The seventeenth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up!
In this episode, the professor discusses Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and its place among other white masculine adventure narratives set in different parts of the British Empire in the 19th century.
Quayson argues that thematically, Marlow’s existential crisis and self-doubt distinguish Heart of Darkness from the pattern of indubitable confidence in the European civilizing mission that is depicted in other novels of the time by Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Defoe, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
However, at the level of literary form and depictions of nature, Heart of Darkness continues to play into the exploitation of Africa. Quayson analyzes Conrad’s usage of dreamscapes and epiphany to heighten the primal senses and exoticize Africans. The professor explains:
What we find in The Heart of Darkness, then, is that nature and the Africans that have been assimilated to it present a major problem of representation. The African natural landscape being so alien is incommensurable to representation and will always elude the Europeans’ capacity to speak about it.
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Critic.Reading.Writing with Ato Quayson is the show for booklovers hungry for meaningful conversations about books.
New episodes of Critic.Reading.Writing with Ato Quayson will be posted every Saturday.