Excerpt: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

 

At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day. Whether it meant war, peace, or prayer we could not tell. The dawns were heralded by the descent of a chill stillness; the wood-cutters slept, their fires burned low; the snapping of a twig would make you start. We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us — who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign — and no memories. — Heart of Darknes

 

 

Tags: , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. There’s Something Trippy About Heart of Darkness | Brittle Paper - 2013/01/21

    […] You may think Achebe is being a tad petty for complaining about Conrad’s adjectives. But that is not at all the case. As an astute novelist, he understands that for someone like Conrad, all the magic is in his style. In this same essay where he calls Conrad a bloody racists, Achebe is gracious enough to concede that “Conrad is undoubtedly one of the great stylists of modern fiction and a good storyteller into the bargain.” Conrad was that sort of writer who could do wonders with everything from adjectives to exclamation marks. Critics have said that there is something photographic about Heart of Darkness. Odd but Conrad writes like he is a film-maker working with light, sounds, and angles of vision to create moods and feels that tell the reader what and how to think about the world being presented before his or her very eyes. (Example) […]

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The 2017 Writivism Short Story Prize Goes to Nigeria’s Munachim Amah

13173450_1619200638400857_2469687830281826926_o

The Writivism Short Story Prize has gone to Nigeria’s Munachim Amah. He won for his short story, “Stolen Pieces.” He will […]

First Photos from the 2017 Writivism Festival

20819345_1994689334093219_6214976035878503585_o

The 2017 Writivism Festival just wrapped up in Kampala. It was held from 17 to 20 August. An initiative of […]

The Fall of the Gods | Chapter 1: ọ̀kan | Anthony Azekwoh | #TFOG

the fall of the gods (1)

  Ẹni tó ńbẹ̀rù àti ṣubú, àti dìde á nira fún un. Whoever is scared of falling, would find it […]

Wana Udobang’s Sophomore Poetry Album is a Sonic Book of Memories

wana udobang in memory of forgetting

Wana Udobang, popularly known as WanaWana, is no stranger to the Brittle Paper community. We’ve read her poetry, enjoyed her […]

Opportunity for African Writers | Submit to The Bare Life Review

barelife review

The Bare Life Review is a biannual literary journal that gives publishing opportunity exclusively to immigrant and refugee authors. They are […]

I Hear a Few More Things When Bob Dylan Says ‘a Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall’ | Chisom Okafor | Poetry

33130808452_c617d33eb3_o

My father plays a song aloud on Sundays, that begins with ‘Where’ve you been my blue-eyed girl?’ We scream on […]