Few know that Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was based on real events. The material for the novel came from his experiences in King Leopold’s Congo. The horrors that were committed in the Congo under Leopold have largely been forgot because it was overshadowed by the Great War (WWI). If you’re not familiar with this history, I would highly recommend reading King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild. You can’t understand what’s happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo today without understanding this history.
But it is not the Congo that is the focus of Maya Jasanoff’s essay on Joseph Conrad. It is his adventures at sea that have captivated her. She explains: “the more I read Conrad, the more I realized that I had to get on a tall ship like the ones he knew best, and experience its unique ways of moving, working and speaking.”
Read about her interesting adventures following the footsteps of Conrad here: At Sea With Joseph Conrad – The New York Times.