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Lecture 14

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Tuesday March 11 Lecture 14 Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ Some Hallmarks of Modernism: • The legacy of WWI (1914-1918) o Pessimism and disillusionment o An end to the Victorian age and its values o People lost faith and belief (not just religious, but faith in authorities), feelings of nationalism… • The problem of representation th o They turned away from 19 century realism - novels tried to depict the world as it really was, but it was hard to portray or capture the devastation of war o There was a move away from realism because people no longer had faith in the objective world o Writers could begin to invent and discover new ways of showing the experience of life (although there were losses, there were gains as well)  eg. T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf • Narrative and verse forms that represent fracture and non-closure o Writers to learned to make art out of things that were broken o Modernist writers still have that pessimism that doesn’t really go away, but they discover new artistic possibilities • An interest in inwardness, states of subjectivity o Writers turned away from the objective world (which could never be assuredly known) o This is how we truly experience life – as a series of fragments (we don’t really follow a continuous narrative)  eg. we may face a problem while thinking about what we’ve done in the past Conrad’s Heart of Darkness • There is a drive toward exploring inward states of mind • Joseph Conrad was born in the Ukraine, but was ethnically Polish • His parents died when he was young, and was raised by his uncle • At the age of 17, he went to sea (didn’t have a formal education), going on voyages with different armies on merchant ships (a way to see the world) • When he was 21, he arrived in England and took another position on a boat that went from London to the northern parts of England • Conrad didn’t learn English until he was in his early 20’s (but is a “master stylist of the English language”) o He uses rich description, particular symbolism, and elaborate sentences o Though he is a stranger to the language, he can see its linguistic potential as an outsider • The story is in part inspired by Conrad’s own experience in the Congo (after he was England and was in his 30’s) o He was a steamboat captain, navigating the Congo river for four months • Heart of Darkness first came out in a literary magazine called Blackwoods • It was a novella, but Conrad also wrote some longer novels o A lot of his novels were also set at sea, or were adventure tales (Europeans going out into an “exotic land”) Basic Summary: • Part I o The initial setting is in England, and the narrator is Marlow o Marlow talks about what he did before coming to Africa (visiting the doctor to get his medical exam) o Marlow goes from the outer station (initial launching off point) to the central station, and meets the manager and then the brick layer o Marlow f
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