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Heart of Darkness [黑暗的心]

所属栏目: Classic

点    击: 5828

作    者:Joseph Conrad

小说大小:370 KB

推荐等级:2级

整理时间:2010-01-20

内容简介

Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Polish-born writer Joseph Conrad. Before its 1902 publication, it appeared as a three-part series (1899) in Blackwood's Magazine. It is widely regarded as a significant work of English literature and part of the Western canon.
The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment as a ferry-boat captain, employed by a Belgian trading company. Although the river is never specifically named, readers may assume it is the Congo River, in the Congo Free State, a private colony of King Leopold II. Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver; however, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization in a cover up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region.
This highly symbolic story is actually a story within a story, or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts, from dusk through to late night, his adventure into the Congo to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary.

【情节概略】

The story opens with five men, apparently old friends, on a boat on the Thames. One man, Marlow, begins telling a story of a job he took as captain of a steamship in Africa. He describes how his "dear aunt" used many of her contacts to secure the job for him. When he arrives at the job, he encounters many men he dislikes, as they strike him as untrustworthy. They speak often of a man named Kurtz, who has quite a reputation in many areas of expertise. He is somewhat of a rogue ivory collector, "essentially a great musician," a journalist, a skilled painter, and "a universal genius."
Marlow learns that he is to travel up the river to retrieve Kurtz (if he is alive), who was evidently left alone in unfamiliar territory. However, Marlow's steamer needs extensive repairs, and he cannot leave until he receives rivets, which take a suspiciously long time to arrive. Marlow suspects the manager of deliberately delaying his trip to prevent Kurtz from stealing the manager's job.
Marlow is finally able to leave on his journey with five other white men and a group of cannibals they have hired to run the steamer. He notes that the cannibals use a respectable amount of restraint in not eating the white men, as their only food source is a small amount of rotting hippo meat, and they far outnumber the white men, or "pilgrims" as Marlow refers to them.
Marlow's steamer is attacked by natives while en route to Kurtz' station - they are saved when Marlow blows the ship's steam whistle and frightens the natives into retreat. They arrive at the station and Marlow meets Kurtz' right-hand man, an unnamed Russian whose dress resembles a Harlequin and whose admiration and fear of Kurtz is palpable. The Russian explains that Kurtz is near-death and that Kurtz had ordered the native tribes to attack the steam ship. Harlequin explains that Kurtz had used his guns and personal charisma to take over tribes of Africans and had used them to make war on other tribes for their ivory, explaining how Kurtz obtains so much.
The Russian, who idolizes Kurtz, worries that Kurtz' reputation will be sullied by the Manager. Marlow promises to maintain Kurtz' reputation as a great man and advises the Russian to flee to friendly natives. The Russian thanks Marlow and leaves after collecting a few oddments.
At this point, near death, Kurtz has an enigmatic last desire to remain a part of the native culture, as exhibited by his ineffective striving toward tribal fire, dance and the darkness.
Marlow and his crew take the ailing Kurtz aboard their ship and depart. During this time, Kurtz is lodged in Marlow's pilothouse and Marlow begins to see that Kurtz is every bit as grandiose as previously described. During this time, Kurtz gives Marlow a collection of papers and a photograph for safekeeping; both had witnessed the Manager going through Kurtz' belongings. The photograph is of a beautiful girl whom Marlow assumes is Kurtz' love interest.
One night, Marlow happens upon Kurtz, obviously near death. As Marlow comes closer with a candle, Kurtz seems to experience a moment of clarity and speaks his last words: "The horror! The horror!" Marlow believes this to be Kurtz' reflection on the events of his life. Marlow does not inform the Manager or any of the other pilgrims of Kurtz' death; the news is instead broken by the Manager's child-servant.
Marlow later returns to his home city and is confronted by many people seeking things and ideas of Kurtz. Marlow eventually sees Kurtz' fiance about a year later, who is still in mourning. She asks Marlow about Kurtz' death and Marlow informs her that, instead of, "The horror! The horror!," his last words were her name.
The story concludes as the scene returns to the trip on the Thames and mentions how it seems the boat is drifting into the heart of the darkness.

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