HEART OF DARKNESS – J. CONRAD

1. And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men. (p.6)

2. He was shabby and careless, with ink-stains on the sleeves of his jacket, and his cravat was large and billowy, under a chin shaped like the toe of an old boot. (p.16)

3. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives – he called them enemies! – hidden out of sight somewhere. (p.20)

4. It was like a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares. (p.21)

5. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, – nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. (p.24)

6. I let him run on, this paper-maché Mephistopheles, and it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke my forefinger through him, and would find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe. (p.37)

7. We live, as we dream – alone… (p.39)

8. I don’t like work, – no man does – but I like what is in the work, – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – what no other man can ever know. (p.41)

9. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. (p.44)

10. The sun was low; and leaning forward side by side, they seemed to be tugging painfully uphill their two ridiculous shadows of unequal length, that trailed behind them slowly over the tall grass without bending a single blade. (p.48)

11. (…) and thus neither that fireman nor I had any time to peer into our creepy thoughts. (p.53)

12. (…) he became instantly the prey of an abject funk, (…) (p.63)

13. There was a pause of profound stillness, then a match flared, and Marlow’s lean face appeared, worn, hollow, with downward folds and dropped eyelids, (…) (p.68)

14. He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land – I mean literally. You can’t understand. How could you? – with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums – how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man’s untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude – utter solitude without policeman – by the way of silence – utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of public union? These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness. (p.70)

15. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. (p.72)

16. I’ve done enough for it to give me the indisputable right to lay it, if I choose, for an everlasting rest in the dust-bin of progress, amongst all the sweepings and, figuratively speaking, all the dead cats of civilization. (p.72)

17. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude – and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core… (p.83)

18. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. (p.87)

19. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul. (p.87)

20. He considered it necessary to sigh, but neglected to be consistently sorrowful. (p.88)

21. I did not betray Mr Kurtz – it was ordered I should never betray him – it was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. (p.92)

22. (…) his intelligence was perfectly clear – concentrated, (…) (p.95)

23. His was an impenetrable darkness. I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines. (p.99)

24. 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 greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, 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. I was within a hair’s-breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. (p.100)

25. They trespassed upon my thoughts. (p.102)

26. I listened. The darkness deepened. (p.108)

27. And the girl talked, easing her pain in the certitude of my sympathy; she talked as thirsty men drink. (p.108)

 

Advertisements

About this entry