When published in 1902 in a volume with two other stories (Youth and The End of the Tether), Heart of Darkness was praised for its portrayal of the demoralizing effect life in the African wilderness supposedly had on European men. One respected critic of the time, Hugh Clifford, said in the Spectator that others before Conrad had written of the European's decline in a ‘‘barbaric’’ wilderness, but never ‘‘has any writer till now succeeded in bringing … it all home to sheltered folk as does Mr. Conrad in this wonderful, this magnificent, this terrible study.’’ Another early reviewer, as quoted in Leonard Dean's Joseph Conrad's ‘Heart of Darkness’: Backgrounds and Criticisms, called the prose ‘‘brilliant’’ but the story ‘‘unconvincing.’’
In his review published in Academy and Literature in 1902, Edward Garnett called the volume's publication ‘‘one of the events of the literary year.’’ Garnett said when he first read Heart of Darkness in serial form, he thought Conrad had ‘‘here and there, lost his way.’’ But upon publication of the novel in book form, he retracted that opinion and now held it ‘‘to be the high-water mark of the author's talent.’’ Garnett went on to call Heart of Darkness a book that ‘‘enriches English literature’’ and a ‘‘psychological masterpiece.’’ Garnett...
(The entire section is 733 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Heart of Darkness Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!