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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
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Heart of Darkness (original 1902; edition 1990)

by Joseph Conrad, Stanley Appelbaum (Editor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,466196138 (3.59)2 / 861
Member:TonkoKordic
Title:Heart of Darkness
Authors:Joseph Conrad
Other authors:Stanley Appelbaum (Editor)
Info:Dover Publications (1990), Edition: Green Edition, Paperback, 72 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:classic, modern

Work details

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. 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. 72
    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
    Classics Illustrated: 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 (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 26 recommendations)

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English (172)  Spanish (7)  German (3)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Tagalog (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Galician (1)  All languages (196)
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
Heart of Darkness is one of those books that you need to read more than once to understand and appreciate it properly. Joseph Conrad provides a strong symbolism and narrative in this short story. ( )
  DoctorFate | Jul 29, 2015 |
This guy learned English as an adult and writes so well, I don't feel worthy to review him. I was assigned this book in Freshman English and I couldn't read it then. I couldn't read all that much back then, but finally I'm up to the level of a college freshman.

So here's the idea. Civilization, and sanity is all a lie, as are books and book reviews. Behind it all is an unspeakable reality--an unspeakable horror, and of that which one cannot speak, one must remain silent. Freud's version of this was the ego and the id, or, to translate his German differently, the I and the It. The I suppresses the It. It does this in the name of civilization, but the I is not really in charge. The It drives it from below to force it to carry out it's secret lusts but they are disguised.

The disguise is efficiency and morality and progress and commerce and business and law. The Company employed Marlowe as an agent of civilization and sent him into the African Id with it's alien savagery, which makes no sense to a Westerner. It's animal and insane and must be held in check by brutality that only makes sense if you realize it's frightening alterity. It is so "other" that it could never be understood and even to try is dangerous because that way lies madness.

But, as Marlowe sees as he descends deeper and deeper into the Congo, the sanity being imposed on Africa is a sham. It's no more sane than that which it opposes. What it is, is ordered and familiar, and seems to be almost working if you ignore the parts that ought to be ignored, such as the mindless inhuman suffering imposed on the natives in the process of satisfying the White man's greed.

But ahead of Marlowe on his journey is Kurtz who has, it is reported, freed himself of all restraint. Kurtz answers to nothing and nobody and is worshiped by the natives. He satisfies all his lusts and greeds and would kill anyone who got in his was, or was perceived as getting in his way or just needed to be killed on his whim.

The story is framed as Marlowe telling the story of his descent into the heart of this darkness and his return to the ordinary world, having barely glimpsed what must be fled in terror and bearing witness to the man who didn't flinch from any of it. It's set up like so many horror stories with the naive protagonist seeing the signs of warning which are obvious to us, the readers of the book, but foolishly ignored by him as he proceeds into the Heart of Darkness.

How can a sheltered undergraduate at a fancy university understand such a thing except as an abstract trope? How can a review express it as other than an abstract trope? Well, there, I've done it and we can all go home now. ( )
1 vote Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
Apocalypse Then -- the original one. He puts you into it. ( )
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
Heart of Darkness tells the story of Marlow, a sailor, who describes to his shipmates the unusual experience he had traveling upriver in the Congo and the effect it had upon him. Hired by a Belgian trading company as a steamboat captain Marlow's primary mission was to visit and, if necessary, retrieve Kurtz, a successful, idealistic agent who had lost contact with the company and reportedly fallen ill. As he travels to Africa and then up the Congo, Marlow encounters brutality, the racism and lack of compassion in the Company’s stations. The native are forced into the Company’s service, and they suffer from overwork and ill treatment. When Marlowe arrived at his station, he finds that Kurtz has set himself up as a sort of god to the natives he had once wanted to civilize; he has become more savage than even the natives, taking part in bizarre rites and using violence against the locals to inspire fear and obtain more ivory. This novella is, an exploration of hypocrisy and moral confusion. The idealistic Marlow is forced to align himself with either the hypocritical and malicious colonial bureaucracy or the openly malevolent, rule-defying and savage Kurtz. I found this a difficult book to wade through. The language is dense, the characters are unsympathetic and racist and at times the plot was just simply boring and plodding. 2 out of 4 stars. ( )
  marsap | Jun 17, 2015 |
I had forgotten what a brilliant stylist and craftsman Conrad is. I read this for the Great Books discussion group. It's a challenging book because of the limited -- and perhaps unreliable? -- narrator and the ambiguities and ambivalences: the narrator sees the process and effects of colonialism on both the colonized and the colonizers, and while he dislikes much of it, the framing narrative still has him in business (of some sort). Our facilitator asked if we thought the book was racist: no, we didn't, but we did recognize that it was a product of its time and that is going to be reflected/result in some inherent attitudes. However, the narrator was pretty clearly sympathetic to the Africans. Our facilitator also asked just what is "the horror, horror"? Man's use and abuse of each other? Not surprisingly, light and dark imagery abounds, and needless to say, the darkness is not necessarily without. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Jun 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 172 (next | show all)
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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)

No descriptions found.

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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.

(summary from another edition)

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23 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

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100615, 1400108462

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Editions: 1909175978, 1909175986

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