The Mysterious Mr. Kurtz

09 Apr

I love how Joseph Conrad gives us little hints – bits and pieces scattered through the pages about this man, Mr. Kurtz.   Every tidbit builds a slightly bigger picture, but yet, the whole is shrouded in darkness until the very end when the awful revealing takes place.

Early on we learn that Mr. Kurtz:

1.  sends in more ivory from his post than all the rest put together.

2.  is a prodigy.

3.  is an “emissary of pity, science and progress.”   (Emissary of pity?  Not even sure what that is supposed to mean!)

4.  had at one point left his station for headquarters, but then returned, for no apparent reason.

5. wrote a manifesto on how to deal with the savages per the request of the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, in which he concluded “Exterminate all the brutes!”

6.  might have some mental issues. (“…before his nerves went wrong.”)

I’ll just quote from Alice in Wonderland here:  “Curiouser and curiouser!”    Are you being drawn in to the river journey like I was?   I just couldn’t stop reading in order to find out what happened!


Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Heart of Darkness



5 responses to “The Mysterious Mr. Kurtz

  1. Ruth @ Experiment with The Well-Educated Mind

    April 9, 2013 at 11:12 am

    To tell the truth: this whole novel is a mystery to me. Not only am I behind, but I think I need to start all over again. I think the informal manner in which Marlow tells his story is throwing me off. I need complete sentences. Ugh.

    • Christine

      April 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      I’m with you, Ruth. Sometimes I had to reread a section because I couldn’t tell at first if Marlow was talking to me (the reader) or if he was talking to the other men on the boat.

  2. Norma carey

    April 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Me too – started to read aloud again and fiercely underlining! I did think about the writer’s technique for introducing us to the mysterious Mr. Kurtz and it reminded me of Moby Dick when they kept referring to Captain Ahab before the reader actually meets him. Clever. The punctuation is sometimes also hard to dicipher – and I have to remember that Marlowe is relating to his friends and sometimes they interact. (Confusing) Does anyone know if a movie was made from this, I couldn’t find it on Netflix.

    • Christine

      April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Good comparison to MD and Ahab. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I did find this movie version

    • Mike

      May 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Only the extended director’s cut is worth watching.


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