Twentieth Century Literature:

Great start to the Twentieth Century in 2014. Lovely to see so many keen, eager, engaged students: seriously! I have a sense you want to learn, find out, create. I hope some of you will actually complete those short poems on the magnolia or the white gum tree. This is a powerful way to understand what Conrad was actually trying to say about how being an artist brings us in touch with a deeper part of our lives. His fiction was dedicated to this intention to bring his readers into a deeper connection with their own inner life and the life around them. Every sentence in Heart of Darkness has this quality and purpose.

Joseph Conrad



Heart of Darkness is not an easy read, but it is immensely worth while if you take the time and effort. One thing that can really help is to hear it read aloud by a professional reader. You will need a few hours, but here are a few links to different free versions of an audio recording: 1, 2, 3. Enjoy!

So what might be some blog topics to inspire you this week on the edge of spring in Sydney? I think the exercise we started in class, trying to understand what Conrad meant by describing art as

“… a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect. It is an attempt to find in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential- their one illuminating and convincing quality – the very truth of their existence.” 

Wow! That sentence is a symphony! So much packed in! How can this help us to find the words, the images, to bring the magnolia petal or the soaring white gum tree into focus? To find what is enduring and essential…. the very truth of their existence?

So That is Topic 1.…. you can build on your poem started in class.

Topic 2: can you create a mini-transmedia site that displays Joseph Conrad’s life and work?

Topic 3: Take a single line from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (for example “Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant, but more profound” (page 1954) and write a paragraph of your own (describing something in your own world) while using the kind of language that Conrad uses.

Topic 4: Write a letter to Joseph Conrad telling him what you think of his views about the purpose of art? Or telling him why you find his novel The Heart of Darkness important to the modern world.

Topic 5: As usual you can create your own topic that, while building on some aspects of what we have covered in class this week, draws substantially on your own experience.

Enjoy!… and enjoy my revelling in Sydney’s spring (click on the image to get the Big Picture). This is grevillea speciosa which is rampant in the bush around the top end of Sydney. Commonly called “Spider Flower” (you can see the reason by the shape of the flower), what is so fantastic about this particular variety is the intensity of the colour:

Grevilliea Speciosa

  5 comments for “Twentieth Century Literature:

  1. August 2, 2014 at 10:55 am

    The length and fullness of this quote by Conrad reminds my of some of the sentences used in Remembering Babylon

    • August 3, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Certainly is David. Malouf learnt a lot from Conrad I am sure. Great to see you there in the wings… I look forward to you coming on board David 🙂

  2. August 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Michael! I was wondering whether we are able to use the WordPress account we created last time we had you. Thank you 🙂

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