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In MISTAH KURTZ! A PRELUDE TO HEART OF DARKNESS, James Reich discloses the contents of the papers that Kurtz entrusts to Marlow and the end of Joseph Conrad's canonical novella. Drawing on clues left in Conrad's account, the novel anticipates and dovetails with the arrival of Marlow at Kurtz's ivory station in the Congo. Giving voice to one of the most enigmatic characters in the literary canon, Reich presents meticulous and controversial solutions to the origins, mystery and messianic deterioration of Mistah Kurtz: company man, elephant man, poet, feral god. Appalling rivalries, murder, fragile loyalties, doubt and desire shroud the pages of this book-part adventure, part desperate confession. Filtering the strangeness of Apocalypse Now! and historical accounts of the ivory trade, this irreverent, audacious endeavor lends meat and madness to the ghosts of the Congo, names that which had been nameless, and renders this Season in Hell in crystalline clarity.