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Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness

ratings:
3/5 (4,885 ratings)
Length:
144 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 6, 2015
ISBN:
9786155529993
Format:
Book

Description

Heart of Darkness (1899) is a short novel by Joseph Conrad, written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow’s life as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. The river is “a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling 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.” In the course of his travel in central Africa, Marlow becomes obsessed with Mr. Kurtz.
The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism. Originally published as a three-part serial story, in Blackwood's Magazine, the novella Heart of Darkness has been variously published and translated into many languages.


In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Heart of Darkness as the sixty-seventh of the hundred best novels in English of the twentieth century.


Short Summary
Aboard the Nellie, anchored in the River Thames near Gravesend, England, Charles Marlow tells his fellow sailors about the events that led to his appointment as captain of a river-steamboat for an ivory trading company. He describes his passage on ships to the wilderness to the Company's station, which strikes Marlow as a scene of devastation: disorganized, machinery parts here and there, periodic demolition explosions, weakened native black men who have been demoralized, in chains, literally being worked to death, and strolling behind them a white Company man in a uniform carrying a rifle. At this station Marlow meets the Company's chief accountant who tells him of a Mr. Kurtz, and explains that Kurtz is a first-class agent.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 6, 2015
ISBN:
9786155529993
Format:
Book

About the author

Murat Ukray, aynı zamanda yayıncılık da yapan yazar, 1976 yılında İstanbul'da doğdu. Üniversite'de Elektronik Mühendisliği okuduktan sonra, Yazarlık ve Yayıncılık hayatına atıldı. Yayınlanmış -16- kitabı vardır. Çöl Gezegen, Yazarın 16. Kitabıdır.Yazarın yayınlanmış diğer Kitapları:1- Kıyamet Gerçekliği (Kurgu Roman) (2006)2- Birleşik Alan Teorisi (Teori - Fizik & Matematik) (2007)3- İsevilik İşaretleri (Araştırma) (2008)4- Yaratılış Gerçekliği- 2 Cilt (Biyokimya Atlası)(2009)5- Aşk-ı Mesnevi (Kurgu Roman) (2010)6- Zamanın Sahipleri (Deneme) (2011)7- Hanımlar Rehberi (İlmihal) (2012)8- Eskilerin Masalları (Araştırma) (2013)9- Ruyet-ul Gayb (Haberci Rüyalar) (Deneme) (2014)10- Sonsuzluğun Sonsuzluğu (114 Kod) (Teori & Deneme) (2015)11- Kanon (Kutsal Kitapların Yeni Bir Yorumu) (Teori & Araştırma) (2016)12- Küçük Elisa (Zaman Yolcusu) (Çocuk Kitabı) (2017)13- Tanrı'nın Işıkları (Çölde Başlayan Hikaye) (Bilim-Kurgu Roman) (2018)14- Son Kehanet- 2 Cilt (Bilim-Kurgu Roman) (2019)15- Medusa'nın Sırrı (Bilim-Kurgu Roman) (2020)16- Çöl Gezegen (Bilim-Kurgu Roman) (2021)


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Heart of Darkness - Murat Ukray

Heart of Darkness

(Illustrated)

By

Joseph Conrad

Illustrated by Murat Ukray

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ISBN: 9786155529993

Table of Contents

Heart of Darkness (Illustrated)

About Author

Preface (About the Book)

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

About Author

Joseph Conrad (born; Berdichev, Imperial Russia, 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924, Bishopsbourne, Kent, England) was a Polish author who wrote in English after settling in England. He was granted British nationality in 1886, but always considered himself a Pole. Conrad is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English, though he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent). He wrote stories and novels, often with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an indifferent universe. He was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English tragic sensibility into English literature.

Early life

Joseph Conrad was born on 3 December 1857 in Berdichev, in Podolia, a part of modern Ukraine that had belonged to the Kingdom of Poland before the 1793 Second Partition of Poland. He was the only child of Apollo Korzeniowski and his wife Ewa Bobrowska. The father was a writer, translator, political activist and would-be revolutionary. Conrad, who would actually be known to his family as Konrad rather than Józef, was christened Józef Teodor Konrad after his maternal grandfather Józef, his paternal grandfather Teodor, and the heroes (both named Konrad) of two poems by Adam Mickiewicz, Dziady and Konrad Wallenrod.

Though the vast majority of the area's inhabitants were Ukrainians, the land was almost completely owned by the Polish szlachta (nobility) that Conrad's parents belonged to. Polish literature, particularly patriotic literature, was held in high esteem by the area's Polish population.

Because of the father's attempts at farming and his political activism, the family moved repeatedly. In May 1861 they moved to Warsaw, where Apollo joined the resistance against the Russian Empire. This led to his imprisonment in Pavilion X (Ten) of the Warsaw Citadel. Conrad would write: In the courtyard of this Citadel – characteristically for our nation – my childhood memories begin. On 9 May 1862 Apollo and his family were exiled to Vologda, 500 kilometres north of Moscow and known for its bad climate. In January 1863 Apollo's sentence was commuted, and the family was sent to Chernihiv in northeast Ukraine, where conditions were much better. However, on 18 April 1865 Ewa died of tuberculosis.

Literary career

In 1894, aged 36, Conrad reluctantly gave up the sea, partly because of poor health and partly because he had become so fascinated with writing that he had decided on a literary career. His first novel, Almayer's Folly, set on the east coast of Borneo, was published in 1895. Its appearance marked his first use of the pen name Joseph Conrad; Konrad was, of course, the third of his Polish given names, but his use of it – in the anglicised version, Conrad – may also have been an homage to the Polish Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz's patriotic narrative poem, Konrad Wallenrod.

Edward Garnett, a young publisher's reader and literary critic who would play one of the chief supporting roles in Conrad's literary career, had – like Unwin's first reader of Almayer's Folly, Wilfrid Hugh Chesson — been impressed by the manuscript, but Garnett had been uncertain whether the English was good enough for publication. Garnett had shown the novel to his wife, Constance Garnett, later a well-known translator of Russian literature. She had thought Conrad's foreignness a positive merit.

Style

Conrad, an emotional man subject to fits of depression, self-doubt, and pessimism, disciplined his romantic temperament with an unsparing moral judgment. Despite the opinions even of some who knew him personally, such as fellow novelist Henry James, Conrad – even when he was only writing elegantly crafted letters to his uncle and acquaintances – was always at heart a writer who sailed, rather than a sailor who wrote. He used his sailor's experiences as a backdrop for many of his works, but he also produced works of similar world view, without the nautical motifs. The failure of many critics in his time to appreciate this caused him much frustration.

An October 1923 visitor to Oswalds, Conrad's then home – Cyril Clemens, a cousin of Mark Twain — quoted Conrad as saying: In everything I have written there is always one invariable intention, and that is to capture the reader's attention.

Language

Conrad spoke both his native Polish language and the French language fluently from childhood and only acquired English in his twenties. Why then did he choose to write his books in, effectively, his third language? He states in his preface to A Personal Record that writing in English was for him natural, and that the idea of his having made a deliberate choice between English and French, as some had suggested, was in error. He explained that, though he was familiar with French from childhood, I would have been afraid to attempt expression in a language so perfectly 'crystallized'. In a 1915 conversation with American sculptor Jo Davidson, as he posed for his bust, in response to Davidson's question Conrad said: Ah… to write French you have to know it. English is so plastic — if you haven't got a word you need you can make it, but to write French you have to be an artist like Anatole France. These statements, as so often happens in Conrad's autobiographical writings, are subtly disingenuous. In 1897 Conrad was paid a visit by a fellow Pole, Wincenty Lutosławski‬, who was intent on imploring Conrad to write in Polish and to win Conrad for Polish literature. Lutosławski‬ recalls that during their conversation Conrad explained why he did not write in Polish: I value too much our beautiful Polish literature to introduce into it my worthless twaddle. But for Englishmen my capacities are just sufficient: they enable me to earn my living. Perhaps revealingly, Conrad later wrote to Lutosławski‬ to keep his visit a secret.

More to the point is Conrad's remark in A Personal Record that English was the speech of my secret choice, of my future, of long friendships, of the deepest affections, of hours of toil and hours of ease, and of solitary hours, too, of books read, of thoughts pursued, of remembered emotions—of my very dreams! In 1878 Conrad's four-year experience in the French merchant marine had been cut short when the French discovered that he did not have a permit from the Imperial Russian consul to sail with the French. This, and some typically disastrous Conradian investments, had left him destitute and had precipitated a suicide attempt. With the concurrence of his uncle Bobrowski, who had been summoned to Marseilles, Conrad decided to seek employment with the British merchant marine, which did not require Russia's permission. Thus began Conrad's 16 years' seafarer's acquaintance with the British and with the English language.

* * * * *

Preface (About the Book)

Heart of Darkness (1899) is a short novel by Joseph Conrad, written as a frame narrative, about Charles Marlow’s life as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Central Africa. The river is a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling 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. In the course of his travel in central Africa, Marlow becomes obsessed with Mr. Kurtz.

The story is a complex exploration of the attitudes people hold on what constitutes a barbarian versus a civilized society and the attitudes on colonialism and racism that were part and parcel of European imperialism. Originally published as a three-part serial story, in Blackwood's Magazine, the novella Heart of Darkness has been variously published and translated into many languages. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Heart of Darkness as the sixty-seventh of the hundred best novels in English of the twentieth century.

Short Summary

Aboard the Nellie, anchored in the River Thames near Gravesend, England, Charles Marlow tells his fellow sailors about the events that led to his appointment as captain of a river-steamboat for an ivory trading company. He describes his passage on ships to the wilderness to the Company's station, which strikes Marlow as a scene of devastation: disorganized, machinery parts here and there, periodic demolition explosions, weakened native black men who have been demoralized, in chains, literally being worked to death, and strolling behind them a white Company man in a uniform carrying a rifle. At this station Marlow meets the Company's chief accountant who tells him of a Mr. Kurtz, and explains that Kurtz is a first-class agent.

Old Belgian river station on the Congo River, 1889

Marlow leaves with a caravan to travel on foot some two hundred miles deeper into the wilderness to the Central Station, where the steamboat that he is to captain is based. Marlow is shocked to learn that his steamboat had been wrecked two days before his arrival. The manager explains that they needed to take the steamboat up-river because of rumours that an important station was in jeopardy and that its chief, Mr. Kurtz, was ill. Marlow describes the Company men at this station as lazy back-biting pilgrims, fraught with envy and jealousy, all trying to gain a higher status within the Company, which in turn, would provide more personal profit; however, they sought these goals in a meaningless, ineffective and lazy manner, mixed with a sense that they were all merely waiting, while trying to stay out of harm's way. After fishing his boat out of the river, Marlow is frustrated by the months spent on repairs. During this time, he learns that Kurtz is far from admired, but is more or less resented (mostly by the manager). Not only is Kurtz's position at the Inner Station a highly envied position, but sentiment seems to be that Kurtz is undeserving of it, as he received the appointment only by his European connections. Once underway, the journey up-river to the Inner Station, Kurtz's station, takes two months to the day. On board are the manager, three or four pilgrims and some twenty cannibals enlisted as crew.

They come to rest for the night about eight miles below the Inner Station. In the morning they awake to find that they are enveloped by a thick, white fog. From the riverbank they hear a very loud cry, followed by a discordant clamour. A few hours later, as safe navigation becomes increasingly difficult, the steamboat is hit with a barrage of sticks—small arrows—from the wilderness. The pilgrims open fire into the bush with their Winchester rifles. The native serving as helmsman gives up steering to pick up a rifle and fire it. Marlow grabs the wheel to avoid snags in the river. The helmsman is impaled by a spear and falls at Marlow's feet. Marlow sounds the steam whistle repeatedly, causing the shower of arrows to cease. Marlow and a pilgrim watch the helmsman die, and Marlow forces the pilgrim to take the wheel so that he can fling his blood-soaked shoes overboard. Marlow presumes (wrongly) that Kurtz is dead. Marlow notes that the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs commissioned Kurtz to write a report, which he did eloquently. A footnote in the report, written much later, states Exterminate all the brutes! (Later, Kurtz entreats Marlow to take good care of the pamphlet.) Marlow does not believe Kurtz was worth the lives that were lost in trying to find him. After putting on a pair of slippers, Marlow returns to the wheel-house and resumes steering. By this time the manager is there, and expresses a strong desire

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Reviews

What people think about Heart of Darkness

3.0
4885 ratings / 138 Reviews
What did you think?
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Reader reviews

  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (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.
  • (3/5)
    Damn good catalyst.
  • (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)
    “Your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.”I remember reading this book many years ago when I realised that one of my favourite all-time books, Thomas Kenneally's "The Playmaker", had taken it's inspiration from it and I remember it having a powerful affect on me. Re-reading years later it still has that same affect.Most readers will know the story centres around Marlow and his journey up the Congo River where he meets Kurtz, an agent for the Belgian Government in Africa. Marlow is beguiled with the image of the River Congo and dreams of travelling up it. To fulfil this ambition he takes a job as a riverboat captain with a Belgian concern organized to trade in the Congo. On his travels Marlow encounters widespread inefficiency and brutality. The native inhabitants of the region suffer terribly from overwork and ill treatment at the hands of their European overseers. The cruelty and squalor of imperial enterprise contrasts sharply with the majestic jungle that surrounds the white man’s settlements, making them appear to be tiny islands amidst a vast darkness.This novella explores the issues surrounding imperialism. On his journey Marlow encounters scenes of torture, cruelty, and slavery. The men who work for the Company describe what they do as “trade,” and their treatment of native Africans is part of a benevolent project of “civilization.” In contrast Kurtz admits that he takes ivory by force nor does not hide the fact that he rules through violence and intimidation. His perverse honesty leads to his downfall, as his success threatens to expose the evil practices behind European activity in Africa. Africans in this book are mostly objects: Marlow himself refers to his helmsman as a piece of machinery so is not totally blameless on this point. However, the brutal honesty shown by Kurtz as compared with the hypocrisy shown by the other Europeans leads Marlow and thus the reader to begin to sympathize with Kurtz and view the Company with suspicion. The insanity that Kurtz is obviously suffering from is explicit and easy to see whereas that of the European Governments, whilst no doubt there, is much more implicit. In this book therefore, madness is linked to absolute power. Up country Kurtz has no authority to whom he answers to other himself and this comes to over-whelm him whereas it is more of a collective madness shown by the other Europeans.As such this book then becomes an exploration of hypocrisy, ambiguity, and moral confusion in as much Marlow is forced to align himself with either the hypocritical and malicious colonial bureaucracy or the openly tyrannical Kurtz. To try and describe either alternative as the lesser of two evils seems to be absolute madness.This is not some rip-roaring read and at times it is hard going but it does challenge some very uncomfortable truths and as such deserves to be regarded rightly as a true classic.
  • (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.
  • (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)
    My favorite book!
  • (3/5)
    Joseph Conrad begins his 1902 novella by having the sub-narrator, Charlie Marlow, talk about the Romans conquest of England centuries before. "And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth." I found this a bit odd. The only thing I could think Conrad (or Marlow) was doing, was to justify invading Africa, since this was not first instance of colonization. That goes along with a doctor telling Marlow he would love "to watch the mental changes, on the spot" of people who travel to Africa. But I'm thinking... what about the Africans? They're the people being kidnapped and murdered and sold into slavery. What about THEIR mental changes? The book is pretty darn racist, but I guess some people still are today, a century plus later. I think Conrad was either ironically OR unconsciously matching the general racist thoughts of early 20th century people. If he went out pointing most reader's inherent racism in 1902, he might have lost a lot of his readers at the start. They wouldn't have finished the book. But it is hard to say what writers were thinking, especially writers so far in the past. I'm not entirely sure that the book is ABOUT even Africa, since the book mainly seems to be about a character named Kurtz (he is the only character actually given a name except for the sub-narrator), even if Kurtz is first met twenty pages near the end. The book seems to say the "wilderness" has affected him (and certainly not stealing large amounts of ivory and using less that savory means to go about doing that). So instead of Africa, the book is about a pretty horrible guy. Maybe that is why the book is so short. The modern library edition I have has an excellent piece by Chinua Achebe who can sum it up better than I can: "..there is a preposterous and perverse kind of arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the breakup of one petty European mind." I'm glad that the modern library edition included Achebe's piece, even if he wasn't entirely complimentary to the book. He is one of the famous Afican writers, after all. The writing was wonderful at times, which is why I guess the book has survived so long. And it's still quite a puzzle.
  • (5/5)
    I have a confession to make. I bought this book simply because I loved the cover, which you actually have to see in person to fully appreciate, and because it has deckled edge pages. Shallow, I know. However, after reading Katie's thoughts on it over on her thread, I decided to give it a go sooner rather than later. Lucky me - this is one of those rare books that pull you into its pages and won't release you until you have finished the last word on the final page. Entrancing...riveting...without one misplaced word. A tale of dark adventure..."Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a giant silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once- somewhere- far away- in another existence perhaps. There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect."
  • (1/5)
    I ended up sparknoting it because my English teacher expected us to read the entire thing between two classes. Based on that, I didn't think it sounded too great. I know this is a ridiculous claim to make without actually reading the book but I did read parts of it and just couldn't get attached.
  • (5/5)
    Jaysus, this book is a brutal little thing.
  • (2/5)
    Review of the audiobook narrated by Kenneth Branagh:

    If you have to read Heart of Darkness, I heartily recommend letting Kenneth Branagh read it to you. Actually, this is not the firs time I have listened to this book. In high school, I read it out loud to myself, because that was the only way I could make the page-long sentences resolve into meaning for me at the time. While I am one of the best narrators ever, I probably preferred Branagh.

    I mean, his voice is amazing! The editing of this audiobook was unfortunately not perfect. They didn't do a great job with the breathing, but that's pretty easy to tune out. More disconcerting were the constant changes in volume. I would realize that Branagh had gotten very quiet and would be thinking about turning up the volume when suddenly Bam! it would be all extra loud. Do not turn up the volume or it will be REALLY loud. You have been warned.
  • (5/5)
    The main argument of this story, is that without society's pressure to determine good and evil and an appropriate way to behave, there is the potential to act in a truly evil way. This story is a good analogy to unchecked power as well. The story itself doesn't carry the weight since I watched Apocalypse Now before reading this story. The elements are there and the unchecked aggression and evil are great, but there is a difference between controlling an area for profit, to obtain ivory, and a soldier using natives to butcher an enemy. My perception is a bit tainted because of the order. However, even without the extreme elements, it is a demonstration of how those who have power unchecked can lead to horrible behavior. Favorite Passages:"You should have heard him say, 'My ivory.' Oh yes, I heard him. 'My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my--' everything belonged to him. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him--but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over. It was impossible--it was not good for one either--trying to imagine. He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land--I mean literally. You can't understand. How could you?--with solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbors ready to cheer you or to fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums--how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man's untrammeled feet may take him into by the way of solitude--utter solitude without a policeman--by the way of silence, utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbor can be heard whispering of public opinion? These little things make all the great difference. When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness. p. 123They only showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him--some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence. Whether he knew of this deficiency himself I can't say. I think the knowledge came to him at last--only at the very last. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude--and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core. p. 200And for a moment it seemed to me as if I was also buried in a vast grave full of unspeakable secrets. I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night...p. 170"Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn't touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror--of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision,--he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath--"'The horror! The horror!'p. 223
  • (3/5)
    Better than I remembered it, from my reading as a teen. I'll set myself on Achebe's side, though, when it comes to Heart of Darkness in relation to Africans.
  • (5/5)
    I just finished re-reading “Heart of Darkness,” it’s short, very readable, very dark of course, the protagonist Marlowe (picture Mickey Rourke in a Panama hat) dives pretty deep into the abyss of human nature, give it a shot if you’re not looking for light reading…..
  • (2/5)
    This book lacks any subtlety in its transparent meditation on morality and purpose. Perhaps this book was a bold, groundbreaking novel in its heyday for its bleak observations about human nature and the ways men abuse each other. But the novel reads more as a philosophy dissertation than as the jungle river expedition of its premise. There are numerous scenes where the narrator is so involved with his longwinded diatribes about the way the world works, that the actual world of the book becomes impossibly imperceptible to decipher what is actually happening to the characters. This story is certainly a overhyped classic, and deserves to be best remembered at this point as just the brilliant "Apocalypse Now."
  • (4/5)
    Heart of Darkness is an unusually well-written tale; and (of course) Conrad is a true word-smith. The characters' psychological depths are extraordinary, although the adventure spoken of could have been more exciting.
  • (5/5)
    "He was alone - his soul was mad - being alone in the wilderness""She talked as thirsty men drink".Conrad shows us that in the heart of darkness you find both the man that does not believe in mankind, the self-made man, the man that acts like everyone is an island to himself, the man that treats words as separate beings, as if his utterances is of no concequence to his act, his behaviour, and the tale of the woman who builds a life around an illusion of the unquestionable good, of the trust in words, the belief in the un-falling man. (the knitting aunt / Kurt´s fiance).Humanity cannot be built or sustained on neither.Conrad´s pen goes like a dissecting knife to the heart at hand, both sharp, precise and delicate. The rhytm of the language is mesmerizing (Conrad-Branagh is a formidable match), moving the whole experience close to a Homerian tale.
  • (1/5)
    I have never hated a book more. It was just. Awful. Plain and simple. I've never encountered a less accessible text where nothing happens. One star is generous.