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HD- XII- The ending of the novella. 
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But Penelope and Ophelia, it isn't a matter of the head. The head is
only a part. Look at this:

The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of
an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded
together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails
of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red
clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A
haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness.
The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed
condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest,
and the greatest, town on earth.

Here at the start we have contact with the infinite, the spiritual, the mystical -- the feminine aspect of existence, yes?

> Most of recorded religion, ie belief systems.....were male orientated....the feminine aspect was secondary.....the female aspect should be equal.

Only in part are religions male oriented. Each religion has a mystical side that is dominated by the feminine. Kabbalah, Daoism, mystical Christianity, Sufism, . . . . Existence would be incomplete without it.

Tom



Thu May 01, 2008 6:02 am
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Oh, I just realized that this thread is on the ending of the novella. Conrad brings the story full-circle by having Marlow return where he began, to Brussels. He could have left this out, though, as his purpose for seeing the Intended is less than clear. He had something to give her, didn't he, but it didn't seem important. I guess we have to accept in the first place that Kurtz almost literally got under Marlow's skin; Marlow was devoted to him even while despising what he stood for. Marlow also had a strong sense of duty or rectitude that might have propelled him. But Marlow himself does not explain his actions rationally, and indeed hints that he was still suffering from an illness that made him hear hallucinatory voices ("The horror! The horror!"). This is spooky. Whatever his purpose, he seems to have completely broken down by the end of the visit. This man who earlier seemed to boast that he hated a lie, tells a whopper to the Intended. I at first thought this was excusable, but as I think Ophelia pointed out, he could have said he couldn't understand his last words, or used some other tactic.

I think why he doesn't tell the Intended about the Horror also goes to his attitude toward women. They can't handle the truth, he believes. They need to be shielded from the realities that men get themselves into, need to be the ones that keep up appearances back in Brussels. He makes such a statement earlier in the book. (If I had the text, I'd try to find it.)

If I had a vote, for what it's worth, it would be to leave this ending out. It gives Conrad a good dramatic opportunity, but Marlow seems here to act inconsistent with his character as we'd come to know it. That he felt mysteriously compelled to make the visit is not a motivation and doesn't feel right to me.
DWill


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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 penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu May 01, 2008 9:27 am
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I think we have two different books here:

1- One which would end in the Congo, and would thus stress the last words Kurtz said, with the mystery of what "horror" meant for Kurtz, and, for the western reader, the horror of the jungle and of "going native" fresh in their minds.


2- The second possibility is satisfying as far as the framework of voyage to the Jungle/ the unknown areas of the psyche / and return to the familiar world of Europe are concerned.

The problem is that this part is not very convincing as it is, it is difficult to always see what Conrad is getting at.

On the other hand, perhaps this part could only be an anticlimax after the building up towards meeting Kurtz. So even if it was better organized, we might not feel too interested in it.

Conclusion: I would not surprised if, in the memory of a reader who read the book ten years before, the novella ended with the death of Kurtz anyway. Whether this last part is there or not, all the passion and the drama took place in Africa.


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Thu May 01, 2008 9:49 am
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Whether there are just two I don't know. I like subtlety, allusion, symbol, psychological depth, and that's what I read for. Others may prefer a good story with suspense and action. The same book can give both.

Tom



Thu May 01, 2008 9:21 pm
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