Tale of the city: the imperial metropolis of <i>Heart of Darkness</i>

Laura Chrisman

in Postcolonial Contraventions

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780719058271
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700136 | DOI:
Tale of the city: the imperial metropolis of Heart of Darkness

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This chapter outlines some of the ways in which late nineteenth-century European imperialism inheres in the textures of daily labour and leisure in Conrad's novella, suggesting that the Company's structures and agents, including Kurtz, need to be reinterpreted through this imperial metropolitan perspective. Ultimately, what animates and controls the Company and Kurtz are urban corporate power, public opinion and consumption. The chapter proposes the reading of Heart of Darkness as a path-clearing exercise for future critical and theoretical analyses of metropolitan imperialism. It justifies this modest activity on the grounds that it is precisely, and only, through close reading that the full import of the interplay of the metropolis and imperialism can be traced. The challenge Conrad's novella sets is to decasualize imperialism, expose its banality and recentre the metropole as its primary agent.

Keywords: imperial metropolis; Heart of Darkness; decasualize imperialism; banality; metropolitan imperialism; urban corporate power

Chapter.  7359 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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