4 August 2011 New translation of The Heart of Darkness

The Heart of Darkness - the painful and dangerous masterpiece by Joseph Conrad, translated anew by  Magda Heydel, will be out on August 22nd. The translator, literary critic and translation studies expert was a guest of this year's edition of the Miłosz Festival.

The Heart of Darkness is a novel inspired by Conrad's six-month stay in the Belgian Congo in 1890. While in the colonies, he witnessed the dramatic condition of the relations between people full of primitive instincts. He illustrated these in the characters of Kurtz, the chief of the central station, the brick maker and others.

England, late 19th century. Three gentlemen are listening to a tale told by Charlie Marlow, a vagabond sailor, about his journey to the Congo, then a Belgian colony. The journey to a branch of a company trading in ivory becomes a journey into the very heart of darkness, the abyss of his own subconscious and the limits of understanding. The climactic meeting with the terrifying and fascinating Kurtz, who Marlow is supposed to bring back to the civilized world, brings about a thorough revaluation of his thinking. 

The questions posed by Conrad sound disconcertingly valid today - he reflects on violence in the name of civilization, the origin of evil, man's identity and the presence of the Other inside each of us. He asks if it is at all possible to even express some experiences. Maybe that is why the work has become a source of inspiration for many 20th century novelists, as well as modern filmmakers. Even now, it can still raise controversy. 

The Heart of Darkness has been newly translated by Magda Heydel, who also provided the text with a brilliant afterword. It is worth remembering that during the 2nd Miłosz Festival, Heydel presented a speech entitled: Gorliwość Tłumacza (Translator's Zeal). She also coordinated the Miłosz 365 translation seminar. 

You can read about the new translation of Conrad's novel in today's Rzeczpospolita daily. Read the article.