Matt Kish's Heart of Darkness

In November Tin House Books will publish artist Matt Kish's illustrated adaptation of Joseph Conrad's inimitable novel Heart of Darkness. Kish, whose first graphic adaptation, Moby-Dick in Pictures, was published by Tin House in 2011, has created one hundred illustrations to accompany Conrad's classic, each based upon a selected excerpt of the text. The following images from the book are presented alongside the passages that inspired them.

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“Fancy a man lugging with him a book of that description into this nowhere and studying it—and making notes—in cipher at that! It was an extravagant mystery.”

Page 93, ink on watercolor paper.

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“Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn’t even a shed there, and she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen.”

Page 29, ink and marker on watercolor paper.

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“They were dying slowly—it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom.

Page 37, ink on watercolor paper.

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“Then without more ado I tipped him overboard. The current snatched him as though he had been a wisp of grass, and I saw the body roll over twice before I lost sight of it forever.”

Page 129, ink and marker on watercolor paper.

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“Thus I was left at last with a slim packet of letters and the girl’s portrait. She struck me as beautiful—I mean she had a beautiful expression.”

Page 187, ink on watercolor paper.

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“As soon as I got on the bank I saw a trail—a broad trail through the grass. I remember the exultation with which I said to myself, ‘He can’t walk—he is crawling on all fours—I’ve got him.’”

Page 165, ink and marker on watercolor paper.

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"Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. “We have lost the first of the ebb,” said the director, suddenly. I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."

Page 199, ink on watercolor paper.