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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness (1902)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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13,431None159 (3.6)2 / 773
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  1. 170
    King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild (baobab, chrisharpe)
  2. 90
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (baobab, WSB7)
    WSB7: Both about "colonialisms" abuses in the Congo, among other themes.
  3. 71
    The Quiet American by Graham Greene (browner56)
    browner56: Powerful, suspenseful fictional accounts of the intended and unintended consequences of colonial rule
  4. 51
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (gust)
  5. 62
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (SanctiSpiritus)
  6. 51
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (DetailMuse)
    DetailMuse: Includes a quest for a Kurtz-like character.
  7. 30
    Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli (JustJoey4)
    JustJoey4: Both books focus on the ugly sides of colonialism.
  8. 20
    Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist (Polaris-)
  9. 20
    The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary (ursula)
  10. 20
    The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (gust)
  11. 20
    Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Silverberg was inspired by Conrad's story to write Downward to Earth and makes some interesting comments on the themes that Conrad explores.
  12. 20
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Sylak)
    Sylak: Delving the depths of human savagery and corruption.
  13. 20
    The African Queen by C. S. Forester (Cecilturtle)
  14. 20
    The Sea Wolf by Jack London (wvlibrarydude)
  15. 31
    Congo by David Van Reybrouck (gust)
  16. 10
    Fly Away Peter by David Malouf (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad may be paired with Fly Away Peter by David Malouf as both authors show human nature to be hollow to the core.
  17. 10
    The Beach by Alex Garland (one-horse.library)
  18. 10
    Headhunter by Timothy Findley (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: "Headhunter" is a clever and well written fantasy on the theme of Kurtz.
  19. 10
    Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns (Anonymous user)
  20. 21
    The Royal Way by Andre Malraux (thatguyzero)

(see all 26 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
This is the tale of a man who's itchy feet & wanderlust lead him on a mission as a steamboat captain to a position in "the Company" along what I'm presuming is the Congo river in Africa. The clues are there, but the name is never given, so you have to infer it. In those days, the continent was rife with conflicts between the natives & the white men who came down to exploit the ivory trade. For a short book, & my shorter edition only had 72 pages, it's a deep book, the "darkness" in the title not only speaks of the interior of the at the time as a just being explored area, & not just the color of the skin of the natives, some of whom were fabled cannibals, but it speaks of the absolute darkness of the skies after nightfall, & the darkness inside a man's soul in conditions like that.....

Not an "easy" read.....but one worth the time ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
Arrows, by Jove! We were being shot at! ( )
  Jphotic | Mar 31, 2014 |
I read this my senior year of high school and immensely disliked it. It's probably time to read it again. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
A classic, but not my favorite. The end was a bit vague. ( )
  JK135 | Feb 24, 2014 |
Dismal, bleak, but somehow fascinating in its very pessimism, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has been on my list to reread for years. But it isn't the sort of book you eagerly search out for re-perusal, oh no. It is the sort of story you borrow on audiobook from the library because the other options are unceasingly banal and this at least has the aura of a classic about it.

It was hard to listen to; it took me almost a month to get through four CDs. The narrator, Charles Marlow, tells of his time as a steamboat captain traveling up the Congo River to transport that all-consuming commodity, ivory. Though Marlow narrates, the character that looms largest is that of Kurtz, the company agent whose legend precedes him everywhere. Kurtz is a legend, spoken of with awe... and Marlow's whole torturous journey feels inevitably propelled toward him. They seemed fated to meet. When they finally reach Kurtz in his remote location, they find he has subjugated an entire tribe to worship him and has employed torture, murder, and raids to gather all the ivory from the surrounding peoples. It is a horrifying situation, but mercifully must end, as Kurtz, very sick, reluctantly agrees to go back to civilization for treatment.

Kurtz, weakened and ill, does not survive the journey back. We can theorize on the reasons why; perhaps he had become unfit for civilization and the ordinary human laws and relationships it represents. I am sure many critics have studied the significance of Kurtz's last words — "The horror, the horror!" — and what exactly he was speaking of. It seems that in his last moments he was finally able to see himself as he really was, to peer down into his own soul and see the blackness there — the true heart of darkness. In some ways it reminded me of The Lord of the Flies in its searching scrutiny of human depravity, how we live when we are beyond the strictures of human law. Not a pretty picture.

And then there's the closing chapter with Marlow listening to Kurtz's betrothed eulogizing him and speaking of what a wonderful man, what a genius he was. And Marlow can only think of the horrors Kurtz perpetrated, of the dangerous force of personality and oration the man possessed that allowed him to dominate everyone he met. English major moment: is Kurtz a metaphor for imperialism, and his betrothed representing those who praise it, so unwitting of how it really was?

Central Africa was a miserable place at this time. Marlow describes of how common sickness and death were, the rapacity (and stupidity) of the ivory companies, the racism and ignorance and mistreatment of the natives, the whole bleak picture of it all. Conrad has a lean, poetic style that is very attractive in itself. He creates such a mystique about the darkness of the unknown. I love how Peter Jackson wove the novel into his remake of King Kong. "We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous and free."

The next audiobook I picked up and am currently listening to has a similar subject — 19th-century white men traveling into the heart of unknown African lands — but it couldn't be more different. Henry Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines may not have the philosophical profundity of Heart of Darkness, but I actually want to listen to it and I make an effort to turn it on even with only a short time to listen. It's an adventure story, written for fun. Not so Heart of Darkness. ( )
1 vote wisewoman | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (77 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph Conradprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Branagh, KennethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Prey, Paulsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vancells i Flotats, MontserratTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watts, CedricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.
"The horror! The horror!"
"What you say is rather profound, and probably erroneous," he said, with a laugh.
I've seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire...these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed men - men, I tell you. But as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly.
And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.
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Book description
This is story of Marlow and his quest to find Mr Kurtz within the dense jungles of Africa. His journey challenges his values and life and reveals new sides of himself that only darkness could expose.

This book was really hard to read at times. So much of what i readmade me think. It took me longer to read each page- each paragraph- because there was so much meaning in each one. A lot of the book was about how I interpreted it. That was a new one for me.
Haiku summary
King Leopold's fans
appreciate this tribute;
Mister Kurtz, he dead.

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The book that inspired the movie Apocalypse Now. The maritime wanderer and narrator spins a story: how he shipped on a steamer bound for Africa, how he landed on the banks of the "big river" and how he first heard the name Kurtz, the enigmatic figure at the heart of darkness.… (more)

» see all 25 descriptions

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Twelve editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

Five editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441674, 0143106589, 014356644X, 0241956803, 0141199784

Urban Romantics

Two editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175978, 1909175986

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