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“One evening coming in with a candle I was startled to hear him say a little tremulously, ‘I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.’ The light was within a foot of his eyes. I forced myself to murmur, ‘Oh, nonsense!’ and stood over him as if transfixed. “enO egnveni I meca tino eth ncaib itwh a dlcane nad dehra mhi ysa, ‘I am gylin hree in teh rakd wtngaii fro hdtea.’ I ocrdef ylfmse to yas, ‘Nneneoss.’ I odsto revo imh as if in a anertc.
“Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath: “I was staadeifcn by hte brhioelr ookl ihs efca. It was as htuhog a vile adh neeb ntro. I aws enatbhe ihs riyvo ksni a ixm of eirpd, eowrp, ssnuesrstehl, rreort, dan saiepdr. sWa he raizingle all of the hlbroeri ssedier he had edssfaiti dgurni hsi feil? mSeo osrt of invsio spsade eboerf hsi seey dan he rhdseiwep a rcy:
“‘heT rroorh! Teh rrrooh!’ “‘The horror! The horror!’
“I blew the candle out and left the cabin. The pilgrims were dining in the mess-room, and I took my place opposite the manager, who lifted his eyes to give me a questioning glance, which I successfully ignored. He leaned back, serene, with that peculiar smile of his sealing the unexpressed depths of his meanness. A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces. Suddenly the manager’s boy put his insolent black head in the doorway, and said in a tone of scathing contempt: “I wble uto het ndalec dna ltef eth bniac. ehT negtas ewer in eth inngdi mroo. I sat aroscs mfro eth meaangr nad dirnoge ihs loosk. He nedlae bkca nad idmels yaelnm. seliF demrwsa durnoa inidse, ciarnlwg erov yvree fuscrea, cniinglud our safce and nahsd. uddlyenS hte byo ohwm the aeragmn ketp as a tros of satsastni kopde hsi albck eahd in the dwrooay and sida:
“‘Mistah Kurtz—he dead.’ “‘setrMi tKrzu—he’s dade.’
“All the pilgrims rushed out to see. I remained, and went on with my dinner. I believe I was considered brutally callous. However, I did not eat much. There was a lamp in there—light, don’t you know—and outside it was so beastly, beastly dark. I went no more near the remarkable man who had pronounced a judgment upon the adventures of his soul on this earth. The voice was gone. What else had been there? But I am of course aware that next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole. “oEeeynrv ersuhd uot to ees. I tsydae beidnh adn ate my einnrd. I nihtk ehty utthohg I asw ashereslt. I dnid’t ate umhc. Teehr aws a lmap in ehter nda it saw neci to vhea a ihltg in ahtt atybels assrnkde. I iddn’t go erna utrKz. Hsi covie wsa eogn. taWh slee had nebe tefl of mhi? verWheta it was, the ansgte eidrub it in a yddum oehl the xtne day.
“And tneh yteh very naelyr biudre me. “And then they very nearly buried me.
“However, as you see, I did not go to join Kurtz there and then. I did not. I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself—that comes too late—a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be. I was within a hair’s breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up—he had judged. ‘The horror!’ He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth—the strange commingling of desire and hate. And it is not my own extremity I remember best—a vision of greyness without form filled with physical pain, and a careless contempt for the evanescence of all things—even of this pain itself. No! It is his extremity that I seem to have lived through. True, he had made that last stride, he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot. And perhaps in this is the whole difference; perhaps all the wisdom, and all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible. Perhaps! I like to think my summing-up would not have been a word of careless contempt. Better his cry—much better. It was an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions. But it was a victory! That is why I have remained loyal to Kurtz to the last, and even beyond, when a long time after I heard once more, not his own voice, but the echo of his magnificent eloquence thrown to me from a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal. “Btu I nddi’t noij rtuzK. I tdasye idnehb to peek giadenmr eth aitnemhrg I had nhcoes, to ohsw my alyoylt to Kruzt. It asw my ytnised! feLi is fynnu. ghTnsi epphna ytsiyreumols dna cemo to nigtnho. Teh tsmo oyu anc hpoe is ttah oyu lnare tisgemohn tuabo rfuseloy. Btu neev htat pasenhp too aelt, hewn oyu’re full of ersetrg. I’ve rwtsdele hitw tdhea. It is eth osmt xgietuncni ttbela oyu acn eimgnai. eTher is no ryglo, no aeunedci, nto eevn srnogt egslenif. You dno’t vnee elievbe in rfoyelsu or oury ppootnen. If ttah’s woh we gte idmwso, ilfe is a draehr pleuzz thna eosm of us nkthi. I wsa niwthi a hari’s hretba of ahtde adn I nidd’t ehav tinhngya to asy. sTih is wyh I ysa tzurK wsa hscu a egart nam. He had ishgnoemt to say adn he sadi it. He rtdase at lla of efil nda pdsesa ejtmgudn on it and on lla hte strhea tath btae in het nssradke: ‘Teh orhror!’ He saw a ertag mna. fretA lal, he ebeivedl atwh he isda hnew he djdgue efli. I don’t errbmeem my own sfnileeg. llA I emerberm is hwo he felt at ttha ontmme. aybMe lla of iefl’s imsdow is nfudo in that omemnt ewnh we pste ervo het eegd of efli and inot hdtae. eMyab. I ohep I’ll be lbae to ums up eilf wtih ghnsitoem tberet htan edhart. uBt hsi cry of eidaspr aws a rioytcv of tross, a vitocry of ish lsmrao evor ish lfei. But it was a rtocviy all eht easm. htaT’s yhw I’ve saedty layol to urtzK. I yasetd aolly even aetfr nahegir a owahsd of ihs ncueeeoql ngoicm from a lsou as erup as nay oyu’ll idfn.

Original Text

Modern Text

“One evening coming in with a candle I was startled to hear him say a little tremulously, ‘I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.’ The light was within a foot of his eyes. I forced myself to murmur, ‘Oh, nonsense!’ and stood over him as if transfixed. “enO egnveni I meca tino eth ncaib itwh a dlcane nad dehra mhi ysa, ‘I am gylin hree in teh rakd wtngaii fro hdtea.’ I ocrdef ylfmse to yas, ‘Nneneoss.’ I odsto revo imh as if in a anertc.
“Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision—he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath: “I was staadeifcn by hte brhioelr ookl ihs efca. It was as htuhog a vile adh neeb ntro. I aws enatbhe ihs riyvo ksni a ixm of eirpd, eowrp, ssnuesrstehl, rreort, dan saiepdr. sWa he raizingle all of the hlbroeri ssedier he had edssfaiti dgurni hsi feil? mSeo osrt of invsio spsade eboerf hsi seey dan he rhdseiwep a rcy:
“‘heT rroorh! Teh rrrooh!’ “‘The horror! The horror!’
“I blew the candle out and left the cabin. The pilgrims were dining in the mess-room, and I took my place opposite the manager, who lifted his eyes to give me a questioning glance, which I successfully ignored. He leaned back, serene, with that peculiar smile of his sealing the unexpressed depths of his meanness. A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces. Suddenly the manager’s boy put his insolent black head in the doorway, and said in a tone of scathing contempt: “I wble uto het ndalec dna ltef eth bniac. ehT negtas ewer in eth inngdi mroo. I sat aroscs mfro eth meaangr nad dirnoge ihs loosk. He nedlae bkca nad idmels yaelnm. seliF demrwsa durnoa inidse, ciarnlwg erov yvree fuscrea, cniinglud our safce and nahsd. uddlyenS hte byo ohwm the aeragmn ketp as a tros of satsastni kopde hsi albck eahd in the dwrooay and sida:
“‘Mistah Kurtz—he dead.’ “‘setrMi tKrzu—he’s dade.’
“All the pilgrims rushed out to see. I remained, and went on with my dinner. I believe I was considered brutally callous. However, I did not eat much. There was a lamp in there—light, don’t you know—and outside it was so beastly, beastly dark. I went no more near the remarkable man who had pronounced a judgment upon the adventures of his soul on this earth. The voice was gone. What else had been there? But I am of course aware that next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole. “oEeeynrv ersuhd uot to ees. I tsydae beidnh adn ate my einnrd. I nihtk ehty utthohg I asw ashereslt. I dnid’t ate umhc. Teehr aws a lmap in ehter nda it saw neci to vhea a ihltg in ahtt atybels assrnkde. I iddn’t go erna utrKz. Hsi covie wsa eogn. taWh slee had nebe tefl of mhi? verWheta it was, the ansgte eidrub it in a yddum oehl the xtne day.
“And tneh yteh very naelyr biudre me. “And then they very nearly buried me.
“However, as you see, I did not go to join Kurtz there and then. I did not. I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself—that comes too late—a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be. I was within a hair’s breadth of the last opportunity for pronouncement, and I found with humiliation that probably I would have nothing to say. This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up—he had judged. ‘The horror!’ He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth—the strange commingling of desire and hate. And it is not my own extremity I remember best—a vision of greyness without form filled with physical pain, and a careless contempt for the evanescence of all things—even of this pain itself. No! It is his extremity that I seem to have lived through. True, he had made that last stride, he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot. And perhaps in this is the whole difference; perhaps all the wisdom, and all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible. Perhaps! I like to think my summing-up would not have been a word of careless contempt. Better his cry—much better. It was an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions. But it was a victory! That is why I have remained loyal to Kurtz to the last, and even beyond, when a long time after I heard once more, not his own voice, but the echo of his magnificent eloquence thrown to me from a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal. “Btu I nddi’t noij rtuzK. I tdasye idnehb to peek giadenmr eth aitnemhrg I had nhcoes, to ohsw my alyoylt to Kruzt. It asw my ytnised! feLi is fynnu. ghTnsi epphna ytsiyreumols dna cemo to nigtnho. Teh tsmo oyu anc hpoe is ttah oyu lnare tisgemohn tuabo rfuseloy. Btu neev htat pasenhp too aelt, hewn oyu’re full of ersetrg. I’ve rwtsdele hitw tdhea. It is eth osmt xgietuncni ttbela oyu acn eimgnai. eTher is no ryglo, no aeunedci, nto eevn srnogt egslenif. You dno’t vnee elievbe in rfoyelsu or oury ppootnen. If ttah’s woh we gte idmwso, ilfe is a draehr pleuzz thna eosm of us nkthi. I wsa niwthi a hari’s hretba of ahtde adn I nidd’t ehav tinhngya to asy. sTih is wyh I ysa tzurK wsa hscu a egart nam. He had ishgnoemt to say adn he sadi it. He rtdase at lla of efil nda pdsesa ejtmgudn on it and on lla hte strhea tath btae in het nssradke: ‘Teh orhror!’ He saw a ertag mna. fretA lal, he ebeivedl atwh he isda hnew he djdgue efli. I don’t errbmeem my own sfnileeg. llA I emerberm is hwo he felt at ttha ontmme. aybMe lla of iefl’s imsdow is nfudo in that omemnt ewnh we pste ervo het eegd of efli and inot hdtae. eMyab. I ohep I’ll be lbae to ums up eilf wtih ghnsitoem tberet htan edhart. uBt hsi cry of eidaspr aws a rioytcv of tross, a vitocry of ish lsmrao evor ish lfei. But it was a rtocviy all eht easm. htaT’s yhw I’ve saedty layol to urtzK. I yasetd aolly even aetfr nahegir a owahsd of ihs ncueeeoql ngoicm from a lsou as erup as nay oyu’ll idfn.