Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 48

Thread: Significance of the title: Heart of Darkness

  1. #1
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Waynesboro, Virginia. The beautiful Shenandoah Valley
    Posts
    1,304

    Significance of the title: Heart of Darkness

    Wow! I've only read the first of the three parts so far, but I am floored! I'm ancious to see if there is a character who fits the description in the title, someone with a heart of darkness, I have a feeling there will be, but meanwhile I like the geographical significance of the title, Congo is the HEART of Africa, the DARK continent, good double meaning.

    Is it just me or does the over use of "nigger" bother you guys too? Marlow says things that are sympathetic to the native people who are starving and chained up ect... but its hard for me to take him seriously in his sympathies when he keeps refering to them with such a derogatory term. Was nigger a derogatory term at the time of publication? I'm not real up to date on my racial slur history .
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  2. #2
    in a blue moon amuse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    between the lines
    Posts
    3,154
    Blog Entries
    140
    having been called "nigger" before, yes. it's exactly like 7 ton elephants drop-kicking you. unless a black person says it - "my nigga," for example. then again, "nigger" is a whole 'nother word. and if "nigga" wasn't socially acceptable to a lot of (not all) black people, there might be fewer people using either word in conversation, thinking it's ok when it's really not.
    i haven't read this book but i seem to be the only black person here. don't know about the word's use at time of publication.
    what a good question, kik!
    shh!!!
    the air and water have been here a long time, and they are telling stories.

  3. #3
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    I’m continually struck with how much work has to go into reading a text from a different time. I think there is part of the art that is inaccessible to someone who didn’t live in the same world as the author. I could spend the rest of my life studying nineteenth century whaling in New England, and still will not understand Melville as someone who lived in Nantucket in the 1800s. In order to fully understand a piece of literature I think you have to smell the air, walk the streets, eat the food, know the people the politics etc etc etc.

    That being said, I’m sure the meaning of that damnable word has changed, but it carries so much baggage with it now that it is impossible for me to read it without becoming uncomfortable. I live in a region of the country that is still struggling with its racist past and that word, like no other, continues to rip the scabs off. Try as I might, the literature of Twain, Faulkner, now Conrad are diminished for me because of it. My skin color is such that I’ve never had that hatred directed towards me personally, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for Amuse.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  4. #4
    in a blue moon amuse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    between the lines
    Posts
    3,154
    Blog Entries
    140
    well i'm pretty creamy colored as it is. and look racially indefinable (am a cat ). i can't imagine what it's like for darker black people. i mean, i've been told, but it's not the same as knowing.
    though, when i was three years old, i playfully patted my dad on the back and said "good boy." i mean, what did i know, i was a tot. he was so furious: "don't you EVER call me 'boy.'" i'll never forget that.

    i like what richard wright said once about writing "native son," it was exactly what you wrote about smelling, tasting, seeing, walking. he tried to portray that when he wrote...when i read "the mists of avalon" there was a paragraph in the first hundred pages that astounded me: i "heard" a man speak when i read his dialogue. usually it's my own voice reading the words, but marion zimmer bradley enabled me to hear people's voices in the book, as well. so the sound of it all electrified me and what a way to tune me into the story!

    btw, have now begun the book. so like how it starts out on the thames. (to be trite and shallow! )
    Last edited by amuse; 03-05-2004 at 10:21 PM.
    shh!!!
    the air and water have been here a long time, and they are telling stories.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    15 miles or so north of the city of london
    Posts
    2,234
    If Agatha Christie is anything to go by, then the term "nigger" was acceptable well into the 20th Century. Her book Ten Little Niggers, was published in 1939. In my opinion, it is a term totally unacceptable today.

    What Amuse says about the black use of this term reminds me of how the gay community have reclaimed the term "queer", or post-feminists have reclaimed the c word. I really don't know what I feel about this. Whilst it is, in my opinion, commendable and maybe even necessary, to transform terms that have such negative baggage attached to them, it still perpetuates separation and the isolated position that the original usage promoted.
    Last edited by atiguhya padma; 03-05-2004 at 06:52 PM.
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - Mark Twain

    The preachers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves - Henry David Thoreau

    The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason - Benjamin Franklin

    The teaching of the church, theoretically astute, is a lie in practice and a compound of vulgar superstitions and sorcery - Leo Tolstoy

  6. #6
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Amuse, I’d like to think that I had the same independent thought as Richard Wright, but it’s probably more likely that I read or heard that somewhere, had tucked away in the grey matter and it just sort of popped out here.

    Making me “Sancho the Plagiarist.” I’d appreciate it if we could keep this between ourselves and not get the copy write lawyers involved.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  7. #7
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Back to the subject at hand. Conrad is such a master of prose. What do you think of the passage early on in the book:

    "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."

    I think it’s a powerful and beautifully rendered tightly packed sentence. The sunset as death, the dull red, without heat, insuing darkness, not just killed by the brooding gloom of the men (perhaps the darkness in men’s hearts), but “stricken.”

    I'd enjoy reading anyone else's impressions.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  8. #8
    Drama Queen Koa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    away
    Posts
    4,335
    As for the language, I found it a bit hard... almost verbose...well not verbose but I didn't understand much of the book the first time I read it (I actually really got it when I read it in translation anyway). So it didn't really impress me... But I want to be bilingual as Conrad...

    The heart of darkness....damn I can't elaborate all I have in mind about it. I'll be back.
    dead on the inside, i've got nothing to prove
    keep me alive and give me something to lose

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    near St. Louis USA
    Posts
    12
    Interesting problem with the use of the n-word. I am sorry that it offends people, but it does, so I don't use it. It surprises me that Conrad uses the term (but Marlow is the one who uses it, and he becomes a character in his own right in Conrad's novels).
    At my age (67) I grew up when it was certainly offensive (to blacks - and justifieably so - , but it was common.

    I love Faulkner, but he uses the term the way people did in those days - not to put down individuals, but generically, the way we (some people anyway talked about "polaks" "wops" "kikes" people who were different than us (wasps), but had friends of all kinds, even though we used those terms about them. I had a relative who had a dog he called "Nigger", not because he was a dog, but because he was black. Still it bothered me.
    Read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" essay to get an idea of how words can take on emotions which are sometimes intended and sometimes not.

  10. #10
    I can see your point, but I disagree in this matter.

    I think that the way people used the word, and dividing people like that shows the how the we labeled and oppressed. I think we all still do, in varied degrees. I also think that the fact that the person is not aware of it does not make the oppression less.
    To make my point clear I´ll give some examples from old Swedish and german lexicons that I happen to own -

    In the "Swedish family book" - a standard lexicon from the 1920 (my translation) we find that we can look up the word
    Negrodance, and find it translated as - ugly negroes dance all over the world.
    From the german book about called - again my translation - Man , woman and their relationship - we can read that "negroe women tend to have enlarged genitals, because of a tendency for self satisfaction by rubbing" . If these examples seem offensive - yes they are. And I did not choose the worst. The people that wrote these books thought about themselves as researchers and objective. But now, we can see clearly that they where not.

    I´m not by any means implying that you do this, Dexter . Not more than me, or anybody else. I only want to show even if we believe that we do not prejudice , we can still do. These examples that show seem blunt to us. Now, when we have been made at least partly aware. The labels we put on people carry much more information, and emotion than just the colour of skin, or gender or sexualorientation. And not just the words but the spirit of the times that was filled with segregation and prejudice.

    But sorry... back to the book. I´m still in the harbor. And I´m going to try and get hold of that essay by Orwell. I like his essays on organizational theory.
    Last edited by Isagel; 03-09-2004 at 08:48 AM.
    "Man was made for joy and woe;
    And when this we rightly know
    Through the world we safely go" Blake

  11. #11
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Isagel, thank you for your post. Your translations are as interesting as they are disturbing. Part of the human condition, I think, is to place ones kinship group or race or culture above all others. It was a matter of survival in some cases. I am also reminded of Louis and Clark’s contact with the Nez Perces (Native North American Tribe). When translated from their language into English, they simply refered to themselves as “the human beings.”
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  12. #12
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Dexter, I’m not saying that Faulkner shouldn’t have used that word in his writing. It’d be a ridiculously sanitized piece of literature if he had. I’m saying that I find it impossible to read that word in the 21st century without all of its present day connotations. My failing. Further, anyone who tries to put an author from another time on a pedestal or under the microscope of present day values is bound to be disappointed.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  13. #13
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    William Faulkner is also one of my favorite authors and was probably as open minded as any white Mississippian of his day. You are probably familiar with his dedication in at the beginning of the collection, “Go Down Moses”

    "To Mammy Caroline Barr, Mississippi, [1840-1940]: Who was born in slavery and who gave to my family a fidelity without stint or calculation of recompense and to my childhood an immeasurable devotion and love."

    And yet he still referred to “Go Down Moses” as his "N…. Tails." And that was Faulkner, not Jason or Marlow or any character in a novel.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  14. #14
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Here’s a comment on Faulkner’s writing and on the time: In “The Sound and the Fury” Faulkner could write in the first person as an idiot (Benjy) as a suicidal Harvard student (Quentin) and as a bigot (Jason) but when he got to the Dilsey chapter (probably fashioned around Caroline Barr) he switched to the third person. And he couldn’t develop her character as deeply as he had the others. Perhaps that was because she was the only sane one in the whole book. But I think that he just didn't have it in him.

    I'd enjoy reading your opinion on this thought Dexter.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

  15. #15
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2,510
    Alright, on to the derisively named Labrador: I do not believe for one minute that your relative gave that dog that name by way of trying to describe his coat. I grew up in the South in the sixties and naming a dog in just that manner was popular within a certain element of the population. It was considered the pinnacle of cleverness and high humor amongst rednecks and bigots. This, of course, was more a comment on the pet owner than on race of people he was trying to deride.

    Ask yourself this: would your relative have taken that dog across the river to East St. Louis and into a large crowd of angry black men and called his name? I think not. Although that is a drama I’d enjoy watching. I think it’d go something like this: “Here pup pup. Here poochie poochie poochie.”

    I’m back to Kant’s Categorical Imperative from another thread. “Act in such a way that the maxim of your action could be taken as a universal law.” --Always –Everywhere – even in East St. Louis.
    Some people call me Maurice
    'Cos I speak of the pompatus of love

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. I have a question about the Heart of Darkness
    By Derek Barlow in forum Heart of Darkness
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-25-2011, 08:34 PM
  2. The Heart of Darkness - The Woman
    By Whitney in forum Heart of Darkness
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 11-08-2008, 02:25 AM
  3. heart of darkness
    By Unregistered in forum Heart of Darkness
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
  4. connection between Conrad and Tacitus
    By M. Dickerson in forum Heart of Darkness
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
  5. March Book: Heart of Darkness
    By Admin in forum Forum Book Club
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 04-13-2004, 07:24 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •