Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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What is Impressionism, and is Joseph Conrad an impressionist? Give textual evidence from Heart of Darkness.

What is Impressionism, and is Joseph Conrad an impressionist? Give textual evidence from Heart of Darkness.

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Impressionism is a term more frequently used with regard to painting and music than to literature and especially with artistic movements occurring in France in the late nineteenth century. A related trend is that of the French Symbolist poets of the same period.

Conrad's prose can be seen in conjunction with these movements because of a deliberate subtlety and even vagueness in his descriptions and his wording overall. In Heart of Darkness, the entire episode of Marlow searching for and finally discovering Kurtz has the quality of a strange dreamlike fantasy. Though the narrative material could not be more different, the tone, at least, of Conrad's story is similar to that of one of the iconic Symbolist poems, Stephan Mallarmé 's "Afternoon of a Faun" (known also through Debussy's musical treatment, a central work of Impressionism in music).

Conrad's story seems covered by a veil, a kind of blur. We are nevertheless first given a sharp description of the dysfunctional nature of colonialism...

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