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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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Heart of Darkness (1902)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,104187147 (3.59)2 / 841
  1. 182
    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. 81
    The Quiet American by Graham Greene (browner56)
    browner56: Powerful, suspenseful fictional accounts of the intended and unintended consequences of colonial rule
  4. 82
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (SanctiSpiritus)
  5. 51
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (gust)
  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. 10
    Headhunter by Timothy Findley (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: "Headhunter" is a clever and well written fantasy on the theme of Kurtz.
  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. 21
    The Royal Way by Andre Malraux (thatguyzero)
  18. 10
    The Beach by Alex Garland (one-horse.library)
  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. 10
    I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud (Modern Library Classics) by Arthur Rimbaud (slickdpdx)

(see all 26 recommendations)

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English (162)  Spanish (8)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Tagalog (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Galician (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
My favorite book! ( )
  laura.w.douglas | Feb 7, 2015 |
My favorite book! ( )
  laura.w.douglas | Feb 7, 2015 |
Thank God Conrad indulged in some purplish over-drama in the final scene with Kurtz's fiancee or I'd be stuck giving five stars to a book Chinua Achebe first called racist in 1975, and by now everyone agrees with him.

Yes. So much of what is written here is just so uncomfortably crude and offensive to modern ears, when it comes to the African characters.

Even so I think the entire thrust of the novella is to vilify European colonialism, and to show how fragile European values are once the economic and social structures aren't there to support them. Boats don't get repaired without someone to manufacture, ship, and transport a certain kind rivet upstream. Bricks aren't made without someone supplying the right kind of straw. Ivory is of no value to you when you happen to die along the way to procuring it. Humans of every color fall ill when subjected to unrelenting labor that offers them no meaning or return.

It's worth pointing out that the Africans who are not a part of "the horror" along the river--who are living independently of the degrading relationships there--are portrayed as healthy and capable. Marlow says: "Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows...They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration...they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at. For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts; but the feeling would not last long. Something would turn up to scare it away. "

The story is still worth reading, too, for this reason alone: so much of it is written in frankly and unabashedly beautiful prose that left me, well, breathless, as much as looking at a beautiful view or a beautiful painting would leave me breathless. What to do about the fact that these encounters with prose perfection were scattered in between descriptions of Africans with "eyeballs glistening" and "faces like grotesque masks?" Well. I don't know what to do about that. Maybe someone should re-edit Conrad the way they have edited Mary Poppins and Dr. Doolittle, to take out the parts that offend us now.

As I read I thought of the analogous scenes from Apocalypse Now now and then, of course, but even more I was reminded of Werner Herzog's Aguirre--another river journey where the company starts with all the trappings of "civilization," but these trappings are each abandoned as useless objects, one by one, as the journey continues upstream and away from the culture that created them.

( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
When I read Lord Jim a little over a year ago, I had a very difficult time connecting with it. But given that Joseph Conrad is generally considered to be one of the greatest novelists ever—and in any language (never mind that English was his third language!) — I resolved that the fault was mine, that the shortcoming was mine, and that I’d have to try again with at least one other of his works.

I just did — with Heart of Darkness. And came away from it no more enthralled than I did with Lord Jim. Moreover, I read it under almost ideal circumstances — i.e., without notable distractions.

The literary powers that be think the world of Joseph Conrad. Many of those same literary lights think the world of Henry James. I’m ashamed to say that I fail to see the merit in either of them—and that, if I never read another thing by either writer, I won’t consider myself shortchanged.

I just don’t get it. And if I’ve given this work only one star, that single star is more of a reflection on my inability to see the light than of Joseph Conrad’s ability to write a story. I can only conclude that I’m a one-star reader and reviewer — and ask Joseph Conrad’s ghost to forgive me.

RRB
9/14/13
Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
This isn't a book that anyone reads for fun. Its not exactly a lighthearted meditation on the nature of empire, nor is the writing a breeze to slog through. Although technically a "novella," its also a solid work of literature and has loads of symbolism and multiple layers of meaning sandwiched into the story which the reader needs to work to unravel. That said, this is a classic--its a dark and brooding indictment of the futility of empire. Over one hundred years after its original publication, this book continues to provoke debates over its major themes, namely, the nature and logic of the British empire in Africa. Critics charge that this is a fundamentally racist novel and there are plenty of cringe-inducing racial comments over the savagery of the black Africans that Marlow encounters on his trip up the Congo River. We're also made to understand that these same tribes are so savage that they are quite literally beyond the redemptive power of Western [and white and male] civilization. Indeed, Conrad's condemnation of imperial enterprises stems less from the effects of the empire of black Africans and more from the damages it inflicts on the white people caught up in its ruthless expansion. Conrad links the expansion of the empire to madness and we see it most clearly in the character of Kurtz, but also in the inefficiencies, the lack of understanding of the jungle, the callousness with which the colonizers treat the natives, and their pursuit of precious ivory at any cost. The metaphor of darkness surrounds every aspect of this book--the natives are dark, the jungle is dark, the Inner Station is darker still. The hearts of the colonizers are also dark, but the most provocative part of this book comes from Conrad's suggestion that the heart of darkness, the capacity for evil, resides deep inside each and everyone of us. At the end, this book should inspire us to think the ways that we ourselves are complicit in our own journeys into modern day hearts of darkness ( )
  lisamunro | Dec 11, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (102 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conrad, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Branagh, KennethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kish, MattIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Prey, PaulIntroductionsecondary 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.
Quotations
"The horror! The horror!"
"And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."
"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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Wikipedia in English (3)

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.
(thorold)

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A journey up the river in the Belgian Congo is also a journey into the darkest part of a man's soul.

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

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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

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2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175978, 1909175986

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