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HD- II- Historical context.
"The novel is largely autobiographical, based upon Joseph Conrad's six-month journey up the Congo River where he took command of a steamboat in 1890 after the death of its captain. At the time, the river was called the Congo, and the country was the Belgian Congo. The area Conrad refers to as the Company Station was an actual location called Matadi, a location two-hundred miles up river from the mouth of the Congo. The Central Station was a location called Kinshasa, and both these locations marked a stretch of river impassable by steamboat, upon which Marlow takes a "two-hundred mile tramp."
The Company was in reality a company formed by King Leopold II of Belgium charged with running the country of the Congo Free State in 1885. The Congo Free State was voted into existence by the Congress of Berlin, which Conrad refers to sarcastically in his novella as "the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs."
Leopold II declared the Congo Free State his personal property in 1892, legally permitting the Belgians to take what ivory they wished from the area without having to trade with the African natives.  This caused a rise in atrocities perpetrated by the Belgian traders similar if not identical to those perpetrated by the fictional Kurtz.
The Congo Free State was taken out of the personal property of the king and made a regular colony of Belgium, called Belgian Congo, in 1908, after the extent of atrocities committed there became generally known in the West, partially through Conrad's novel. Belgian Congo received its independence from Belgium in 1960, becoming the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country changed names to Zaire in 1971, and then returned to its original name after a near-bloodless civil war in 1997."
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