Heart of Darkness
Describing the effect he wanted his novella to have on the reader, Joseph Conrad wrote of a sinister vibration that, I hoped, would hang in the air and dwell on the ear after the last note had been struck. He did not fall short of his aim; few works of fiction possess the haunting and enduring power of Heart of Darkness. Inspired by Conrads 1890 voyage up the Congo River in the service of the Société Anonyme Belge pour le Commerce du Haut-Congo, but given a profound, universal quality apparently outside his direct experience, the story begins with a familiar premise: one mans bid to quench his thirst for adventure by undertaking a journey to a remote part of the world. But swiftly its intense prose, rich in imagery at once alluring and malignant, is immersed in complex, challenging themes: madness, the nature of the soul, the limitations of language in conveying experience, the gulf between perception and reality, and, controversially, the fallibility or perhaps the damning exposure of so-called civilised ideals when returned to a primeval environment.
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