110 Heart of Darkness – Then and Now

Jacke and Mike discuss Joseph Conrad’s short novel Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now, and Eleanor Coppola’s documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Then Jacke offers some thoughts on the recent events in Charlottesville, compares them with the themes in Conrad, and argues that America’s “new normal” might be best understood as an existential journey for the twenty-first century.

Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Support the show at patreon.com/literature.

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2 thoughts on “110 Heart of Darkness – Then and Now”

  1. It’s troubling to hear the host repeatedly get the novel’s title wrong. “Heart of Darkness,” not “The Heart of Darkness.” Not only does the title not have the article “the” in it, bug adding it suggests a specific “Heart of Darkness,” and that changes the meaning.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree that the title has been well established as “Heart of Darkness” and that it was neglectful of me to refer to it with the article here and there. (My apologies!) That said, I’m not so sure the mistake is as dramatic or “troubling” as your comment suggests, particularly when the novel was originally published as “The Heart of Darkness.” You can see an image of it here: http://www.conradfirst.net/view/image?id=22863

      Lest we blame the publishers, we can also look to Conrad himself, who wrote to his publishers “The title I am thinking of is ‘The Heart of Darkness’…” (Collected Letters 2: 139-40).

      So there we have it: some confusion and some ambiguity even among the author and the first publisher (and the woefully absent-minded podcast host, more than a hundred years later). Maybe it has a locked-in usage for modern-day readers, but I find it interesting that for Conrad and his earliest readers, the versions varied. In either case I’m not sure the experience for the reader would be that different. I don’t know that there’s all that much specificity in such a powerful and elusive phrase, whether we try to pin it down with a “the” or not.

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