"Authenticity comes from a single faithfulness: that to the ambiguity of experience." -- John Berger
Page references to Conrad refer to the Norton Anthology edition
Cf. Henry Morton Stanley, Through the Dark Continent (1878); In Darkest Africa (1890).
- The sunset over London, pp. 2329-30 (metaphor)
- Firing into a continent, p. 2337 (irony)
- Intention, darkness of the landscape, p. 2352-3, 2353 (personification)
- London, the Thames, heroic exploits, p. 2330
- The head office of the Company (Brussels), pp. 2334-5
- The Company station, the grove of death, pp. 2339-40
- Participant narrator, p. 2330
- Marlow; his kind of tale, p. 2331, etc.
- Marlow as protagonist: his motivation:
- the river, p. 2333
- rivets, p. 2349
- to talk with Kurtz, p. 2362
- Kurtz: lacked restraint, p. 2363-5
- Other characters, e.g., The Intended, pp. 2383-5
- Narrative breaks, pp. 2347-8, 2353, 2363
- Sympathy with the natives, p. 2354, 2358
- Delayed perception, pp. 2361, 2361-2
Language, as theme
- To talk with Kurtz, pp. 2362, 2363
- Kurt's voice, p. 2378
- 1857 born, Poland
- 1874 crew of French vessel
- 1878 joins English merchant ship
- 1884 Master's certificate
- 1890 May: to the Congo; arrives Matadi June 13; June 28 - Aug 2 trek to Leopoldville (Kinshasa); Nov. voyage upstream on Roi des Belges, death of agent Klein on return; Conrad falls ill, returns to England in January 1891.
- 1894 leaves the sea, devotes himself to writing
- 1898 November, moves to Rye, Sussex
- 1899 Heart of Darkness serial publication in Blackwood's Magazine (Feb, Mar, Apr)
- 1900 Lord Jim
- 1904 Nostromo
- 1907 The Secret Agent
- 1915 Victory
- 1924 dies
Possible topics for class report:
- Setting (note personification of forest, etc.)
- Style: from poetic to portentous, also ironic
- Character: Marlow's response to events; Kurtz, the representative of European civilization; the Intended
- To what extent is the narration unreliable (being largely due to Marlow); what difference this makes
- The figurative and hyperbolic uses of language ("The fascination of the abomination," p. 2331, etc.)
- The administration of the Congo, from Head Office to "pilgrims"
- The question of racism in the novella, first raised by Achebe, disputed by Sarvan
Suggestions for the report:
- Aim for a presentation of 2 minutes. If reading, remember that a single page, double-spaced, takes 2 minutes to read. Rehearse, if you can, to be sure you keep within the time limit.
- Begin with a brief, clear statement of the aim of your presentation (the claim)
- Decide which student in your group will make the presentation
- For most topics, it will help to focus your comments on a few short quotations from the text. To save typing these out, there's an online text of the story from which you can copy:
- For this project, you might try to raise questions rather than answer them. See if you can initiate some discussion with the class.
- When preparing share the written notes and records with others (use email), so that if one student has to be absent you are not left without a presentation.
Further reading; the question of race
Candice Bradley, "Africa and Africans in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" (Lawrence University Freshman Studies Lecture) http://mural.uv.es/estferde/heart.html
Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Norton Critical Edition, ed. Robert Kimbrough (3rd ed. 1988)
PR 6005 O4 H42 1988
Joseph Conrad Society, UK: Student Resources
John Hope Franklin, George Washington Williams, a Biography (1985). [Williams's report on the Congo, pp. 264-279; Letter to King Leopold, pp. 192-195.]
E 185.97 W695 F833 1985
Guy Burrows, The Land of the Pigmies (1898). [King Leopold on The Sacred Mission of Civilization, p. 286.]
DT 644 B97 1898 BARD
Wack, Henry Wellington. The Story of the Congo Free State. . New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1905.
DT 652 W11 HSS:3
Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Chinua Achebe, "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Massachusetts Review, 18 (1977): 782-794. AS 30 M3 A2 Rutherford.
C. P. Sarvan, "Racism and The Heart of Darkness." International Fiction Review, 7 (1980): 6-10.
PN 3311 I62
Ian Watt, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century (1979). [See especially pp. 168-200, 249-253.]
PR 6005 O4 Z7 W34 1979
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Document prepared September 24th 2001 / revised October 6th 2011