Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Published by MobileReference (mobi).
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Published by MobileReference (mobi).

 
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This is an electronic edition of the complete book complemented by author biography. This book features the table of contents linked to every chapter. The book was designed for optimal navigation on the Kindle, PDA, Smartphone, and other electronic readers. It is formatted to display on all electronic devices including the Kindle, Smartphones and other Mobile Devices with a small display.

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Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Polish-born writer Joseph Conrad (born J?zef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski). Before its 1902 publication, it appeared as a three-part series (1899) in Blackwood's Magazine. It is widely regarded as a significant work of English literature and part of the Western canon.

? Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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Customer Reviews:

  • One of the first glimpses into of the horrors of European Colonialism
    I was forced to reread this book after purchasing the more recent "King Leopold's Ghost," which I have also reviewed.

    Even though Conrad's book was a novel based loosely on events he, or other had witnessed, the events in "King Leopold's Ghost" were not fiction at all, but the "real modern day deal."

    It was this novel that was the first to expose the true horrors of European colonialism on the African continent. It tells the story of a supremely successful collector of Elephant tusks, which were being taken from the Belgian Congo for the purpose of trading them on the world market for ivory. Kurz's business was successful only because of the brutality and immorality of his techniques: He swindled, stole and killed Africans in the hundreds if not the thousands to stay ahead of the competition. And just as happened a generation later, by the diminutive and brutal Belgian King, no one asked any questions about his brutal techniques.

    The phrase" The Heart of Darkness," referring to the heart of the white colonists, came to replace the phrase "darkest Africa" as a result of this novel. Its beauty lies in Conrad's failed attempt to re-humanize Kurtz as a symbolic image of redemption in the name of all the white colonists that had heaped carnage upon Africa.

    But the author's efforts fell short both in the novel and in reality because in Conrad's hands, Kurtz was turned into "a less than ideal moral man." He became a man who learned to come to grips with the evil he had spawn, by discovering that he was not an inherently wicked man, but one who was god-fearing and capable of the "natural moral superiority" that the white man was supposed to have over the more savage Africans. The question of which man was the more savage was left "hanging in the air" in the novel.

    Unless you are white, turning to "the white man's religion" where moral superiority is still claimed by fiat is not much redemption. But at least it is something. Apparently the novel did not have the desired moral effect in reality either, as history can attest. It may in fact well have had just the opposite effect: as the Belgians repeated the same ghastly and brutal experiment a generation later, only this time with diamonds instead of ivory. Despite all this, and the goriness of the content, it is still a powerfully told story by a master of his craft.

    Five Stars...more info
  • Like Many Classics in these days.
    In his day, Joseph Conrad had a remarkable way of discribing a scene, very pognant. But as I finished reading Heart of Darkness, it reminded me of the original King Kong movie with Fay Wray. It was scary...in its day....more info
  • a book about someone who doesnt feel
    I was expecting much more when I purchased this book. A good read-maybe, a classic that all should come in contact with-no. I was expecting a classic since it is a required college book in many undergraduate English classes. ...more info
  • still waiting
    My book had not arrived in the time period stated and I contacted the seller and received no answer as of yet.
    ...more info
  • the novela is still powerful, but the format detracts
    I chose this edition of Heart of Darkness for my Honors Senior English class because of the vocabulary and theme resources promised. While they are helpful, the format of the edition has caused problems, even for me. The volume itself is larger than the average book and each page is equivalent to at least 4 regular pages. The print is so small that it takes great concentration to keep focused. It is a challenge to read Conrad's dense prose in a typical edition, but this version makes it even more difficult. ...more info
  • The Affects of the "Darkness"
    A short novella describing the adventures of a crew aboard a French steamer on the Belgian Congo in Africa in the late nineteenth century, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness weaves an intricate and at times, depressing tale of the inner struggle within humans. Like many of those who have posted before me, I believe that Heart of Darkness depicts the affects of the environment on one's psyche. The characters within the novella become corrupt and emotionally disturbed due to the nature of their surroundings. Africa, itself, is described as "barren" and "devoid of life." The tone of the story as well as the descriptions of the setting are very bleak and mysterious. This "corrupt" African environment and the journey on the steamer affect the characters in various ways.
    Marlow, the protagonist of the novella, embarks on a life-changing and soul-searching journey when he steps aboard the steamer. On Marlow's trip through the Congo, he comes face to face with "the devil of rapacious and pitiless folly," something of which he would never have come in contact with in his original land of England (Conrad 89). Marlow encounters many characters on his journey, none however as memorable or powerful as Kurtz. This is where the affect of environment becomes evident within the novella. Kurtz, a once dignified and regal ivory agent, falls victim to the atrocities aboard the steamer and in Africa. He is eternally scarred by the brutal experiences that occur during his time in Africa. Marlow comes from a modest and sheltered town in England. After being exposed to the experiences alongside Mr. Kurtz, Marlow ultimately ends his search for a soul, devoid of any true feeling. Because of their surroundings, Marlow and Kurtz both become damaged and meet similar fates.
    After some research on Conrad's personal history I came to understand why he portrayed Africa and the Congo in such a negative light. Because Conrad came from a predominantly white family and lived in predominantly white Europe, it is reasonable to believe that he viewed outsiders with somewhat racist tendencies. This only furthers the argument that Heart of Darkness shows the affect that a corrupt environment can have on its people. Much like today's society, a flawed and fraudulent government can have great emotional, political, and psychological effects on its citizens. Heart of Darkness does an accurate job of portraying dominant white ideologies of other races.
    ...more info
  • "Exterminate all the brutes!"
    "Heart of Darkness" is Joseph Conrad's nightmare vision of colonialism in the Africa of the 1890's: cynical bureaucrats - callous, incompetent, greedy and stupid to a man - exploiting the locals, spreading death and devastation, squeezing profits from a miserable trade in elephant tusks; while the most "advanced" and idealistic of company agents, a "universal genius" named Kurtz - runs totally amuck, setting himself up as a god among the natives, raiding villages, beheading "rebels", practicing "unspeakable" rites, all on the theory that his "methods" will turn a mere trading post into a "beacon of humanizing, improving and instructing." When his ideals are thwarted, Kurtz has another prescription: "Exterminate all the brutes."

    HOD is a great piece of writing, complex and ambiguous enough to support any number of interpretations. But not all of them are well-founded. Chinua Achebe, to take an example, criticizes Conrad's picture of Africa as "racist". This misses the point of the novel, which is not to depict Africans with factual accuracy, but to explore the minds and methods of the colonialists - especially their tendency to be corrupted by isolation, power and moral pretension. Conrad is an 'equal-opportunity pessimist' and one should not expect flattering portraits of Africans in a book filled with scathing portraits of Europeans. Nor would it make sense for Marlow - Conrad's narrator - to describe the Africans - whom he has only observed superficially - with an insider's sophistication and empathy. Marlow is a level-headed fellow of broad sympathies, but not, thankfully, a multiculturalist or a purveyor of politcally correct cliches.

    The central character - Kurtz - is prophetic: With his charisma, his extremism, his self-delusion, his gift for spellbinding oratory, his egomania parading itself as humanitarian zeal - he foreshadows the intellectual charlatans and mass-killers of the 20th Century, from Lenin to Jim Jones.

    A remarkable work.

    ...more info
  • Vintage or Vapid?
    Though Joseph Conrad's famous novella, Heart of Darkness, can teach us much about human nature, it can also very easily put us to sleep. The powerful characters and their intriguing motives Conrad expresses in his novella opened our eyes to the extreme lengths people will go to in order to climb the social ladder ultimately becoming "top dog". It also exposed us to the harsh and often over-looked world of African racism in its rawest and truest form. This concept was quite new to us considering all we have previously been taught about racism was the overexposed aspect of racism in United States history. If only Conrad had made his writing as exciting and interesting as the in-depth themes he conveyed in Heart of Darkness, perhaps more readers would discover it in all its glory.

    A constant struggle for power is an underlying theme throughout Conrad's novella. It is interesting to watch the development of characters as their thirst for power strengthens. The Manager, for example, becomes more and more distressed and desperate to overpower Marlow each time Marlow opposes one of the Manager's decisions. This relationship is a fascinating study of human nature, and is very relatable to today's society. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to become so blinded by their desires, that they reach the point where they no longer remember why they desired it in the first place. Conrad's characters show us that the greed and yearning for supremacy seen in his book is actually much more common in our lives than we first assume.

    If you were to ask anyone in our age group about racism nine times out of ten they would respond with a fact or figure dealing with racism as a part of United States history, especially topics of slavery. Very little is taught about racism in other forms and in other locations. Heart of Darkness portrays a society in which the ones that are oppressed by racism are, not only, the people native to the land, but also the majority. After seeing the way the European settlers imposed their own society and beliefs upon the natives, it reminded us that racism and domination as a whole is not only seen in minority groups. The invading Belgium travelers oppressed the people native to the land solely because of their skin color. After investigation, it is obvious this prevalent theme can be easily found in the history of our own country, The Unites States. This unique form of racism can be found as far back in our own country's history as the way the first pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower treated the Native Americans despite the pilgrims having a smaller population.

    Despite the great educational and psychological aspects of the story we found it intolerably boring, complicated and complex. The writing was unnecessarily wordy, often times confusing us rather than conveying a story. We also found that there was a gratuitous amount of description throughout the story. Again, the extra and unneeded words often sidetracked us from the actual plot. The story line was full of unneeded fluff and pieces that did nothing to move the story along. We also were not fond of the frame narration literary style. It added further confusion to the plot and we did not see any particular benefits.

    Overall, we would not recommend Heart of Darkness to anyone looking for a light enjoyable read. For those looking for a story enriched with themes and new ways of seeing a society you thought you knew, then this may be the perfect book for you!
    ...more info
  • powerful book
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    One of the first masterpieces of the 20th century and one of the key modernist text. This is a story that everyone should read, and Kindle edition provides the best format for the reading experience....more info
  • A classic that must be revisited every once in a while as a reminder
    Apocalypse Now doesn't do justice to this story. You need to actually lose yourself amidst the pages to discover the true darkness humanity possesses. With each page, you'll be drawn further and further into the jungle of emotions, where you'll try to keep away from the tentacles of nausea and disgust as you traverse the primordial struggle for survival. Sure, you'll fight the mosquitoes and humidity of ethics, but in the end you will succumb to what Joseph Conrad refers to as the dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths and germs of empires.

    -by Simon Cleveland
    ...more info
  • "Mistah Kurtz--he dead." An influential work on five 20th century seminal works
    I read this book for a graduate Humanities course. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, written in 1899 is a seminal work about the ills of colonialism, as well as a postmodern look at the subject of mankind. Conrad's book had a crucial influence on five important works of the twentieth century: J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land, Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Francis Ford Coppolla's movie Apocalypse Now, screenplay by John Milius, was based on Conrad's book. Another interesting fact is that this work was read by Orson Welle's Mercury Theater Players on the radio and was to be his first movie. After doing some work on it he abandoned the project to do Citizen Kane! I would have loved to of seen what Welles could have done with this story. Conrad's story is so riveting in part, because he himself served as a riverboat captain. High school teachers and college professors who have discussed this book in thousands of classrooms over the years tend to do so in terms of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche; of classical myth, Victorian innocence, and original sin; of postmodernism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.

    Just a taste of the plot reels you in! Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness and Conrad's alter ego, is hired by an ivory-trading company to sail a steamboat up an unnamed river whose shape on the map resembles "an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the depths of the land" (8). His destination is a post where the company's brilliant, ambitious star agent, Mr. Kurtz, is stationed. Kurtz has collected legendary quantities of ivory, but, Marlow learns along the way, is also rumored to have sunk into unspecified savagery. Marlow's steamer survives an attack by blacks and picks up a load of ivory and the ill Kurtz; Kurtz, talking of his grandiose plans, dies on board as they travel, downstream.

    Sketched with only a few bold strokes, Kurtz's image has nonetheless remained in the memories of millions of readers: the lone white agent far up the great river, with his dreams of grandeur,his great store of precious ivory, and his fiefdom carved out of the African jungle. Perhaps more than anything, we remember Marlow, on the steamboat, looking through binoculars at what he thinks are ornamental knobs atop the fence posts in front of Kurtz's house and then finding that each is "black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids-a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth" (57).

    I especially became interested in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness from the movie Apocalypse Now. There is a scene in the movie that shows Colonel Kurtz's nightstand in his cave. T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land is one of three books on the nightstand. The other two are Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, and J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Anyone wanting to understand the movie Apocalypse Now, especially the character of Colonel Kurtz, and what Milius and Copolla are trying to tell their audience need to read these three books as well as Conrad's Heart of Darkness!

    As a graduate student reading in philosophy and history I recommend this book for anyone interested in literature, myth, history, philosophy, religion and fans of Apocalypse Now.

    ...more info
  • No fool ever made a bargain for his soul with the devil. Inconsequential story by another Marlow (Charlie)
    I was motivated to re-visit Conrad's early masterpiece by Sebald's Walk in Suffolk, which contains a bio chapter on Conrad with emphasis on his Congo experience, which was a traumatic one. Conrad had taken up the job of a skipper of a river steamboat, but he quit after a short time, in disgust with the colonial practices of the Belgians and their crude exploitation methods.
    Marlow is Conrad's alter ego here, a captain who tells his story to some other guests at a dinner party. The party takes place on a ship in the Thames estuary around the turn of the 19th century. An initial narrator gives us the frame of the five men coming together for a chat and a drink and dinner. Marlow then takes over and tells us 'one of his inconsequential stories', as the introducer expects with some sarcasm: how he got the Congo job and went there with curiosity. He is appalled from the start by the crude colonialist violence that he observes on the African West Coast and then in the Congo territory itself, and by the raw greed of the colonialists. Kurtz of course, the main protagonist of Marlow's tale, who has not much of a 'life' role to play in the story, stands for the fallen white man, the one whose character cracked and who gave in to temptations and demons, his personal ones and from the world around him. He had the reputation of being a superior specimen, a man with morality and efficiency. The 'heart of darkness' is an ambiguous place and title. It can mean the center of the unknown inner Africa, but it also means the soul of the fallen man.(Kurtz is best known with the face of Marlon Brando and the whispered words: the horror! the horror! But Apocalypse Now transformed the story from Congo colonialism into Indochina war cruelty.)
    Marlow's attitude is ambiguous, he thinks like a benevolent white man with an essentially racist attitude himself, but with a more 'humane' approach. He is realistic about imperialism: the conquest of the earth means mostly the taking it away from those who have a different complexion and flatter noses. He even takes history with a broader sweep: looking over the Thames at sunset towards the 'monster' city he is reminded of the times when this was a dark place for the invading Roman army.
    The book is written in a remarkably opaque language. One struggles with every single sentence just to follow the story line. This is unfortunate, I am sure a more straightforward narrative technique would have opened a broader audience for the subject.
    Conrad was a man who produced stunning visual effects of the mind with his inventions, but he was not a chief engineer of narrative simplicity. If one is looking for a good straightforward narrative, this is not it. If one is willing to take up the struggle, one is rewarded though. One has to wrestle meaning out of his writing, it is not a walk in the park. The style is highly contextual, every sentence implies worlds and assumes you know which ones. At the same time, he is also able to come up with pretty gems of sentences like when Marlow describes his steamboat: she rang under my feet like an empty biscuit tin, but she was nothing so solid in make, and rather less pretty in shape.
    In line with the frame narrator's low expectations for Marlow's story, half of the audience is asleep by half way. I was not....more info
  • Wow! A great Story Told By A Great Story Teller [21][67]
    The heart of darkness contains numerous meanings as portrayed by this veriest yarn narrated by Marlow in his boat venture to see the inexplicable Kurtz.

    As written by the verbose and salty seaman Conrad, this book encounters personality eddies and characters ebbing into insanity as the narrator and others discover the Congo conjures an abject funk which today's jargon would describe as insanity.

    Deeply moving, this tale contrasts the horrible treatment of the Congo natives. Their value of life diminishes daily amid the pestiferous intrusion by Marlow and Kurtz and the Europeans' Belgian "Company" whose goal and bottom line is to gather all ivory - illegally if one must - for the good of the continental customers.

    The "heart of darkness" can be the merging of a gray sky to a gray ocean in the open sea as the sun sets; or it can be the heart of nature which permits the horror brought upon the natives by the whites; or it can be the end of the river which leads to Kurtz's camp of atrocities; or it can what lies in the unknown - the metaphor to the darkness we feared as children.

    Eerily, Conrad's writing leads you down the Congo River with the same trepidation and natural fear which a stranger in a very strange land would experience. The writing is so well done that it truly cannot be harnessed in other media. Orson Welles correctly determined this would not translate well into cinema. And, the great "Apocalypse Now" -- with its not-too-distant references -- touches the mood as well as celluloid can. But, it falls short.

    This is a qualified classic....more info
  • Great Read, But It Is a Short Novella
    The 18th century, and more so the 19th Century, was the era of the great African explorer. Names such as Bruce, Burton, Livingston, and Stanley were famous in their day.

    Conrad has created a short novel or novella to explore and describe one such fictional incident on the rivers of Africa. Conrad's central theme is that the European explorers were exploiting the natives and bring a moral darkness to the continent, i.e.: they were not encountering an African darkness, but rather they were bringing a moral darkness into the continent.

    In terms of the overall story, this is the tale of one man sent on a rather mundane trip up an African river to make contact with a company manager who was working on his own. The errant manager is accumulating ivory and other things of economic value. The story describes the challenges of the trip and the primitive living conditions.

    Of course, Conrad's writing is superb. It is the benchmark river story that was followed by many later authors, novels, and movies. This is good but very short read; it is really a novella.
    ...more info
  • Great concept, uneven execution
    Conrad's besetting literary sin was always prolixity. Despite his occasionally brilliant descriptive passages and his ability to pick just the right uncommon word when he needed it, he rarely bothered to compress his writing. So it oftentimes sprawls.

    This shapelessness is the most serious problem with Heart of Darkness. The paragraphs go on forever. The man who tells the story of his journey - Marlow - is criticized by the primary narrator for his many "inconclusive" tales, so Conrad may well have cultivated his seemingly rambling style just to emphasize how difficult it is for Marlow's listeners to understand the point. If so, I believe that choice was a mistake.

    Much in the story is excessively subtle and allusive. Yet Conrad's deep pessimism about human progress and the human "spirit" is unmistakable. The story's secondary theme, that most people "just can't handle the truth" (to quote a Jack Nicholson movie), comes through loud and clear.

    Heart of Darkness is a classic more for what it says than how it says it. What's more, we're far more receptive to Conrad's message today than was the reading public in 1899. The tale's current fame owes a great deal to Apocalypse Now, but readers looking for an adventure novel will be disappointed. ...more info
  • the novela is still powerful, but the format detracts
    I chose this edition of Heart of Darkness for my Honors Senior English class because of the vocabulary and theme resources promised. While they are helpful, the format of the edition has caused problems, even for me. The volume itself is larger than the average book and each page is equivalent to at least 4 regular pages. The print is so small that it takes great concentration to keep focused. It is a challenge to read Conrad's dense prose in a typical edition, but this version makes it even more difficult. ...more info
  • Spell-binding, Great writing, Teens have trouble
    I found this very short novel spell-binding, but I am disappointed that many young readers find it boring. I think young readers have trouble with long sentences, having been raised on TV and video games.

    Here's a sample: "The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and rip with steam."

    The story involves a river boat captain going up the Congo River for a colonial Belgian company. The work is boring and dangerous. The captain meets an ivory trader with a magnetic personality (Kurtz). The story revolves around Kurtz and the corruption of the colonial system of exploiting Africa. The narrator returns to England to tell the story of his survival.

    This book hardly qualifies as a novel: my copy is only 72 pages long. I would think that students would like the short page count. Instead, they react to the slow-moving story and well-developed description and internal monologue.

    Here's a sample where the boat captain narrator describes Kurtz: "He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch dance in his honor; he could also fill the small souls of the piilgrims with bitter misgivings; he had one devoted friend at least, and he had conquered one soul in the world that was neither rudimentary nor tainted with self-seeking."

    I found the story very interesting and the language truly exceptional....more info
  • apocalypse always
    I read this for my AP English class, and for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it at all, and completely blew the essay and got a 64 on it. Since this was completely out of character, the teacher (Mrs. Klein*; props) offered me the chance to redo it, and get the average of the 2 as a grade instead. So I read it again and was completely blown away -- it totally tweaked that spot that book junkies are always looking for. Still one of the best books I've ever read. And the movie was pretty freakin awesome, too.

    *Mrs. Klein is one of my favorite teachers ever, and that's saying something. She was one of the people most amused when my husband and I got together, as we were both well known by the English department -- me for being ridiculously good at it (as you can deduce from my sparkling commentary), and him for being spectacularly bad at it, in spite of being brilliant. (Possibly because he was born 2 months early -- there are studies n stuff on this.)...more info
  • humidity drips off the end of each line like a light mist in a heavy fog
    Probably the dampest book I've ever read--humidity drips off the end of each line like a light mist in a heavy fog. More is left unsaid than is written on the page, and this is truly a classic even though there is too much left unsaid for me to rate it at the very top.

    Favorite line: As Marlow cautiously pilots the steamboat up the river toward the inland station and its mysterious keeper Kurtz, his manager says "I authorize you to take all the risks." Marlow curtly snaps back "I refuse to take any."...more info
  • "A snail, crawling on the edge of a razor-blade and living. That is my dream."
    Most of the lower rated reviews reflect the views of students, compelled to read the novel to pass a class who are proportionately resentful of it. I was one of those students once, but I found this to be a respite from the typical "politically correct"-anemic-emasculated Literat bilge one's forced fed ad nauseum in public schooling. Get the edition with The Secret Sharer and minus all the tartuffe commentaries, ect. Great story, but no one ought to be compelled to read it....more info
  • "Mistah Kurtz--he dead." An influential work on five 20th century seminal works
    I read this book for a graduate Humanities course. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, written in 1899 is a seminal work about the ills of colonialism, as well as a postmodern look at the subject of mankind. Conrad's book had a crucial influence on five important works of the twentieth century: J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land, Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Francis Ford Coppolla's movie Apocalypse Now, screenplay by John Milius, was based on Conrad's book. Another interesting fact is that this work was read by Orson Welle's Mercury Theater Players on the radio and was to be his first movie. After doing some work on it he abandoned the project to do Citizen Kane! I would have loved to of seen what Welles could have done with this story. Conrad's story is so riveting in part, because he himself served as a riverboat captain. High school teachers and college professors who have discussed this book in thousands of classrooms over the years tend to do so in terms of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche; of classical myth, Victorian innocence, and original sin; of postmodernism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.

    Just a taste of the plot reels you in! Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness and Conrad's alter ego, is hired by an ivory-trading company to sail a steamboat up an unnamed river whose shape on the map resembles "an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the depths of the land" (8). His destination is a post where the company's brilliant, ambitious star agent, Mr. Kurtz, is stationed. Kurtz has collected legendary quantities of ivory, but, Marlow learns along the way, is also rumored to have sunk into unspecified savagery. Marlow's steamer survives an attack by blacks and picks up a load of ivory and the ill Kurtz; Kurtz, talking of his grandiose plans, dies on board as they travel, downstream.

    Sketched with only a few bold strokes, Kurtz's image has nonetheless remained in the memories of millions of readers: the lone white agent far up the great river, with his dreams of grandeur,his great store of precious ivory, and his fiefdom carved out of the African jungle. Perhaps more than anything, we remember Marlow, on the steamboat, looking through binoculars at what he thinks are ornamental knobs atop the fence posts in front of Kurtz's house and then finding that each is "black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids-a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth" (57).

    I especially became interested in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness from the movie Apocalypse Now. There is a scene in the movie that shows Colonel Kurtz's nightstand in his cave. T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land is one of three books on the nightstand. The other two are Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, and J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Anyone wanting to understand the movie Apocalypse Now, especially the character of Colonel Kurtz, and what Milius and Copolla are trying to tell their audience need to read these three books as well as Conrad's Heart of Darkness!

    As a graduate student reading in philosophy and history I recommend this book for anyone interested in literature, myth, history, philosophy, religion and fans of Apocalypse Now.

    ...more info
  • Ideal and Realistic
    Joseph Conrad's book, "Heart of Darkness" is the ideal choice for any high school student choosing a novel from their class reading list. Being under 200 pages in length this book works with a student's busy loaded schedule, attention span and most of all grabs their attention. Overlooking the blatant racism implemented by most colonial nations during the rush for imperialism this book is accurate to the effects and general events which transpired during this period. The outlook and comments towards the African people by their colonial oppressors is mild compared with other novels written in the early 1900's. With all the description of the surroundings and events in this book, it drags you into its pages and putting it down becomes a struggle.

    The amount of symbolism in this book is amazing and refers to all aspects of human life, greed, moral standings, duty and much more. Constant description and detail is the perfect tool to awaken the imagination and the creativity of the reader. Symbolism is dripping from every paragraph along with imagery concerning anything from the unknown, the overwhelming and clamping effect of the river, the dark abyss which represents the jungle, and the natives and their fierce and alien but intriguing actions. This novel, now over 100 years old, can safely be called a classic and an extremely interesting read for any age old enough to understand the effects of early imperialism.
    ...more info
  • Heart of Darkness
    An excellent work on the role of the imperial European forces in the shaping of the political and economic spheres in Asia and Africa around the turning of the previous century. Since these forces have been instrumental in the determination of the present day attitudes toward western powers, they must be studied carefully help in overcoming the negative aspects of what has resulted. ...more info
  • Timeless Classic
    I have reread this book a number of times and once you learn more about yourself it becomes all the more relevant. I believe this is a must for all adults vs. school kids because we truly do not know ourselves until we are older and have more life experience. To know what man is capable of, is to have lived and that comes from years on this earth and experiences in those years. ...more info
  • A Captivating Tale
    The fiction, and the non-fiction. The prose are not for the unexperienced reader. Part of this great story explains of the ills of colonialism at the turn of the century. It posits probably, an accurate account of what one may have seen on the ground and "up country" at that time. Conrad certainly opens the pages of man's baseness, his sordidness. I eagerly anticipate reading his other works. ...more info
  • A Journey We All Must Take
    When Marlow begins his journey to find the mythical Kurtz in HEART OF DARKNESS, Joseph Conrad dares the reader to accompany Marlow on a voyage less into the physical jungles of darkest Africa and more into the mental labyrinth that human beings erect to protect themselves from the horrors that they themselves build. In this justly famous novella, Conrad depicts a pre-politically correct age when white men thought it only fair and inevitable that they plunder the riches of Africa all the while comforting themselves that they were uplifting the fallen state of a lowly people.

    Conrad uses a twin layer of narratives in order to achieve the needed objectivity that he felt required to place the reader at varying distances from the horror that Kurtz cried out at the end. The opening narrator is unnamed, possibly Conrad himself, who sets the stage by placing the reader at a safe distance from the evils which lay squarely ahead. Through this narrator we get a bird'e eyes view of the true narrator Marlow, who is depicted as somehow different from the four other men on the deck of the Nellie. This difference in physical attributes slowly increases to concomitant differences in perspective, attitude, and general authorial reliability. Marlow is a deeply flawed man who has the disadvantage of viewing the unfolding events from the prejudiced eyes of a white colonial civil servant who is sure that the blacks in Africa are little different from his preconceived notion of uncivilized cannibals. Further, Marlow makes numerous errors of judgment along the way, many of them seemingly insignificant, yet the totality of the reader's perspective is twisted through the equally twisted lens of an unreliable narrator. Conrad's purpose in melding the reader to a flawed narrator was to insure that the reader could never trust what he reads, thereby increasing his sense of unease in that the sense of safety that Marlow feels, first on the deck of the Nellie, and later in the jungle itself, is as flimsy as the signposts that guide Marlow toward his goal.

    The goal is Kurtz, a trader who set out to civilize the blacks into accepting a white version of civilization, but Marlow finds out that the reverse happened. The true horror that Kurtz sees is the horror that all would be conquerors find when they discover that the philosophy of racial supremacy which led them into conflict with a people whom they deemed unworthy is shown to be built on straw. Kurtz knows that the only difference between his brutal acts toward the natives and their own similar atrocities toward themselves is no difference at all. As corrupt as Kurtz must have been, in his closing cry of horror, he finds a small measure of redemption and closure. Marlow sees what Kurtz saw, knew what Kurtz did, and heard up close and personal Kurtz's swan song of pain, but Marlow learned nothing of lasting value. All he could think of was to maintain the image of the Kurtz that was: "I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more." The journey that Kurtz took was a horror only because he became what he sought. The journey that Marlow took became a horror only because he learned nothing from what he sought. As you and I read HEART OF DARKNESS, we must decide which journey has the more meaningful signposts....more info
  • HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad
    I picked up Heart of Darkness because I thought Apocalypse Now (not the Redux, which sucks) was a really good movie. As it turns out, there's little in common between the two.

    The story concerns Marlow, an Englishman, who takes a job ferrying ivory down a river in Africa. He becomes interested in Kurtz, another trader who has set himself up as a god over the tribes in this area.

    Heart of Darkness, again, has been elevated to that divine status of "English literature." The same people who have promoted it thus have also attempted to explain away the novel's flagrant racism, although I don't know how that would be possible. How many English professors would be up a creek (you know which creek) if everybody suddenly figured out that authors like Conrad are overrated?

    Like The Secret Sharer, Heart of Darkness is boring and difficult to read. Conrad is one of those who liked sentences the size of paragraphs and paragraphs that went on for a page or more. Often, given his penchant for changing topics mid-paragraph, I did not see why he used half the paragraph breaks he did. The boringness of the novel is compounded by the Marlow's rambling narrative. Certainly, this helps define the personality of the character, but it certainly doesn't help the book's readability.

    Conrad presents the whole story as told as narrative by the main character after everything has taken place. Here, glaringly, Conrad's style doesn't work. "The moon had spread over everything a thin layer of silver - over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple, over the great river I could see through a somber gap glittering, glittering, as it flowed broadly by without a murmur." Obviously, people write like this, but nobody ever talked like this. You tell a story to an audience like this and every last one of them will be asleep.

    Conrad's work is highly symbolic. Far be it from me to say he was not a talented writer. But I think he, as well as those who cling to his coattails, have missed this: you can go to far with symbolism, and most any other literary device, and absolutely kill the story. While Conrad was busy creating vividly-descriptive sentences and cathedrals of paragraphs, the story fell by the wayside, and nobody went back for it.

    This is my problem. I don't want to see word pictures of nothing, no matter how lovely those pictures might be. Just tell me a story. If you can do both at once, so much the better. But if you're only going to have one, this is the wrong one to have.

    NOT RECOMMENDED...more info
  • Great Book for a Steal
    What a steal! I love Dover Thrift Editions! The poor student or bookworm has a friend in these el cheapo books. Heart of Darkness is (obviously) a dark read, but it's one of my all time favorite novels. And for $1.50 this can be the copy you write and take notes in. Buy a boxful and give them out to strangers at this price....more info
  • Vintage or Vapid?
    Though Joseph Conrad's famous novella, Heart of Darkness, can teach us much about human nature, it can also very easily put us to sleep. The powerful characters and their intriguing motives Conrad expresses in his novella opened our eyes to the extreme lengths people will go to in order to climb the social ladder ultimately becoming "top dog". It also exposed us to the harsh and often over-looked world of African racism in its rawest and truest form. This concept was quite new to us considering all we have previously been taught about racism was the overexposed aspect of racism in United States history. If only Conrad had made his writing as exciting and interesting as the in-depth themes he conveyed in Heart of Darkness, perhaps more readers would discover it in all its glory.

    A constant struggle for power is an underlying theme throughout Conrad's novella. It is interesting to watch the development of characters as their thirst for power strengthens. The Manager, for example, becomes more and more distressed and desperate to overpower Marlow each time Marlow opposes one of the Manager's decisions. This relationship is a fascinating study of human nature, and is very relatable to today's society. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for people to become so blinded by their desires, that they reach the point where they no longer remember why they desired it in the first place. Conrad's characters show us that the greed and yearning for supremacy seen in his book is actually much more common in our lives than we first assume.

    If you were to ask anyone in our age group about racism nine times out of ten they would respond with a fact or figure dealing with racism as a part of United States history, especially topics of slavery. Very little is taught about racism in other forms and in other locations. Heart of Darkness portrays a society in which the ones that are oppressed by racism are, not only, the people native to the land, but also the majority. After seeing the way the European settlers imposed their own society and beliefs upon the natives, it reminded us that racism and domination as a whole is not only seen in minority groups. The invading Belgium travelers oppressed the people native to the land solely because of their skin color. After investigation, it is obvious this prevalent theme can be easily found in the history of our own country, The Unites States. This unique form of racism can be found as far back in our own country's history as the way the first pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower treated the Native Americans despite the pilgrims having a smaller population.

    Despite the great educational and psychological aspects of the story we found it intolerably boring, complicated and complex. The writing was unnecessarily wordy, often times confusing us rather than conveying a story. We also found that there was a gratuitous amount of description throughout the story. Again, the extra and unneeded words often sidetracked us from the actual plot. The story line was full of unneeded fluff and pieces that did nothing to move the story along. We also were not fond of the frame narration literary style. It added further confusion to the plot and we did not see any particular benefits.

    Overall, we would not recommend Heart of Darkness to anyone looking for a light enjoyable read. For those looking for a story enriched with themes and new ways of seeing a society you thought you knew, then this may be the perfect book for you!
    ...more info
  • Heart Of Darkness
    Heart Of Darkness Book Review

    Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a novel based on him. The book is absolutely amazing. The story is being told of Marlow who travels up the River Congo into the heart of the African Continent, at the height of European colonialism. Throughout the journey Marlow suffers a profound transformation on his out look into human nature, taking him into the darkness. He holds views of African continents, describing the natives with contempt. His prejudices are not able to remain indifferent to the cruelty and horrors of colonization.
    Marlow becomes obsessed by his goal to meet Kurtz. Kurtz is a mystical character who has become famous for his success finding an enormous amount of ivory. Deep inside Marlow holds the hope that Kurtz will be able to give him a logical, justification for the horrors he has seen. When they meet, Marlow finds Kurtz has become a savage himself and has lost ties to any moral standard. He has plunged himself into insanity and horror. This book is a very suspenseful. I guarantee you that you will be on the edge of you seat reading this book. It is very deep, and can be interrupted in many different ways. So if you get a chance you should definitely read this book.

    ~Chris
    ...more info
  • A classic, spooky, disturbing novel
    Joseph Conrad's novel about one man's journey into the heart of darkness is considered a classic, and for good reason. This novel has no fear in providing the reader with detailed descriptions of all the horrors that take place throughout its pages.

    The novel starts out with Marlow, the main character, sitting down with a few of his ship-mates to tell a story. Normally Marlow's stories aren't ones to stay up for, but he quickly ensnares the listeners with his disturbing tale of madness. Marlow was the captain of a steamboat who ends up at a slave-trading post along the banks of a huge river in Africa. While at the post, not only does Marlow witness some of the most horrible things you can imagine, but he also hears many rumors and stories of a brilliant man, Kurtz, who runs another post farther up the river, and farther into the deep wilderness. Kurtz is supposed to be next in line to run everything with the Company, but the rumors running around the post aren't all good ones, and Marlow is eventually commissioned to take his steamboat upriver and find Kurtz. Once Marlow finally reaches his destination, the book really takes the reader over with its frightening descriptions of Kurtz and his situation that he created being alone out at this post with the natives for the longest time.

    Conrad's writing, as most classical writing, is a little hard to follow at moments, and while the book should be appreciated for its elegant, disturbing descriptions, I actually felt that the dialog between the characters, particularly Kurtz and Marlow was the strongest point of the novel. As Marlow comes into contact with more people who actually know Kurtz, the reader is informed again and again what a brilliant man he is, and how just listening to him talk can be the best thing in the world. But when Marlow and Kurtz finally meet, the reader is only given a few snippets of conversation, and the rest goes unmentioned by the author except for a couple parts at the end. While this small criticism of the novel doesn't mean that it isn't still a classic, it just means that in terms of this particular reader, I think it could have been even better and more powerful than it was.

    But other than that one small beef, I have nothing bad to say about this novel. Conrad was a gifted writer who seemed to understand the effect that shocking images can have on a reader. The images spoken of in his novel aren't pointlessly graphic at all, they are all engineered so the reader can understand the true nature of everything that was going on in during this time.

    On a side note, reading this novel helped me understand Apocalypse Now a whole lot more than I did before....more info
  • Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer
    The book was as written up, not in excellent condition so didn't receive anything I didn't expect. It was delivered in satisfactory time, no complaints....more info
  • consciousness awakening
    Very complex and thought provoking, quite powerful and poignant. Excellent uses of symbols and motifs. I appreciate the value and importance of this book (probably 4 stars for this) and I definitely think everybody shoud read it , but I can't say I enjoyed reading it....more info
  • A very fine piece of work
    The book is set in the late 19th century, as the Europeans were stepping up their pillage of Africa. Between 1890 and 1910 the operations of Belguim in the Congo may have caused the deaths of ten million Congolese. Conrad was far from being an anti-racist and anti-colonial militant but the whole situation revolted him as it did all decent people.

    Conrad's greatest gift is his ability to make the scenes he describes come alive for the reader. The description of the African physical scenery is really exceptional. The details of the story are told in concise fashion. Conrad imparts very well to the reader Marlowe's feelings of awe while present in what is to him a mysterious and fearsome land, Africa, as well as the less than stellar personal qualities of the white men trying to do business in Africa. I think the best writing in the book takes place during the last part of Marlowe's journey by steamer to visit Kurtz's outpost, including the episode of the attack on the steamer by some of the natives. ...more info
  • A dark, haunting tale that's hard to forget
    To shortly summarize, "Heart Of Darkness", by Joseph Conrad, is all about an English man named Marlow. He's a sailor and an explorer who takes command of a steamboat on an African river, during the Age of Imperialism. He takes his ship up the river in hopes of finding a man named Kurtz, who's something of a legend among the Englishmen living in Africa. What he finds along his journey causes him the question the morality of Imperialism, and he finds in the African natives something which resembles evil. And once he finds Kurtz, he realizes that, although the Imperialists may act superior and tough, they are just as savage and immoral as the natives.

    "Heart Of Darkness" is a real page turner. It may be short, but I finished it in 4 days (which is fast for me). Marlow is a generally likeable character, and easy to relate to. Kurtz, however, provides the enigma. Conrad's story is excellent, but some characters, Kurtz included, could have used more development. Thus, Kurtz remains something of a mystery to the reader. How he got to be the way he is is never explained. But my, what figure he is... he cuts off the heads of natives and shoves them on posts outside his house. He's a savage man who has a special way with the natives, which is what makes him legendary. But when Marlow gets to him, Kurtz is ill, and his final days appear to be on the horizon.

    The mood of this book is extremely bleak, and overall it is depressing. But by the same token, it makes the reader question the moral values of men, and whether those in a position of power have the right to rule over those who are inferior. Marlow really questions this, and in the end, comes to the conclusion that such things are wrong. Personally, I like dark books such as this one, so I highly recommend it....more info
  • A study of man
    It is well written. The idea of a storyteller in the story is not unique but very effective. We could ponder over the word darkness for quite some time. The best way to ponder is with Cliff's Notes. Personally I wanted him to get on with it. I guess I was a little impatient for the action and the conclusion. If it hadn't been for cliff notes I would have missed haft the things he was implying.

    A merchant company is missing an agent Kurtz, and Marlowe must find him. Traveling though harsher environments than he imagined possible he may have found what he was seeking. As with many of this type of epic the physical distance or direction is not as important then the transformation it plays on ones soul.

    I missed this book somehow in school. The reason I started to read this book before actually I actually became immersed in it, was to see how close it came to the movie. No not the movie you are thinking of. "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" (1988) ASIN: 6305078599 . The film was shot primarily in the avocado groves maintained by the University of California at Riverside (UCR), which the university uses for horticultural experiments. Adrienne Barbeau is Dr. Kurtz.
    The horror.....the horror.....

    Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death
    ...more info
  • Most Overated Book of all Time
    I know that scholars are going to disagree with me but Conrad's narrative alternates between exasperatingly long stories of inconsequential matters and skimming over consequential matters. For instance, we are given page after page of Marlowe waiting for his rivets and then, all of a sudden, he is underway with no explanation of how the repairs got done or when the rivets finally arrived. Kurtz himself is just a tiny part of the narrative. We really dont learn about the inner Kurtz. More time is spent with his grieving fiance than is spent with him. " The horror, the horror" , has for some reason become a famous line in literature , much like, " We'll always have Paris, has become in the cinema.

    I read this book in college, years ago and thought it was boring at that time. I ordered it for my Kindle, thinking the mature me would appreciate the book but I was still disappointed.

    Some of the description is excellent and it is a good look at colonial Africa at the time, so the book was not a total loss but a disappointment nevertheless.

    It reads very much like a novel translated from another language into English. Of course, we know that Conrad, although born in Poland, was perfect in English but the writing somehow seems awkward.

    My Kindle has been perfect for re reading the classics but this one fell quite short....more info
  • Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer
    The book was as written up, not in excellent condition so didn't receive anything I didn't expect. It was delivered in satisfactory time, no complaints....more info
  • Very, Very Short and Unremarkable
    Like most people, I was familiar with Heart of Darkness, both as an acclaimed work of literature and as the inspiration for the remarkable movie Apocolypse Now. For some reason, I recently decided to make an attempt at reading it, despite my concern that it was written at a level beyond my capacity to understand.

    Upon receipt of the volume from Amazon, I was initially under the impression that I had mistakenly ordered the Cliff's Notes version of the work. I had no idea that the book was essentially a short story, easily readable in 2-3 hours.

    Even more surprising, was the ease with which I was able to follow and understand the story, though admittedly written in a slightly dense prose. Perhaps this was due to having seen Apocolypse Now and being familiar with the broad outline of the story and having read other works of history on the Belgian Congo.

    In any event, it was a decent story, filled with some beautifully descriptive language and imagery. I must say, however, that I was not bowled over. Steamship Captain pilots a ragged boat up the Congo, accompanied by colonial agents and support staff (cannibals and other natives) in an attempt to relieve a long stranded station agent (Kurtz) who has "gone native" and become the insane source of worship for the local natives. If you've seen Apocolypse Now, you know the story, just replace the Mekong with the Congo.

    I go back to my first paragraph in which I related a concern over my ability to understand what is considered a classic work of literature. I fully understood it, but was perhaps not qualified to fully appreciate it....more info
  • Gotcha!!!
    After several failed attempts at reading "Heart of Darkness," I finally curled up in a comfy chair one rainy night and read it all in one sitting. This was my experience: I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored, I'M TERRIFIED. A masterpiece of hypnotic writing....more info
  • Disturbing
    This is a hard book to like, but I think it is very possible to appreciate, and frankly I loved it. It's dark, but the descriptions are beautiful and truly make this book work; they are what drives this terrifying and psychological plot. ...more info
  • "Exterminate all the brutes!"
    "Heart of Darkness" is Joseph Conrad's nightmare vision of colonialism in the Africa of the 1890's: cynical bureaucrats - callous, incompetent, greedy and stupid to a man - exploiting the locals, spreading death and devastation, squeezing profits from a miserable trade in elephant tusks; while the most "advanced" and idealistic of company agents, a "universal genius" named Kurtz - runs totally amuck, setting himself up as a god among the natives, raiding villages, beheading "rebels", practicing "unspeakable" rites, all on the theory that his "methods" will turn a mere trading post into a "beacon of humanizing, improving and instructing." When his ideals are thwarted, Kurtz has another prescription: "Exterminate all the brutes."

    HOD is a great piece of writing, complex and ambiguous enough to support any number of interpretations. But not all of them are well-founded. Chinua Achebe, to take an example, criticizes Conrad's picture of Africa as "racist". This misses the point of the novel, which is not to depict Africans with factual accuracy, but to explore the minds and methods of the colonialists - especially their tendency to be corrupted by isolation, power and moral pretension. Conrad is an 'equal-opportunity pessimist' and one should not expect flattering portraits of Africans in a book filled with scathing portraits of Europeans. Nor would it make sense for Marlow - Conrad's narrator - to describe the Africans - whom he has only observed superficially - with an insider's sophistication and empathy. Marlow is a level-headed fellow of broad sympathies, but not, thankfully, a multiculturalist or a purveyor of politcally correct cliches.

    The central character - Kurtz - is prophetic: With his charisma, his extremism, his self-delusion, his gift for spellbinding oratory, his egomania parading itself as humanitarian zeal - he foreshadows the intellectual charlatans and mass-killers of the 20th Century, from Lenin to Jim Jones.

    A remarkable work.

    ...more info
  • One Book That Altered My Life
    Faces
    After reading "HOD" years ago, I discovered or came to understand that I could never get around this book. First, like many others, I enjoy traveling to dangerous and exotic places. Once, I hitch hiked through France alone, frequently sleeping in open pastures or parks. Often in the middle of night, I would wake up in the night and feel that sense of oneness with a universe that was at once hostile yet sustaining, a feeling that I found in Conrad's masterpiece. Second, when trapped by life, at the end of some existential tunnel so to speak, (Lost job, lost love, etc) HOD could bring joy to my heart. NO other book like it!...more info
  • Must Read and Re-read
    "We live in the flicker." Need I say any more? As much meaning as can be packed into just over 100 pages. Best read in a quiet place with a good bottle of red wine at your side. Not for the weak of mind or heart. Be prepared to discover. ...more info
  • Make sure you have the right expectations
    I was a little disappointed in the Heart of Darkness. I think mostly because I was looking for a horror story, and this story definitely was not it.

    The story is supposed to be disturbing. I told Otty that I did not find the tale to be unsettling and he reminded me that I need to remember when it was written. I am usually good at putting myself in the context of when the story was written, which this one was written in the late 1800's. I think my problem with the story is that yes, the heart of darkness was a destination, but it was the people that made it so. The greed and desperation of man is what the heart of darkness truly contained. I believe I am unimpressed with this book because man has not changed in the last 100 years. Man is still just as greedy today and he was then, if not more so. Now, the deeds of men (the darkness of men) are normal practice. Maybe I am just terribly jaded.

    I did not find inspiration from Joseph Conrad's prose either. For the most part, I felt that his writing was somewhat flat and unimaginative. I did however; thoroughly enjoy what is called Conrad's "delayed decoding." Ian Watt describes this as "the verbal equivalent of the impressionist painter's attempt to render visual sensation directly...present[ing] a sense impression and...withhold[ing] naming it or explaining its meaning until later."

    Though I was not thrilled with the book, I am still glad that I read it. The Heart of Darkness is one of the classic literature pieces that being able to say you have read is always respectable.
    ...more info
  • a literary statement on colonial engagement
    This is not an easy read. But I would read it just for the pleasure of language use. literary beauty it has. before the theoretical thinking on colonialism, turning native or fieldwork, this is a very early but sophisticated engagement in a novel form.......more info
  • Good price for a classic
    My son needed this for school and this was the best priced edition available....more info
  • The Horror! The Over-Analyzed Horror!
    Classics of western literature tend to take on an air of infallibility, with billions of English professors offering interpretations that become better known than the work itself. The baggage-free reader of "Heart of Darkness" will find that Conrad used a lot of vague allegory and symbolism that lent a haunting and disturbing feel to the story. But Conrad's symbolism is sometimes so diffuse that a cynical reader may find that the English professors are seeing what they want to see, and that the story might be a little too short and stunted to truly inspire a century of over-analytical aggrandizement. Conrad was surely commenting on the dangers faced by European colonialists in Africa and their tendencies toward cruelty and megalomania. But since he focused more on the travails faced by Marlow the boatman rather than Kurtz the mad colonial demagogue, the reader may be annoyed at both Conrad for leaving many loose ends, and at the interpreters for making vast claims about groundbreaking commentary on history and European society. If you're suspicious of academic interpretations, you'll probably find that this story, while certainly delivering some haunting lessons, may not have accomplished everything you've heard about. [~doomsdayer520~]...more info
  • An excellent piece of epistemology!
    On page 3, the narrator (not Marlow) tells us that "Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine."
    This story is not typical. Its meaning isn't inside the text; rather, the text requires its meaning to be explicated outside in the world of symbols and signs. I recently used this text in a expository writing class focused mainly on teaching what, and not how to write (what to write when confronted with your own lack of desire to write). Conrad's text needs to be fitted into 19th century philosophy and especially epistemology. For a great essay see: Decentering "Heart of Darkness" by Perry Meisel. If you're not reading this text for a class (with a teacher versed in 19th century philosophy) or with the intent to look into the historical "narrative" that brings out the meaning of the text like a "glow brings out a haze", then don't bother.
    I read this book quicky in about six hours, then spent the next 7 days going through 10 pages a day. That method seemed to work but those 10 pages took nearly 2 hours to read carefully. The result is a story so filled with symbolism that even reading it as a denounciation of colonialism or mperialism seems shallow! Highly recommended for disciplined reading!...more info
  • The best horror story of all time...
    If one is seeking answers to the question why things must always go wrong, one must read this book. I have read hundreds of pages of critical writing on Heart of Darkness, and as many interpretations. They were all extremely interesting; they were all a nice try... I would encourage the reader to endeavor to look into what there is beyond the story, not in what is being said, but what is not being said, and why. The answer is at the other end of your own mind. As for the Everyman's edition and Klinkenborg's introduction - just perfect! ...more info
  • Beautiful moments, and awful quarter-hours...
    That is what Rossini reputedly said about the music of Richard Wagner, and a similar sentiment might be applicable to this novella. Wait--I take it back--not "awful"...but certainly...ponderous. Prolix. Demanding and uncompromising--in a way which is not really warranted, not perhaps necessary, but the author's prerogative nonetheless.

    If you throw it away after a couple pages, I understand. However, unlike Henry James's The Turn of the Screw--which is gussied-up, ain't-I-a-weighty-writer? crap--Heart of Darkness is a true masterwork, and if you GET THROUGH IT, you'll come across some excellent stuff.

    And at only seventy-two pages, you should manage.

    Conrad, despite his unconcern for his readers' patience, DOES know how to create a classic character. Kurtz is such a one...and the suspense that builds over the course of the narrative makes the reader anticipate greatly his introduction. You're also left wanting more (and, when it's all over, feeling a bit short-changed), an attribute shared by other all-time classic figures such as Sherlock Holmes, Jeeves the butler, and Hannibal Lecter (before Thomas Harris sold him down the river).

    The MLA claims that Heart of Darkness is the sixty-seventh best novel(la) of the 20th century (despite its complete and total 19th century tone, style, and atmosphere), and I'll go along with that. It's a much more significant contribution to literature than an impostor-work such as On the Road (ranked #55), but it may, however, suffer in the rankings due to its brevity.

    My advice: drink some Mountain Dew, hunker down for a couple hours, and get this book under the belt....more info
  • Heart of Darkness
    I found this book somewhat difficult to read and comprehend. It was much deeper that I care to read. ...more info
  • "Mistah Kurtz--he dead." An influential work on five 20th century seminal works
    I read this book for a graduate Humanities course. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, written in 1899 is a seminal work about the ills of colonialism, as well as a postmodern look at the subject of mankind. Conrad's book had a crucial influence on five important works of the twentieth century: J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land, Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Francis Ford Coppolla's movie Apocalypse Now, screenplay by John Milius, was based on Conrad's book. Another interesting fact is that this work was read by Orson Welle's Mercury Theater Players on the radio and was to be his first movie. After doing some work on it he abandoned the project to do Citizen Kane! I would have loved to of seen what Welles could have done with this story. Conrad's story is so riveting in part, because he himself served as a riverboat captain. High school teachers and college professors who have discussed this book in thousands of classrooms over the years tend to do so in terms of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche; of classical myth, Victorian innocence, and original sin; of postmodernism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.

    Just a taste of the plot reels you in! Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness and Conrad's alter ego, is hired by an ivory-trading company to sail a steamboat up an unnamed river whose shape on the map resembles "an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the depths of the land" (8). His destination is a post where the company's brilliant, ambitious star agent, Mr. Kurtz, is stationed. Kurtz has collected legendary quantities of ivory, but, Marlow learns along the way, is also rumored to have sunk into unspecified savagery. Marlow's steamer survives an attack by blacks and picks up a load of ivory and the ill Kurtz; Kurtz, talking of his grandiose plans, dies on board as they travel, downstream.

    Sketched with only a few bold strokes, Kurtz's image has nonetheless remained in the memories of millions of readers: the lone white agent far up the great river, with his dreams of grandeur,his great store of precious ivory, and his fiefdom carved out of the African jungle. Perhaps more than anything, we remember Marlow, on the steamboat, looking through binoculars at what he thinks are ornamental knobs atop the fence posts in front of Kurtz's house and then finding that each is "black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids-a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth" (57).

    I especially became interested in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness from the movie Apocalypse Now. There is a scene in the movie that shows Colonel Kurtz's nightstand in his cave. T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land is one of three books on the nightstand. The other two are Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, and J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Anyone wanting to understand the movie Apocalypse Now, especially the character of Colonel Kurtz, and what Milius and Copolla are trying to tell their audience need to read these three books as well as Conrad's Heart of Darkness!

    As a graduate student reading in philosophy and history I recommend this book for anyone interested in literature, myth, history, philosophy, religion and fans of Apocalypse Now.

    ...more info
  • Very boring book!
    This was a very hard book to read unless you had a lot of caffeine. The author uses so many descriptive phrases it is hard to follow. This is not a book you would willingly read it has to be forced upon you....more info
  • Exactly what I needed
    I purchased this book for my 17 year old daughter. She needed it for an assignment at school. The book was exactly what she needed. It shipped fast and is in great condition!...more info
  • Human Nature.
    This book is beautifully disturbing at how well it describes the fall of man to his primal state. ...more info
  • The Image of Civilized Evil
    I consider the work of Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness" to be a literary masterpiece. One of his powerful tools throughout the novella is the imagery, which Conrad uses to illustrate, contrast, and compare ideas for the reader to visualize. We can recognize that the first imagery of darkness emerges from the title of the novella. As we read through the story, we encounter the repetition of light and most importantly the repetition of darkness. The imagery of light and darkness represents beyond the contrast of the colors. It illustrates white (the Europeans) and black (the Africans). Furthermore, it illustrates European colonization versus uncivilized African, righteousness versus inhuman act, and life versus death.

    The imagery of light and darkness appears in numerous parts of the novella. Some of the examples, Marlow -he is a main character in the novella- discusses about a blank space on the map as "a white patch," but it had changed into "a place of darkness" (Conrad 5). Fresleven -he is one of the characters in the novella- was killed because of the misunderstanding of "two black hens" (6). Marlow arrives at a city, which reminds him of a "white sepulcher." Two women are "knitting black wool." Marlow sees a "white-haired" secretary (7). Marlow describes the two women as they were guarding the "door of darkness" (8). Marlow sees the color of "dark-green" almost "black" of the edge of the jungle (10). Marlow sees "black rags" around the Africans' loins (12). "We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness" (31). They come upon a "dark corner" at the Inner Station (33). As Marlow goes to see Kurt's intended, the room appears to "have grown darker, as if all the sad light of the cloudy evening had taken refuge on her forehead" (69). Marlow sees "an unearthly glow in the darkness" in Kurt's intended, which reflects her grief and sorrow (70). Marlow is unable to tell Kurt's intended the truth about Kurt's last word as Marlow describes, as "it would have been too dark -too dark altogether" (72). These are some examples of Conrad's illustration of light and darkness that keep repeating throughout the novella. However, the imagery of light and darkness is signified in several meanings according to the plot of the story and the reader's view.

    The imagery of light and darkness can be depicted in several intensions. The imagery of light can be represented as white Europeans whose intention is to civilize the African's way of living. In contrast, the imagery of darkness can be represented as the uncivilized Africans. The second intension of light can be depicted as the European imperialism carried out by Kurtz -he is one of the main characters chosen to live among the Africans as the chief or a figurehead- over the Africans' tribe. It seems that Kurt's first intension acquired by his company is to bring light (civilization) into the lives of the Africans and also bring as much ivory as possible into the European company. Subsequently, we find that parts of Kurt's intension had change. His interest on ivory might have been the same or similar to the past but his interest in Africans' lives has changed. He is represented as the light for the Africans while the ivory is represented as darkness. The concept of African civilization by the European company becomes the darkness and the Africans' wild life becomes the light in the heart of darkness.

    The imagery of light and darkness is arbitrary in the novella. What is considered to be righteousness according to the Europeans is indeed inhuman. One way is to think of light as bringing the civilization to the Africans, but this can also mean bringing the darkness into the African's lives by chaining them up and making them work as slaves. "The joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking" (13). The European imperialism is represented as the darkness and inhuman act. They go to Africa just because they want "to make money" (17). Europeans make money by collecting ivory and taking advantages of the Africans' land and also the Africans' lives. The image of European trading company as being white and righteousness is an illusion, instead, it is so dark and evil; as a result, many lives are being taken away.

    The image of death is signified as darkness. The death of Fresleven signifies as the darkness in Africa and how brutal Africans are (6). The image of Africans being chained up is also signifies as the living death, the darkness; they are being controlled by white men and not being able to run freely (13). The death of a "middle aged Negro with a bullet hold in the forehead" is also signified as inhuman killing (17). This is a form of darkness from the European side. Lastly, it is the death of Kurtz, which signifies as the darkness from the European side and as well as the African side. Perhaps, Kurtz is the only one who can bring light into the lives of the Africans but since he is dead, the light is also vanished along with him leaving the darkness behind the Africans and also his intended who lives in Europe.

    The imagery of light and darkness in the novella can be describes in many meanings. What we evaluate as the righteousness might consider as the darkness and inhuman act. Joseph Conrad is an outstanding English writer. He uses the imagery to illustrate and contrast opposite ideas such as light versus darkness, righteousness versus inhuman, and life versus death. What is interesting is that he does not suggest that one idea must be in the category of light or darkness, but instead he makes the reader chooses what is considered as light or darkness.

    Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Dover, 1990....more info
  • Had a lot of Potential
    I have read "Heart of Darkness" twice (once for myself and once for a class) and wrote a short English essay on the novel in high school. Joseph Conrad was a Polish born English author who created this symbolic advanture piece after seeing for himself the cruelty in Leopold's Congo. The novella has a worthwhile plot related in first person by the protagonist Marlow who tells listeners of his attempt to locate and return a brilliant, mysterious ivory trader named Mr. Kurtz deep in the Congo rainforrests. Along the way, Marlow has encounters with racist colonialists, slavery, and finally Kurtz with his ferocious natives. And to make things more interesting, Kurtz has completely lost his mind and is in failing health.
    "Heart of Darkness" is overall a fairly decent read. That said--and I may be about to offend the esteemed halls of Western Literature--I cannot bring myself to consider Conrad's book a truely great book. For one thing, English was not his first language and his writing style leaves something to be desired. Furthermore, the book is ultimately too short in my opinion to adequately cover its material. Conrad's characters are difficult to relate too and adequately sympathize with. To my great surprise in my AP English Literature Class, I found Wuthering Heights a superior work because of the characterization. Finally, I think the psychological depth of the novel is at times exaggerated. Yes, the novel has many symbolic elements and yes, very detailed psychological points can be derived from reading it. That said, many books could be extensively psychologically analyzed. Par Lagerkvist's final lines in "Barabbas" are in my opinion more chilling than Conrad's famous final words of Kurtz (I happen to think Richard Fleischer's and Christopher Fry's film version [Fry largely wrote the screen play] of "Barabbas" is superior to the book).
    In short, "Heart of Darkness" is an interesting and for some readers will be a very enjoyable read. I personally do not find it an exceptional book. Others may disagree and that is fine. Everyone has their own tastes in literature. ...more info
  • "Mistah Kurtz--he dead." An influential work on five 20th century seminal works
    I read this book for a graduate Humanities course. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, written in 1899 is a seminal work about the ills of colonialism, as well as a postmodern look at the subject of mankind. Conrad's book had a crucial influence on five important works of the twentieth century: J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land, Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, and Francis Ford Coppolla's movie Apocalypse Now, screenplay by John Milius, was based on Conrad's book. Another interesting fact is that this work was read by Orson Welle's Mercury Theater Players on the radio and was to be his first movie. After doing some work on it he abandoned the project to do Citizen Kane! I would have loved to of seen what Welles could have done with this story. Conrad's story is so riveting in part, because he himself served as a riverboat captain. High school teachers and college professors who have discussed this book in thousands of classrooms over the years tend to do so in terms of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche; of classical myth, Victorian innocence, and original sin; of postmodernism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.

    Just a taste of the plot reels you in! Marlow, the narrator of Heart of Darkness and Conrad's alter ego, is hired by an ivory-trading company to sail a steamboat up an unnamed river whose shape on the map resembles "an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the depths of the land" (8). His destination is a post where the company's brilliant, ambitious star agent, Mr. Kurtz, is stationed. Kurtz has collected legendary quantities of ivory, but, Marlow learns along the way, is also rumored to have sunk into unspecified savagery. Marlow's steamer survives an attack by blacks and picks up a load of ivory and the ill Kurtz; Kurtz, talking of his grandiose plans, dies on board as they travel, downstream.

    Sketched with only a few bold strokes, Kurtz's image has nonetheless remained in the memories of millions of readers: the lone white agent far up the great river, with his dreams of grandeur,his great store of precious ivory, and his fiefdom carved out of the African jungle. Perhaps more than anything, we remember Marlow, on the steamboat, looking through binoculars at what he thinks are ornamental knobs atop the fence posts in front of Kurtz's house and then finding that each is "black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids-a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth" (57).

    I especially became interested in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness from the movie Apocalypse Now. There is a scene in the movie that shows Colonel Kurtz's nightstand in his cave. T. S. Elliott's poem the Waste Land is one of three books on the nightstand. The other two are Jessie L. Weston's book From Ritual to Romance, and J. G. Frazier's book The Golden Bough. Anyone wanting to understand the movie Apocalypse Now, especially the character of Colonel Kurtz, and what Milius and Copolla are trying to tell their audience need to read these three books as well as Conrad's Heart of Darkness!

    As a graduate student reading in philosophy and history I recommend this book for anyone interested in literature, myth, history, philosophy, religion and fans of Apocalypse Now.

    ...more info
  • Chilling tales that are open for many interpretations
    This collection brings together three remarkable novellas by Joseph Conrad: Youth, Heart of Darkness and The End of the Tether. In Youth Charlie Marlow recounts the troublesome voyage of the old ship Judea and its wretched 600-ton cargo of coal. The same Marlow also serves as the narrator in Heart of Darkness, undoubtedly the most famous of the three stories. It details how Marlow takes on a foreign assignment as a ferry boat captain on the Congo River in order to restore communications with Kurtz, an eccentric ivory procurement agent isolated in the secluded midlands. Finally in The End of the Tether Captain Whalley, a former dare-devil skipper, sacrifices his retirement and embarks on a precarious voyage on the steamer Sofala in order to support his distant, beloved daughter.

    Like many of Conrad's early novels these three stories are set aboard ships. These stories tell of men who go beyond the normal routine of life to challenge themselves, whether from curiosity or necessity, in order to obtain what they seemingly cannot reach. Conrad depicts these desperate men with a vigor that on its own is already enough reason to dive in these stories. But there is much more. The real power of these masterpieces will only surface after a second read. The first reading is like a voyage into the unknown, not unlike the main characters would have experienced it. Only on a second or third reading do you become more aware of the subliminal power of the words and can you appreciate the full power of the colorful narrative. This way the at first read overly long descriptive passages get more and more significance and surely reveal their significance to the story.

    One of the many layers to the stories is the drive to react against the self-proclaimed dominance of the human race: both against his environment as against his fellow man. In Heart of Darkness Marlow even literally proclaims that the unbounded exploitation of the natural resources is a disfigurement to the human conscience. Therefore it is not surprising that theme of alienation was craftily interwoven in John Milius' script for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now loosely based upon Conrad's novella.

    Not everyone will be charmed by the dense narrative and slow pace of these stories. But if you manage to see beyond this dated style, what is left is simply a masterpiece....more info

 

 
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