A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.
Born Teodor Józef Konrad Korzeniowski in Decenber if 1857. In 1861 Josephs' father was arrested by Tsarist Russian authorities in Warsaw for helping organise what would become the January Uprising of 1863-64, and was exiled to Vologda, approximately 300 miles north of Moscow.
At the age of 7 his mother died of tuberculosis in 1865. At the age of 11, his father died of tuberculosis in 1869. Warded by his uncle, Joseph Conrad grew up in the Polish Ukraine, a large, fertile plain between Poland and Russia.
In 1874 he moved to France, mastering his second language and the of seamanship. The author made acquaintances in many circles, but his "bohemian" friends were the ones who introduced him to drama, opera and theatre. By 1878, after a failed suicide attempt, Joseph had made his way to England with the intention of becoming an officer among the British ships. He ended up spending twenty more years at sea. Conrad would take voyages for a long period and then take rest time on shore. This was a cyclic pattern. Conrad lived an adventurous life, becoming involved in gunrunning and political conspiracy, which he later fictionalized
Once the author had worked his way up to shipmaster, he made a series of eastern voyages over three years. At this time he suffered a severe back injury from which he never completely recovered. A Journey to the Congo in 1890 was Joseph's real inspiration to write Heart of Darkness. His outrage and condemnation of colonialism were well documented in the journal he kept during his visit. He returned to England and soon faced the death of his beloved guardian-uncle.
In 1923, the year before his death, Conrad, who possessed a hereditary Polish coat-of-arms, declined the offer of a British knighthood (which is not hereditary). Joseph Conrad died 3 August 1924, of a heart attack, and was interred at Canterbury Cemetery, Canterbury, England, under the name of Korzeniowski.
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