Rudrum, David (2005) Living alone: solipsism and Heart of Darkness. Philosophy and Literature, 29 (2). pp. 409-427. ISSN 0190-0013

David Rudrum - Living Alone: Solipsism in Heart of Darkness - Philosophy and Literature 29:2
Philosophy and Literature 29.2 (2005) 409-427 Living Alone: Solipsism In Heart Of Darkness
David Rudrum London Metropolitan University ". . . As if I could read the darkness."Philosophical
Investigations, ?635 We live, as we dream -- alone." This, Marlow's most eminently quotable
aphorism, encapsulates a theme central to the outlook of modernism: what Virginia Woolf called
"the loneliness which is the truth about things." This loneliness derives not from the absence of
others -- Marlow is surrounded by friends when he makes this assertion. It is a deeper condition
brought about by recognizing the limits of selfhood, by confronting or being confronted by them.
This condition is central to Marlow's narrative predicament: he attempts to fathom the enigmatic
self that is Kurtz, to understand "the tempestuous anguish of his soul" (HoD, p. 246); he is led, by
this attempt, to question the nature of his own self; and, finally, he tries to relay the impenetrable
essence of both these selves to the "other minds" of his narratees on the yawl Nellie. As we shall
see, Marlow concedes defeat in all three of these struggles. Heart of Darkness, then, is a novel
beset by the limits of subjectivity. It is also a novel which foregrounds the limits of language.
Marlow concludes that we live in isolation from one another after musing on the failure of
language to communicate...

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