The Daily Telegraph
Colonialism to coercion The powerful ideas in short books
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (1899)
The tale of a merchant seaman who journeys into the Belgian Congo is widely regarded as a critique of colonialism. It inspired the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka (1915)
A man wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect. Critics continue to debate quite what the story means.
The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
The narrator is married to a doctor, who recommends she be confined to her room following the birth of their baby. This short story is now regarded as an early examination of postnatal depression and “gaslighting”.