Joseph Conrad: postcolonialism and imperialism

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This essay begins with a reconsideration of Chinua Achebe's famous criticism of Conrad as a 'thorough-going racist'. It examines the context of Achebe's lecture and analyses what 'Conrad' meant at the time as a critical construction through a reading of the two critics Achebe cites _ Albert J. Guerard and F. R. Leavis. It explores how 'Heart of Darkness' was read in the United States before Achebe's intervention by a close examination of Guerard's Introduction to the popular edition of 'Heart of Darkness' published by the New American Library, and it comp[ares this with the reading provided by Edward Garnett in his early review. The comparison shows how Guerard's psychological approach to the novella de-Africanises the novella and wipes out the topical specificity and the politics which were part of the work's original reception. It then examines in detail Achebe's charges against 'Heart of Darkness' and offers an alterantive reading of the novella, paying particular attention to Conrad's narrative strategies, his engagement with imperialist discourse, and hierarchy of langauges in the work. It then considers Conrad's other African story 'An Outpost of Progress' to support the reading of Marlow as distanced from Conrad: since 'An Outpost of Progress' presents a non-Marlovian 'image of Africa', it allows us to see Marlow's perspective on Africa more clearly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-46
Number of pages46
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Joseph Conrad
  • colonialism
  • Achebe
  • racism

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