Monday, 6 September 2010
On this day...
Polish born novelist Joseph Conrad captained a voyage down the Congo river in 1890. Sailing from Stanley Falls to Leopoldville, the events of the journey were to provide the inspiration of Conrad's most famous work, 'The Heart of Darkness', published 12 years later. Conrad was working for a small Belgian trading company, yet due to illnesses within the company, he found himself promoted to captain, a role he was never to reprise in any of his subsequent trips.
On board the 'Roi des Belges', was Conrad's superior George Klein. Although he was to die on the journey downriver, his name was immortilised in the early drafts of Conrad's masterpiece, changing only to Kurtz later. Alive at the height of the British Empire, Conrad had wanted to discover the 'unsolved mystery' of the African continent ever since he was a child, and the realisation of his dream provided not only an intellectual but emotional stimulus. Although faced with accusations of racism from the likes of Chinua Achebe, 'The Heart of Darkness' has remained consistently popular.