The writing back approach concerns itself with political agency and identity in African novels, particularly Heart of Darkness. "This politics of identity results in a tension in the African novels."
Conrad first became familiar with English language at the age of eight when is father translated works of Shakespeare. Despite the early exposure to his future profession, Conrad wanted to be a sailor.
In 1874 he went to Marseilles to get a job on a ship. The following years he spent sailed around the world.
Conrad attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest, due to gambling debts. As a result, his uncle cleared his gambling debts.
Heart of Darkness did not originally reach publication as a novella. It ran serially in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine.
The novella was written between autumn 1898 and February 1899. At the same time Conrad was working on Lord Jim and blocked on The Rescue.
Heart of Darkness became Conrad's most widely read work. It provoked controversy for its depiction of Africa and Africans and its perspective on women.
The critic Frederick Karl notes that Conrad utilizes the jungle as a symbol not only of what we fear, but also of what we destroy. Through this symbol, Conrad voices his concerns on both political policy and the irrationality of human behavior.
Conrad did not exaggerate the horrors of Belgian colonialism. Heart of Darkness portrays Africans as cannibals at worst and uncomprehending savages at best.
Conrad's work is often seen as the colonial literary canon that writes back. African writers often use Heart of Darkness to discredit the African imagined by colonial disclosure.