Sunday, June 23, 2019

Heart of Darkness

The final page in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

When Mr. Kurtz, the rogue ivory trader, dies his last words are: “The horror! The horror!” By then the novel’s narrator, Charles Marlow, is himself very ill—he is in the borderline between life and death when he contemplates about the sadness of life in these words:
“Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be.” 
Marlow survives and returns to London and there be breaks the news of Kurtz’s death to his fiancé. But in the settings of the modern world he is unable to tell her the truth and lies about Kurtz’s life and business in the jungles of Africa. When she asks him what were Kurtz’s last words, Marlow replies: "The last word he pronounced was—your name.”

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