(Re)-interrogating the “Darkness” in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Achebe’s No Longer at Ease

Nkama Obo Akaji, Samuel Enudi


Over the years, many critics especially of the African extraction, have regarded and described Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a racist tale based on the manner in which Africa(ns) is/are depicted in the novella. Of greatest importance is the manner in which Africa is represented as the “heart of darkness” which provoked Achebe’s 1975 response in his article - ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness’ where he out rightly discarded the work as a racist tale. “Darkness” which is metaphorically translated to African primitivity, backwardness, uncivilization, illiteracy and crudity, is critically re-interrogated here with the evidential facts surging from the text which finds strong corresponding support in No Longer at Ease. The aim of the paper which is in two parts is first, to articulate the first-hand information from the “first-class agent,” in the text - Mr. Kurtz by paying particular close attention on his character to better interpret the events and condition of the “heart of darkness” and; second, to examine what has been argued as “darkness” which ironically is found present in Achebe’s No Longer at Ease and even still proliferates in many present day African societies. Through the process of this metacriticism, the real deals of what happened in the Interior are found, as directly extracted from the mouth of Mr. Kurtz while the issue of African backwardness (darkness) is also found to subsist within the African life as could be located in No longer at Ease.


Heart of Darkness, Darkness, Primitivity, African Dystopianism, Irony

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Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.”

Massachusetts Review. 18. 1977

Achebe, Chinua. No Longer at Ease. Heinemann, 1960.

Bloom, Harold. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

New Edition. Infobase Publishing, 2008.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness & Other Stories. Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1995.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.9n.5p.69


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