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“Belgium’s Heart of Darkness”
This article offers a brief but powerful history of Belgian imperialism in the Congo. Not only does the author discuss Joseph Conrad’s depiction of this history, but he also argues that the atrocities of Belgian imperialism foreshadowed many of the other horrors witnessed during the twentieth century.
"Congo: A Curse of Riches"
This 15-minute documentary covers the history of the Congo starting in 1908, when King Leopold II of Belgium formally annexed the territory (it had already been in Belgium’s possession since 1885). The documentary ends in 1960, when Belgium abandoned the Congo, giving the country “freedom,” but leaving it without a government.
"The History of the Ivory Trade"
National Geographic presents a short documentary about the history of the ivory trade. For readers of Heart of Darkness, this documentary provides some historical context for the ivory craze that drives so many Europeans in the novella.
“The Modern Period”
This page provides a brief but helpful introduction to the literary and cultural preoccupations of modernist writers in the early twentieth century. Although the article foregrounds the work of other writers, much of what this introduction touches on also concerns Joseph Conrad.
“Orson Welles Turns Heart of Darkness Into a Radio Drama, and Almost His First Great Film”
This article tells the fascinating story of Orson Welles’s failed attempt to turn Heart of Darkness into a film. The web page also provides access to an audio recording of Welles reading his treatment of the novella for radio. Welles’s radio drama provides an interesting way for readers to imagine that they are one of Marlow’s companions, listening to him tell his tale.
“The Fine Art of Ambiguous Writing”
In his piece for The Atlantic, Joe Fassler talks with American novelist Reif Larsen about Joseph Conrad’s use of language, and with particular reference to Heart of Darkness. The article provides insight into Conrad’s careful use of ambiguity in the novella. It also indicates the influence that Conrad continues to have on contemporary writers.
“Picks, Pans and Bare Hands”
Nick Fagge’s photo-essay for Daily Mail provides an in-depth look at modern-day coltan miners in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Coltan is a type of metal ore that the DRC has in abundance. Like ivory and rubber, which during Conrad’s time were in high demand for various commercial uses, coltan is currently in high demand as a crucial component of most electronic devices. This story indicates how the history of exploitation in the region continues to this day.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Heart of Darkness!