'I asked myself what I was doing there, with a sensation of panic in my heart as though I had blundered into a place of cruel and absurd mysteries not fit for a human being to behold'. Charles Marlow's dark intuition here arrives at the culmination of his physical and psychological quest in search of the infamous ivory-trader Kurtz in Joseph Conrad's most famous short story, Heart of Darkness. Ambiguously drawn to the powerful 'voice' of this autocratic European who has become a self-proclaimed ruler in an African colony, Marlow is increasingly embroiled in Kurtz's life and death: he is finally forced into a radical questioning, not only of his own assumptions, but also of the civilized and imperial pretensions of Western Europe. Offering a freshly-researched text based on the writer's original documents, this edition presents a classic of early modernist fiction in a version that, for the first time, recovers Conrad's preferred wordings, punctuation and narrative structure.
Owen Knowles, Research Fellow at the University of Hull, is the author of A Conrad Chronology (2014), An Annotated Critical Bibliography of Joseph Conrad (1992) and the Oxford Reader's Companion to Conrad (with Gene M. Moore, 2000). Advisory Editor to The Conradian: The Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society, he has also edited a number of works for the Cambridge Edition of Conrad's Works, Everyman Library and Penguin Books, and has also edited Volumes 6 and 9 of The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad (Cambridge, 2002, 2007) as well as two volumes of correspondence to and about Conrad. Allan H. Simmons, Professor of English at St Mary's University, Twickenham, London, is the author of Joseph Conrad (2006) in Palgrave's Critical Issues series and the readers guide Conrad's Heart of Darkness (2007). As well as editing Joseph Conrad in Context (Cambridge, 2009) and Joseph Conrad: Contemporary Reviews, Volume 1 (Cambridge, 2012), he has edited a number of Conrad's works for the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad, of which he is General Editor, Everyman Library and Penguin Books. He is an Advisory Editor to The Conradian: The Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society.