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Heart of Darkness (1899)

by Joseph Conrad

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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22,828375148 (3.56)2 / 1160
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Heart of Darkness is Joseph Conrad's disturbing novella recounted by the itinerant captain Marlow sent to find and bring home the shadowy and inscrutable Captain Kurtz. Marlow and his men follow a river deep into a jungle, the "Heart of Darkness" of Africa looking for Kurtz, an unhinged leader of an isolated trading station. This highly symbolic psychological drama was the founding myth for Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 movie Apocalypse Now.

.… (more)
Recently added byqwteb, tgorton, lschiff, Yodagasan, SamwiseJones, VanessaLopez, adze117, lanterns22, private library, vmciodyk
Legacy LibrariesGillian Rose
  1. 211
    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. 62
    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. 20
    Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist (Polaris-)
  8. 20
    Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns (Anonymous user)
  9. 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.
  10. 20
    The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa (gust)
  11. 20
    The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary (ursula)
  12. 31
    The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard (amanda4242)
  13. 20
    The Sea Wolf by Jack London (wvlibrarydude)
  14. 21
    The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Sylak)
    Sylak: Delving the depths of human savagery and corruption.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  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. 21
    The African Queen by C. S. Forester (Cecilturtle)
  20. 10
    I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud (Modern Library Classics) by Arthur Rimbaud (slickdpdx)

(see all 29 recommendations)

Africa (3)
1890s (6)
AP Lit (54)
Uni (5)
100 (29)

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» See also 1160 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 332 (next | show all)
Si Marlow yung tropa sa inuman na imbis mag-ambag sa alak pulutan dinaan nalang sa kwento ( )
  qwteb | Sep 25, 2023 |
The book that inspired the film, 'Apocalypse Now'.

I read this book many, many years ago and i especially wanted to read it again before re-reading 'The Little Paris Bookshop'.   From my long ago memory of Heart of Darkness it struck me that there was something similar going on in the two books so i wanted to re-read both.   More on the similarities in the next review, for this review i'm just sticking with 'Heart of Darkness'.

So what did i think?   It has the usual politically incorrect Victorian wording and attitude to non-Europeans, which tends towards appalling, even more so than usual as this book is mostly telling a story of the Belgian Congo when the Belgians were exploiting it and its peoples.

There's a lot been said about this book, both good and bad, and you can read more on the wiki page if you want to know more.

For me, i'd like to see the glass half full with this one.   Yes i understand the other side of the debate, and i most certainly do not condone any colonialism, i absolutely condemn it all, but...

This book was written in the Victorian age and i do feel that if you are going to read Victorian literature then you have to lay aside your modern prejudices, morals, ethics, etc., and understand that the people writing it were victims and hostages of their own age as we are of ours.   It's not so much politically incorrect as it's far more politically ignorant.   And for me that is what a lot of this book is about: the political ignorance of the age.

Yes, Conrad uses words that are considered repugnant now, but they were not considered so when he wrote this.   And its the words, i feel, that create the problem for a lot of people, allowing those to cloud their judgement of Conrad's attitude and opinion.   If you can take that step back and accept the words to be used as they were used in his age by white Europeans, only then can you see what Conrad was really saying 'when' he wrote this book.   You really cannot read this book as though it were written by someone in the 21st century for people in the 21st century.   It's a piece of history written a long time ago, read it as such.

So considering that, from my perspective, Conrad is very clearly appalled with the worse of white Europeans descending upon the peoples of Africa appearing almost deity like -- and exploiting that appearance to the maximum -- simply due to their modern technology, their equipment, their immaculate white clothes in a hostile environment of sweat and mud.   What chance would any person who has lived a natural life in a completely natural world have of remaining unaffected by the power and influence over the natural world that white Europeans had at their disposal?

Conrad makes clear that he alone, amongst the white Europeans on the boat, can see the humanity in the people's of the Congo, while others would just consider them wild animals.   How the sounds of the Congalese connected to a part of him, as only a human could connect to another human.

The only white person in the whole of Africa that Conrad wishes to speak to is Kurtz, the rest he seems to dismiss as arrogant fools and idiots who should never have been there.

One also has to remember that Conrad actually did go on this journey on a steam boat up the Congo to one of the inner stations, he witnessed what the Belgians were actually doing there, and he knew very well what Europe was being told about the people that lived there.   The most telling part of this book is simply Kurtz's last four words... 'The horror, the horror!'

When Marlow, the protagonist, finally arrives home and meets Kurtz's fiancé and she asks him what his final words were he cannot bring himself to tell her the truth because he feels it would crush her to know what he did in her name, as Kurtz only went there to win his fortune in order to be considered worthy to be her husband.   One can quite clearly see the metaphor here, that Conrad himself, when he came back from the Congo, didn't have anyone to speak to of the horror that he had witnessed being done in the name of the progress of European nations at the expense of those they dehumanise.   There seems to me that if we place Conrad in Marlow's place, we get to realise that when Conrad was in the Congo, he had no one to understand his feelings of horror, that he only wished to find one person amongst it all that he could talk to.   And when he came home to Europe how was he to explain to the people of Europe the horror that was being done in their name by the worse of them that they would send to Africa on their behalf -- and would they even want to listen?

So for me, this is what this book is, Conrad's description of what he'd experienced in Africa that he felt no one would, or could, listen to; that he felt no one he knew would understand.

If only he could have found just one person at the end of his own journey to talk to who understood. ( )
  5t4n5 | Aug 9, 2023 |
I read this for a class, and liked it. Would probably love it if I read it again (and didn't have to write a paper on it). ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Puoi trovare questa recensione anche sul mio blog, La siepe di more

Cosa può dire Cuore di tenebra a unǝ lettorǝ oggi? Cosa può dirci di significativo un romanzo scritto da un uomo che sosteneva il colonialismo in quanto portatore di civiltà (sic) a popolazioni che a suo dire non lo erano? Ha ancora qualcosa da dirci il punto di vista razzista e sessista di Conrad quando sappiamo benissimo che la sua benevolenza è solo la facciata più presentabile di quell’orrore che lo sconvolse così tanto del Congo sotto l’oppressione di Leopoldo II del Belgio?

Ecco, secondo me sì, anche se non riesco a biasimare chi lo bolla come feccia razzista, perché il punto di vista di Conrad, veicolato attraverso il racconto di Marlow, oggi è inaccettabile e il fastidio che provoca può facilmente annegare quello che Cuore di tenebra è ancora capace di dirci, cioè che la nostra civiltà è ben lungi dall’essere conquistata per sempre.

Per quanto, infatti, ci raccontiamo di aver superato la nostra disumanità e averla cancellata a colpi di progresso, basta un nonnulla per far cadere la nostra facciata di popoli civili e ripiombare nell’oscurità della ferocia. Conrad racconta molto bene la perdita di ogni freno inibitorio dettata dall’avidità di materie prime, dal razzismo e dalla lontananza fisica da ogni giudizio morale vincolante, che rende inutile anche il mantenimento di una parvenza di civiltà.

Cuore di tenebra è ancora rilevante per il modo in cui espone quell’orrore che sta dentro di noi, appena sotto la superficie dei nostri principi cosiddetti inviolabili, che non sono riusciti affatto a tenerlo a bada; un orrore che riaffiora ancora e ancora, stupendoci ogni volta, nonostante le annose denuncie delle persone razzializzate.

Eh già. Noi oggi, in più di Conrad, abbiamo le testimonianze e le denuncie delle vittime di quell’orrore: iniziare a prenderle sul serio e ad ascolterle, invece di liquidarle come esagerazioni, potrebbe essere un buon modo per non cadere dal pero davanti a certi sopprusi. ( )
  kristi_test_02 | Jul 28, 2023 |
This is the second time I've read this book.

The first time, I loved it. This time, I was less impressed.

I appreciate Conrad's dim views of humanity, colonialism, capitalism, etc. I think he was, for his time, fairly critical of these things. There were times when I had a hard time figuring out whether the views of the main character were presented in order to show the Western lack of actual civility or to make the Africans look less civilized. (For example, he sneers at the goods the white folks are trading for ivory, thinking they're pointless, but the same could easily be said about ivory. Wtf is the point of that??)

My main issue though is that since the first time I read it, I've re-watched Apocalypse Now a couple of times and that movie is just so freaking brilliant, I spent this entire book wishing I were watching that instead. A rare instance of the movie being better than the book. (I know it's not an exact adaptation, but having been based on this novel, you can't avoid comparing the two.)

Overall worthwhile, and it gets you thinking, but only moderately enjoyable. ( )
  veewren | Jul 12, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 332 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (137 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Conrad, JosephAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Branagh, KennethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, TimIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freissler, Ernst WolfgangÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goonetilleke, D. C. R. A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harding, JeremyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hochschild, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kish, MattIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivivuori, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesage, ClaudineTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mignola, MikeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Prey, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavlov, GrigorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pirè, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vancells i Flotats, MontserratTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watts, CedricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerdijk, S.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerdijk, S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, A. N.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zapatka, ManfredSprechersecondary 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.
"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)

Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Heart of Darkness is Joseph Conrad's disturbing novella recounted by the itinerant captain Marlow sent to find and bring home the shadowy and inscrutable Captain Kurtz. Marlow and his men follow a river deep into a jungle, the "Heart of Darkness" of Africa looking for Kurtz, an unhinged leader of an isolated trading station. This highly symbolic psychological drama was the founding myth for Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 movie Apocalypse Now.


No library descriptions found.

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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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

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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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