Heart of Darkness
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Joseph Conrad did not begin to learn English until he was twenty-one years old. He was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, in the Polish Ukraine. When Conrad was quite young, his father was exiled to Siberia on suspicion of plotting against the Russian government. After the death of the boy’s mother, Conrad’s father sent him to his mother’s brother in Kraków to be educated, and Conrad never again saw his father. He traveled to Marseilles when he was seventeen and spent the next twenty years as a sailor. He signed on to an English ship in 1878, and eight years later he became a British subject. In 1889, he began his ﬁrst novel, Almayer’s Folly, and began actively searching for a way to fulﬁll his boyhood dream of traveling to the Congo. He took command of a steamship in the Belgian Congo in 1890, and his experiences in the Congo came to provide the outline for Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s time in Africa wreaked havoc on his health, however, and he returned to England to recover. He returned to sea twice before ﬁnishing Almayer’s Folly in 1894 and wrote several other books, including one about Marlow called Youth: A Narrative before beginning Heart of Darkness in 1898. He wrote most of his other major works—including Lord Jim, which also features Marlow; Nostromo; and The Secret Agent, as well as several collaborations with Ford Madox Ford—during the following two decades....