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)
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.
Verlyn Klinkenborg is the author of "The Last Fine Time, Making Hay, " and the forthcoming "Becoming a Hand: A True Life Among Horses." His articles have appeared in many magazines, including "The New Yorker, Harper's, Audubon, Smithsonian, " and "The New Republic." He teaches creative writing at Harvard University.
Catherine Coulter is the author of the New York Times bestselling FBI thrillers The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh Hour, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take, TailSpin, KnockOut, Whiplash, Split Second, and Backfire. She lives in Northern California.