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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1902)

  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 (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
    The African Queen by C. S. Forester (Cecilturtle)
  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
    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. 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 André Malraux (thatguyzero)
  18. 10
    The Beach by Alex Garland (TomWaitsTables)
  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 27 recommendations)

1890s (11)
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English (208)  Spanish (7)  German (3)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (2)  Tagalog (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Galician (1)  All (234)
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
An engrossing novella which unfortunately is almost as impenetrable as the Congo wilderness in which it is mostly set. There is much material addressing the book's twin themes of imperialism and the darkness in the human soul, but this material is distributed scattergun throughout the prose, so one can only get a handle on what Conrad is trying to say once one has finished the book and thought about it at length. Even now, I don't feel inclined to sift through the many tangents that Conrad explores, and I am exhausted by even the contemplation of it. The two major themes are interesting to ponder along with Marlow, the protagonist, but there's already a wealth of material out there if you want to discuss the themes in Heart of Darkness. However, I will say that the little vignettes depicting the futility of certain acts - the French warship firing aimlessly into the bush, the cliff blasted beside the railway, the vast hole dug purposelessly on a slope (pp16-18) - immediately make it clear why Heart of Darkness was seen as suitable material for adaptation into the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now, whilst also providing commentary on man's struggle to confront his mortality and enact real change in the world; in fact, he is merely screaming into the void.

Conrad deploys a deeply lyrical prose, and his descriptions of the Congo river - this "immense snake uncoiled... its tail lost in the depths of the land" (pg. 9) - and the oppressively dark African wilderness are especially evocative and atmospheric. You really do get a sense for the horrors that Marlow witnesses, and the madness he experiences. I also liked the parts set in London, where Conrad invokes the Romans; conquerors who saw Britain as the end of the world, a dark place, just as the imperialists of Marlow's time saw Africa in general and the Congo in particular. Conrad's decision to bookend the novella with scenes set on the River Thames - providing a clever juxtaposition to the river in the Congo - was also a nice touch.

Overall, Heart of Darkness, despite its short length, carries a hefty weight, not only in the clamour to academically scrutinise its themes but also in the hefty toll it exacts from its reader. It is worth a read, but those who wish to journey on this river would do well to heed the advice Marlow is given on page 45. On a scribbled note atop a stack of firewood, by a remote hut some fifty miles from Kurtz's location, he is told: "Approach cautiously." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Mar 18, 2017 |
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. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Mar 13, 2017 |
Let's say this graphic novel is a short(er) version which quotes both Heart of Darkness and The Congo Diaries. Combined with extremely realistic artwork - the drawings look like old photographs, "The horror! The horror!" just got a face!
(NOTE: For an 'optimal experience', you should read the original first.) ( )
  NinaCaramelita | Mar 12, 2017 |
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 chipper
as 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" and
cannibals 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? ( )
  m.belljackson | Mar 11, 2017 |
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. ( )
  Lord_Boris | Feb 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
Account of the horrible conditions of natives in Belgian controlled colonial Africa
 

» Add other authors (102 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

Is contained in

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad

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

Youth | Heart of Darkness | The End of the Tether by Joseph Conrad

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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)

Marlow comes face to face with the corruption and despair that lies at the heart of human existence when he undertakes a journey on behalf of a Belgian trading company up the Congo River in search of the tormented white ivory trader, Kurtz.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 27 descriptions

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4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143106589, 014356644X, 0241956803, 0141199784

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Editions: 1400100615, 1400108462

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