Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad
(Everyman's Library, Hardcover, 9780679428015, 144pp.)
Publication Date: October 26, 1993
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In a novella which remains highly controversial to this day, Conrad explores the relations between Africa and Europe. On the surface, this is a horrifying tale of colonial exploitation. The narrator, Marlowe journeys on business deep into the heart of Africa. But there he encounters Kurtz, an idealist apparently crazed and depraved by his power over the natives, and the meeting prompts Marlowe to reflect on the darkness at the heart of all men. This short but complex and often ambiguous story, which has been the basis of several films and plays, continues to provoke interpretation and discussion.
Heart of Darkness grew out of a journey Joseph Conrad took up the Congo River; the verisimilitude that the great novelist thereby brought to his most famous tale everywhere enhances its dense and shattering power.
Apparently a sailor’s yarn, it is in fact a grim parody of the adventure story, in which the narrator, Marlow, travels deep into the heart of the Congo where he encounters the crazed idealist Kurtz and discovers that the relative values of the civilized and the primitive are not what they seem. Heart of Darkness is a model of economic storytelling, an indictment of the inner and outer turmoil caused by the European imperial misadventure, and a piercing account of the fragility of the human soul.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Joseph Conrad was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, in 1857. After both of his parents died of tuberculosis, Conrad went to live with his uncle in Switzerland. After attending school in Krak—w he joined the French and then the British merchant marines, sailing to exotic destinations like the West Indies and the Congo, which would later become the backdrops for some of his fiction. In 1894 he settled down in England and began his literary career. In 1902 Conrad published his most famous work, The Heart of Darkness, and continued to write until his death in 1924.