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

RIP: Chinua Achebe 1930-2013

RIP: Chinua Achebe 1930-2013

RIP: Chinua Achebe [1930-2013]

“Africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Gray—a carrier onto whom the master unloads his physical and moral deformities so that he may go forward, erect and immaculate. ”

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

Had to read the above essay, again. Joseph Conrad is one of my favorite authors, and yet this review of his racism is completely accurate. That it caused some controversy speaks to how hard it still is to talk about racism, even today.

Other great articles that review his life and work:


On Losing Chinua Achebe
How Things Fell Apart


Some of my favorite quotes:


“There is no moral obligation to write in a
particular way. But there is a moral obligation, I
think, not to ally oneself with power against the
powerless.” – Chinua Achebe
“A proud heart can survive general failure because
such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more
difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.”
– Chinua Achebe
“In America there is really very little knowledge
of the literature of the rest of the world. Of the
literature of Latin America, yes, But that’s not
all that different in inspiration from that of
America, or of Europe. One must go further. You
don’t even have to go too far in terms of geography
– you can start with the Native Americans and
listen to their poetry.” – Chinua Achebe
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.
– Chinua Achebe