ISBN13: 9781699536971)

Community Reviews

Richard

First of all, get this straight: Heart of Darkness is one of those classics that you have to have read if you want to consider yourself a well-educated adult.

    Having watched Apocalypse Now doesn’t count — if anything, it ups the ante, since that means you have to think about the similarities and differences (for example, contrast and compare the U.S. involvement in Vietnam with the Belgian rule over the Congo. Actually quite an intriguing and provocative question).

    The prose can feel turgid, but perhaps it may help to know that English was Conrad’s third language. His second was French, and that lends a lyric quality which, once accomodated, can draw you into the mood of the story. Once you get used to that, this is a very easy book to read — tremendously shorter than Moby-Dick , for instance.

    Even though it is so much easier to read, this short novel shares with Moby-Dick the distressing (for many of us) fact that it is heavily symbolic. That is the reason it has such an important place in the literary canon: it is very densely packed with philosophical questions that fundamentally can’t be answered.

    Frankly, I was trained as an engineer, and have to struggle even to attempt to peer through the veils of meaning. I’m envious of the students in the Columbia class that David Denby portrays in his 1995 article in the New Yorker, The Trouble with “Heart of Darkness”. I wish I had been guided into this deep way of perceiving literature — or music, or art, or life itself.

    But most of us don’t have that opportunity. The alternate solution I chose: when I checked this out of the library, I also grabbed the Cliff’s Notes. I read the story, then thought about it, then finally read the Study Guide to see what I’d missed. What I found there was enough to trigger my curiosity, so I also searched the internet for more.

    And there was quite a bit. Like, the nature of a framed narrative: the actual narrator in Heart of Darkness isn’t Marlow, but some unnamed guy listening to Marlow talk. And he stands in for us, the readers, such as when he has a pleasant perspective on the beautiful sunset of the Thames at the beginning of the story, then at the end he has been spooked and sees it as leading “into the heart of an immense darkness”, much as the Congo does in the story

    That symbolic use of “darkness” is a great example of what makes this book, and others like it, so great. The “immense darkness” is simultaneously the real unknown of the jungle, as well as the symbolic “darkness” that hides within the human heart. But then it is also something that pervades society — so the narrator has been made aware that London, just upstream, really should be understood to be as frightening as the Congo. And the reader should understand that, too.

    The book is full of that kind of symbolism. When Conrad was writing, a much larger portion of the reading public would have received a “classical” liberal arts education and would have perceived that aspect of the book easier than most of us do today. Yeah, the book is so dense with this kind of symbolism, it can be an effort. But that is precisely the element that made the book a stunning success when it was written. T.S. Elliot, for example, referred to it heavily in his second-most-famous poem, The Hollow Men — the poem’s epigraph makes it explicit: Mistah Kurtz- he dead. (For more of that connection, see this short answer at stackexchange, or track down a copy of this academic analysis. An annotated copy of Elliot’s poem here can be edifying, too.)

    Not all of the symbolism worked for me. For example, my initial take on how ‘evil’ was dealt with seemed anachronistic and naive. Actually, it felt a lot like Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray . In both books, the main character has inadvertently received license to fully explore their evil inclinations without the normal societal consequences, and yet they both pay the ultimate penalty for their lack of restraint. But my perspective on evil was long ago captured by Hannah Arendt’s conclusion after analyzing Eichmann: evil is a “banal” absence of empathy; it isn’t some malevolent devilish force striving to seduce and corrupt us. Certainly, there are evil acts and evil people, but nothing mystical or spiritual that captures and enslaves, much less transforms us from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde.

    Golding’s Lord of the Flies examined the question, but did it in a much more modern manner. (I strongly recommend it.) If people aren’t reminded by the constraints of civilization to treat others with respect, then sometimes they’ll become brutal and barbaric. But is their soul somehow becoming sick and corrupted? The question no longer resonates.

    Even Conrad actually didn’t seem too clear on that question. These two quotes are both from Heart of Darkness — don’t they seem implicitly contradictory?:
    The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.
  and
    Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:
    ‘The horror! The horror!’
    The former denies any supernatural origin for evil, but the latter alludes to the tragic results of a Faustian bargain — Marlowe sold his soul to see what mortals should never witness.

    After pondering the study guide, I could see the allegorical content better. The mystical side of Heart of Darkness isn’t the only thing going on. Like the kids rescued from the island after Lord of the Flies, Marlow will forever be cognizant of how fragile civilized behavior can be, and how easily some slip into brutality — even those that have excellent motives and apparently unblemished characters. This is why he tells this as a cautionary tale to his shipmates on the Thames.

    Marlow also received a clear lesson on hypocrisy. I hadn’t seen how deeply “The Company” represented European hypocrisy. Obviously “The Company” was purely exploitative and thus typical of imperialism, but in subtle ways Conrad made it not just typical but allegorically representative. One example Cliff mentions scares me just a bit: in the offices of “The Company” in Brussels, Marlow notices the strange sight of two women knitting black wool. Conrad provides no explanation. But recall your mythology: the Fates spun out the thread that measured the lives of mere mortals. In the story, these are represented as women who work for “The Company”, which has ultimate power over the mere mortals in Africa. That’s pretty impressive: Conrad tosses in a tiny aside that references Greek (or Roman or Germanic) mythology and ties it both to imperialism, as well as to the power that modern society has handed to corporations, and quietly walks away from it. How many other little tidbits are buried in this short book? Frankly, it seems kind of spooky.

    The study guide also helped me understand what had been a major frustration of the book. I thought that Conrad had skipped over too much, leaving crucial information unstated. Between Marlow’s “rescue” of Kurtz and Kurtz’s death there are only a few pages in the story, but they imply that the two had significant conversations that greatly impressed Marlow, that left Marlow awestruck at what Kurtz had intended, had survived, and had understood. These impressions are what “broke” Marlow, but we are never informed of even the gist of those conversations.

    But Marlow isn’t our narrator: he is on the deck of a ship, struggling to put into words a story that still torments him years after the events had passed. Sometimes he can’t convey what we want to know; he stumbles, he expresses himself poorly. The narrator is like us, just listening and trying to make sense out of it, and gradually being persuaded of the horrors that must have transpired.

    •     •     •     •     •     •     •     •

Addendum:
    Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was written in 1899. A critical event which allowed the tragedy portrayed here was the Berlin Conference of 1884 (wikipedia), where the lines that divided up Africa were tidied up and shuffled a bit by the white men of Europe (no Africans were invited). The BBC4 radio programme In Our Time covered the conference on 31 October 2013. Listen to it streaming here, or download it as an MP3 here. Forty-three minutes of erudition will invigorate your synapses.

    Oh, if you liked that In Our Time episode, here is the one they did on the book itself (mp3).
­

Sonanova

Proving yet again that doing a concept first will get you immortalized, while doing it WELL will make you an unknown and forgotten writer at best, I also learned that in Conrad's time, people could drone on and on with metaphors and it wasn't considered cliched, but "art." I blame this book and others like it for some of the most painful literature created by students and professional writers alike.

It was like raking my fingernails across a chalkboard while breathing in a pail of flaming cat hair and drinking spoiled milk, meanwhile Conrad is screaming DARKNESS DARKNESS OOOH LOOK AT MY METAPHOR ABOUT THE DARKNESSSSSSSSSSS like a fucking goth on a loudspeaker.

Sarah Fisher

Never in all my life has 100 little pages made me contemplate suicide...violent suicide. i had to finish it. i had no choice (yay college!). every page was literally painful.

am i supposed to feel sorry for him? because i don't. i feel sorry for all of Africa getting invaded with dumbasses like this guy. oh and in case you didn't get it...the "heart of darkness" is like this super deep megametaphor of all metaphors. and in case it wasn't clear enough, conrad will spend many many useless words clearly explaining the layers of depth his metaphor can take. oh man...my heart is dark...and i'm also in the middle of Africa...and it's dark...and depressing...get it...get it...

Elle (ellexamines)

From 1885 to 1908, an area in Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium, experienced an intense genocide. Through the Red Rubber system, the people of the Congo were essentially enslaved to harvest rubber. Those who failed to collect enough rubber had their hands chopped off. Some died from disease brought on by the terrible conditions, while others were just flat-out murdered. It is estimated that around three to thirteen million people died between 1885 and 1908, perhaps 25 to 50 percent of the total population. By the end of this period, the Congo, which just a 100 years ago had hosted the expansive and successful Kongo Empire, had seen its natural resources destroyed, its people mutilated, and its entire society changed forever.

The negative legacy of colonialism is strong throughout Africa and across the world, but the Congo is one of the countries that suffered most. This is a horrifying, disgusting legacy. And one that this book does not on any level respect.

On the surface, this book can be read as anti-colonialist, a narrative that decries the brutality with which King Leopold II and other rulers allowed African people to be treated. This reading is comforting to us. It feels right. How can we read of their deaths and not feel ashamed? How can we see the heads of so-called rebels on pikes and not find ourselves filled with horror? How can we read a scene in which people walk in a chain gang and not find our deepest sympathies with them? How could Conrad not have felt the same?

But I do not believe that is the intent, or, to be quite honest, an accurate reading of the narrative of this book. Conrad’s descriptions and depictions of black people are dehumanizing to their core. No black character in this book feels real, feels like a person we may empathize with and care for. It is in the descriptions of Kurtz’s black mistress, of the slave-boy whose only contribution to the narrative is the line “Mistah Kutz, he dead” - Conrad does not share our empathies. Our horror at their fate and in their suffering is our own, not the narrators.

The thing about this book is that it’s not a criticism of colonialism, and while reading it as such feels viable on the surface, looking deeper into the narrative makes this book feel odder and odder. This book is a look at the depth of human evil and how that can be brought out when society breaks down. Notice the end of that sentence? Because the reason Africa is the subject of this book is because this narrative fundamentally believes that Africa is a primitive, uncivilized, immoral landscape. Which I find to be an inaccurate and frankly immoral view of Africa. The historical record of our time shows that pre-Colonial (and pre-slave trade) African civilization was filled with the same life as European civilizations, and populated by strong kingdoms. Conrad emphatically believes otherwise. And while I am willing to understand on some level that this was an ingrained belief of European colonists, this book pushes this message to a very high degree - it’s irrevocably tied to the message of the book - that I found impossible to ignore.

Yes, the idea is also pushed that the people of Europe are really no different from the people of the Congo. I am fully aware that Joseph Conrad is getting at the idea that none of us are so evolved and none of us are so civilized ourselves and white society cannot put itself totally above others. Conrad is explicitly attempting to put black people and white people on an equal level of brutality. But this narrative is still fundamentally flawed. The white characters in this book are evil colonists, but they are depicted as people. The black characters of this book are “savages.” They are rebels. At best, they are the helmsman, unnamed in his own narrative and dying ten pages in. At worst, they are literal cannibals. The narrative shows a fundamental dehumanization of each “savage” character, undermining any sort of anti-colonialist or pro-African message.

And I find that fundamentally disturbing. If I cannot feel any horror within the narrative for a genocide, a time in which culture was destroyed and the environment strangled and thousands slaughtered for the profit of an empire, how can I garner anything from this book? How can I, in good conscience, enjoy or recommend this book?

I understand and appreciate that many are going to read this review and think I misread the text, because this book is a classic. I would remind them that no work of literature can be kept free from critique because it has stood the test of time. And beyond that, I do not believe this is at all a surface reading. It’s been pushed in the minds of many that reading this book as racist is a surface-level interpretation, but I genuinely believe that the racism is what you get upon close reading.

Literary analysis of racist historical works is a polarizing and complex topic, and I recognize that many will feel antagonistic towards this viewpoint. I also fully admit that this book makes good use of an unreliable narrator and is one of the most gritty classics I have read as to its depiction of the human soul, and I have nothing against those who enjoyed it. But I cannot enjoy this for those and erase the flaws. I cannot appreciate the literary merit of a book that lacks a fundamental understanding of the humanity of black people. And I'm not sure I believe that I should.

recommended reading: Chinua Achebe's beautifully rendered essay on Heart of Darkness.

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Lyn

“We live in the flicker -- may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.”

Marlow is not just a narrator or an alter ego of Conrad, but a universal everyman, timeless. And that, to me, is the greatest appeal of this book, it is timeless.

“Like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker.”

The scene of Marlow sitting Buddha like as the Thames dreams into slow darkness and his voice takes on a disembodied, spiritual cast is iconic and Conrad's vision of history repeating itself as wicked and despotic civilization "discovers" it's ancient cousin is a ubiquitous theme in Conrad's work and one that is masterfully created here. As the Britons and Picts were to the Romans, so to are the Africans to the Europeans and Conrad has demonstrated his timely message.

“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.”

A search for hidden meaning, a quest, mysteries solved and others unanswered, self realization and epiphany. Conrad winds it all up in this classic.

“The horror! The horror!”

***** 2018 re-read

I think there was a recent poll about what was the book you have re-read the most. No doubt for me, it’s this one, read it a couple times in HS, few times in college and innumerable times since. Looks like this is the third in the Goodreads era.

As a scholar I have to be concise and methodical, precisely citing and referencing to a given treatise or authority. When reading for pleasure, I’m much more intuitive, allowing my mind to wander and to muse and to collect abstract thoughts and make obscure connections as I read.

This time around I payed more attention to this story as it was written, a tale told in the gathering darkness near the mouth of the Thames, Marlow’s voice a disembodied narration spinning an account of a time before but one that is ageless nonetheless. The connection he makes between the Romans coming up the Thames and the Westerners traveling up the Congo is provocative and somber.

As always, this is a story about Kurtz and his voice, that eloquent but hollow voice in the darkness, a civilized man gone native, but more than that, a traveler shedding away the trappings of an enlightened age and looking into the abyss.

Whether the natives are dark skinned or white with blue tattoos, the image is the same and the message is all the more haunting.

On a short list of my favorites or all time, this may be my favorite.

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Samadrita

Overrated. Over-hated. Over-analyzed. Over-referenced.

Ahmad Sharabiani

(780 From 1001) - Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad, about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Charles Marlow.

Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which enables Conrad to create a parallel between "the greatest town on earth" and Africa as places of darkness.

عنوانها: «دل تاریکی»، «در اعماق ظلمت»؛ «قلب تاریکی»؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ انتشاراتیها (امیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، اکباتان، کلبه، سمیر، نیلوفر، علمی فرهنگی) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه مارس سال 2002میلادی

عنوان: دل تاریکی، جوانی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: محمدعلی صفریان؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، 1355؛ در 211ص؛ «جوانی از ص 9، تا ص 64»، «دل تاریکی از ص 65، تا ص 211»؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 20م

عنوان: در اعماق ظلمت؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: فریدون حاجتی؛ تهران، اکباتان، 1365؛ در 184ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، کلبه، 1381، در 184ص، شابک 9647545168؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، سمیر، 1386؛ در 184ص؛ شابک 9789648940534؛

عنوان: دل تاریکی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: صالح حسینی؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1373؛ در 190ص؛ شابک 9644481682؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ چاپ چهارم 1393؛ شابک 9789644481680؛

عنوان: قلب تاریکی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: کاوه نگارش؛ تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1394؛ در هشت و 123ص؛ شابک 9786001219733؛

چکیده داستان: ملوانی به نام «مارلو» از دوران کودکی، مجذوب رودی بزرگ است، که در منطقه ‌ای کاوش ‌نشده، در «آفریقا» جاری است؛ سال‌ها بعد، شرکتی که مأمور کاوش در آن منطقه است، فرماندهی یک کشتی ویژه ی حمل عاج را، به او می‌سپارد؛ «مارلو»، پس از سفری توانفرسا، و تمام‌ نشدنی، و کابوس‌گونه، سرانجام موفق می‌شود، تا در ژرفای منطقه، به کمپ شرکت برسد؛ اما همه چیز را آشفته، و درهم‌ ریخته، و مرموز می‌یابد؛ سکوت مرموزی بر بومیان ساکن آنجا حاکم است؛ «مارلو» به جستجوی نماینده ی شرکت، به نام «مستر کورتس» می‌پردازد، اما خبری از او در دست نیست؛ «مارلو» براساس نشانه‌ ها، به ژرفای جنگل‌های وحشی می‌رود، و در آنجا «کورتس» را، در حالتی که به الهه، و خدای قبایل وحشی بدل شده می‌یابد؛ «کورتس» که با اندیشه ی دعوت وحشیان به مسیحیت، سفر خود را آغاز کرده بود، سرانجام به خدایگان، و رئیس رقصندگان، و قربانی‌ کنندگان قبایل وحشی، بدل شده؛ او بارها کوشیده، تا بگریزد، اما وحشیان، او را یافته، و حاضر نمیشوند، خدای سفید خود را، از دست بدهند؛ او اینک در حالتی نیمه ‌دیوانه، و در حال مرگ، با «مارلو» روبرو می‌شود؛ «مارلو» می‌کوشد او را راضی کند، تا با او بیاید، اما او دیگر حاضر نیست؛ «مارلو» او را به ‌زحمت، و با زور همراه خویش می‌کند، اما در کشتی، «کورتس» می‌میرد؛ پایان‌بندی داستان، با رقص زنی عریان، از قبایل، و یافتن بسته ی نامه های متعلق به نامزد «کورتس»، از سوی «مارلو»، خوانشگر را، درگیر تردیدهای بزرگ می‌کند؛ «مارلو» می‌رود تا آن نامه‌ها را به آن زن برساند، اما در برابر خود، زنی را می‌یابد، که قادر به ایثار و ایمان و رنج است، و با یاد گم‌شده ‌اش، به زندگی ادامه می‌دهد؛ «مارلو» قادر نیست، حقیقت زندگی، و مرگ «کورتس» را، بیان کند، و تنها به زن اطمینان می‌دهد، که «کورتس» در واپسین دم حیات، به یاد او بوده، و نام او را بر زبان رانده ‌است

بزرگوارانی همچون جنابان آقایان: «صالح حسینی»، «کیومرث پارسای»، «احمد میرعلائی»، «حسن افشار»، و «پرویز داریوش»،‌ به ترجمه ی آثار «جوزف کنراد»؛ به واژه های پارسایی پرداخته‌ اند، کتاب «دل تاریکی»، در سالهای آغازین سده بیستم میلادی ـ سال 1902میلادی ـ نوشته شده، چاپ نخست آن به روایتی در سال 1355هجری خورشیدی، در کشور ما منتشر شده است

نقل از «دل تاریکی» نوشته ی «جوزف کنراد»: «یادم هست که یکبار به ناو جنگی­ ای برخوردیم، که دور از ساحل لنگر انداخته بود؛ تو بگو یک آلونک هم آنجا نبود، و ناو جنگی به بوته­ ها توپ شلیک می­کرد؛ معلوم شد که فرانسوی­ها در آن دوروبرها، به یکی از جنگ­هاشان سرگرمند؛ پرچم ناو جنگی، همانند لته ­ای شل­ و ول می­افتاد، لوله ­ی توپ­های بلند شش اینچی، از همه جای بدنه ­ی کوتاه ناو، بیرون زده بود، امواج چرب­ و چیلی و پر از لجن، کاهلانه ناو را بالا می­انداخت، و به پایین ولش می­کرد، و دکل­های کوچولوی آنرا نوسان می­داد؛ این ناو در آن بی­کرانگی تهی زمین و آسمان و آب، ایستاده بود، ‌که معلوم نبود برای چه آنجاست، و توی قاره­ ای توپ می­انداخت؛ از یکی از توپ­های شش اینچی، تاپ، گلوله­ ای درمی­رفت، شعله­ ی کوچکی زبانه می­کشید و محو می­شد، ذره­ ای دود سفید ناپدید می­شد، پرتابه­ ی ریزی جیغ خفیفی می­کشید، و هیچ اتفاقی نمی­افتاد، امکان نداشت که اتفاقی بیفتد؛ نشانی از دیوانگی، در این ماجرا بود، و معرکه، حالتی حزن­ آور، و هم خنده ­آور داشت، به گفته­ ی یکی از سرنشینان کشتی هم، که به لحن جدی اطمینانم می­داد اردوگاه بومیان، ‌که آن­ها را دشمن میخواند، جایی پنهان از نظر قرار دارد، این حالت را از بین نبرد»؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

Megha


It was a breathtaking read. There are few books which make such a powerful impression as 'Heart of darkness' does. Written more than a century ago, the book and its undying theme hold just as much significance even today. Intense and compelling, it looks into the darkest recesses of human nature. Conrad takes the reader through a horrific tale in a very gripping voice.

I couldn't say enough about Conrad's mastery of prose. Not a single word is out of place. Among several things, I liked Marlow expressing his difficulty in sharing his experiences with his listeners and his comments on insignificance of some of the dialogue exchanged aloud between him and Kurtz. The bond between the two was much deeper. Whatever words he uses to describe them, no one can really understand in full measure what he had been through. In Marlow's words:

". . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone. . . ."

This was the first time I read this book which doesn't seem enough to fathom its profound meaning and all the symbolism. It deserves multiple reads.

Emily May

I still don't know what I read here.

I finished this book with one sort-of word spinning around in my head... "eh?"

I read the whole book. Every page, every sentence, every word. And I couldn't tell you what it was about. I think I must have read more challenging books than this - Ulysses, Swann's Way, etc. - but none has left me so thoroughly clueless.

Fergus

Kurtz is a modern day Prometheus. He dares to peer upon the hidden Dark Side of the Moon, and All the Heavens then seek revenge upon his startled soul.

And he must Pay.

Until that Gracious Day in some Faraway Future arrives, and the Divine Eagle quits chewing apart his liver.

Until this modern-day Oedipus, now an ancient, cursed soul in faraway Colonus, expiates the last dirty remnants of his crime before the very gods themselves.

And that futureless future day - when the last ‘I’ is dotted and the last ‘T’ is crossed - will be the Last Day, upon which Franz Kafka is certified “safe” to enter the Kingdom by the sleepless Gatekeeper...

And Kurtz’ weary soul is Graced with Pardon and freed, like the rest of the absolved, to drink the healing Draughts of Lethe.

On THAT day we’ll All Forgive... and Forget the Gorgon!

But you know what?

When T.S. Eliot gives his famous spoiler to this short masterpiece in The Wasteland, and wrecks the ending for young readers, it’s No Coincidence that he qualifies that spoiler with the incredibly apt line, “Hieronomo’s mad again!”

For once you wade into the dread waters of Acheron, you see the Furies that will torment you till mercy dawns again.

Don’t hold your breath! As the Hindu sacred books say, endless Kalpas will seem to pass before that glad dawn.

I know what you’re thinking.

Kurtz is like Adam.

And of course ALL Adams, like you and me (and all my negligently disobedient friends!) will see our Edens forever blighted - like our dying planet - or so it will seem to us, since that first Kurtzian day of wrath.

Dante Alighieri once said us poor blokes who pass up a Life of Faith as a kid will have to slowly slog around Mount Purgatory for a hundred painful years before even getting our tickets punched at the door!

Oh, I’m no different.

I didn’t say I believed “loud (and) clear” as a youth.

No, we ALL Refused to “listen as well as we hear... in the living years” of our youth, to the Truth.

That’s right. We did EXACTLY like Adam, believing we’d “be like a god” once we saw through the more inconvenient truths.

And so we continue to run the unforgivingly downward and rapid rails of Perfectionism, or Guilt, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, maybe.

But, you know, there are moments when pure sunlight breaks through our heavily curtained minds...

A child laughs innocently, a bird chirps cheerily, or an old person smiles an incredibly crinkled smile of joy.

Those moments are meant for US - that we may have eyes to see!

But, sooner or later, just like the rest of you - and Mr. Kurtz - we have to Face the Face that Kills.

And tuck the Golden Moments under our belt for the Next Time, in yet another stripping bare of our conscience -

Yes - Until, in fact, the Far-off Day, Kalpas and Kalpas from hence, of our Final Heavenly “Shantih.”

In blessed Forgiveness.

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