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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
17,273257150 (3.58)2 / 1034
  1. 181
    King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild (baobab, chrisharpe)
  2. 100
    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. 92
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (SanctiSpiritus)
  5. 61
    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 (MGovers)
    MGovers: Both books focus on the ugly sides of colonialism.
  8. 20
    The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (gust)
  9. 20
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Sylak)
    Sylak: Delving the depths of human savagery and corruption.
  10. 20
    The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard (amanda4242)
  11. 20
    Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist (Polaris-)
  12. 20
    The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary (ursula)
  13. 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.
  14. 20
    The Sea Wolf by Jack London (wvlibrarydude)
  15. 20
    The African Queen by C. S. Forester (Cecilturtle)
  16. 53
    Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck (gust, Jozefus)
    Jozefus: Bekroond werk over de geschiedenis van Congo, dat door The Independent een "masterpiece" genoemd werd.
  17. 21
    The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally (PilgrimJess)
    PilgrimJess: This book was influenced by Heart of Darkness and looks at the uncomfortable truths about bringing 'civilisation' to another country.
  18. 21
    The Royal Way by André Malraux (thatguyzero)
  19. 10
    The Beach by Alex Garland (TomWaitsTables)
  20. 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.

(see all 28 recommendations)

Africa (3)
1890s (11)
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English (224)  Spanish (7)  Italian (5)  Catalan (5)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (2)  Tagalog (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Galician (1)  All languages (254)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
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? ( )
  antao | Sep 21, 2018 |
Decent read for being a racist book of its time. Liberal use of the phrase "rotten hippo meat". ( )
  Firehair_Wildling | Sep 12, 2018 |
The horror, the horror, of people too dim to realize how perfect a book this is. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Contemplating my rating and my review. Has certainly left me with things to ponder.

Having collected my thoughts, rated 3.5, rounded up to 4.

It is difficult to say you like this novel. It is full of reprehensible people and situations, things you could not ever like, but that is truly irrelevant, because all of its ugliness is part and parcel of the point Conrad is trying to make about colonialism. To label the book racist is to miss the fact that it deals with the truth of attitudes and actions in colonized Africa, which was full of racism and, if not slavery, at least forced labor.

The better part of the novel takes place either in the first station of Marlowe’s trip into Africa or on the steamboat trying to get to Kurtz. The kind of men who comprise the “company” and conduct the “trade” becomes evident almost immediately. They are a sorry bunch who are eager to paint themselves as superior and who deal in euphemisms for the dirty work they do. Kurtz, who has lost himself in the jungle and become one with the natives, is labeled a “madman”, but as we watch the progress of the steamboat toward Kurtz’s station, we cannot help wondering whether he is any more mad (or perhaps less mad) than those who condemn him.

The only character I find painted in any admirable fashion is the native woman who is Kurtz’s mistress and stands defiantly as Kurtz is being hauled away on the steamboat to his obvious death. She is seen briefly, but the image is clear and memorable.

”She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet...She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress.

She is the only person who is given majesty everyone else is squalid and tattered. She is where she belongs. Everyone else is out of place.

What Marlowe finds in the person of Kurtz is the ugly truth, unvarnished, cruel and savage. The heads lined up on the fence posts are symbolic of how far off the grid Kurtz has gone and how little any of these men understands or belongs in this country, the country they are trying to convince themselves that they have conquered.

The opening scene is set on the Thames and Marlowe remarks that it must have been somewhat the same for the Roman soldiers who came first up the Thames and encountered the “savage” population of England. ”And this also,” said Marlowe suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.” Is he not saying the people of Africa are the same as the people of England once were? Is he not acknowledging that treating these people with so little humanity or concern is a moral wrong? I think he is. I think he shines a bright light upon the atrocities he has witnessed and I think he finds the greater darkness in the soul of the colonizers than in the depths of the African jungle or the faces of the African people.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
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. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jun 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (101 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conrad, Josephprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Branagh, KennethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, TimIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kish, MattIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Prey, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pirè, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vancells i Flotats, MontserratTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watts, CedricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zapatka, ManfredSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad

Great Short Works of Joseph Conrad by Joseph Conrad (indirect)

Heart of Darkness / Almayer's Folly / The Lagoon by Joseph Conrad

Youth / Heart of Darkness / Typhoon / The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad

Seven Great British Short Novels by Philip Rahv

Great Modern Short Stories by Grant Overton

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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 (1)

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.
Haiku summary
King Leopold's fans
appreciate this tribute;
Mister Kurtz, he dead.
(thorold)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

Although Polish by birth, Joseph Conrad (1857?1924) is regarded as one of the greatest writers in English, and Heart of Darkness, first published in 1902, is considered by many his "most famous, finest, and most enigmatic story." ? Encyclopaedia Britannica. The tale concerns the journey of the narrator (Marlow) up the Congo River on behalf of a Belgian trading company. Far upriver, he encounters the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who exercises an almost godlike sway over the inhabitants of the region. Both repelled and fascinated by the man, Marlow is brought face to face with the corruption and despair that Conrad saw at the heart of human existence. In its combination of narrative and symbolic power, masterly character study and acute psychological penetration, Heart of Darkness ranks as a landmark of modern fiction. It is a book no serious student of literature can afford to miss.… (more)

» see all 52 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143106589, 014356644X, 0241956803, 0141199784

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100615, 1400108462

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175978, 1909175986

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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