GRAPHIC NOVELS

Heart of Darkness

Norton. Nov. 2019. 160p. ISBN 9780393635645. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393635652. lit
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A lifelong fascination with the places on the globe left unexplored leads Charles Marlow to take a job working for an ivory trading firm and setting out on a journey through Africa. While traveling aboard a steamship along the Congo River, Marlow witnesses the barbarity with which his fellow Europeans treat the natives they have subjugated and becomes increasingly obsessed with an ivory trader named Kurtz, who is either idolized as a genius or hated by seemingly everyone he encounters. Acclaimed cartoonist Kuper (Kafkaesque) approaches this adaptation with a mixture of respect for Conrad as a novelist and a keen sensitivity to postcolonial criticism of the text, frequently combining Conrad’s own language with visuals that confront or subvert the author’s colonialist perspective without losing any of the haunting power of the original.
VERDICT Incredibly, Kuper has created a faithful adaptation likely to appeal to both devotees and detractors of the source material, which just might cause members of either camp to view the text in a new light. [Previewed in Ingrid Bohnenkamp’s Graphic Novel Spotlight, “Mass Appeal,” LJ 6/19.]

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