Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Introduction by Caryl Phillips
Commentary by H. L. Mencken, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Lionel Trilling, Chinua Achebe, and Philip Gourevitch
Originally published in 1902, " Heart of Darkness" remains one of this century's most enduring works of fiction. Written several years after Joseph Conrad's grueling sojourn in the Belgian Congo, the novel is a complex meditation on colonialism, evil, and the thin line between civilization and barbarity. This edition contains selections from Conrad's "Congo Diary" of 1890--the first notes, in effect, for the novel, which was composed at the end of that decade. Virginia Woolf wrote of Conrad: "His books are full of moments of vision. They light up a whole character in a flash. . . . He could not write badly, one feels, to save his life.
About the Author
Joseph Conrad [born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski] (1857-1924), was a Polish born mariner and writer who, after a turbulent youth, moved first to France and then Britain. He spent most of his twenties and thirties working on various ships, from wealthy three-masters to rusty steamers, voyaging around the world and rising in rank until he attained a master's certificate in 1886. The same year Conrad took British nationality. His marine career came finally to an end in 1894 due to increasing importance of steam sail, for which Conrad's qualifications were not satisfactory.He then began his literary career, for he was drafting stories in his spare time even when working at sea. After a slow start, the major success came between 1897 and 1911 with publications of short stories and novels such as 'Youth' (1898), Lord Jim (1899), Heart of Darkness (1899), Typhoon (1902), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), 'The Secret Sharer' (1910) and Under Western Eyes (1911).Conrad's works were influenced by his sea voyages and adventures, and his novels often revolve around the significance of imperial enterprises and the moral dilemmas they inflict. The echoes of his Polish upbringing in a difficult political time may be traced in the underlining sense of isolation, embattled honour, and political disillusionment prevailing many of his works.Because of the exotic settings and adventurous plots of Conrad's works on one hand, and the moral complexity of his characters on the other, many of his works became an inspiration for stage and film adaptations.
Francis E. Low is Institute Professor Emeritus of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With over 40 years in the field, he has lectured and published widely on theoretical and particle physics.
Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, West Indies. Brought up in England, he has written for television, radio, theater, and film. He is the author of three books of nonfiction and seven previous novels. His last novel, "A Distant Shore, "won the 2004 Commonwealth Prize. His awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Phillips lives in New York City.
Caryl Phillips's "The Final Passage, A State of Independence, The European Tribe, Higher Ground, Cambridge, Crossing the River, The Nature of Blood, The Atlantic Sound, A New World Order," and "A Distant Shore" are available in Vintage paperback.
"From the Hardcover edition."