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Heart of Darkness is a novella by Joseph Conrad. The narrator, Charles Marlow, tells a story about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State. Few people – including Conrad – didn’t seem to think much of the statements the novella made when it was first published; in fact, during his own time, the book wasn’t a particularly notable success. Something changed, however, and as the decades went on, Heart of Darkness began to get more and more attention until it eventually became a staple of high school and college English classes.
Heart of Darkness brings racism and imperialism to the fore, although its characterizations of Africa & Africans has been criticized. One notable criticism comes from Chinua Achebe, who in his 1975 lecture An Image of Africa accused Conrad of being a racist. Counters to Achebe’s claims are in some part based on it being a political criticism instead of a literary one.