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Heart of Darkness Introduction

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Christa Overbeck

on 3 March 2016

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness Introduction

Joseph Conrad's
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is a book about Imperialism.
Heart of Darkness is a book about MUCH more than Imperialism.
scramble for
that ever
history of human conscience

-Joseph Conrad
Published in 1898, on the cusp between Victorianism & Modernism, the novel...
is not autobiography (despite being inspired by Conrad's own travels to the Belgian Congo).
is not history (despite the very real history of exploitation in Africa).
registers moral outrage, and yet...
resists clear interpretations of its meaning (though this does not mean that it is meaningless).
The Story:
Takes place on 2 Rivers:
The Thames in London & the Congo in Africa.
Conrad uses a FRAME STORY to house his narrative.
An unnamed narrator, listens to Marlow tell the tale of his journey down the Congo, as they and two other men rest on a boat on the Thames. Marlowe tells the entire story while seated, "like a Buddha," on the boat in England.
Joseph Conrad, for whom English was his third language, is considered one of the most notable
prose stylists
in the English language.
The language of Heart of Darkness is patterned, probing,
and evokative. It is also at times as baffling and murky as the ideas Conrad explores.

Our study of prose will seek to find the relationship between the language, style, and structure of the novel and the thorniness of the issues.
White men/Black men

Issues that function as...
And are explored via...
Heart of Darkness IS a demanding text. It will challenge us as readers and as people, but it is also a rewarding text with a great deal to teach us about language, history, the world, and most importantly...ourselves.

"And this also, said Marlow suddenly, has been one of the dark places of the earth."
"In a few hours I arrived in a city that will always make me think of a whited sepulcher."
"But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map resembling an immense snake uncoiled... The snake had charmed me."
"The mind of man is capable of anything - because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. What was there after all? Joy, fear, sorrow, devotion, rage - who can tell? - but truth - truth stripped of its cloak of time."
Full transcript