Novel Reading and Author Research: "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

Essay by mikehuntHigh School, 11th gradeA, January 2007

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Who was Joseph Conrad?

Joseph Conrad, christened Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski was born to polish parents in the Russian Ukraine on December 3, 1857. His mother was named Evelina and his father Apollo. Apollo in October 1861 was deemed to be dangerous. The police arrested him for engaging in activities against the Russian government. Along with his wife and young son, they were shipped to a prison camp to live in exile for four years. His mother eventually died in 1865 leaving Jozef with his father. His father was then forced to educate young Jozef. As time went on his father too became very sick and eventually died, leaving Jozef with his uncle who became like a father to him. Jozef was very interested in the sea. In 1874 he departed for the sea and 20 years of naval adventures. The journey provided much material for his novel Heart of Darkness..

By 1894 Conrad's sea life was over. During the long journeys he had started to write and Conrad decided to devote himself entirely to literature. Unfortunately on August 3rd, 1924 Conrad died of a heart attack. Although he has passed away his writings will last a lifetime.

How did he know about Africa?

Ernest Hemingway once said, "A writer writes about the country he knows, and the country he knows is in his heart." This is appropriate for Joseph Conrad because when writing the novel "Heart of Darkness" he based it on his personal experiences. During Conrad's life he sailed to many different parts of the world. Most importantly he sailed to Africa, and based his novel on the time he spent in the Congo.

What did Europeans know about Africa and how did that shape how they thought about this largely unknown place?

When the first...