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El corazón de las tinieblas
El corazón de las tinieblas
El corazón de las tinieblas
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El corazón de las tinieblas

Valutazione: 3.5 su 5 stelle

3.5/5

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A través de un personaje ficticio (el viejo marinero "Marlow"), Conrad describe una travesía por el río Congo en busca del señor "Kurtz" que es el jefe de una explotación de marfil. El encuentro con Kurtz, será la confirmación de la hipócrita actitud colonialista y pone en tela de juicio su carácter de cruzada moral y comercial. El director de cine Francis Ford Coppola se basó en este breve relato para su película Apocalypse Now, que si bien estaba ambientada en la guerra de Vietnam, mantenía el espíritu del relato de Conrad.

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EditoreBooklassic
Data di uscita18 giu 2015
ISBN9789635240906
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Joseph Conrad

Polish author Joseph Conrad is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novelists, a remarkable achievement considering English was not his first language. Conrad’s literary works often featured a nautical setting, reflecting the influences of his early career in the Merchant Navy, and his depictions of the struggles of the human spirit in a cold, indifferent world are best exemplified in such seminal works as Heart of Darkness, Lord JimM, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and Typhoon. Regarded as a forerunner of modernist literature, Conrad’s writing style and characters have influenced such distinguished writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell, among many others. Many of Conrad’s novels have been adapted for film, most notably Heart of Darkness, which served as the inspiration and foundation for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now.

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Valutazione: 3.4285714285714284 su 5 stelle
3.5/5

112 valutazioni133 recensioni

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  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    I was expecting a little more out of this. Overall, I felt it was a little lackluster. I needed more meat to the story, it lacked...... something that I can't quite verbalize. Heart of Darkness describes one captain's journey up the Congo River into the "heart of Africa." It's dark, brooding, and ominous; nothing goes according to plan. The narrator upon arriving at his African destination; has a strange fascination with a man named Kurtz, an English brute with odd ways who is no longer in control of all his faculties. Marlow, the captain, is in awe at the darkness that lurks in the jungle and in men's hearts. Sigh. I'm not doing a very good job describing it because I couldn't really get into it.
  • Valutazione: 2 su 5 stelle
    2/5
    I finished Joseph Conrad’s novella, “Heart of Darkness” this morning. I’m really a bit Ho-hum about it, can’t really recommend it.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    This book has been recommended to me by a friend and was sitting on my to read list for years. When I saw that most of its reviews are either 5 star or 1 star I was intrigued. The book did not disappoint. Beautiful, evocative, mesmerizing, horrifying, revolting, it describes an abyss of a human soul. A story within a story, narrator's description sets the stage and his story takes you away into then disappearing and now non-existent primal world thus forcing you to see the events through his lenses.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    I read this thirty-five years and didn’t get much out of it. After hearing Branagh’s reading, I think what I missed was not the obvious message, but the art. There is nothing like a great actor giving a great reading to bring a great work of literature to life.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    There's nothing wrong with a bit of baggy. And certainly there's little or nothing 19th century without that touch of cellulite. And that's mostly where all the masterpieces live. No waste. But no bounty either. Conrad's prose is too parsimonious for anything to get very close to masterpiece status. I like him fine but he was a writer who tied his boots too tight almost on purpose. He wrote better about the sea than anything else and yet did relatively little of it. You're right (in a tiny, limited sense) in that the strangely neglected “The Secret Agent” is probably his best - full of surprises and real pleasures - does “Greenwich” like no one ever did. But to call it a masterpiece is to seriously abuse the term. Hush my moderation, it is to take the term out the back with a baseball bat and go all Joe Pesci on its ass. His prose is the diametric opposite of gorgeous (saying so makes me sound like a Banville-admirer). His prose was bullied at school and has been keen to avoid trouble ever since. I can understand that but it don't bring me no grandeur nor frisson.I'm a big fan of “Notre Dame de Paris” (I've read it English, Portuguese and German). But obviously I’m singing its praises to avoid the lurking presence of “Les Mis”. Because it gloriously proves my point about baggy masterpieces. “Les Mis” was pissed on at the time for its vulgarity and indiscipline. This is the stuff that makes a masterpiece. “Notre Dame de Paris” is a pretty little thing, but it's a run-up, a stretching exercise before the real thing. Hugo was a looper (try “Les Travailleurs de la Mer”). He spent the spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime Commune moment eating zoo animals and banging fans. This makes him lots and lots of things. Unbaggy is not amongst them. “Les Mis” changed everything. “Notre Dame de Paris” was a cartoon waiting to happen.I'm not a fan of everything books-wise. And I also don't want to scatter the masterpiece medals too liberally. Though I admire some people’s generosity and enthusiasm. I'm just worried it's going to end up with J.K. Rowling as Nobel Laureate (she wouldn't be the worst). The sentiment is almost the opposite of masterpiece though. But then I'm a big fan of cowardice, so I'm bound to say that. The thing about Conrad? No funnies. Not once. Not ever. Even by accident. That's the Beckett kiss of death. I rest my case. Cry at your leisure. Don't forget, I'm a Conrad fan.And I wouldn't dream of hurting someone, but look me right in the eye and tell me “Les Mis” is not baggy. Remember the chapter about the joys of human shit? Not even the tiniest bit discursive, that one? Really?
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    Damn good catalyst.
  • Valutazione: 2 su 5 stelle
    2/5
    One word to describe this book - woof. It isn't a story as much as an author's attempt to use metaphors and colorful language to make a point in 100 pages that could have been made in half of that. The basics of the book is that a man is telling his story of a trip to Africa for a company and he meets a white man who is kind of worshiped by the ignorant black people.

    This is not a page turner, but I am glad I read it because it is a classic due to the time period in which it was written. Will I read it again? Probably not. But as a person who studies and teaches history, it was important to get through at least once. As literature, I was not fan.
  • Valutazione: 2 su 5 stelle
    2/5
    Most certainly would not recommend this book. It had a good theme, interesting characters, but I found it borderling painful to read.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    It's been a while since I have read this particular book, so I thought I'd give it another go. Actually, I listened to it as read by Scott Brick. The only thing I remembered going into the story was Kurtz and the fact that Kurtz was movitized by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. I did not remember that the book was set in the African Belgian Congo or the fact that ivory played a large role. Also, I did not remember the character of Marlow - sad to say as he is the main character. Anyhow, I loved it. I remember loving it the time I actually read it as well. Conrad does a incredible job of enabling the reader to feel as if he/she is a part of what is going on. Fantastic wordage as well. I know there are other meanings to the book, but what I take away is that man (woman) is always only a hair away from madness. That is, we all have things that we would make that venture - into madness/darkness - to achieve. It was great listening to Brick read this tale. Ah, there is also a gratuitous use of the "N" word. It's not totally irrelevant as that was how things were back when the book was set. Anyway, just a warning for those who are bothered by such things.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    Darkness in the dark reaches of Africa looking into the dark souls of man seeking the unknown, but finding darkness amongst the darkness.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    While I enjoy Kenneth Branagh as an actor, his voice in this audiobook was soporific to the point that I struggled to finish this quite short book. Next time I will read it in print.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    A Journey We All Must Take: When Marlow begins his journey to find the mythical Kurtz in HEART OF DARKNESS, Joseph Conrad dares the reader to accompany Marlow on a voyage less into the physical jungles of darkest Africa and more into the mental labyrinth that human beings erect to protect themselves from the horrors that they themselves build. In this justly famous novella, Conrad depicts a pre-politically correct age when white men thought it only fair and inevitable that they plunder the riches of Africa all the while comforting themselves that they were uplifting the fallen state of a lowly people.

    Conrad uses a twin layer of narratives in order to achieve the needed objectivity that he felt required to place the reader at varying distances from the horror that Kurtz cried out at the end. The opening narrator is unnamed, possibly Conrad himself, who sets the stage by placing the reader at a safe distance from the evils which lay squarely ahead. Through this narrator we get a bird'e eyes view of the true narrator Marlow, who is depicted as somehow different from the four other men on the deck of the Nellie. This difference in physical attributes slowly increases to concomitant differences in perspective, attitude, and general authorial reliability. Marlow is a deeply flawed man who has the disadvantage of viewing the unfolding events from the prejudiced eyes of a white colonial civil servant who is sure that the blacks in Africa are little different from his preconceived notion of uncivilized cannibals. Further, Marlow makes numerous errors of judgment along the way, many of them seemingly insignificant, yet the totality of the reader's perspective is twisted through the equally twisted lens of an unreliable narrator. Conrad's purpose in melding the reader to a flawed narrator was to insure that the reader could never trust what he reads, thereby increasing his sense of unease in that the sense of safety that Marlow feels, first on the deck of the Nellie, and later in the jungle itself, is as flimsy as the signposts that guide Marlow toward his goal.

    The goal is Kurtz, a trader who set out to civilize the blacks into accepting a white version of civilization, but Marlow finds out that the reverse happened. The true horror that Kurtz sees is the horror that all would be conquerors find when they discover that the philosophy of racial supremacy which led them into conflict with a people whom they deemed unworthy is shown to be built on straw. Kurtz knows that the only difference between his brutal acts toward the natives and their own similar atrocities toward themselves is no difference at all. As corrupt as Kurtz must have been, in his closing cry of horror, he finds a small measure of redemption and closure. Marlow sees what Kurtz saw, knew what Kurtz did, and heard up close and personal Kurtz's swan song of pain, but Marlow learned nothing of lasting value. All he could think of was to maintain the image of the Kurtz that was: "I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more." The journey that Kurtz took was a horror only because he became what he sought. The journey that Marlow took became a horror only because he learned nothing from what he sought. As you and I read HEART OF DARKNESS, we must decide which journey has the more meaningful signposts.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    The first time I read this novel, in high school, I really hated it. Having re-read it since then, however, I've come to actually appreciate and enjoy it. It seemed so much longer back in 11th grade! The writing is still awfully dense and confusing in places, but I've come to realize that this is rightfully considered a masterpiece.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    I hate to say it, but I really didn't like this book. I know that it is a metaphor for something, but full realization of that metaphor eludes me, and I am really not that interested in discovering it. It was mostly the descriptions of everything, from people to the jungle to the banks of the Thames, that entrapped me--I probably have several pages worth of highlighted sentences, phrases, and paragraphs. Conrad has easily captured the idea of the phrase "hauntingly beautiful" when describing his characters and their surroundings and ideas.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    I understand the purpose of using this book for instruction, but I found that it had major flaws that ultimately led to my dislike of it. Not every book is for everyone, though, so don't pass it up on my account.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    This is the tale of a man who's itchy feet & wanderlust lead him on a mission as a steamboat captain to a position in "the Company" along what I'm presuming is the Congo river in Africa. The clues are there, but the name is never given, so you have to infer it. In those days, the continent was rife with conflicts between the natives & the white men who came down to exploit the ivory trade. For a short book, & my shorter edition only had 72 pages, it's a deep book, the "darkness" in the title not only speaks of the interior of the at the time as a just being explored area, & not just the color of the skin of the natives, some of whom were fabled cannibals, but it speaks of the absolute darkness of the skies after nightfall, & the darkness inside a man's soul in conditions like that.....Not an "easy" read.....but one worth the time
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    I finally read it! Beautiful, heavy tale of obsession.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    Many years ago when I was in high school Victory by Joseph Conrad was on the curriculum. I would like to know who thought that was an appropriate piece of literature for 16 and 17 year olds. I hated it and I have shied away from anything by Conrad ever since. However, I decided to give this book a listen since it was available as a download from my library's electronic site. I may have done Conrad a disservice all those years ago because Heart of Darkness, while never going to be in my top reads of all time list, is well written. I may have to go back to Victory and see what I think of it now.A group of old friends are on board a ship in the Thames estuary. As night falls one of the men, Marlow, tells the tale of his time as a riverboat captain on an African river (surely the Congo). Usually a salt water sailor Marlow decided to take a job on fresh water so he could see something of the interior of Africa. He was hired on by a large European concern to pilot the riverboat up the river to supply their stations and collect the ivory the stations had obtained. From the beginning he heard about the mysterious Mr. Kurtz who had been in charge of a station far up the river for several years. Kurtz sent quantities of ivory to the Central Station but never appears himself. He is so successful at getting ivory that the station manager fears Kurtz may be promoted over him. As Marlow hears more and more about Kurtz he longs to meet him. When he finally does reach Kurtz's station he finds that Kurtz is very ill and that he is surrounded by a tribe of natives who revere Kurtz. Kurtz is brought on board the ship and Marlow listens to Kurtz as they return downriver. Kurtz entrusts Marlow with a packet of materials and then dies. His last words are "The horror, the horror". Is Kurtz referring to his interactions with the natives, some of whom he killed and impaled their heads on posts around his hut? This man who lived among the natives for a long time did not seem to have a very high opinion of them. He wrote a pamphlet about civilizing the natives but ended it by writing "Exterminate all the brutes". A year later, after Marlow had recovered from his own debilitating illness, Marlow goes to visit Kurtz's fiancee and gives her some items that Kurtz had entrusted with him. When asked what Kurtz's last words were Marlow lies and tells her it was her own name.This book certainly shows the casual use of violence by so-called civilized men and the disdain they feel for the Africans. Even Kurtz, who Marlow has been told is exemplary, seemed to think nothing of slaughtering men in pursuit of ivory. When the riverboat is leaving Kurtz's station the natives who had revered Kurtz massed on the shore to pay their respects. Marlow noticed that the men on board (whom he refers to as pilgrims which always made me think of John Wayne everytime I heard it) were readying their guns to shoot them. Marlow frightened the natives away by blowing the ship's whistle much to the annoyance of the men who were looking for some "good shooting". This is a disturbing book but I am glad I have now "read" it.
  • Valutazione: 2 su 5 stelle
    2/5
    This book definitely put forth some very interesting notions, and Conrad clearly can deftly weave his words and create well-crafted sentences. But I found some parts... a lot of parts, something of a chore to read, and despite my careful reading, I still ended up with only a rough sketch of what I supposed it was about. Perhaps that's what's the charm, perhaps I have a limited understanding, I don't know. Perhaps I should pick this back up in a few years and see if it clicks for me then, but for the moment, I can't hold a very high opinion of this novella and can only thank Conrad for making it 100 pages.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    The main argument of this story, is that without society's pressure to determine good and evil and an appropriate way to behave, there is the potential to act in a truly evil way. This story is a good analogy to unchecked power as well. The story itself doesn't carry the weight since I watched Apocalypse Now before reading this story. The elements are there and the unchecked aggression and evil are great, but there is a difference between controlling an area for profit, to obtain ivory, and a soldier using natives to butcher an enemy. My perception is a bit tainted because of the order. However, even without the extreme elements, it is a demonstration of how those who have power unchecked can lead to horrible behavior. Favorite Passages:"You should have heard him say, 'My ivory.' Oh yes, I heard him. 'My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my--' everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him--but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over. It was impossible--it was not good for one either--trying to imagine. 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 neighbors 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 untrammeled feet may take him into by the way of solitude--utter solitude without a policeman--by the way of silence, utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbor can be heard whispering of public opinion? 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. 123They only showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him--some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence. Whether he knew of this deficiency himself I can't say. I think the knowledge came to him at last--only at the very last. 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. 200And for a moment it seemed to me as if I was also buried in a vast grave full of unspeakable secrets. I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night...p. 170"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 somber 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!'p. 223
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    Beautifully written, but I've read too much about international development to actually feel for the narrator. It's too much of a pity party for him.
  • Valutazione: 2 su 5 stelle
    2/5
    Quite difficult to read, had it's charms but in the end not really a book I'd like to read again some day.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    Despite being a mere 100 pages long, parts of this book were as frustrating to slog through as the African jungle. Nevertheless, I'm glad I made it to through the wilderness to the palpable "horror" at the end. A book so deliciously overwrought with symbolism, I almost wish I had to write a paper on it.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    A re-read, after many years. I'd forgotten how complex this book is. Ostensibly, its subject is Kurtz, a mysterious ivory trader, living far up the Congo river, a man who has allowed himself to become a god. Then again, it is the story of Marlow's trip up river to find Kurtz, and his conversations with Kurtz a man who has gone beyond madness. However, although Marlow seems to tell the story, there is a narrator who is actually relaying the story that Marlow told to a group of friends. And then there is Conrad, who made trips of his own up the Congo and whose letters and diaries reveal some similar episodes to those described in his novel. These layers give the book an ambiguity - we don't know whose truth is really being told. One of my favourite novels, still.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    Setting: The main part of the story is set in the heart of Africa where the narrator leans about man's inhumanity to man.Plot: Marlow recounts his journey on the Congo where he meets the infamous Kurtz.Characters: Marlow (protagonist)- commands steamboat; Kurtz (antagonist)- manager at Inner Station; Canibals- worked the shipSymbols: Africa as a place of darkness, Kurtz's depravity, restraint of the nativesCharacteristics: Moral reflectionResponse: I was at first bored by the prose but towards the end I became morbidly fascinated with Kurtz.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    Lush language is the key differentiator of this remarkable polemic against atrocity. The framed narrative distances the author from the views expressed so it is hard to know whether Conrad shared the racism and sexism of Marlow, his protagonist. Taken at face value, the account of white colonists going to collect ivory from a white manager who has ruthlessly suppressed his black suppliers endorses white supremacy but not the ill-treatment of the lesser beings. Marlow objects to Kurtz's abuse of the 'savages' in much the same way that the English of the time protected dogs and horses.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    I found Heart of Darkness very easy to read. My copy was only one hundred and twelve pages long, so there's that, but it's also written in a way that tugs you into the story. Actually, I think it's probably best read in one sitting, due to the way it's written -- the actual story is being told by a man called Marlow, to his companions, who mostly just sit quiet and listen, in one sitting. So to experience the book as it was written, it's probably best to settle down with it and read the whole story at once. I found the prose pretty easy, though that might just be that I'm somewhat used to that kind of slow, elaborate writing style. A lot of the imagery in the book is very vivid, which I liked.

    Maybe I should have read it a little more slowly and carefully, but I felt sometimes that it lurched from one point to another and it took me a minute to catch up.

    I don't really "get" this book, I guess. I can see how to analyse it and pick it apart -- this bit of imagery refers also to that, and this reflects that, and the racism springs from the culture it was written in, and blahblahblah. I can see how you can pick all kinds of special meaning out of it. But... I'm not so impressed that I want to.
  • Valutazione: 3 su 5 stelle
    3/5
    Like most people, I was familiar with Heart of Darkness, both as an acclaimed work of literature and as the inspiration for the remarkable movie Apocolypse Now. For some reason, I recently decided to make an attempt at reading it, despite my concern that it was written at a level beyond my capacity to understand. Upon receipt of the volume from Amazon, I was initially under the impression that I had mistakenly ordered the Cliff's Notes version of the work. I had no idea that the book was essentially a short story, easily readable in 2-3 hours. Even more surprising, was the ease with which I was able to follow and understand the story, though admittedly written in a slightly dense prose. Perhaps this was due to having seen Apocolypse Now and being familiar with the broad outline of the story and having read other works of history on the Belgian Congo. In any event, it was a decent story, filled with some beautifully descriptive language and imagery. I must say, however, that I was not bowled over. Steamship Captain pilots a ragged boat up the Congo, accompanied by colonial agents and support staff (cannibals and other natives) in an attempt to relieve a long stranded station agent (Kurtz) who has "gone native" and become the insane source of worship for the local natives. If you've seen Apocolypse Now, you know the story, just replace the Mekong with the Congo. I go back to my first paragraph in which I related a concern over my ability to understand what is considered a classic work of literature. I fully understood it, but was perhaps not qualified to fully appreciate it.
  • Valutazione: 5 su 5 stelle
    5/5
    Heart of Darkness is a tale of a seaman, Marlow, who pilots a boat up the Congo River around the turn of the 20th Century. His mission is to make contact with an ivory trader named Kurtz on behalf of their mutual employer. Kurtz is a mysterious fellow who not only has a unique relationship with the nationals, but also has an uncanny ability to provide ivory for the company. As Marlow's journey progresses, he becomes more and more eager to meet Kurtz, all the while becoming more and more disgusted with his fellow expatriates. It's a dark and dreary tale, but so very well written. As a good Lutheran, I had to admire Mr. Conrad's ability to paint such a realistic of human sin. The pity is, he also seems to have no concept of or use for forgiveness and the ability of God to bring about good even amongst us petty, nasty humans. I'm tempted to hang onto this book for its craftsmanship, but I don't know if I'd ever care to delve into Mr. Conrad's world again.--J.
  • Valutazione: 4 su 5 stelle
    4/5
    Six-word review: Not sure what I just read.Extended review:Most likely it was very good. But enigmatic, or so they say. Not that I'd know; maybe it's just me. I've read some fairly tough stuff in my reading career, but this one made me feel like a borderline idiot.I followed the narrative, or thought I did--a frame tale with one Marlow being the narrator of the adventure and all his remarks being written down by his unnamed listener. I couldn't make out the reason for the use of this device in this instance. What would have been lost--what would even have been different--if the putative narrator had penned a first-person account of his experiences going upriver into the African jungle to find Mr. Kurtz? Why deliver it all as if second-hand? I don't see it.As for the narrative itself, I am not accustomed to having any difficulty with nineteenth-century prose, American or British or even (translated) Russian, no matter how quirky, rambling, vocabulous, or convoluted. The half-crazed internal monologues of Poe's characters and Dostoevsky's haven't slowed me down. I can handle the archaic styles of George Eliot and Walter Scott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, not to mention poetry of earlier centuries. There's nothing in Conrad's diction or syntax that I can't understand. I've read plenty of literature that goes for mood and atmosphere and allegorical meaning without actually having anything resembling what we'd think of as a plot.And yet I'm holding my copy of Heart of Darkness, open to the two-thirds mark, where I'm rereading passages for the third or fourth time and asking: What is this really saying? What am I missing? What's going on?Is it a ghost story? Are we supposed to take references to Kurtz's disinterred remains and his skeletal appearance as meaning what they seem to mean? I could make some sense of that, but the commentaries I've looked up don't seem to bear me out. I must have read it wrong.Swallowing my pride, I've just been reduced to reading the entire SparkNotes summary and analysis, which are damned near as long as the book itself, and received very little enlightenment. Yes, that's definitely the novella I just read. Now I'm wondering what the story is about and what the SparkNotes are about, if they're not just about the evils of European colonization of so-called primitive societies and the looting of their treasures.One thing I'll testify that it isn't is a character study. To me it seems to conceal more than it reveals, pointing with gestures and symbols and geographical landmarks to the places where disclosures of information ought to be but aren't. Is that the point? Is that the horror at the core? Is that why Eliot chose a line from this story as the epigraph to his poem "The Hollow Men"?I concede defeat. I'll take my lumps for being too lowbrow for Conrad. But what I'd like to know is, what in the world was my high school English teacher thinking when he assigned it to a room full of sixteen- and seventeen-year-old American kids? I was reading Dostoevsky on my own then, for pleasure, but I didn't make anything of this. Fifty years later, I still don't.

Anteprima del libro

El corazón de las tinieblas - Joseph Conrad

978-963-524-090-6

Capítulo 1

El Nellie, un bergantín de considerable tonelaje, se inclinó hacia el ancla sin una sola vibración de las velas y permaneció inmóvil. El flujo de la marea había terminado, casi no soplaba viento y, como había que seguir río abajo, lo único que quedaba por hacer era detenerse y esperar el cambio de la marea.

El estuario del Támesis se prolongaba frente a nosotros como el comienzo de un interminable camino de agua. A lo lejos el cielo y el mar se unían sin ninguna interferencia, y en el espacio luminoso las velas curtidas de los navíos que subían con la marea parecían racimos encendidos de lonas agudamente triangulares, en los que resplandecían las botavaras barnizadas. La bruma que se extendía por las orillas del río se deslizaba hacia el mar y allí se desvanecía suavemente.

La oscuridad se cernía sobre Gravesend, y más lejos aún, parecía condensarse en una lúgubre capa que envolvía la ciudad más grande y poderosa del universo. El director de las compañías era a la vez nuestro capitán y nuestro anfitrión. Nosotros cuatro observábamos con afecto su espalda mientras, de pie en la proa, contemplaba el mar. En todo el río no se veía nada que tuviera la mitad de su aspecto marino. Parecía un piloto, que para un hombre de mar es la personificación de todo aquello en que puede confiar. Era difícil comprender que su oficio no se encontrara allí, en aquel estuario luminoso, sino atrás, en la ciudad cubierta por la niebla.

Existía entre nosotros, como ya lo he dicho en alguna otra parte, el vínculo del mar. Además de mantener nuestros corazones unidos durante largos periodos de separación, tenía la fuerza de hacernos tolerantes ante las experiencias personales, y aun ante las convicciones de cada uno. El abogado el mejor de los viejos camaradas tenía, debido a sus muchos años y virtudes, el único almohadón de la cubierta y estaba tendido sobre una manta de viaje. El contable había sacado la caja de dominó y construía formas arquitectónicas con las fichas. Marlow, sentado a babor con las piernas cruzadas, apoyaba la espalda en el palo de mesana. Tenía las mejillas hundidas, la tez amarillenta, la espalda erguida, el aspecto ascético; con los brazos caídos, vueltas las manos hacia afuera, parecía un ídolo. El director, satisfecho de que el ancla hubiese agarrado bien, se dirigió hacia nosotros y tomó asiento. Cambiamos unas cuantas palabras perezosamente. Luego se hizo el silencio a bordo del yate. Por una u otra razón no comenzábamos nuestro juego de dominó. Nos sentíamos meditabundos, dispuestos sólo a una plácida meditación. El día terminaba en una serenidad de tranquilo y exquisito fulgor. El agua brillaba pacíficamente; el cielo, despejado, era una inmensidad benigna de pura luz; la niebla misma, sobre los pantanos de Essex, era como una gasa radiante colgada de las colinas, cubiertas de bosques, que envolvía las orillas bajas en pliegues diáfanos.

Sólo las brumas del oeste, extendidas sobre las regiones superiores, se volvían a cada minuto más sombrías, como si las irritara la proximidad del sol.

Y por fin, en un imperceptible y elíptico crepúsculo, el sol descendió, y de un blanco ardiente pasó a un rojo desvanecido, sin rayos y sin luz, dispuesto a desaparecer súbitamente, herido de muerte por el contacto con aquellas tinieblas que cubrían a una multitud de hombres.

Inmediatamente se produjo un cambio en las aguas; la serenidad se volvió menos brillante pero más profunda. El viejo río reposaba tranquilo, en toda su anchura, a la caída del día, después de siglos de buenos servicios prestados a la raza que poblaba sus márgenes, con la tranquila dignidad de quien sabe que constituye un camino que lleva a los más remotos lugares de la tierra. Contemplamos aquella corriente venerable no en el vívido flujo de un breve día que llega y parte para siempre, sino en la augusta luz de una memoria perenne. Y en efecto, nada le resulta más fácil a un hombre que ha, como comúnmente se dice, seguido el mar con reverencia y afecto, que evocar el gran espíritu del pasado en las bajas regiones del Támesis. La marea fluye y refluye en su constante servicio, ahíta de recuerdos de hombres y de barcos que ha llevado hacia el reposo del hogar o hacia batallas marítimas. Ha conocido y ha servido a todos los hombres que han honrado a la patria, desde sir Francis Drake hasta sir John Franklin, caballeros todos, con título o sin título… grandes caballeros andantes del mar. Había transportado a todos los navíos cuyos nombres son como resplandecientes gemas en la noche de los tiempos, desde el Golden Hind, que volvía con el vientre colmado de tesoros, para ser visitado por su majestad, la reina, y entrar a formar parte de un relato monumental, hasta el Erebus y el Terror, destinados a otras conquistas, de las que nunca volvieron. Había conocido a los barcos y a los hombres. Aventureros y colonos partidos de Deptford, Greenwich y Erith; barcos de reyes y de mercaderes; capitanes, almirantes, oscuros traficantes animadores del comercio con Oriente, y generales comisionados de la flota de la India. Buscadores de oro, enamorados de la fama: todos ellos habían navegado por aquella corriente, empuñando la espada y a veces la antorcha, portadores de una chispa del fuego sagrado. ¡Qué grandezas no habían flotado sobre la corriente de aquel río en su ruta al misterio de tierras desconocidas!… Los sueños de los hombres, la semilla de organizaciones internacionales, los gérmenes de los imperios.

El sol se puso. La oscuridad descendió sobre las aguas y comenzaron a aparecer luces a lo largo de la orilla. El faro de Chapman, una construcción erguida sobre un trípode en una planicie fangosa, brillaba con intensidad. Las luces de los barcos se movían en el río, una gran vibración luminosa ascendía y descendía. Hacia el oeste, el lugar que ocupaba la ciudad monstruosa, se marcaba, de un modo siniestro en el cielo, una tiniebla que parecía brillar bajo el sol, un resplandor cárdeno bajo las estrellas.

—Y también éste —dijo de pronto Marlow— ha sido uno de los lugares oscuros de la tierra.

De entre nosotros era el único que aún seguía el mar. Lo peor que de él podía decirse era que no representaba a su clase. Era un marino, pero también un vagabundo, mientras que la mayoría de los marinos llevan, por así decirlo, una vida sedentaria. Sus espíritus permanecen en casa y puede decirse que su hogar —el barco— va siempre con ellos; así como su país, el mar. Un barco es muy parecido a otro y el mar es siempre el mismo. En la inmutabilidad de cuanto los circunda, las costas extranjeras, los rostros extranjeros, la variable inmensidad de vida se desliza imperceptiblemente, velada, no por un sentimiento de misterio, sino por una ignorancia ligeramente desdeñosa, ya que nada resulta misterioso para el marino a no ser la mar misma, la amante de su existencia, tan inescrutable como el destino.

Por lo demás, después de sus horas de trabajo, un paseo ocasional, o una borrachera ocasional en tierra firme, bastan para revelarle los secretos de todo un continente, y por lo general decide que ninguno de esos secretos vale la pena de ser conocido. Por eso mismo los relatos de los marinos tienen una franca sencillez: toda su significación puede encerrarse dentro de la cáscara de una nuez. Pero Marlow no era un típico hombre de mar (si se exceptúa su afición a relatar historias), y para él la importancia de un relato no estaba dentro de la nuez sino afuera, envolviendo la anécdota de la misma manera que el resplandor circunda la luz, a semejanza de uno de esos halos neblinosos que a veces se hacen visibles por la iluminación espectral de la claridad de la luna.

A nadie pareció sorprender su comentario. Era típico de Marlow. Se aceptó en silencio; nadie se tomó ni siquiera la molestia de refunfuñar. Después dijo, muy lentamente:

—Estaba pensando en épocas remotas, cuando llegaron por primera vez los romanos a estos lugares, hace diecinueve siglos… el otro día… La luz iluminó este río a partir de entonces. ¿Qué decía, caballeros? Sí, como una llama que corre por una llanura, como un fogonazo del relámpago en las nubes. Vivimos bajo esa llama temblorosa. ¡Y ojalá pueda durar mientras la vieja tierra continúe dando vueltas! Pero la oscuridad reinaba aquí aún ayer. Imaginad los sentimientos del comandante de un hermoso… ¿cómo se llamaban?… trirreme del Mediterráneo, destinado inesperadamente a viajar al norte. Después de atravesar a toda prisa las Galias, teniendo a su cargo uno de esos artefactos que los legionarios (no me cabe duda de que debieron haber sido un maravilloso pueblo de artesanos) solían construir, al parecer por centenas en sólo un par de meses, si es que debemos creer lo que hemos leído. Imaginadlo aquí, en el mismo fin del mundo, un mar color de plomo, un cielo color de humo, una especie de barco tan fuerte como una concertina, remontando este río con aprovisionamientos u órdenes, o con lo que os plazca.

Bancos de arena, pantanos, bosques, salvajes. Sin los alimentos a los que estaba acostumbrado un hombre civilizado, sin otra cosa para beber que el agua del Támesis. Ni vino de Falerno ni paseos por tierra. De cuando en cuando un campamento militar perdido en los bosques, como una aguja en medio de un pajar.

Frío, niebla, bruma, tempestades, enfermedades, exilio, muerte acechando siempre tras los matorrales, en el agua, en el aire. ¡Deben haber muerto aquí como las moscas! Oh, sí, nuestro comandante debió haber pasado por todo eso, y sin duda debió haber salido muy bien librado, sin pensar tampoco demasiado en ello salvo después, cuando contaba con jactancia sus hazañas. Era lo suficientemente hombre como para enfrentarse a las tinieblas. Tal vez lo alentaba la esperanza de obtener un ascenso en la flota de Ravena, si es que contaba con buenos amigos en Roma y sobrevivía al terrible clima. Podríamos pensar también en un joven ciudadano elegante con su toga; tal vez habría jugado demasiado, y venía aquí en el séquito de un prefecto, de un cuestor, hasta de un comerciante, para rehacer su fortuna. Un país cubierto de pantanos, marchas a través de los bosques, en algún lugar del interior la sensación de que el salvajismo, el salvajismo extremo, lo rodea… toda esa vida misteriosa y primitiva que se agita en el bosque, en las selvas, en el corazón del hombre salvaje. No hay iniciación para tales misterios. Ha de vivir en medio de lo incomprensible, que también es detestable. Y hay en todo ello una fascinación que comienza a trabajar en él. La fascinación de lo abominable. Podéis imaginar el pesar creciente, el deseo de escapar, la impotente repugnancia, el odio.

Hizo una pausa.

—Tened en cuenta —comenzó de nuevo, levantando un brazo desde el codo, la palma de la mano hacia afuera, de modo que con los pies cruzados ante sí parecía un Buda predicando, vestido a la europea y sin la flor de loto en la mano—, tened en cuenta que ninguno de nosotros podría conocer esa experiencia. Lo que a nosotros nos salva es la eficiencia… el culto por la eficiencia. Pero aquellos jóvenes en realidad no tenían demasiado en qué apoyarse. No eran colonizadores; su administración equivalía a una pura opresión y nada más, imagino. Eran conquistadores, y eso lo único que requiere es fuerza bruta, nada de lo que pueda uno vanagloriarse cuando se posee, ya que la fuerza no es sino una casualidad nacida de la debilidad de los otros. Se apoderaban

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