A Passion for Maps

1814 world map

This is a post in response to the Daily Prompt.

heart of darkness book coverAs a traveler, I have a lot of downtime and therefore read a lot of books. “How to books” and other non-fiction books are the types of things I tend to read. I love learning new skills and methods for doing things.

Novels and fiction are entertaining, but my attention span is too short and often times a get half way through before starting another book. But there was a novel I recently re-read that captured my imagination: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

The novel tells the story of steam boat captain named Marlow, in the late 19th century, making his way through the forest on the Congo River in modern day Democratic Republic Congo. Marlow is in search of an ivory trader named Kurtz, who has lived deep in the untamed forest for several years. If the plot sounds a lot like the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now, it’s because they are the exact same story. Oliver Stone’s movie is an adaption of Heart of Darkness.

There’s one line in the Heart of Darkness that really resonates with me:

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there.’ The North Pole was one of these places, I remember.

Other places were scattered about the Equator, and in every sort of latitude all over the two hemispheres. I have been in some of them, and . . . well, we won’t talk about that. But there was one yet–the biggest, the most blank, so to speak– that I had a hankering after.

If you’re interested in old world maps, I invite you to check out this great article on Wikipedia.

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