Posts tagged ‘Heart of Darkness’

March 8, 2012

Dead in the Centre…Ough!

“There was a vast amount of red — good to see at any time, because one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and, on the East Coast, a purple patch, to show where the jolly pioneers of progress drink the jolly lager-beer. However, I wasn’t going into any of these. I was going into the yellow. Dead in the centre. And the river was there — fascinating — deadly — like a snake. Ough!”

This is Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, describing a colonial map of Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The colors correspond to territories in control of various European powers. I’m not sure about all of them, but I think red are the British, blue the French, and the purple refers to Germans.

So I found this map.

The colors on this map are not the same as Marlow describes them, since his yellow, into which he is going, is here black – the Belgian Congo. Still a vivid illustration of how European colonialists carved up Africa at the time.

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