Matt Kish, an English teacher, librarian, and self-taught artist recently released a version of Heart of Darkness featuring an illustration for every page of Conrad’s important and poignant masterpiece. Heart of Darkness was required reading in college and to be honest I had trouble getting through it the first time. Perhaps part of the problem was that I was forced to read it from a massive Norton’s Anthology, and books are not meant to be experienced in that context. While I was unable to make it through the book itself, my professor’s explanation of it had a profound impact on my creative and personal philosophy. I had always meant to reread it, and when I saw this beautifully illustrated edition I knew it was the right time to tackle the novel again. Kish’s illuminations are the perfect companion to Conrad’s novel. They create a visceral and aesthetic experience that heightens the tone of Conrad’s already powerful voice. They also allow the reader to more easily follow all of the repeating images and motifs of the story. This combination of art and literature allows Conrad’s message to more immediately and more thoroughly permeate the reader and serves as a wonderful example of the possibilities for modern illumination.
While the bright colorful images may at first seem to jar with the tone of a book called Heart of Darkness, they in fact only serve to highlight that evil happens under the sun as well as under the cover of night. Furthermore, the garish and sickly colors create a strong feeling of disease and corruption which fits excellently with the themes of the story. Kish’s introduction to the book describes his creative process and explains the different aesthetic decisions he made while illustrating Heart of Darkness.
You can read what Kish has to say about his work here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-kish/on-my-illustrated-edition_b_4273506.html