Joseph Conrad – la fuga dalla civiltà in nome della civiltà

The writers’ attraction for unknown, exotic  countries and the idea of colonial enterprise (impresa coloniale) is best represented in Joseph Conrad’s life and stories.
Joseph Theodore Conrad Naleçs Korzenioowski (1865 – 1924) was born in Polandunder the Russian rule (governo).

In 1868 his parents die and he goes to live with an uncle that has a great passion for English literature.

At the age of 17 he starts travelling on the sea. For four years he remains in Marseilles where he helps the Spanish Carlist and loves a Basque woman (donna basca) for whom young Conrad attempted suicide (tent ail suicidio).

In 1878 the writer goes to Englandfor the first time. He goes on travelling by sea for about twenty years, till he becomes Captain.

In 1890 Conrad goes to the Belgian Congo where his health starts to be mined (essere minata). After 6 years he is forced to leave the sea and marries an English woman. So, he starts his career as a writer. He writes slowly because English is not his native language. Anyway he produces about 31 works and publishes many letters.The journey to Congo supplies the writer with all the elements for his masterpiece (capolavoro) Heart of Darkness published on Blackwood Magazine between February and April 1899. Afterwards it will be part of a collection of short novel, Youth and The End of the Tether. At first there was the article in the title, then the work became Heart of darknessto give more universal, anonymous character to the events narrated. Heart of Darkness, Conrad says, in one of his letters, “is experience pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual facts of the case.”
Heart of Darkness starts with a narrator is on a boat who listens to the story told by Marlow, an old sailor. They are on the Thames, in London. Marlow speaks about his experience as a Captain of a steamer (battello a vapore) in central Africa in search of (alla ricerca di Kurtz) Kurtz.

Kurtz is a very important and powerful agent in an Inner station who has been isolated for months and is now sick (malato). Marlow must go to rescue (salvare) this great ivory trader (commerciante di avorio) and sails with the station manager (capo della stazione di servizio), but the natives attack them: they do not want Kurtz to leave because he is an idol for them. His black mistress (amante) lets him go with her arms open in a last, symbolical embrace. Kurtz is very ill and leaves with Marlow. On the steamer Marlow perceives his depravity (depravazione) and his acceptance of the primordial instincts. Kurtz’s last words are “the horror! The horror!»

Back in London, Marlows pays a visit (va a fare visita) to Kurtz’s fiancé, presented under the symbolic label (nome) of the Intended. She is a faithful (fedele) woman who loves Kurtz and believes in his ideals. And Marlow does not betray (tradisce) her faith (fede). He says that Kurtz died with her name on his lips (col suo nome sulle labbra).