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Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary by…

Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary (edition 2007)

by Joseph Conrad, Robert Hampson (Editor), J. H. Stape (Editor), Owen Knowles (Editor)

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485621,184 (3.7)3
Title:Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary
Authors:Joseph Conrad
Other authors:Robert Hampson (Editor), J. H. Stape (Editor), Owen Knowles (Editor)
Info:Penguin Classics (2007), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Read in 2011, Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction, Novella, Classics, Africa, Congo, Imperialism, LT Inspired, @D, a2008, BOYS11, 2011

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Heart of darkness : with the Congo diary by Joseph Conrad

Recently added bybookwormam, private library, porchreader, gcolvin, Ma_Washigeri, DaanKoolen, mhsoh



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Very powerful. I already want to keep going back and dipping in to odd pages. I shall have to look out for my own copy as this one is going back to the library. The odd thing is how contemporary it all sounds, I'm having trouble placing the book in 1899, and the introduction Joseph Conrad wrote in this copy was written in 1917, the year my Dad was born. Apparently it was serialised in a magazine when it first came out - just imagine how awful it would be to miss a chapter of this! And I've no firm idea of what Joseph Conrad meant by it all - there is such a complex texture of voices - the author, the narrator, Marlow. For now I shall keep dipping - and re-read it again in a few years. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
I really loved this book but cannot for the life of me explain why. Perhaps it is something about the lively writing style. Conrad's descriptions of people and places were simply superb. Will definitely read more of his work. ( )
  notmyrealname | Aug 16, 2010 |
I'm somewhat torn. The English Major in me would really like to give this book a higher rating. The reader in me has a hard time doing so.

I read this book back in High School and could honestly not remember anything about the plot, the reading or the discussions aside from the fact that the story was about some guy on a boat going deep into Africa and that I distinctly remembered struggling to stay awake while reading it.

I thought that approaching it a second time as a seasoned English Major would result in a better perspective. Admittedly, I think I got more out of the plot this time and see much more depth and symbolism in the book...but I still found myself struggling to stay awake at times.

What's sad is that this is not necessarily a slow paced or boring book. It's filled with exploration, political intrigue, violent deaths, savage attacks and other moments of suspense and tension. And yet, it is also filled with lengthy monologues on the nature of man and the perspectives of our narrator Marlow (who is actually a secondary narrator if you want to get technical, since he's telling the story to an unnamed narrator who appears very little in the book at all...a very strange setup).

The craft or structure of this novel is intriguing and I suspect is a large reason why this is such a classic. As I mentioned briefly above, the narrative style is a little different. The "official" narrator of the book is an unnamed man sitting on a boat. However, the meat of the story is actually told by another man on the boat (Marlow) who is actually telling this story to our unnamed narrator. There are also segments where Marlow is re-telling something someone else said to him or something he read, thus leaving us three or four times removed from the actual events of the story. His spoken narrative is also sometimes a little disjointed and sometimes conversational as though he's lost his train of thought while telling the story or he's distracted or interrupted by something or someone on the ship with our actual narrator.

The book is full of symbolism and allusion. It can definitely be taken as a commentary on many different aspects of Africa, colonialism, Imperialism, savagery, humanity, principles, beliefs, truths, and many other high level themes. However, the book doesn't seem to come up with any concrete answers about any of these and even leaves us in the darkness as to exactly which commentary we should be paying attention to. Truly, many social commentaries leave off just short of prescribing a plan of action, but they generally make their arguments fairly clear. In the case of Heart of Darkness, I feel like I came away more muddled than when I began. Yes, I acknowledge that oppression of so-called savages is not to be condoned, but I knew that ahead of time...and honestly, I'm not entirely sure that oppression is the core meaning of the novel.

I appreciate that this novel has depth to it that I don't understand. It's definitely a difficult novel that's hard to truly access. It's high level plot and themes are intriguing, but I don't feel that they stand well enough on their own to warrant an outrageous following. In order to truly appreciate this book, I feel that it requires very in-depth study and discussion of weeks or months. Maybe I'm just looking for too much, and if that's the case, then my view of the book goes down even more. Maybe I'm just obtuse and missing the point, which means my review is unfortunately lower than it should be.

Whatever the reason, I don't love this novel and don't anticipate reading it again. If somebody else reads it and loves it and wants to discuss it with me and turn me around, I'd gladly open a discussion, but for now, I stick by my rating.

2.5 stars out of 5
( )
1 vote theokester | Apr 14, 2009 |
I found this very dull all through and, despite its high literary reputation, it did not evoke any chords in me. Of course, by modern standards, some of the language is racist, but I am used to this from writers like Haggard and am well able to see this in its historical context. ( )
  john257hopper | Mar 19, 2008 |
I gave up on this book a little over a third through and skimmed the rest quickly. I really HATED this book. The language was racist and the scenes of slaves in chains were sickening and I couldn't read any more of it. The author seemed to be making some kind of appeal to humanity but on the other hand was using language like savages and worse. I found it hypocritical. It's a good work to document a period in history but you can also read a work of non-fiction to the same end. It reminded me of the early Hollywood version of African 'savages' in loin cloths running through the jungle oblivious to a 'civilized' culture. Please. It was written around 1900 when this type of ignorance of Africa was rampant in the world. It had a tone of the kind of sensationalism which would have appealed to the people at the time. I don't recommend it at all. Skip it and buy something non-fiction.
  BookAddict | May 9, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conrad, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hampson, RobertEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Heart of Darkness & The Congo Diary" is a longer work than "Heart of Darkness & Selections from The Congo Diary". Please don't combine the two works. Thanks.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441674, Paperback)

Penguin inaugurates a series of revised editions of Conrad's finest works, with new introductions

Exploring the workings of consciousness as well as the grim realities of imperialism, Heart of Darkness tells of Marlow, a seaman and wanderer, who journeys into the heart of the African continent to discover how the enigmatic Kurtz has gained power over the local people.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Marlow, the narrator, tells his friends of an experience in the Congo, where he once ran a river steamer. Fascinated by reports about the powerful white trader, Kurtz, Marlow went into the jungle, expecting to find in Kurtz's character a clue to the evil around him. Compelling, vivid, exotic and suspenseful, this is among the half-dozen greatest short novels in the English language.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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