Heart of Darkness
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From Library Staff
A dark allegorical masterpiece based on the author's own traumatic experiences in the Belgian Congo, recounts the voyage of Marlow up the Congo River in search of the mysterious Mr. Kurtz - a white trader whose domination of the local natives had transformed him into a depraved and abominable tyr... Read More »
Heart of Darkness deals powerfully with racism and colonialism, but author Chinua Achebe (above on this list) criticized it for dehumanizing portrayals of Africans, making the reading of the two novels together even more fruitful.
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"The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I’ve never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.”
“The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing us down towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress; and Kurtz’s life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time. . . . I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsound method.’”
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Heart of Darkness (1902) grew out of a journey Joseph Conrad took up the Congo River, and the verisimilitude that the great novelist thereby brought to his most famous tale everywhere enhances its dense and shattering power. 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.