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17 Although Conrad had been a sailor and visited the Congo, in writing Heart of Darkness, he conducted (as Melville did in writing Moby-Dick) subsequent research into his subject. By all accounts, Conrad’s experiences in the Congo had affected him dramatically. ”19 If the Congo was a traumatic experience for Conrad, he dealt with it by confronting it head on and contextualizing it through research that recounted one atrocity after another. ” The reality of Africa seems to outstrip his imagination.

Two human beings who may seem vastly different from one another are nevertheless linked by their capacity for language. Berger writes, “Between two men the abysses are, in principle, bridged by language. Even if the encounter is hostile and no words are used (even if the two speak different languages), the existence of language allows that at least one of them, if not both mutually, is confirmed by the other. Language allows men to reckon with each other as with themselves. )”36 Ignorance and fear are two of the primary forces that drive Marlow’s narrative.

He was born in Addis Ababa in 1910 and was educated at Eton and Oxford. He joined the Sudan Political Service in 1935 and later served in Abyssinia, Syria, and with the Special Air Service in the Western Desert during the Second World War. After the war, he became famous for his two crossings of the Arabian Peninsula’s “Empty Quarter”—the longest continuous sand desert in the world— between 1946 and 1950. The 250,000 square miles of desert that he traversed and retraversed are now part of modern-day Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Yemen.

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