(Achebe 1789) Many critics reacted strongly to Achebe’s condemnation and rose to Conrad’s defense. British and European culture was undoubtedly far more virulently racist than it is today, and to expect a white writer educated in that culture to fail to hold some type of racial bias is no more plausible than to expect a writer living and working next to an oil refinery to not smell a bit like petroleum.
It’s difficult to notice an everyday, background evil if everyone presents it as normal.
, or ‘The Heart of Darkness’ as it was first known, was published in 1899, a time of great political and social change in Europe.
The turn of the century promised a new world as the industrial revolution careered society towards global capitalism – the more palatable way of seeing European exploitation of other nations.
It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset.
Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.(Achebe 1785) The point of my observations should be quite clear by now, namely that Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist.That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked. Lovecraft, whose work is more frequently criticized as racist) often assert that he and his book were products of their time and thus shouldn’t be judged in the unforgiving light of modern racial morality.Chinua Achebe’s influential 1977 essay on the book describes it as “bloody racist”.This is the debate which continues today – was Conrad deliberately depicting the racist views of 1899 with a view to undermining them, or was he complicit in the racism? Further along his journey, Marlow meets the sinister Mr Kurtz who has been living in the Congo for some time, and has apparently lost his mind.He tells the gathering of his journey down the Congo River, which he paints as a primitive and terrifying place – the very heart of darkness.Marlow encounters Belgian stations called “trading posts” along the river, where he is appalled by the treatment of the African natives.However you come down on Conrad’s novel, in the run up to Brexit these questions have never felt more prescient.Far from a straight retelling of the text, imitating the dog take our hands and drag us into the grapple for answers – but they shift the question.by Joseph Conrad tells the story (via an unnamed narrator) of sailor Charles Marlow’s time as captain of an ivory-hauling steamboat along the Congo River.The 1899 novel, rooted in Conrad’s own experiences as a merchant sailor on the Congo, vividly portrays the horrors of Belgian colonial rule over and exploitation of Africa.