Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stylistic Imitations: Conrad

In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad proves himself a master of creating intense moods through his strong imagery and detailed descriptions. In this way he's able to drag the reader into the Heart of Darkness the title refers to: both the literal depth of the jungle and the figurative darkness at the heart of Mr. Kurtz. I took a short passage from this novel and closely imitated it for two different situations. I enjoy this kind of imitation, though it was difficult to get the same single-minded direction Conrad achieved while combining separate images like this.

Original: from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, page 14.
A narrow and deserted street in deep shadow, high houses, innumerable windows with venetian blinds, a dead silence, grass sprouting between the stones, imposing carriage archways right and left, immense double doors standing ponderously ajar. I slipped through one of these cracks, went up a swept and ungarnished staircase, as arid as a desert, and opened the first door I came to.

Imitation 1 (Oxford Street taxi):
A rickety and crowded taxi in a busy street, dirty windows, seats filled with sweating bodies, a jarring racket, groceries crammed beneath the seats, fat laughing mamas on every side, cracked windows introducing blessedly breathable air. Another man ducked through the open doorway, struggled past the obstructive and vocal occupants, as immovable as the seats themselves, and squeezed into the largest space he could find.

Imitation 2 (Near Nahoon Beach):
A wide and smooth beach in bright sunlight, clear water, expansive sky without a cloud, a stinging wind, shells scattered across the sand, confident gulls strutting just out of reach, barely visible footprints pensively shifting shape. I stepped into one of these footprints, followed its fellows on a winding and hurried path, as unpredictable as the surf, and sought the child who had walked there.

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