Heart of Darkness: Passage to More Than Africa

  • D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke


If the East stimulated Conrad, another undeveloped region of the world, Africa, shook him. He told Edward Garnett: ‘Before the Congo I was only a simple animal.’ 1 It is true that the physical disorders Conrad suffered during his Congo journey incapacitated him so that he was compelled to curtail his career as a seaman and, in part, confirmed him in his already emerging predilections to be a writer. But, obviously, the most important of the consequences, from a literary point of view, was the tremendous impact of the Congo on his imagination and, in particular, how it manifested itself in Heart of Darkness. It is a central text in any discussion of ‘Literature and Imperialism’ and the central text in regard to Africa. Conrad’s is ‘the dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination’.2


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    G. Jean-Aubry, Joseph Conrad in the Congo (Boston, 1926) p. 73.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. P. Clark, The Example of Shakespeare (1970), quoted from Michael Thorpe, ‘Conrad & Caliban’, in Encounter, Vol. LXVI, No. 3, 1986, p. 49.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    David Carroll, Chinua Achebe (London: Macmillan, 1980) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    V. S. Naipaul, ‘A New King for the Congo: Mobutu and the Nihilism of Africa’ (1975), in The Return of Eva Peron with the Killings in Trinidad p. 179.Google Scholar
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    Norman Sherry, Conrad’s Western World (Cambridge University Press, 1971) p. 61.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Joseph Conrad, ‘Author’s Note’ (1917) p. xi, in Youth: A Narrative and Two Other Stories (London: Dent, 1923).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Conrad, ‘Author’s Note’ to Tales of Unrest, p. vii, in Almayer’s Folly and Tales of Unrest (London: Dent, 1923).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    A. J. Guerard, Conrad The Novelist (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press and London: Oxford University Press, 1958) p. 45.Google Scholar
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    Robin McKie, ‘Out of Africa — Man’s route to rule the world’, in The Observer, 20 March 1988, p. 4.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Sir Hugh Clifford, ‘The Quest of the Golden Fleece’, in ‘Blackwood’ Tales from the Outposts (Edinburgh and London, 1933 edn) Vol. 8; Lord Baden-Powell, ‘Jokilobovu’, ibid., Vol. 9; J. A. G. Elliot, ‘The Ngoloko’, ibid., Vol. 9.Google Scholar
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    Conrad, ‘Geography and Some Explorers’, in Last Essays p. 17: Tales of Hearsay and Last Essays (London: Dent, 1928).Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Thomas Sprat, The History of the Royal Society (1667), in J. E. Spingarn (ed.), Critical Essays of the 17th Century (Oxford, 1908) Vol. 2, pp. 112–13.Google Scholar
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  15. 20.
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  17. 27.
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  18. 27.
    George Orwell, ‘Shooting an Elephant’ (1936), in Collected Essays (London, 1968 edn) p. 16.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    Roger Casement, ‘The Congo Report’ (11 December 1903), in P. Singleton-Gates and Maurice Girodias (eds), Roger Casement: The Black Diaries (London, n.d.) pp. 98–100.Google Scholar
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    Conrad, ‘The Congo Diary’, in Tales of Hearsay and Last Essays (London, 1955 edn) p. 162.Google Scholar
  21. 30.
    Virginia Woolf, ‘Joseph Conrad’ (1924), in Collected Essays (London, 1966), Vol. 1, p. 304.Google Scholar
  22. 33.
    Quoted from Michael Wood, ‘Up the Congo in the Wake of Conrad’, in The Listener 20 September 1984, p. 13.Google Scholar
  23. 34.
    See D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke, Images of the Raj (London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988) p. 52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 35.
    Douglas Hewitt, Conrad A Reassessment (Cambridge, 1952) p. 18;Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    Robert O. Evans, ‘Conrad’s Underworld’, in Robert Kimbrough (ed.), Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness (New York: Norton, 1963) p. 190;Google Scholar
  26. 37.
    Stewart C. Wilcox, ‘Conrad’s “Complicated Presentations” of Symbolic Imagery’, in Kimbrough (ed.), Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness (1971 edn) p. 197.Google Scholar
  27. 38.
    Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and other short fiction (New York: Bantam, 1981) p. 5.Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    Watts, The Deceptive Text p. 76; Lillian Feder, ‘Marlow’s Descent into Hell’ and Robert O. Evans, ’Conrad’s Underworld’, in Kimbrough (ed.), Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness (1963 edn) p. 187 and p. 190.Google Scholar
  29. 43.
    T. S. Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Essays (Faber, 1951 edn) p. 429.Google Scholar
  30. 46.
    Lionel Trilling, Beyond Culture, quoted from C. B. Cox (ed.), Conrad: Heart of Darkness, Nostromo and Under Western Eyes: A Casebook (London: Macmillan, 1981) p. 64.Google Scholar
  31. 47.
    Above all when the whole of life is but a struggle in darkness. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura ed. Martin Ferguson (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, London: Heinemann, 1975 edn) p. 98, Book 2, line 54.Google Scholar
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    Chinua Achebe, ‘An Image of Africa’, in The Massachusetts Review Vol. 18, 1977, p. 788.Google Scholar
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    Felix Mnthali, ‘Continuity and Change in Conrad and Ngugi’, in Kunapipi Vol. 3, No. 1, 1981, p. 93.Google Scholar
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    Jeremy Hawthorne, Joseph Conrad: Language and Fictional Self-consciousness (Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1979) p. 31.Google Scholar
  35. 54.
    See Richard Curie’s notes to ‘The Congo Diary’ in Conrad’s Tales of Hearsay and Last Essays (Dent, 1955 edn).Google Scholar
  36. 58.
    Stephen A. Reid, ‘The “Unspeakable Rites” in Heart of Darkness’, in Marvin Mudrick (ed.), Conrad, A Collection of Critical Essays (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1966) p. 45.Google Scholar
  37. 59.
    Conrad, letter to R. B. Cunninghame Graham, 26 December 1903, in C. T. Watts (ed.), Joseph Conrad’s Letters to R. B. Cunninghame Graham (Cambridge University Press, 1969) p. 149.Google Scholar
  38. 62.
    Arnold Kettle, ‘Consensus on Conrad?’, in The Literary Review Vol. 32, 1981, p. 14; Jeremy Hawthorne, Joseph Conrad pp. 33–5.Google Scholar
  39. 64.
    Solzhenitsyn, ‘On the brink of a cataclysm’, in The Listener, 25 March 1976, p. 359.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. C. R. A. Goonetilleke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KelaniyaSri Lanka

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