Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad, 1902 (it was actually a 3 part story written for a magazine prior to its publication.)
This is a book that you won’t get out of your head. The protagonist, Charles Marlow is telling a story to his shipmates about his adventures in Africa as a river boat captain. It is a multilayered tale of darkness that does a great job in capturing the sheer ferocity of the sickness/evil that lurks in the human mind. It’s written in an interesting style and years later I can still remember images such as…his mouth and teeth were open as though trying to swallow the entirety of mankind; in reference to the natives appearing along the edge of a clearing in the jungle – the world exhaled and they were there, inhaled and consumed them. The lines…”The horror. The horror.” are especially poignant.
Heart of Darkness certainly captured elements of what I hoped to instill in the experiences of the main protagonists, Jake Gillean and Benjamin Murray, in The Chronicles of Gillean. In their own ways, they are fighting to maintain hope that mankind is more than what the darkness of their experiences would lead them to believe.