Tag Archives: Heart of Darkness

My “Last Lecture”

I share here my “last lecture” from my retirement ceremony. (But rest assured: I will not be retiring from this blog.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump in Chaucer, Shakespeare & Conrad

When compared to people called “dotard” in Chaucer and Shakespeare, Trump fits the insult hurled at him by Kim Jong-un. His statement to African leaders, meanwhile, makes him sound like a “Heart of Darkness” ivory trader.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaker Paul Ryan in Literature

I’ve written a lot about Paul Ryan and his aspiration to be a John Galt figure. Now that he is Speaker of the House, I review other literary parallels I’ve drawn over the years.

Posted in Achebe (Chinua), Carroll (Lewis), Conrad (Joseph), Dickens (Charles), Hardy (Thomas), Milton (John), Rand (Ayn) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Guide’s Conradian Revenge Fantasy

Do tour guides ever dream of doling out to their chargers what the porters in “Heart of Darkness” do with one of the visiting English?

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The CIA’s Heart of Darkness

Published details about the CIA’s torture program reveal that America descended into a Conradian heart of darkness.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Also tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Why GOP Right Is Beating Up on the Poor

Paul Ryan projects upon the poor as Joseph Conrad did upon Africans.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Also tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

America’s Heart of Darkness Beginnings

America’s bloody beginnings are part of who we still are.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Karlin (Wayne) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sweethearts Now Cleared for Combat

Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War story about a woman who goes rogue has things to teach us about the recent suspension of the Pentagon ban on women in combat.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), O'Brien (Tim) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Armstrong’s Heart of Darkness

One our ideal, Lance Armstrong has proved to be more like Kurtz in “Heart of Darkness.”

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Dirty Work = Heart of Darkness

In “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad indirectly teaches us that doing work that contributes to human misery will take a toll, however much we try to focus just on the work.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph) | Also tagged , | 3 Comments

Twain Was No Racist (Not Even Close)

“I hope that like Mark Twain, 100 years from now people will see my work and think, ‘Wow. That is actually pretty racist.’” –Tina Fey accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Thanks to a visiting lecturer in our Mark Twain series, I have a new understanding of Huckleberry Finn that is exciting me […]

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Twain (Mark) | Also tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

A Tribute to the Workers of the World

Here’s a special Labor Day post for the workers of the world—those who have jobs and those who don’t, those who are overworked and those who are underemployed, those who are treated fairly and those who are exploited, those who are just starting out and those who have been working for a long time, those […]

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Sandburg (Carl) | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Lies Reveal Who We Wish We Were

Pierre Corneille        I’ve been thinking about lying recently.  One reason is because I recently saw a David Ives adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 17th century comedy The Liar at the Washington Shakespeare Theater.  Another is because of Maureen Dowd’s interesting NYT column Sunday about politicians who lie when they don’t have to. Dowd is writing about Richard […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Shaw Cuts through the Bull

Last night I gave a short lecture and then moderated a talkback following a college production of George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man (1894), directed by my colleague Michael Ellis-Tolaydo.  I hadn’t read the play since I was in high school, when I went on a Shaw kick.  (I first became enamored with […]

Posted in Shaw (George Bernard) | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Trusting that Good Can Come from Ill

Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus What have I learned about literature and pain this past week? First, that writers have taken up the topic, just as they take up every aspect of human existence. They imagine what it is like to feel pain and, through poetic images and fictional stories, convey that experience to readers. By entering […]

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete