Encountering the Unmappable: The Landscape in Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)

In: Reflective Landscapes of the Anglophone Countries

Landscape in Heart of Darkness is neither realistic nor symbolic, but is better understood as a stage or a paradoxical threshold giving privileged access, through the flight of imagination, to the unmappable at the centre of any map. Whereas a landscape should be conceived of as an attempt at territorialisation — of which colonialism is a good example — the African landscape in Conrad’s novel emerges as a site both of inscription and de-territorialisation, testifying to what J. H. Miller sees as the atopical and Freud as the uncanny.