In mid-November, I will be writing five guest posts on the Tin House Open Bar blog exploring some of the ideas and processes behind five of my Heart of Darkness illustrations. I've narrowed my selection down to ten pieces, but I'm curious and would like to ask you to comment on which five you would like to read more about. Please leave a comment, and you may do so anonymously. The title of each piece is above the illustration.
PAGE 015: "Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech -- and nothing happened. Nothing could happen."
PAGE 019: "They were dying slowly -- it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now -- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom."
PAGE 027: "They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence."
PAGE 040: "'Each station should be like a beacon on the road towards better things, a centre for trade of course, but also for humanizing, improving, instructing.'"
PAGE 041: "Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of over-shadowed distances."
PAGE 054: "Still, I had also judged the jungle of both banks quite impenetrable -- and yet eyes were in it, eyes that had seen us."
PAGE 064: "This was the unbounded power of eloquence -- of words -- of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'"
PAGE 065: "Then without more ado I tipped him overboard. The current snatched him as though he had been a wisp of grass, and I saw the body roll over twice before I lost sight of it for ever."
PAGE 076: "He looked at least seven feet long. His covering had fallen off, and his body emerged from it pitiful and appalling as from a winding-sheet. I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving. It was as though an animated image of death carved out of old ivory had been shaking its hand with menaces at a motionless crowd of men made of dark and glittering bronze. I saw him open his mouth wide -- it gave him a weirdly voracious aspect, as though he had wanted to swallow all the air, all the earth, all the men before him. A deep voice reached me faintly. He must have been shouting."
PAGE 083: "As soon as I got on the bank I saw a trail -- a broad trail through the grass. I remember the exultation with which I said to myself, 'He can't walk -- he is crawling on all-fours -- I've got him.'"