Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzenioski, son of Polish nationalists who died in exile for their political activities, was raised by relatives in various parts of Eastern Europe. He went to sea at 16, and spent 20 years at sea, working first on French merchant ships in the West Indies, then on English ships, where he learned the language and traveled to Latin America and Africa. He drew on these experiences for much of his fiction; in 1890 he was the commander of a ship that traveled up the Congo River, the inspiration for HEART OF DARKNESS. He began writing in 1892, on a voyage from England to Australia, and in 1895 he left the British merchant service to become a full-time writer. He settled in London and married an Englishwoman. Although English was not his native language, he is renowned for the subtlety and descriptiveness of his prose--despite the fact that he spoke the language all his life with a heavy accent. His model for the writing of fiction was Henry James, whom he addressed as "cher ma?tre." Conrad died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 67. His epitaph, taken from Spenser's THE FAERIE QUEENE, reads: "Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas, /Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please."
"Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' was one of the most profound books of my formative years. I have never forgotten it."
From the Publisher
Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad. Before its 1902 publication, it appeared as a three-part series (1899) in Blackwood's Magazine. It is widely regarded as a significant work of English literature and part of the Western canon.The story details an incident when Marlow, an Englishman, took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Although Conrad does not specify the name of the river, at this time Congo Free State, the location of the large and important Congo River, was a private colony of Belgium's King Leopold II. Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver; however, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization in a cover up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region.This very symbolic story is actually a story within a story, or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts, from dusk through to late night, to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary, his Congolese adventure. The passage of time, and the darkening sky, during the fictitious narrative-within-the-narrative parallels the atmosphere of the overall story. (wikipedia)