Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction, by Joseph Conrad, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

* New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
* Biographies of the authors
* Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
* Footnotes and endnotes
* Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
* Comments by other famous authors
* Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
* Bibliographies for further reading
* Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
One of the most haunting stories ever written, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness follows Marlow, a riverboat captain, on a voyage into the African Congo at the height of European colonialism. Astounded by the brutal depravity he witnesses, Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz, a famously idealistic and able man stationed farther along the river. What he finally discovers, however, is a horror beyond imagining. Heart of Darkness is widely regarded as a masterpiece for its vivid study of human nature and the greed and ruthlessness of imperialism.
This collection also includes three of Conrad’s finest short stories: “Youth,” the author’s largely autobiographical tale of a young man’s ill-fated sea voyage, in which Marlow makes his first appearance, “The Secret Sharer,” and “Amy Forster.”

Features a map of the Congo Free State.

A. Michael Matin is a professor in the English Department of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. He has published articles on various twentieth-century British and postcolonial writers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080211
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 09/01/2003
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 109,578
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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


Tutored in Switzerland. Self-taught in classical literature. Attended maritime school in Marseilles, France

Read an Excerpt

From A. Michael Matin's Introduction to Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction

Heart of Darkness (1899) is one of the most broadly influential works in the history of British literature. The novella’s diverse attributes—its rich symbolism, intricate plotting, evocative prose, penetrating psychological insights, broad allusiveness, moral significance, metaphysical suggestiveness—have earned for it the admiration of literary scholars and critics, high school and college teachers, and general readers alike. Further, its impact can be gauged not only by the frequency with which it is read, taught, and written about, but also by its cultural fertility. It has heavily influenced works ranging from T. S. Eliot’s landmark poem The Waste Land (1922), the manuscript of which has as its original epigraph a passage from the book that concludes with the last words of Conrad’s antihero Kurtz, to Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible (1998), which updates the tale to the years shortly before and after independence, when the Belgian Congo became the nation that is known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nor has its artistic influence been limited to literature; to cite only the most famous instance, it served as the basis for Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now (1979), which transposes the story, in both place and time, to Vietnam and Cambodia during the American-Vietnamese War and recasts Kurtz as a renegade American colonel. Its various homages aside, in its original form Heart of Darkness has for several generations influenced the literary and moral outlook of innumerable readers. Yet while the text is widely recognized as an indictment of the greed and ruthlessness that generally drove European imperialism in Africa, most readers are unfamiliar with the fact that the setting is the event in imperial history so uniquely horrific in its sheer scale of suffering and death that it has been termed the African Holocaust. As Conrad himself would characterize the situation in the Congo nearly a quarter of a century after his novella was published, it was “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience” (“Geography and Some Explorers,” p. 17).

Set during the era of heightened competition for imperial territories that historians have termed the New Imperialism, Heart of Darkness is loosely based on Conrad’s experiences and observations during a six-month stint, in 1890, in the Congo as an employee of a Belgian company, the Société Anonyme Belge pour le Commerce du Haut-Congo. This was five years after the 1884–1885 Berlin Conference, a meeting of representatives of the European powers to establish the terms according to which much of the continent of Africa would be divided among them. During this meeting, King Leopold II of Belgium, skillfully playing the jealousies and fears of rival powers off one another, astonishingly managed to secure as his own personal property over 900,000 square miles of central Africa—that is, a territory roughly seventy-five times the size of the diminutive country he ruled. Under humanitarian pretenses, Leopold’s agents, who had begun the process of conquest several years earlier, effectively turned the so-called Congo Free State into an enormous forced labor camp for the extraction of ivory and, later, after the worldwide rubber boom in the early 1890s following the popularization of the pneumatic tire, rubber. In addition to outright murders, the slave labor conditions led to many deaths from starvation and disease as well as a steeply declining birth rate. Even during an era in which most Europeans viewed imperialism as legitimate, the appalling circumstances of Leopold’s Congo (it would officially become a Belgian colony in 1908, and Leopold would die the following year never having so much as visited the territory) led to international outrage. Conservative demographic estimates place the region’s depopulation toll between 1880 and 1920 at 10 million people—that is, half of the total population—with the worst of the carnage occurring between 1890 and 1910. Not much was known outside Africa about the conditions of Leopold’s rule when Conrad was there, but in the several years before he began writing Heart of Darkness, in 1898, it became an international scandal, and regular reports appeared in the British and European press denouncing the abuses. Even before the publicity and protests, however (which would peak several years after the novella’s publication), Conrad had seen enough on his own to be thoroughly disgusted.

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Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 203 reviews.
Sprenkle More than 1 year ago
My English teacher told us near Halloween of 2008, that we had to read a book called Heart of Darkness. He said it would expand out mind and we would feel smarter after reading it. I didn¿t believe him and I didn¿t believe any book could make ME feel smarter. I had already heard from people in my grade that it was boring and hard, yet from my trusty English teacher, I heard it was very good. I started reading the book with a positive attitude and found it quite confusing after the first couple pages. Then, by the end of the first chapter I found myself wanting to read more. I found it to be intriguing how each sentence can be perceived in different ways. As I kept reading the book, I got more and more interested. Joseph Conrad had to be a brilliant man to write a book filled with such meaning and context to each sentence. The book had flashbacks which did confuse me at first but as soon as my wonderful English teacher explained it I understood. I compare Joseph Conrad to Shakespeare, because in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad had an underlying meaning to his sentences, like Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet. This book wasn¿t exactly easy, but it was a challenge and it made me actually use my brain. It made me think about how Conrad wrote the book and how he was feeling while he wrote this. I asked myself all these questions and pondered on what I believe is the main message in this book is. I believe that the main message that he is trying to perceive is that man kind is scared of the unknown and no matter if we are ¿civilized¿ or not we are still animals. The Europeans thought that they needed to ¿civilize¿ the natives because they didn¿t understand technology or Christianity, but really the Europeans were the ones who needed to be civilized. The Europeans were taking land from the natives and taking their ivory at whatever cost. They would kill for money; I don¿t think that¿s very civilized or Christian. I really believe that the message that we are all animals was the main perceived message that Conrad tried to get to his audience.
I really did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anybody who wants a challenge. Even if you aren¿t that good at reading I would subject that you read it and if you have any questions to go to a teacher (if you¿re in school) or get Spark Notes, to help you understand some of the difficult parts in the book. It¿s very rewarding and if you are looking for a wonderful intriguing, mind expanding book, then I definitely recommend Heart of Darkness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness is a book filled with mystery from the very first page. Literally, as Joseph Conrad begins his classic tale he uses a strange, yet genius way to lead in to the book. The excerpt is from Rumplestilskin, the beloved fairytale creature. With just 76 pages the book is anything, but a short story. Conrad took reading between the lines to a whole new level. If you want a quick, easy read I do not recommend this book. It is intellectually stimulating and will challenge every aspect of your knowledge. It is great book for anyone who is willing to dissect the pages and use your mind to uncover every aspect of the novel. This book is well worth it, because later, if you choose, you will be able to go back and read it and it will seem that you just stared a new book. A book that can only be summed up by two words; the horror.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If I were to pick the top 5 books that have influenced my life, this would always make that list, and quite frequently it would be number one. This is the masterpeice from the foremost stylist of the 20th Century. This book is so dense and carefully written that everything is calculated and deliberate in promoting his many themes. No one has looked harder or longer into the human heart than Conrad did. This book will change your life.
seimore More than 1 year ago
It was a great book. I HIGHLY recommend reading it slowly and then rereading it again. Make sure to pay very close attention to the little details and watch for the symbols. Also, I would recommend making notes in the margins. Do not skip a page, a paragraph, or even a word because that alone could make or break the book.
a_thorn More than 1 year ago
When I was told we were going to read Heart of Darkness in my language class, I was scared and nervous I was going to fail. I heard from other people that it was going to be hard and not easy to understand. I felt that I wasn't going to get through this book. The first chapter I was lost, I didn't know what was going on and I would zone out. In chapter two I started to understand what was going on and was starting to be able to comprehend what was going on. By chapter four I was so into it and thought that it was the best ending and really left me shocked. I really got into it. By the end of the book I was able to tell my teacher what was going on and tell him what was being said between the lines. Conrad used such descriptive writing and hidden messages it made the book so interesting to read and listen to. I had to use my mind to use the messages to the book. I personally like this book and although it was challenging to read, it made me a better reader and kept me in tuned the whole time. I recommend this book but I'm going to warn all you readers it's hard to start off with it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had always wanted to read Heart of Darkness because it's the basis for one of my favorite films, Apocalypse Now. Having read it, I'm glad I did, although I can't say it lived quite up to my expectations. Conrad is an excellent writer, truly a master of English prose. His writing is intelligent and contemplative of the greater human condition. It's also a bit dry even at the best of times. And Conrad often tells his story through a third-party narrator, which further removes the reader from the action. Heart of Darkness explores some of the atrocities committed by the Belgian ivory trade in Africa in the early 1900s, back when the world was a larger and less-explored place. Although Conrad's motives seem altruistic, his depiction of the 'savage' African natives will make some uncomfortable, as will his frequent use of the 'n-word.' There are three additional stories included in this volume, 'Youth,' 'Amy Fisher' and 'The Secret Sharer,' none of which I found quite as compelling as Heart of Darkness. There is an interesting Introduction and Notes by A. Michael Matin, which explores Conrad's immigrant background and British naval career and how both impacted his life and his literature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does not get the credit it deserves. I think this is partly because most people would not stick through the subtle beginning. This novella offers wonderful insight into the period of imperialism and into the depths of what it does to those involved. It has strong messages and themes that are ever more relevant today. Barnes and Noble offers a great edition of this book - the endnotes really help you to understand the context of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not a swashbuckling adventure it is a subtle yet compelling look into human nature. I recommend this book. Its imagery and its ability to portray emotions, particuraly struggle, coruption, and confusion, is beautiful.
cinesnail88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I understand the purpose of using this book for instruction, but I found that it had major flaws that ultimately led to my dislike of it. Not every book is for everyone, though, so don't pass it up on my account.
KendraRenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read King Leopold's Ghost prior to Heart of Darkness, I appreciated the latter more for its historical than its literary value. It's just mind-staggering to think that Conrad witnessed such a brutal system of colonization in action, and captured his observations in this fictional account of his journey into the Congo's heartland.I also enjoyed "Youth" and "Amy Foster," also included in the same collection. Marlow's narration of Judea, the ship's, exploits, is seamless and makes for quite the page-turner. Conrad was clearly a very experienced sailor, because he describes sea-faring in careful and convincing detail. His characterization of "Youth" throughout the story is also right on the mark. I've never read a more fitting description of it. (And I would know, because I'm 24!)"Amy Foster" is the sad story of a shipwrecked eastern European who thinks he finds love in a simple country girl, the first person to offer him any kind of compassion since he landed on that strange shore (England). However, she ultimately turns against him, too, because of his foreign tongue and strange ways that come out more when he attempts to connect with their newborn child. It's due to her neglect and abandonment of her husband when he's very sick that he dies one cold winter afternoon. Very sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness is simply one of the most perfect short novels ever written. A horrifying look at colonialism, madness, and the dark side of the human condition.
MRElliott More than 1 year ago
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a very well written, quick, intriguing read that I would certainly recommend to read. The novel is set around 1890 during a time of Victorian values, modernism, and imperialism. The plot is conveyed through an outside narrator but follows Charles Marlow as he recounts his adventures in the Congo to his fellow sailors. The plot tells an exciting tale of a young brave soul on a quest for adventure and knowledge. Fascinated by exploration and the unknown, Marlow is the perfect protagonist for this epic voyage through the deep jungle of the Congo River. Rather than spoil the plot however, I will only comment that although the plot may lack sudden twists and turns, but makes up for this with heightened suspense and does a wonderful job of luring the reader into reading more. Conrad uses long eloquent sentences filled with vivid descriptions and selective adjectives and word choices to create a certain fluidity about the story. Subsequently, the book is a very quick and easy read and the suspense gives the reader the feeling of “not wanting to put the book down”. As far as the complexity of the story, the surface level simplicity provides an understandable story while delving into much deeper controversial questions of the morality of imperialism, the quest for power, slavery, and the nature of men. As far as surface level simplicity goes, the novel only features a small number of key characters, a rather singular setting, and the action unfold in a very easy to follow manner. While this may seem like a drawback, it serves to benefit the reader without detracting from the true value of the story. This true value is what lays under Conrad’s eloquent language and simple surface level. The deeper themes and questions the story evokes are what makes the novel relevant and current today and keep this book on the shelves of bookstores. It is clear why I give this book so much praise, but the reason I highly recommend it to others is because of the many readers it appeals to. For the outdoorsman and explorer, the narrative offers an intriguing vivid voyage through uncharted and nearly untouched regions of the Congo River and jungle. For the historian, the historical context of the book provides a look into an interesting time period of imperialism in Africa and Europe approaching the turn of the twentieth century. The comments on the nature of men and the desire for more power also appeal to the more psychologically in tune reader. Furthermore the length and ease of the book opens it to readers of various reading abilities and offers a quick read for those who get bored in long books. However, for the english scholar, the book provides such rich context for literary analysis. The only audience the novel does seem to fail to address is the feminist reader. Quite simply, the novel features almost no female characters, save for Kurtz’s fiancee who appears in the end only to be lied to and Kurtz’s mistress at his outpost. This is justified in that the reality of the time is the hostile environment of the Congo did not lend itself hospitable to European women. All in all however, this book offers something to delight any reader who chooses to embark on this epic voyage through the Congo with Marlow and his comrades.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SamiL More than 1 year ago
In just seventy-two pages, Heart of Darkness did not only exceptionally expand my mind as a reader, but it also changed my insight as a thinker. You might be wondering how this short novel made such an impact on my life and many others, so let me explain to you how.   Joseph Conrad is a master of portraying symbolism in subtle ways and using rhetorical techniques, such as juxtaposition, to their full advantages. Throughout the entire story, juxtaposition is present in many ways, but primarily due to the superiority of the whites and the inferiority of the natives, whom many of the “pure” and “perfect” whites refer to as savages. However, as the narrator, Marlow, explains his story to his crew while traveling down the Congo River, the reader gets a chance to interpret the true symbolic meaning of the story…if they pay close attention.  It is noted that the whites dress in colors of purity, while the inhabitants of the region, whom skin color represents darkness and evil, dress in worn down clothes, if any clothes at all. The novel makes it clear that there is a distinct line of decency between the two races through symbolic gestures; however, as Marlow goes on with his story, it is apparent that that line starts to disintegrate. Marlow realizes that the savages are not so savage after all, they are quite the contrary.  Essentially, the theme of Good versus Evil takes a turn when Marlow says, “…We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman” (32, Conrad). Marlow quickly realizes who the real monsters are as he becomes more aware of the cruelty of the pure. By reading Heart of Darkness, you can open your mind up to interpretations of humanitarian behavior through elements such as futility and insanity. I cannot spoil the book, but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in gaining insight from a challenging read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
New Tribe Rules and Info posted at Res 1! Please look at them, I bet you will love them! ~ Tehya
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A huge mountain where the rare mountain snowdrop can be found.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When he calmed down she wiped tevtears from her face pulled the cap back on as well s her maskand walked out.
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BookReviewersClub More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness is one of those "frame stories" - in other words, it's a story within a story. The main character's name is Marlow and he is sitting on a boat with three of his friends. In the boat, Marlow is telling his friends about the time he led a steamboat through the Congo River into the heart of darkness. There was a lot of colonization going on in Africa at the time, all from different nations. Along the way, Marlow stops at these different trading ports and sees white men utilizing the black natives to harvest Ivory. It wasn't a pretty site and Marlow saw a lot of people dying. Marlow's goal, however, was not to go and witness those tragedies. It was to hunt down a man by the name of Mr. Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz tends to change every man he ever talks to. Not only is he very influential, but he has also harvested more ivory than any of the other agents in the entire Congo region. The language of the book is little bit tough, but all in all I give the book 3 stars. It's good enough to read all the way through, but I doubt I'll ever read it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be well-read and educated.  The book is fantastic, and like several true classics, it has little plot.  The purpose of Conrad's book was not to entrance the reader with a glorious plot but instead to comment on the nature of man, hence the title.  While you may need a study guide to help you get the most from the work, it's definitely worth the effort.
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