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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Updated on May 5, 2010

Heart of Darkness is a short novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1902. One of Conrad's best works, the story reflects his experiences during a riverboat voyage in the Belgian Congo. Marlow, the narrator, reminiscing about his adventures in the Congo as a boat captain for a concern that traded in ivory, remembers the terrible treatment of the native people by the self-seeking company agents.

He recalls rumors that were spread about one agent, Mr. Kurtz, once a reputedly kind and idealistic man, who by some mysterious means was able to obtain more ivory than anyone eke. Intrigued, Marlow set out to find Kurtz in the jungle and discovered him to be morally corrupted by greed for power and dying of tropical disease.

The story's title symbolizes the jungle and also the dark and bestial side of man's nature. T.S. Eliot's epigram for his poem The Hollow Men, "Mistah Kurtz, he dead," is taken from this story.


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    • Longtail profile image

      Longtail 7 years ago

      The most famous adaptation of Heart of Darkness is Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, which moves the story from the Congo to Vietnam and Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 7 years ago from United States

      I've always wondered what this book is about. There is a video game called "Eternal Darkness" that features an artifact in the game called the "Heart of Darkness", so I've always been curious what this book is about. However its clear that the item wasn't really based off of anything in this book (except maybe on a metaphorical sense). Thanks for the synopsis!