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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness (1902)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,444241107 (3.58)2 / 1003
  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
    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. 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.
  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 (TomWaitsTables)
  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. 10
    I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud (Modern Library Classics) by Arthur Rimbaud (slickdpdx)

(see all 28 recommendations)

Africa (2)
1890s (11)

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Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
(Rating: 4.5 /5.0, rounded up)

A little more penetrable than when I attempted it at age 15, the language is still thickset, formal and more than a little stiff in places. I am sure that historic context would have fattened up the experience for me -- but even in my ignorance a dark and compelling read. ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
(Rating: 4.5 /5.0, rounded up)

A little more penetrable than when I attempted it at age 15, the language is still thickset, formal and more than a little stiff in places. I am sure that historic context would have fattened up the experience for me -- but even in my ignorance a dark and compelling read. ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
“Your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.”

I remember reading this book many years ago when I realised that one of my favourite all-time books, Thomas Kenneally's "The Playmaker", had taken it's inspiration from it and I remember it having a powerful affect on me. Re-reading years later it still has that same affect.

Most readers will know the story centres around Marlow and his journey up the Congo River where he meets Kurtz, an agent for the Belgian Government in Africa. Marlow is beguiled with the image of the River Congo and dreams of travelling up it. To fulfil this ambition he takes a job as a riverboat captain with a Belgian concern organized to trade in the Congo. On his travels Marlow encounters widespread inefficiency and brutality. The native inhabitants of the region suffer terribly from overwork and ill treatment at the hands of their European overseers. The cruelty and squalor of imperial enterprise contrasts sharply with the majestic jungle that surrounds the white man’s settlements, making them appear to be tiny islands amidst a vast darkness.

This novella explores the issues surrounding imperialism. On his journey Marlow encounters scenes of torture, cruelty, and slavery. The men who work for the Company describe what they do as “trade,” and their treatment of native Africans is part of a benevolent project of “civilization.” In contrast Kurtz admits that he takes ivory by force nor does not hide the fact that he rules through violence and intimidation. His perverse honesty leads to his downfall, as his success threatens to expose the evil practices behind European activity in Africa. Africans in this book are mostly objects: Marlow himself refers to his helmsman as a piece of machinery so is not totally blameless on this point. However, the brutal honesty shown by Kurtz as compared with the hypocrisy shown by the other Europeans leads Marlow and thus the reader to begin to sympathize with Kurtz and view the Company with suspicion. The insanity that Kurtz is obviously suffering from is explicit and easy to see whereas that of the European Governments, whilst no doubt there, is much more implicit. In this book therefore, madness is linked to absolute power. Up country Kurtz has no authority to whom he answers to other himself and this comes to over-whelm him whereas it is more of a collective madness shown by the other Europeans.

As such this book then becomes an exploration of hypocrisy, ambiguity, and moral confusion in as much Marlow is forced to align himself with either the hypocritical and malicious colonial bureaucracy or the openly tyrannical Kurtz. To try and describe either alternative as the lesser of two evils seems to be absolute madness.

This is not some rip-roaring read and at times it is hard going but it does challenge some very uncomfortable truths and as such deserves to be regarded rightly as a true classic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Oct 11, 2017 |
I finished Joseph Conrad’s novella, “Heart of Darkness” this morning. I’m really a bit Ho-hum about it, can’t really recommend it. ( )
  RonTyler | Aug 11, 2017 |
What a powerful piece of prose. So dark, yet so illuminating. ( )
  CherieKephart | Aug 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (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

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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First words
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!"
"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.

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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.

» see all 27 descriptions

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Average: (3.58)
0.5 28
1 192
1.5 28
2 453
2.5 92
3 987
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4 1228
4.5 136
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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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