Synopses & Reviews
With an Introduction by Caryl Phillips
Commentary by H.L. Mencken, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Lionel Trilling, Chiua Achebe, and Philip Gourevitch
"Heart of Darkness," which appeared at the very beginning of our century, was a Cassandra cry announcing the end of Victorian Europe, on the verge of transforming itself into the Europe of violence," wrote the critic Czeslaw Milosz.
Originally published in 1902, Heart of Darkness remains one of this century's most enduring--and harrowing--works of fiction. Written several years after Conrad's grueling sojourn in the Belgian Congo, the novel tells the story of Marlow, a seaman who undertakes his own journey into the African jungle to find the tormented white trader Kurtz. Rich in irony and spellbinding prose, Heart of Darkness 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."
A group of white men journeys up the Congo River to invade the jungles of the Belgian Congo in an effort to rob the natives of their ivory.
Joseph Conrad's enduring portrait of the ugliness of colonialism in a deluxe edition with a gripping cover by Hellboy artist Mike Mignola
Heart of Darkness is the thrilling tale of Marlow, a seaman and wanderer recounting his physical and psychological journey in search of the infamous ivory trader Kurtz. Traveling upriver into the heart of the African continent, he gradually becomes obsessed by this enigmatic, wraith-like figure. Marlow's discovery of how Kurtz has gained his position of power over the local people involves him in a radical questioning, not only of his own nature and values, but of those that underpin Western civilization itself.
About the Author
(originally Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. His parents, ardent Polish patriots, died when he was a child, following their exile for anti-Russian activities, and he came under the protection of his tradition-conscious uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski, who watched over him for the next twenty-five years. In 1874 Bobrowski conceded to his nephew's passionate desire to go to sea, and Conrad travelled to Marseilles, where he served in French merchant vessels before joining a British ship in 1878 as an apprentice. In 1886 he obtained British nationality and his Master's certificate in the British Merchant Service. Eight years later he left the sea to devote himself to writing, publishing his first novel, Almayer's Folly
, in 1895. The following year he married Jessie George and eventually settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth
, Heart of Darkness
, Lord Jim
, The Secret Agent
and Under Western Eyes
. He continued to write until his death in 1924. Today Conrad is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of fiction in Englishhis third language. He once described himself as being concerned 'with the ideal value of things, events and people'; in the Preface to The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'
he defined his task as 'by the power of the written word ... before all, to make you see'.
Adam Hochschild is the author of seven books, including King Leopolds Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa and Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empires Slaves. He teaches narrative writing at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley.
Timothy S. Hayes is an Instructor of English at Auburn University in Alabama. His research interests include narrative theory and the novel, particularly the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad.
Mike Mignola is an award-winning artist and writer. He is the creator of Hellboy, which has been adapted into two feature films by Guillermo del Toro. He lives in Los Angeles, California.