The Art of Darkness: Writing in the Duvalier Years

  • J. Michael Dash


Just as Joseph Conrad had earlier supplied the dominant images of Africa in the European imagination, in the 1960s Graham Greene performed the same dubious service for Haiti in the Western imagination. The puritanical crusader immersed in sensual darkness; the unspeakable kingdom of the night; a static, timeless world of absence — these durable and influential images establish an imaginative quarantine around Africa and Haiti in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and Greene’s The Comedians (1966). There is no American equivalent to Greene’s novel about Haiti, no work that has spawned so many different versions, rewritings or interpretations of itself. American attitudes to Haiti from the 1960s onwards are marked by the singular influence of The Comedians and its debt to Conrad’s earlier imaginative fixing of Africa. Christopher Miller’s comment on the significance of Heart of Darkness as the beginning of a special tradition of ‘Africanist discourse’ is pertinent.


United States Black Body Blank Space American Occupation Lunatic Asylum 
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Copyright information

© J. Michael Dash 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Dash
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the West IndiesJamaica

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