“The horror! The horror!” These are Kurtz’s final words in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” the story of a man who travels into the jungle to seek his fortune and who instead finds an all-consuming moral and spiritual wilderness. Conrad’s enduring tale served as a touchstone for many works of fiction inspired by its somber theme. This collection also includes an additional five of Conrad’s best stories: “The Secret Sharer,” “Youth,” “Typhoon,” “Karain: A Memory,” and “Falk: A Reminiscence.”
About the Author
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) grew up amid political unrest in Russian-occupied Poland. After twenty years at sea with the French and British merchant navies, he settled in England in 1894. Over the next three decades he revolutionized the English novel with books such as Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and especially Heart of Darkness, his best-known and most influential work.
Date of Birth:December 3, 1857
Date of Death:August 3, 1924
Place of Birth:Berdiczew, Podolia, Russia
Place of Death:Bishopsbourne, Kent, England
Education:Tutored in Switzerland. Self-taught in classical literature. Attended maritime school in Marseilles, France
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book cannot be recommended highly enough. But it is not light reading for small minds. It is a landmark of literary fiction. In a quasi-literate age such as ours, immersed in TV, cinema, and mass-market formula novels that require little if any thought, literary fiction in general goes unappreciated, because it is all about ideas rather than murders, mayhem, and explosions. In short, this book is too good to engage the average modern reader. It is for the intelligent and imaginative few who care about what it means to be human. “Heart of Darkness” is a masterpiece of literary fiction. It is one of the great works of English literature, one that has influenced hundreds of major writers, as evidenced by those who contributed to the Introduction of this book. It has also inspired several film interpretations, none of which succeeded in capturing the spirit and intellectual rigor of the original. Film, as a medium, is suited to action and emotion, not thought. It is in itself a unique experience. “Heart of Darkness” is a short novel, easily read in one sitting; but it is not easily understood without re-reading, because it does not tell the reader what to think. Instead, it requires an intellectual collaboration. The reader must think about the ideas and moral choices Conrad presents and must think about them with precision. It requires intellectual effort, which only superior readers are equipped to give. Moreover, the book represents Conrad’s writing style at it best, and he is generally acknowledged to be one of the great English prose stylists. Young writers should study it as an exemplar of extraordinarily clean craftsmanship. There have been very few prose writers in English technically equal to Conrad. Finally, the novel is a requisite part of the education of an educated man or woman. Those who have read and understood this book constitute a class apart. Unfortunately, since Conrad’s time, the number of literate, educated people has declined precipitously. But if you are one of the remaining few, the hardbound version of this book should be on your shelf and should be re-read often.