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Zorin А. V. Ivan Minayev and “Heart of Darkness”: an Indological dimension of J. Conrad’s tale // Mongolica. Том XXIV, 2021, №4. St Petersburg, 2021. P. 33–39.


This paper proposes a hypothesis that the image of the young Russian sailor in J. Conrad’s tale “Heart of Darkness” partially relates to the outstanding Russian Buddhologist I. P. Minayev. The first factor behind this idea was their common Tambov origin. This choice of the birth-place for a fictional character created by a foreign author (albeit connected with Russia) requires an explanation. While external features of the Russian sailor do not correspond to Minayev’s portrait, a number of other details could be based on personal impression made by him on Conrad in early January 1886 in Calcutta. The latter could witness conversation(s) between Minayev and several British officials at the Bengal Club. As follows from Minayev’s diary, they discussed issues related to Indian religions (including the role of charismatic leaders in the genesis of religious movements) and political topics such as the British suppression of Burmese resistance. Minayev’s main subjects of interest — Buddhism and Indian manuscripts — could be touched upon, too. This paper attempts to find traces of their talk(s) in “Heart of Darkness” and its Russian character. The suggested hypothesis explains use of the iconography of the Buddha in Conrad’s tale and proposes a new interpretation of its title.

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Conrad, Joseph
the Harlequin
“Heart of Darkness”
Minayev, Ivan Pavlovich

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