Now is the opportune moment to trace a middle path between Chinua Achebe’s criticism of Conrad and Heart of Darkness for being insensitive to the issues of race and Conradians’ defense of the author and his works as being otherwise. This article examines the intimate oppositions between critics like Achebe and defenders of Conrad, as well as the desire within Marlow to respond to the blank otherness in him when he confronts the people in Africa. I unearth the signs of response and responsibility, and advocate a mode of recuperative reading that sutures the ostensibly unbridgeable gap between the self and the other. This mode of reading can serve to retain the values of a work of art that nevertheless finds itself entangled within the flow of history and the matrix of politics. Achebe’s essay “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” is an ethical response and a responsible call for further attention to the emptied space marked by the West’s othered victims. Achebe’s call, later in life, is for the recognition that this space populates more than just Conrad’s beings (dis)colored by his artistic imagination. And in Heart of Darkness, Marlow’s is a vague but useful response to the immense blankness of the Other that commands from him a responsibility to speak, first to save himself, and by so doing, to admit that the Other out there and in him are saving him. Through an intimately close reading of the novella, I argue that Marlow, in transforming himself into a quasi-native, lives on; the Other as such bypasses denegation and emerges into consciousness.


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pp. 19-55
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