Gothic Modernism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Gothic Modernism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness




       By the 1920s, Conrad was considered a leading modernist writer. Modernism was an experimental artistic movement that took place from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. The main theme of Joseph Conrad’s novels is alienation. Conrad depicts cultural, political, and aesthetic dimensions of modernism not only by questioning the past but by drawing as well on a wealth of cultural material and precursor genres rooted in Gothic conventions. The picture of modernism suggested by author presents multiple perspectives on thematically disparate yet culturally intertwined issues such as ethnicity and espionage, consciousness and electricity, formalism and sensation, and homosexuality and tourism. From the viewpoint of the genre, Heart of Darkness comprises all the features that pertain to modernist fiction - the novella, published as early as in 1899, predates the golden age of modernism by quite a period of time. Mythopoeic space of modernist work represents its inner dimension, rife with images of symbolic and archetypal significance and their connotations. Conceptually, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness pays homage to existentialism, yet by the time of its creation the existentialist worldview was not dominant in European consciousness. The illogical, absurd images of Heart of Darkness have no specific conceptual denotata – the novella is basically ‘non-mimetic’; it does not aim at authentic depiction of the environment and action (space and time) that it narrates about. The novella’s system of images only formally corresponds to the environment declared as its place of action, as a result of which this space itself becomes an abstraction.


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ტაკიძე, დავით. „მითოსი კონრადის რომანებში „წყვდიადის გული“ და „ნარცისის“ ნეგრი“. ლიტერატურათმცოდნეობის თანამედროვე პრობლემები: XIV საერთაშორისო სიმპოზიუმის მასალების კრებული. თბილისი, 2020: 371-379.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. H.-M.: Penguin Books, 1983.

Goddu, Teresa A. Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.




How to Cite

Pkhaladze, T. (2023). Gothic Modernism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness . Language and Culture.