Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Lawn Gnome Publishing
Heart of Darkness is one of the most significant novellas ever written. Conrad’s first and second languages were Polish and French, with his third language, English, not acquired until he was 20. English, however, was the medium he adopted to explore his youthful experience as a riverboat captain in Belgian Congo. Part of the work’s strange hallucinatory atmosphere comes from struggle with a language. Joseph Conrad preferred to be a French novelist, and English was a language without “clean edges”. He once complained that “all English words are instruments for exciting blurred emotions”. This, paradoxically, is what gives the book its famously enigmatic, and ambiguous, atmosphere.
Parents need to know that Conrad’s 1899 novella is an intense, suspenseful journey into the disturbed psyches of a rogue European ivory trader in the Congo and the British ship captain who pursues him, recounting the horrors he saw on his quest. Conrad exposes the racist, greedy nature of imperialism.
It became Conrad’s most famous, controversial and influential work. The English and American writers who fell under its spell include TS Eliot (The Waste Land), Graham Greene (A Burnt-out Case), George Orwell (Nineteen-Eighty-Four) and William Golding (The Inheritors). It inspired the Francis Ford Coppola 1979 film Apocalypse Now, a work of homage that continues to renew the contemporary fascination with the text.
Lawn Gnome Publishing’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ is an electronic book with cover art from Phoenix-based muralist Lalo Cota.