Civilization and Barbarism in Joseph Conrad's Novel "Heart Of Darkness"

Term Paper, 2011

7 Pages, Grade: 18.5/20



Civilization vs. Barbarism

Modernism is trend in the art of XX century, characterized by a break with previous historical experience of artistic creativity and the desire to adopt new, unconventional start in the art, the continuous upgrading of art forms, as well as the convention (schematization, abstract) of style (Kolocotroni, Goldman and Taxidou 20). Modernist paradigm was one of the leading in Western civilization first half of XX century in the second half of the century it has been subjected deployed criticism. Joseph Conrad may be considered to be one of the great modernist writers.

In his works, Conrad was first to use narrative tool of "perspective" when the action is transmitted through the perception of several people. This tool is widespread in modern prose. For example, in the novel "Lord Jim", the story is on behalf of not only the title character, but also Captain Marlowe (he acts as narrator in "Heart of Darkness"), as well as other characters.

Joseph Conrad (real name - Józef Korzeniowski, 1857-1924) was classic of English literature of the twentieth century. He was born in the Russian Empire in a family of Polish patriots, members of anti-government protests. In 1874 he fled to Marseille, and worked as a cabin boy on the French merchant vessel, and three years later, during a voyage to the Pacific Ocean, for the first time began to learn English (Bloom 30). Eventually he became captain of the British passenger fleet, and maritime experience gave Conrad material for his literary works. After resigning, he devoted himself entirely to literature and the mid-nineties began to publish novels, novellas and short stories, once that found its readers. Conrad was able to enter into the first rank of writers of literature's oldest, established in the language, is not for his mother - it happens very rarely. Throughout the twentieth century, his reputation grew with each decade, because the clearer became his role as one of the founders of modernism. Conrad's supreme achievement is short novel "Heart of Darkness."

In 1890, Conrad got the job of captain in the Belgian trading company operating in Congo, then a Belgian colony. He rose on his boat at 230 miles up the river Congo, and a diary of this trip in June-August 1890 formed the basis for the novel "Heart of Darkness" (1899 - journal version, 1902 - publication of a book).

Joseph Conrad has his specific point of view on such concepts as civilization and barbarism in common meaning civilization can be differently explained: 1) general philosophical meaning - a social form of motion of matter, providing the stability and the ability to self-development through self-regulation of the exchange with the environment (human civilization on the scale of space unit) 2) historiosophical meaning – it is unity of the historical process and the collection of material and spiritual achievements of mankind in During this process (human civilization in Earth's history), 3) the stage of world-historical process of achieving a certain level of sociality (the stage of self-regulation and self-production and the relative independence of the nature of the differentiation of social consciousness), and 4) localized in time and space community. Local civilization is a holistic system, representing the complex economic, political, social and spiritual sub-systems and developing according to the laws of the vital cycles. Barbarism can be explained shorter – it’s rough, wild, and uncivilized behavior. But Joseph Conrad has different point of view on these concepts. And it can be easily observed in his book “Heart of Darkness”.

On the surface in front of us we see the story of the narrator Charlie Marlow about his journey into the depths of the equatorial Africa, the trading station of the European company to pick up the accumulated goods there - ivory - and take out the patient an agent of the company, Mr. Kurtz. Tale can be read as a story about the adventures of Marlowe in the heart of Africa, but it is distinguished by a complexity of organization that the story is perceived as both a philosophical tale, besides giving an opportunity to directly opposite and mutually exclusive readings (Panichas 39).

That is a fundamentally new feature of the literature coming of the twentieth century - an unprecedented degree of concentration problems and pluralistic, the ambiguity of their ideological and artistic decisions. After a century of domination of the positivist self-confidence when it seemed that science and literature have already been or are about to find definitive answers to all questions coming century epistemological doubts, doubts about the knowability of the world and the human soul. Peace in the literature of modernism is presented as eternally hostile to human chaos, knowing that peace is difficult, and in the fullness of his own and is not available, and only the art (and literature - the word) is a means of organizing the world. Only art, as Modernists believe, offers a holistic model of reality, and this model should be as complex as internally contradictory as life itself, as the secrets of the human soul. For this new concept of world and man needed new ways of artistic expression, new ways to interact with the reader. One of the founders of modernism - Conrad - combines a tendency for a spectacular adventure plot, which is typical for an ordinary adventure novel, with an astounding wealth of content and dramatic complexity of narrative structure.


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Civilization and Barbarism in Joseph Conrad's Novel "Heart Of Darkness"
Modern Novel
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civilization, barbarism, joseph, conrad, novel, heart, darkness
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Anonymous, 2011, Civilization and Barbarism in Joseph Conrad's Novel "Heart Of Darkness", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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