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Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-British novelist Joseph Conrad about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Charles Marlow.
Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, London, England. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which enables Conrad to create a parallel between London and Africa as places of darkness.
Central to Conrad's work is the idea that there is little difference between so-called civilized people and those described as savages. Heart of Darkness raises questions about imperialism and racism.
Originally issued as a three-part serial story in Blackwood's Magazine to celebrate the 1,000th edition of the magazine, Heart of Darkness has been widely re-published and translated into many languages. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Heart of Darkness 67th on their list of the 100 best novels in English of the 20th century.