Set in an atmosphere of mystery and menace, "Heart of Darkness" tells the story of Marlow's journey up the Congo River to meet the remarkable Mr Kurtz. It reveals Conrad at the height of his powers as a writer of great vividness, intensity, and sophistication. "An Outpost of Progress" is also set in central Africa, and offers a fiercely sardonic view of European imperialism. "Karain", with its Malaysian setting, questions conventional ideas of the contrasts between races. "Youth" is a largely autobiographical account of an ill-fated voyage in which Marlow makes his first appearance. The four tales variously appraise the glamour, folly, and rapacity of imperial adventure. All are concerned with illusions and all, in their diverse ways, display the brilliance of Joseph Conrad, creator of exotic vistas, adventurous narratives, and acutely ironic insights into human nature and the bases of civilization.