Historical Context

When I read the first few pages of Heart of Darkness over the weekend, I was a little confused without the historical context being explicitly stated. If anyone else had that problem at first, read the intro! I know no one likes to do reading that isn’t specifically assigned, but being that this book seems pretty grounded it somewhat realistic historical nature, I think the intro is worth checking out. It definitely cleared things up for me, it’s helpful for sure.

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2 Responses to Historical Context

  1. Brad Fest says:

    Yes, the editor’s introduction is quite informative and provides quite a bit of the context for Heart of Darkness. I will also be giving some background on Conrad and the novella in class this Thursday. Thanks for the first post.

  2. moniquebriones2014 says:

    I agree, the introduction clarified a few basic story logistics for me (primarily setting). Thanks for the advice!

    I see a parallel in the book’s introduction to the Eagleton readings from last week as well. Our discussion of Eagleton’s “What is Literature?” concluded that literature is used as a way to establish power by the institutions that be but can also empower those who stand outside of or are against those institutions.

    I heard this echoed when Armstrong backs up the argument that Alan Simmons poses that Heart of Darkness “is not only a text about the history of imperialism but was itself a participant” (xii). Conrad’s work was propagandistic for its time, helping sway public opinion against a powerful Belgian royal’s actions (which, in turn, illuminates that society’s value-judgments of putting national wealth—in the form of ivory and rubber—aside when the price is human exploitation).

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