The Daily Telegraph

Colonialis­m to coercion The powerful ideas in short books

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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”.

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