Black and white illustration of the outline of the upper part of a body with a river and boat in the background

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

Start Free Trial

In what way is the novella Heart of Darkness a modernist text? What does Heart of Darkness have to say about imperalism and how does your knowledge of the historical context affet your understanding of the story? Who and what constitutes savagery and what does it mean to be civilized? IN WHAT WAY IS THIS NOVELLA A MODERNIST TEXT?What techniques does it use to disrupt conventional assumptions about time, history, identity, knowledge and communication? Why would someone have problems understanding the text?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Thematically, many texts we now identify as modernist are concerned with a with the "subjectivity of reality". Woolf, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot all dealt with ideas of a break between the individual's mental situation and a traditional view of reality as existing outside, objectively, and separate from the perceiver. 

Heart of Darkness deals rather directly with notions of intentional shifts in perception related to the nature of reality. Kurtz attempts to free himself from conventional definitions of morality. He attempts to become his own moral world - and fails. 

Similar attempts can be found in Faulkner (Absalom, Absalom!) and Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)though the directness of this attempt is not necessarily as obvious in these works as it is in Heart of Darkness. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team