Heart of Darkness

In this powerful novella based on Joseph Conrad’s own experiences in the Belgian Congo, Charles Marlow, an experienced seaman, tells a small group of friends about a profoundly disturbing episode in his life where he was employed by a large colonising enterprise to sail a tinpot steamer up a river into the heart of Africa with a view to bringing out an ivory trader who had gone rogue. Conrad biographer Maya Janasoff has argued that while Marlow’s descriptions of Africans are crudely racist, the author binds this racist language with “a potentially radical suggestion. What made the difference between savagery and civilization, Conrad was saying, transcended skin color; it even transcended place. The issue for Conrad wasn’t that ‘savages’ were inhuman. It was that any human could be a savage.”

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