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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

Written by Joseph Conrad

Narrated by B.J. Harrison


Heart of Darkness

Written by Joseph Conrad

Narrated by B.J. Harrison

ratings:
3.5/5 (127 ratings)
Length:
4 hours
Released:
Jan 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781937091408
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

“A weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares.” This is how Marlowe describes his journey into the Belgian Congo. And while Europeans go mad, Corporations turn tyrannous, and the legend of a great Ivory hunter is dangled before him, Marlowe observes everything with a keen eye, as we journey with him, into the Heart of Darkness.
Released:
Jan 1, 2007
ISBN:
9781937091408
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Polish author Joseph Conrad is considered to be one of the greatest English-language novelists, a remarkable achievement considering English was not his first language. Conrad’s literary works often featured a nautical setting, reflecting the influences of his early career in the Merchant Navy, and his depictions of the struggles of the human spirit in a cold, indifferent world are best exemplified in such seminal works as Heart of Darkness, Lord JimM, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and Typhoon. Regarded as a forerunner of modernist literature, Conrad’s writing style and characters have influenced such distinguished writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Orwell, among many others. Many of Conrad’s novels have been adapted for film, most notably Heart of Darkness, which served as the inspiration and foundation for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now.


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What people think about Heart of Darkness

3.5
127 ratings / 146 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    This book is so very well written that many aspects of it seem to me to verge on perfection. It springs to mind a hundred times in discussing writing craft, in discussing what a story should do, how framing can work, or indeed, when contemplating John Gardner's theory that novellas at their best have a "glassy perfection". This book manages to be an experience as well as a literary work, and the effect of its final pages is profound, worthwhile, and haunting.
  • (4/5)
    One of the finest novels of the twentieth century, "Heart of Darkness" is a moody masterpiece following a man's journey down the Congo in search of a Captain Kurtz. I saw the loose film adaptation "Apocalypse Now" before reading "Heart of Darkness" and feared seeing "Apocalypse Now" would detrimentally affect my reading experience. I need not have worried as the two are different enough to ensure the Congo's Kurtz was still full of surprises.
  • (5/5)
    Strange and excellent. Conrad's use of the language is masterful. Full of incredible symbolism, and a very powerful anti-colonial screed.
  • (2/5)
    This was pretty boring. The reader was fantastic but I just never could get into the story. Not my cup of tea.
  • (4/5)
    The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much - Heart of Darkness

    This is a book that is difficult to rate. On the one hand, it is very hard to read. The perspective of the book is a person listening to another person telling the story, which means that almost all paragraphs are in quotes, which can and will get confusing if the narrator starts quoting people, and gets worse once he starts quoting people who are quoting people themselves. Add to that the slightly chaotic narration, the long sentences and paragraphs, and an almost complete lack of chapters (the book is structured into only 3 chapters), and then add some jumps in causality in the narration for good measure, and you have a recipe for headaches.

    On the other hand, the book has a good story. It has no clear antagonist, all characters except for the narrator are in one way or another unlikeable idiots, brutal savages (and I am talking about the white people, not the natives). It is hard to like any of them, and, strangely, the character who is probably the worst of the lot was the one I liked best, just because he was honest about his actions and did not try to hide behind concepts like "bringing the civilization to these people". He was brutal, yes. He was (probably) racist, yes. But they all are. He seems to show an awareness of his actions, of the wrongness of it, in the end, while all the others remain focussed on their personal political and material gain.

    I am not a big fan of books that are considered "classics". They usually do not interest me, and being forced to read them by your teachers will probably not improve your view of the books. I am not sure if I liked this book, and that in itself is an achievement on the part of this book: I am unable to give it a personal rating compared to my other books, because it is so different.

    There are many people who have liked the book. There are many who have hated it. I cannot recommend it, because I know that many people will not like it. Some would say that these people "don't get it", but that would be wrong as well. You need a special interest in the topics of the book, or a special connection to the book itself, to properly enjoy it. But I also would not discourage anyone to read it either.

    It is part of the public domain, so it is free. If you are interested, start reading it. You can still shout "this is bullsh*t" and drop it at any point.
  • (3/5)
    I was expecting a little more out of this. Overall, I felt it was a little lackluster. I needed more meat to the story, it lacked...... something that I can't quite verbalize. Heart of Darkness describes one captain's journey up the Congo River into the "heart of Africa." It's dark, brooding, and ominous; nothing goes according to plan. The narrator upon arriving at his African destination; has a strange fascination with a man named Kurtz, an English brute with odd ways who is no longer in control of all his faculties. Marlow, the captain, is in awe at the darkness that lurks in the jungle and in men's hearts. Sigh. I'm not doing a very good job describing it because I couldn't really get into it.
  • (2/5)
    I finished Joseph Conrad’s novella, “Heart of Darkness” this morning. I’m really a bit Ho-hum about it, can’t really recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    This book has been recommended to me by a friend and was sitting on my to read list for years. When I saw that most of its reviews are either 5 star or 1 star I was intrigued. The book did not disappoint. Beautiful, evocative, mesmerizing, horrifying, revolting, it describes an abyss of a human soul. A story within a story, narrator's description sets the stage and his story takes you away into then disappearing and now non-existent primal world thus forcing you to see the events through his lenses.
  • (5/5)
    I read this thirty-five years and didn’t get much out of it. After hearing Branagh’s reading, I think what I missed was not the obvious message, but the art. There is nothing like a great actor giving a great reading to bring a great work of literature to life.
  • (3/5)
    There's nothing wrong with a bit of baggy. And certainly there's little or nothing 19th century without that touch of cellulite. And that's mostly where all the masterpieces live. No waste. But no bounty either. Conrad's prose is too parsimonious for anything to get very close to masterpiece status. I like him fine but he was a writer who tied his boots too tight almost on purpose. He wrote better about the sea than anything else and yet did relatively little of it. You're right (in a tiny, limited sense) in that the strangely neglected “The Secret Agent” is probably his best - full of surprises and real pleasures - does “Greenwich” like no one ever did. But to call it a masterpiece is to seriously abuse the term. Hush my moderation, it is to take the term out the back with a baseball bat and go all Joe Pesci on its ass. His prose is the diametric opposite of gorgeous (saying so makes me sound like a Banville-admirer). His prose was bullied at school and has been keen to avoid trouble ever since. I can understand that but it don't bring me no grandeur nor frisson.I'm a big fan of “Notre Dame de Paris” (I've read it English, Portuguese and German). But obviously I’m singing its praises to avoid the lurking presence of “Les Mis”. Because it gloriously proves my point about baggy masterpieces. “Les Mis” was pissed on at the time for its vulgarity and indiscipline. This is the stuff that makes a masterpiece. “Notre Dame de Paris” is a pretty little thing, but it's a run-up, a stretching exercise before the real thing. Hugo was a looper (try “Les Travailleurs de la Mer”). He spent the spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime Commune moment eating zoo animals and banging fans. This makes him lots and lots of things. Unbaggy is not amongst them. “Les Mis” changed everything. “Notre Dame de Paris” was a cartoon waiting to happen.I'm not a fan of everything books-wise. And I also don't want to scatter the masterpiece medals too liberally. Though I admire some people’s generosity and enthusiasm. I'm just worried it's going to end up with J.K. Rowling as Nobel Laureate (she wouldn't be the worst). The sentiment is almost the opposite of masterpiece though. But then I'm a big fan of cowardice, so I'm bound to say that. The thing about Conrad? No funnies. Not once. Not ever. Even by accident. That's the Beckett kiss of death. I rest my case. Cry at your leisure. Don't forget, I'm a Conrad fan.And I wouldn't dream of hurting someone, but look me right in the eye and tell me “Les Mis” is not baggy. Remember the chapter about the joys of human shit? Not even the tiniest bit discursive, that one? Really?
  • (2/5)
    One word to describe this book - woof. It isn't a story as much as an author's attempt to use metaphors and colorful language to make a point in 100 pages that could have been made in half of that. The basics of the book is that a man is telling his story of a trip to Africa for a company and he meets a white man who is kind of worshiped by the ignorant black people.

    This is not a page turner, but I am glad I read it because it is a classic due to the time period in which it was written. Will I read it again? Probably not. But as a person who studies and teaches history, it was important to get through at least once. As literature, I was not fan.
  • (4/5)
    I finally read it! Beautiful, heavy tale of obsession.
  • (4/5)
    Inspired by the Great American Read list, I thought I would give this novella a try. I'd not read it in any of my English classes. I found the book interesting but disturbing in places. I had to consider the time in which it was written. There isn't a lot of political correctness in here. Marlow, the narrator, is given the job of piloting a boat up the Congo. He reflects on what he sees, his frustrations with the journey, and the man he finally meets in the end.
  • (3/5)
    Uiteraard een klassieker, maar desondanks zeer intrigerend. Sterk accent op stemming en sfeerschepping: duister, mysterieus.Maar stilistisch meestal grote omhaal van woorden en daardoor niet helemaal geslaagd.Te lezen als ultieme explorie van het innerlijk van de mens in extreme omstandigheden
  • (4/5)
    Hypocrisy of imperialism. A good companion read to Things Fall Apart and The Poisonwood Bible. Tells the the story of Marlow, a sailor who describes his journey up the Congo River to meet Kurtz. Mans journey to discover the darkness in his own hearts. (Foster) Inspired by a trip Conrad took up the Congo in 1890. Major conflict; their images of themselves as civilized and the temptation to abandon morality when out of European society. Kurtz has completely abandoned European morals and norms. Also recommend King Leopold's Ghost.
  • (3/5)
    Damn good catalyst.
  • (5/5)
    My favorite book!
  • (3/5)
    Uiteraard een klassieker, maar desondanks zeer intrigerend. Sterk accent op stemming en sfeerschepping: duister, mysterieus.Maar stilistisch meestal grote omhaal van woorden en daardoor niet helemaal geslaagd.Te lezen als ultieme explorie van het innerlijk van de mens in extreme omstandigheden
  • (3/5)
    The longest 100 pages I have ever read. After several abandonments over the years I managed to discipline myself to stick with it. Allegorical and dense prose, dealing with imperialism, exploitation, racism and moral corruption. However, not much actually happens to a handful of characters none of whom I could readily empathise or care for. It was a struggle. That said, having finished it several days ago the story and fundamental imagery has stuck with me. Initially gave this 2 stars but upped it to 3 as there is something about this book that is quite haunting and it probably deserves another read and a better understanding.
  • (4/5)
    This is short novel (~100 pages), following an adventure up the Congo to the deepest darkest part of Africa. It is set in the 19th Century when the continent was relatively unknown to European explorers. The main character Marlow is from London, and he narrates his adventure, starting from the time when he decides he wants to explore the continent (being interested in maps from a young age), through his finding a job as a steamboat pilot, and the ensuing voyage. The company employing him has set up stations along the river, with the object of trading and obtaining ivory from the natives. The adventure reaches its finale after he finds the final station and realises what has been going on there.Though this obviously deals with colonialism and imperialism, what is perhaps a more dominant theme is the banality of evil, and the psychology of being in an extreme and often alien environment. Conrad, despite English not being his native language, writes in a finer literary style than many of his contemporary English language novelists of adventure. Indeed, his use of English here being subtly non-native provides some quite expressive and poetic turns of phrase, which in a sense heighten the exotic atmosphere and the sense of strangeness. This is very easy reading, and highly recommendable due to both its depth and its compactness.
  • (4/5)
    Jeremiah 17:9 sums up Marlow's message in Heart of Darkness: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.Who can know it?"Though the book is less gruesome and terrifying than Apocalypse Now,it has a stronger reach for an imagination."...the sea-reach of the Thames..." > ah, how Joseph Conrad lulls us in.If not for the title, we'd feel nice and cozy, sipping our holiday tea by the fireplace. Marlow again tells the story, sounding not as chipperas he did in LORD JIM, leading readers to "...the very end of the world...."There's still the author's trademark racist descriptions of "blacks" andcannibals do not fare as well as in Moby-Dick. No wonder Conrad described Melville as "romantic."Where Melville gives us Cannibal Light,Conrad serves up Cannibals-with-a-Hint.Thanks to both of them for sparring us more.The story feels unfinished without knowing the reasons for the behavior of Kurtz and his descent into madness. Did his base desires and actions propel him or was The Horror in his mind?
  • (4/5)
    This is the second time I've started this book. I tried to read it in my late teens but could not deal with the brutality toward the Africans by the Europeans. I'm not sure that the "darkness" Conrad refers to is the same "darkness" I see in the book. For me this is about the attitude and actions of the colonists / company men toward the native tribes' people. But I get the feeling that Conrad's contemporary readers (at time of publication) would have been more horrified at the way Kurtz "went native" so to speak.
    One paragraph did really stand out for me and in it Conrad says (paraphrase)who would we be if we didn't have the judgement of our neighbours / friends / family / society around us; if we were completely free of all expectations and only had our own morality to guide us? How many people obey the rules for fear of what society would do to them if who they really are were to show?
    The darkness that will stay in my head is the wholesale destruction of a native society for greed and profit - a destruction that continues today in that area of the world.
  • (4/5)
    Many years ago when I was in high school Victory by Joseph Conrad was on the curriculum. I would like to know who thought that was an appropriate piece of literature for 16 and 17 year olds. I hated it and I have shied away from anything by Conrad ever since. However, I decided to give this book a listen since it was available as a download from my library's electronic site. I may have done Conrad a disservice all those years ago because Heart of Darkness, while never going to be in my top reads of all time list, is well written. I may have to go back to Victory and see what I think of it now.A group of old friends are on board a ship in the Thames estuary. As night falls one of the men, Marlow, tells the tale of his time as a riverboat captain on an African river (surely the Congo). Usually a salt water sailor Marlow decided to take a job on fresh water so he could see something of the interior of Africa. He was hired on by a large European concern to pilot the riverboat up the river to supply their stations and collect the ivory the stations had obtained. From the beginning he heard about the mysterious Mr. Kurtz who had been in charge of a station far up the river for several years. Kurtz sent quantities of ivory to the Central Station but never appears himself. He is so successful at getting ivory that the station manager fears Kurtz may be promoted over him. As Marlow hears more and more about Kurtz he longs to meet him. When he finally does reach Kurtz's station he finds that Kurtz is very ill and that he is surrounded by a tribe of natives who revere Kurtz. Kurtz is brought on board the ship and Marlow listens to Kurtz as they return downriver. Kurtz entrusts Marlow with a packet of materials and then dies. His last words are "The horror, the horror". Is Kurtz referring to his interactions with the natives, some of whom he killed and impaled their heads on posts around his hut? This man who lived among the natives for a long time did not seem to have a very high opinion of them. He wrote a pamphlet about civilizing the natives but ended it by writing "Exterminate all the brutes". A year later, after Marlow had recovered from his own debilitating illness, Marlow goes to visit Kurtz's fiancee and gives her some items that Kurtz had entrusted with him. When asked what Kurtz's last words were Marlow lies and tells her it was her own name.This book certainly shows the casual use of violence by so-called civilized men and the disdain they feel for the Africans. Even Kurtz, who Marlow has been told is exemplary, seemed to think nothing of slaughtering men in pursuit of ivory. When the riverboat is leaving Kurtz's station the natives who had revered Kurtz massed on the shore to pay their respects. Marlow noticed that the men on board (whom he refers to as pilgrims which always made me think of John Wayne everytime I heard it) were readying their guns to shoot them. Marlow frightened the natives away by blowing the ship's whistle much to the annoyance of the men who were looking for some "good shooting". This is a disturbing book but I am glad I have now "read" it.
  • (5/5)
    Darkness in the dark reaches of Africa looking into the dark souls of man seeking the unknown, but finding darkness amongst the darkness.
  • (4/5)
    Conrad's Heart of Darkness explores the dark heart that lies within each of us and the extraordinary lengths of depravity we are willing to go to. This is mirrored in the "dark continent" of Africa in which Marlowe, our narrator for most of the story, travels as well as in the darkness within Kurtz and, to an extent, all of us. The story also left me pondering the darkness that lies within each of us and whether showing that was the purpose of opening and closing the story in London with Marlowe telling shipmates about his trip to Africa. Are any of us really better than Kurtz?
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    In an effort to class up the joint, I listened to this audio book performed by Kenneth Branagh.

    I say performed, because it wasn't just a plain reading of the story. He added depth to the observations and took what I might have found to be a boring story and breathed life into it.

    I enjoyed this quite a bit and would recommend this audio version to anyone interested in this classic tale.
  • (4/5)
    This is a collection of three novels written by Joseph Conrad. I enjoyed the third story the most. The End of the Tether has an interesting twist at the end of the story. The Heart of Darkness is interesting but I found it less meaningful. Youth was rather mediocre.
  • (3/5)
    I decided to read this as preparation (along with Cary's Mister Johnson - next) for reading 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe. It's been on the shelf for years and I thought I had read it before, as a child on a visit to Sri Lanka, but perhaps not.Although it's a short book, it took me an age to read, to begin with because I was relishing the language, the descriptions and Marlow's sardonic oratory style. After a while, perhaps I am tired, my mind kept drifting away from the text, snatched up by the few moments of action. I loved Kurtz' last words 'The horror!', which Marlow was unable to tell Kurtz' Intended (and how when he lied to her the world didn't stop turning). I was chilled by the treatment of the natives in their chain-gangs, as well as by the range of mad, greedy, salivating characters scattered along the journey (particularly the Russian and the chap in charge of bricks). The hungry cannibals' restraint was one of many mysteries, and the man looking after the state of the 'road' which seemed to mean shooting negros fo rno apparent reason (pp19-20) was one of many horrors. Probably my own ignorance of the apparent aim of Marlow's appointment spoilt, for me, the contrast of what he found, so I didn't get as much out of the book as I might. Perhaps the Cary and the Achebe will help.
  • (4/5)
    Well, I hate to do it, but I'm taking the rating down to 4 out of 5 stars. I'm not sure why, but this time around, Joseph Conrad did not manage to induce the same level of fascination as he did the first couple of times I read this book. Maybe because the last time I read it was for a class, where we got to discuss it so much.It's the story of Marlow, the classic man of the sea, and his trip down the river Congo to find Kurtz, the company man said to have native. But instead of being drawn into the story, this time I felt like Conrad was deliberately keeping the reader at arms' length. Marlow is telling the story, and an unnamed male listener is telling the reader what Marlow says. Then Marlow tells the listener who tells us what Marlow says somebody else says. Still with me?Maybe the point of all those layers was to make the reader question the story a little more, to ask one's self how much you really know about someone else if all you know is what they say.Anyway, it was good to read it again, but not as great as I remembered. I'm not sure why, but it must be a change inside me, because I *LOVED* this book back in college.