Idea of Progress in "An Outpost of Progress" by Joseph Conrad

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Emijuliet Barrios García
C.I.: 18846578
English Literature I
Professor Anderzon Medina
January 24, 2011

The Criticism to the idea of “progress” in “An outpost of progress” by Joseph Conrad Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski is the author of the short story we work with; he was born in Berdyczów, Ukraine on 3 December 1857. “His father Apollo Korzeniowski was an aristocrat without lands, a poet and translator of Shakespeare and Dickens and French literature” and his  mother “Eva Bobrowska, was thirteen years younger than Apollo and the only surviving daughter in a family of six sons.” When Joseph Conrad, as he later change his name, was a child he lived several changes in his life like moving to Vologda, because of the arrestment of his father by Imperial Russian authorities in Warsaw in order to organize what would become the January Uprising (revolt against Russian Empire) another change was the death of his mother, she died of tuberculosis as well as his father. Because of all these changes Conrad developed health problems, which were with him throughout his life. After his parent’s death he went to Switzerland to live with his maternal uncle, Tadeusz Bobrowsk, from who he learned a lot of things. His uncle hired a Cracow University student to continue the education he received from his father, tutoring him Latin, Greek, Geography and others; however soon his tutor learned that Conrad yearned to travel on the seas and go to the “dark continent” of Africa. As a result of this desire that Conrad had about sailing he started “in the mid-1870s he joined the French merchant marine as an apprentice, and made between 1875 and 1878 three voyages to the West Indies. During his youth Conrad also was involved in arms smuggling for the Carlist cause in Spain. After being wounded in a duel or of a self-inflicted gunshot in the chest, Conrad continued his career at the seas in the British merchant navy for 16 years” According to Petri Liukkonen in his biography of Joseph Conrad, he acquired, in 1886, his certificate as master mariner, commanding his own ship in Otago. In the same year he obtained his British citizenship, furthermore this was the year when he changed his name to Joseph Conrad. While being at the seas Conrad visit a lot of places “including Australia, various ports of the Indian Ocean, Borneo, the Malay states, South America, and the South Pacific Island. In 1890 he sailed in Africa up the Congo River”. Several of these journeys influenced a lot of his works, as well as his health. Pursuant to C. D. Merriman in the biography of Joseph Conrad, our author aggravated his health by working on a paddle-steamer and travelling to Congo Free State. In terms of his works, the atrocities he witnessed and his experiences in Congo served to create one of the most famous novels he had “Heart Darkness” and also the short story we work for this essay, “An Outpost of Progress”. An Outpost of Progress was written in 1896 a long with it is a story which is about a mockery, irony of the whole idea of civilization in African lands in the 19th Century (as we have discuss in our English Literature I classes). Throughout the story we can see the different topics and themes that Conrad illustrate within it in order to show in his work the realities that people from that century were living, or even better, what he see in his journeys all over the world, consequently to the literary movement that was going to appear after Romanticism.

“Criticism, that fine flower of personal expression in the garden of letters” Joseph Conrad
The purpose of this essay is to appreciate the criticism of an ironic civilization movement Joseph Conrad presents in this short story: “An Outpost of Progress” and the idea of “Progress” in order to understand the policy of colonialism that was presented in the colonial situation of Africa. Getting into that point we focus on some factors of society as ignorance and slavery. Therefore we need to know the events...
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