An analysis of chinua achebes argument on racism in joseph conrads heart of darkness

Many aspects of the book are nothing short of brilliant. Consequently, it has been a widely-taught classic that has influenced a host of literary writers and speculative fiction authors such as Michael Bishop, James Blish, Ian MacDonald, and Robert Silverberg, just to name a few. Achebe The point of my observations should be quite clear by now, namely that Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked.

An analysis of chinua achebes argument on racism in joseph conrads heart of darkness

W Norton and Co. It was a fine autumn morning such as encouraged friendliness to passing strangers. Brisk youngsters were hurrying in all directions, many of them obviously freshmen in their first flush of enthusiasm.

An older man going the same way as I turned and remarked to me how very young they came these days. Then he asked me if I was a student too.

I said no, I was a teacher. What did I teach? Now that was funny, he said, because he knew a fellow who taught the same thing, or perhaps it was African history, in a certain Community College not far from here.

It always surprised him, he went on to say, because he never had thought of Africa as having that kind of stuff, you know. By this time I was walking much faster. One of them was particularly happy to learn about the customs and superstitions of an African tribe. I propose to draw from these rather trivial encounters rather heavy conclusions which at first sight might seem somewhat out of proportion to them.

But only, I hope, at first sight. The young fellow from Yonkers, perhaps partly on account of his age but I believe also for much deeper and more serious reasons, is obviously unaware that the life of his own tribesmen in Yonkers, New York, is full of odd customs and superstitions and, like everybody else in his culture, imagines that he needs a trip to Africa to encounter those things.

The other person being fully my own age could not be excused on the grounds of his years. Ignorance might be a more likely reason; but here again I believe that something more willful than a mere lack of information was at work.

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If there is something in these utterances more than youthful inexperience, more than a lack of factual knowledge, what is it? Quite simply it is the desire -- one might indeed say the need -- in Western psychology to set Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe's own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.

This need is not new; which should relieve us all of considerable responsibility and perhaps make us even willing to look at this phenomenon dispassionately. I have neither the wish nor the competence to embark on the exercise with the tools of the social and biological sciences but more simply in the manner of a novelist responding to one famous book of European fiction: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darknesswhich better than any other work that I know displays that Western desire and need which I have just referred to.

Of course there are whole libraries of books devoted to the same purpose but most of them are so obvious and so crude that few people worry about them today.

Achebe: An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

Conrad, on the other hand, is undoubtedly one of the great stylists of modern fiction and a good storyteller into the bargain. His contribution therefore falls automatically into a different class -- permanent literature -- read and taught and constantly evaluated by serious academics.

Heart of Darkness is indeed so secure today that a leading Conrad scholar has numbered it "among the half-dozen greatest short novels in the English language. Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as "the other world," the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant beastiality.

The book opens on the River Thames, tranquil, resting, peacefully "at the decline of day after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks. The River Congo is quite decidedly not a River Emeritus.

It has rendered no service and enjoys no old-age pension. We are told that "Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world.

An analysis of chinua achebes argument on racism in joseph conrads heart of darkness

Yes, but that is not the real point. It is not the differentness that worries Conrad but the lurking hint of kinship, of common ancestry. For the Thames too "has been one of the dark places of the earth.

But if it were to visit its primordial relative, the Congo, it would run the terrible risk of hearing grotesque echoes of its own forgotten darkness, and falling victim to an avenging recrudescence of the mindless frenzy of the first beginnings.Achebe carefully crafts Things Fall Apart to counter these stereotypes and show that Africa is in fact a rich land full of intelligent people who are, in fact, very human.

Works Cited. Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. For Achebe, Heart of Darkness is racist because it projects the image of Africa as “the other world, the antithesis of Europe the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art.

Chinua Achebe, one of Conrad’s noted critics, was one of the first to debunk Conrad’s universally accepted good Heart Of Darkness; Joseph Conrad; Racism; Ethnicity, Race & Gender; Society; Documents Similar To Critical Analysis of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Heda Gabler- Henrik Ibsen (a Critical Analysis by Qaisar Iqbal . Chinua Achebe, father of modern African literature, has long argued that Joseph Conrad was a racist. Caryl Phillips, an admirer of both writers, disagrees.

The case against Conrad | Books | The Guardian

Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Chinua Achebe In his famous critique, “An Image of Africa”, Chinua Achebe takes a strong stand against Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

He claims that Conrad was a racist and that a novella which so depersonalizes a potion of the human race should not be considered a great work of art (Achebe ).

Chinua Achebe's Heart of Darkness and Racism The Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe made claims in the s that 'Heart of Darkness' was a racist novella.

My initial thoughts on this are yet to be decided during the course of this essay.

An Exploration of Racism in Heart of Darkness | Apex Magazine