Heart of Darkness describes a steamboat voyage up and down the Congo River by a British sea captain named Charles Marlow, who is commissioned to fetch a renegade ivory collector called Kurtz. On the trip Marlow witnesses scenes of shocking abuse, culminating in his encounter with Kurtz. Even while Africa and its people remain opaque to Marlow, the hunt for Kurtz becomes a haunting voyage of self-discovery and a spectacular indictment of European imperialism. This complex meditation on colonialism, civilization, and corruptibility has enthralled readers for more than a hundred years and inspired dozens of adaptations, including Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now (1979).
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) is a Polish-born British writer who ranks amongst the greatest English novelists and stylists. His work draws on two adventuresome decades he spent at sea in the merchant marines, and, briefly, as a seaman on a steamboat in the Belgian Congo. Gripping and psychologically sophisticated, Conrad’s diverse characters seek meaning but also fame and fortune in a world quite suddenly shrunk to navigable proportions during the era of European colonial expansion. Few other works have seared this fraught history into the world’s conscience with such lasting impact. Conrad died in 1924 and is buried in Canterbury, England.
Ulrich Baer holds a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Yale, and is University Professor at New York University. He has been awarded Guggenheim, Getty, and Alexander von Humboldt fellowships in recognition of his work. Among his books are Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Dark Interval, Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, We Are But a Moment, and What the Snowflakes Get Right.
“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.”
Includes a trenchant afterward by Ulrich Baer, Joseph Conrad’s letter opposing practices in the Belgian Congo, his National Geographic essay “Geography and Some Explorers,” and an extensive biographical timeline.
Price: $7.95 (paperback) | $2.99 (ebook)
Pages: 125 pages
Book dimensions: 5.25 x 0.3 x 8 inches
Published: January 6, 2020