Heart of Darkness – Conrad

There is only one quote you need to know from this Conrad's Heart of Darkness:

“The horror! The horror!”

That is not to say that there is no value in this book, I actually think the opposite. But that one quote with the correct understanding captures perfectly the depths of the heart of darkness.

This is one of those books that have had a profound impact on me, in my relation to the world, and serve as a reference on which many other ideas rest.


  • It pains me to say that I didn't actually take any notes when reading this book. I was too enthralled by it. It's short and brilliant, so simply read it yourself.
  • If you mistake it for a story about Kurtz though you are missing the point.
  • All I will say is that Conrad captures perfectly the heart of darkness that lies within all men.


  • "how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man’s untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude—utter solitude without a policeman—by the way of silence—utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of public opinion? These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness."
  • "I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work--the chance to find yourself. Your own reality--for yourself not for others--what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means"
  • "But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad."
  • "The mind of man is capable of anything."
  • “You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget.”
  • “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness”
  • “I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.”
  • “Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream--making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams...”


Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on sebastiankade.com

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