Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

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Overview

The silence of the jungle is broken only by the ominous sound of drumming. Life on the river is brutal and unknown threats lurk in the darkness. Marlow’s mission to captain a steamer upriver into the dense interior leads him into conflict with those who inhabit the forest. But his decision to hunt down the mysterious Mr. Kurtz—an ivory trader who is the subject of sinister rumors—leads him into more than just physical peril. The short story Youth, in which Marlow tells of his unlucky experience onboard a ship where the cargo caught fire, is also included.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781727495621
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.18(d)

About the Author

A prolific author of novels and short stories, Joseph Conrad is best known for his masterpiece Heart of Darkness, inspired by his visit to the Congo three years earlier. Tim Butcher is the author of Blood River.

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

Read an Excerpt

Heart of Darkness


By Joseph Conrad

Oldcastle Books

Copyright © 2014 Joseph Conrad
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84344-475-6


CHAPTER 1

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 sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.

The Director of Companies was our captain and our host. We four affectionately watched his back as he stood in the bows looking to seaward. On the whole river there was nothing that looked half so nautical. He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified. It was difficult to realise his work was not out there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom.

Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns — and even convictions. The lawyer — the best of old fellows — had, because of his many years and many virtues, the only cushion on deck, and was lying on the only rug. The accountant had brought out already a box of dominoes, and was toying architecturally with the bones. Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzenmast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol. The Director, satisfied the anchor had good hold, made his way aft and sat down amongst us. We exchanged a few words lazily. Afterwards there was silence on board the yacht. For some reason or other we did not begin that game of dominoes. We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marsh was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds. Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun.

And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men.

Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant but more profound. The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day, after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth. We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories. And indeed nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, 'followed the sea' with reverence and affection, than to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled — the great knights-errant of the sea. It had borne all the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time, from the Golden Hind returning with her rotund flanks full of treasure, to be visited by the Queen's Highness and thus pass out of the gigantic tale, to the Erebus and Terror, bound on other conquests — and that never returned. It had known the ships and the men. They had sailed from Deptford, from Greenwich, from Erith — the adventurers and the settlers; kings' ships and the ships of men on' Change; captains, admirals, the dark 'interlopers' of the Eastern trade, and the commissioned 'generals' of East India fleets. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! ... The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.

The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman lighthouse, a three-legged thing erect on a mud flat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway — a great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars.

'And this also,' said Marlow suddenly, 'has been one of the dark places of the earth.'

He was the only man of us who still 'followed the sea.' The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too, while most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them — the ship; and so is their country — the sea. One ship is very much like another, and the sea is always the same. In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as destiny. For the rest, after his hours of work, a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing. The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.

His remark did not seem at all surprising. It was just like Marlow. It was accepted in silence. No one took the trouble to grunt even; and presently he said, very slow:

'I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago — the other day ... Light came out of this river since — you say knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker — may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine — what d'ye call 'em? — trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries — a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been, too — used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here — the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina — and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sandbanks, marshes, forests, savages — precious little to eat fit for a civilised man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay — cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death — death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh, yes — he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had gone through in his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by and by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga — perhaps too much dice, you know — coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him — all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination — you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.'

He paused.

'Mind,' he began again, lifting one arm from the elbow, the palm of the hand outwards, so that, with his legs folded before him, he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus flower — 'Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency — the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force — nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind — as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to ... '

He broke off. Flames glided in the river, small green flames, red flames, white flames, pursuing, overtaking, joining, crossing each other — then separating slowly or hastily. The traffic of the great city went on in the deepening night upon the sleepless river. We looked on, waiting patiently — there was nothing else to do till the end of the flood; but it was only after a long silence, when he said, in a hesitating voice, 'I suppose you fellows remember I did once turn freshwater sailor for a bit,' that we knew we were fated, before the ebb began to run, to hear about one of Marlow's inconclusive experiences.

'I don't want to bother you much with what happened to me personally,' he began, showing in this remark the weakness of many tellers of tales who seem so often unaware of what their audience would like best to hear; 'yet to understand the effect of it on me you ought to know how I got out there, what I saw, how I went up that river to the place where I first met the poor chap. It was the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me — and into my thoughts. It was sombre enough, too — and pitiful — not extraordinary in any way — not very clear either. No, not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind of light.

'I had then, as you remember, just returned to London after a lot of Indian Ocean, Pacific, China Seas — a regular dose of the East — six years or so, and I was loafing about, hindering you fellows in your work and invading your homes, just as though I had got a heavenly mission to civilise you. It was very fine for a time, but after a bit I did get tired of resting. Then I began to look for a ship — I should think the hardest work on earth. But the ships wouldn't even look at me. And I got tired of that game, too.

'Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, "When I grow up I will go there." The North Pole was one of these places, I remember. Well, I haven't been there yet, and shall not try now. The glamour's off. Other places were scattered about the hemispheres. I have been in some of them, and ... well, we won't talk about that. But there was one yet — the biggest, the most blank, so to speak — that I had a hankering after.

'True, by this time it was not a blank space any more. It had got filled since my boyhood with rivers and lakes and names. It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery — a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land. And as I looked at the map of it in a shop window, it fascinated me as a snake would a bird — a silly little bird. Then I remembered there was a big concern, a company for trade on that river. Dash it all! I thought to myself, they can't trade without using some kind of craft on that lot of fresh water — steamboats! Why shouldn't I try to get charge of one? I went on along Fleet Street, but could not shake off the idea. The snake had charmed me.

'You understand it was a continental concern, that trading society; but I have a lot of relations living on the Continent, because it's cheap and not so nasty as it looks, they say.

'I am sorry to own I began to worry them. This was already a fresh departure for me. I was not used to get things that way, you know. I always went my own road and on my own legs where I had a mind to go. I wouldn't have believed it of myself; but, then — you see — I felt somehow I must get there by hook or by crook. So I worried them. The men said "My dear fellow", and did nothing. Then — would you believe it? — I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work — to get a job. Heavens! Well, you see, the notion drove me. I had an aunt, a dear enthusiastic soul. She wrote: "It will be delightful. I am ready to do anything, anything for you. It is a glorious idea. I know the wife of a very high personage in the administration, and also a man who has lots of influence with," etc. She was determined to make no end of fuss to get me appointed skipper of a river steamboat, if such was my fancy.

'I got my appointment — of course; and I got it very quick. It appears the company had received news that one of their captains had been killed in a scuffle with the natives. This was my chance, and it made me the more anxious to go. It was only months and months afterwards, when I made the attempt to recover what was left of the body, that I heard the original quarrel arose from a misunderstanding about some hens. Yes, two black hens. Fresleven — that was the fellow's name, a Dane — thought himself wronged somehow in the bargain, so he went ashore and started to hammer the chief of the village with a stick. Oh, it didn't surprise me in the least to hear this, and at the same time to be told that Fresleven was the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs. No doubt he was; but he had been a couple of years already out there engaged in the noble cause, you know, and he probably felt the need at last of asserting his self-respect in some way. Therefore he whacked the old nigger mercilessly, while a big crowd of his people watched him, thunderstruck, till some man — I was told the chief's son — in desperation at hearing the old chap yell, made a tentative jab with a spear at the white man — and of course it went quite easy between the shoulder blades. Then the whole population cleared into the forest, expecting all kinds of calamities to happen, while, on the other hand, the steamer Fresleven commanded left also in a bad panic, in charge of the engineer, I believe. Afterwards nobody seemed to trouble much about Fresleven's remains, till I got out and stepped into his shoes. I couldn't let it rest, though; but when an opportunity offered at last to meet my predecessor, the grass growing through his ribs was tall enough to hide his bones. They were all there. The supernatural being had not been touched after he fell. And the village was deserted, the huts gaped black, rotting, all askew within the fallen enclosures. A calamity had come to it, sure enough. The people had vanished. Mad terror had scattered them, men, women, and children, through the bush, and they had never returned. What became of the hens I don't know either. I should think the cause of progress got them, anyhow. However, through this glorious affair I got my appointment, before I had fairly begun to hope for it.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Copyright © 2014 Joseph Conrad. Excerpted by permission of Oldcastle Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Heart of Darkness: Part I 3
Heart of Darkness: Part II 19
Heart of Darkness: Part III 32

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Heart of Darkness 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 258 reviews.
125454984615984 More than 1 year ago
The Book Heart of Darkness was a very well thought out story. I would not have understood any of the book without someone to guide me through, but when someone guided me then it made sense to me. I would not recommend this book to anyone in high school or even college unless you have someone who has experience and can explain the book to you. There is a crew on a ship called the Nellie Waiting for the tide of the Thames River to push them out to sea. One of the crew members names is Marlow, and he is telling a story about his experience in Africa. The reason this book was confusing to me is beacuse there are two stories being told at the same time. This book changed the way I read books beacuse it makes you pay attention to every littkle detail in books and it takes you to another level.
mondrey_michelle More than 1 year ago
I thought that Heart of Darkness was an exceptional book that tells a story about the author’s trip to Africa. I was not sure if I was going to like it or not, until I was half way through the book, because Conrad does a lot of describing and it was a little hard to understand at first. The detail in the book is a key element because it paints a vivid picture for the reader. If reading this book I think that you should go paragraph by paragraph to analyze everything. This book has a touching ending that makes you really think about life. In the beginning of the book Conrad gives a unique perspective by making the narrator of the story the reader. As he wrote it he made a Russian doll effect, by making the reader tell the story to Marlow on a boat and of the story of Marlow’s trip to Africa. I didn’t like how Conrad jumped back between the atmosphere on the boat and what happened in the narration. I think it was hard in the beginning to tell which one was which. In order for Conrad to tell this chronicle in only seventy seven pages and pack a trip that took him a couple months, he had to make some fragment sentences. I think this was necessary but I didn’t like it. The beginning of the book was hard to get through because of the intense detail and futility. When it got closer to the end it was very intriguing and suspenseful. When I first started reading the book I predicted that the sea and the city London would have a big role in the upcoming events. Conrad describes it as a magnificent object that the crew looks up to. Conrad also describes London as a dark gloomy place and I thought that later in the story the “darkness” that they have left behind and the “heart” is the sea of the men’s travels. This was not exactly true but I think there are many “Heart’s of Darkness’” but the main one is the forest being the darkness and how it took over Kurtz’s heart. Overall this was a great story that everyone should read in there lifetime.
DaniM More than 1 year ago
My advanced high school English course read Heart of Darkness this school year. At first look, the book appeared to be dull and uninteresting. After learning about Joseph Conrad's life as a seaman, I couldn't expect any less than a book about a seaman's adventure. Needless to say I was wrong about my first assumption. Old as it may be, this enlightening story is far from tedious. As we began reading the book, we started with some background notes. We made predictions and all I could draw from the book at that point was that it would be about an adventure at sea. We also questioned why Conrad used a quote from Rumplestiltskin as an epigram at its beginning. I figured out after reading it that he put it there to set the moral of the story; a human life is worth more than all the riches in the world. The story is set with Marlow, the main character, on the boat. He is talking about his adventure to meet the incomparable Mr. Kurtz, to his other shipmates and us the readers. The things he saw and the people he met filled this lively journey in to the heart of darkness. That being said, my one prediction was definitely being met while reading this book. As Marlow, the main character's, story unraveled paragraph by paragraph I started to understand what mental torture he was going through. It's a story you have to read slowly to get every single clue. Every part of the puzzle is crucial to understand this particular work of literature. I must say that it made an impact on me. It sharpened my reading comprehension skills and made other books much simpler in comparison. I know for sure that I will remember it, as I get older. I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a complex book to challenge them, and the movie as a companion.
westermantyler1 More than 1 year ago
A great novel needs to take a toll on the reader. Works of darkness, oppression, and horror of this sort can easily become kitch and misuse the emotive pathos of wretched acts. This one stays plenty cohesive and focused. Conrad expertly reflects on the core of evil and plight. His expression of sin relentlessly strikes the reader with pain and embarrassment in one's species; in one's world. The quest for Kurtz parallels Conrad's descent into the heart of the matter as he gets closer to his ultimate revelation about the utter power of evil, or horror, of darkness. We find it is beyond humanity, it seethes from the maw of nature. If these themes seem relevant or intriguing to you, I recommend this powerful accomplishment of a novel.
Bigawilli More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, was originally published in 1899. This book is a mystery where the captain of a steamboat, Marlow, needs to find the rapidly deteriorating Kurtz who has delved deep into the center of the ivory trade. Marlow captains his steamboat up the Congo River in the late nineteenth century encountering new experiences as he goes along on his journey to find the Kurtz who at this time he idolizes. The story progresses quickly, as it is a novella, but because of this it can also be difficult to understand. Though it does progress quickly it does follow through without detours. In the novel the characters also change in their own ways. Marlow, who is also the narrator, changes his viewpoints and ideas of the world. Meanwhile Kurtz has been dwelling in the jungle and has changed everything to a complete opposite of what he was before. The jungle has almost reverted him to a more primitive human having a "heart of darkness" from the evil dealings in which he has partaken. The novella follows through these changes and helps a reader understand the plight of people turning to vices during this period when there is no structure. As the narrator is a captain, the novella is written in an English maritime style of writing using diction of the seas. The novel contains many nautical terms, which may confuse some readers but with patience they could be understood. This diction helps set the mood of being on a ship and helps the reader come close to living the story. I think most high school students would be able to read this book, although more reluctant readers will have a little more trouble wading through the diction and following the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story. However, this edition of the book on my nook is terrible. There are misspellings and improper punctuation that are not in the original paper edition(s). Definitely not for a student who needs to quote passages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book itself is a wonderful read, however, this paperback version is hard to read with its irregular print and there are also no page numbers on the book which makes it very hard to read in class, being the reason I bought this book. Because this is a print-on-demand book, I was not able to return it to a local store and online (said by the sales representative) which makes me very frustrated. Overall this book is cheap and because the story is good, I recommend people reading it though if there's another purpose for reading this book besides personal enjoyment, I would highly recommend buying another version of this novel.
Anonymous 6 months ago
How do ou work yourself up?
HugeHedon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Umm.. "Interesting". I found it almost incomprehensible.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was taken off-guard by this novel: how can such a short book be so dense? The intensity of the descriptions, the detail of the story, but at the same time of choppiness of the narrative - all these elements made it very hard for me to concentrate on the storyline, the themes and even the characters. While the criticism of imperialism and colonialism is clear, the novel left me perplexed more than it answered my questions, both as to Kurtz's destiny and to Marlow's silence about the events. A book I would have to reread with a clear intent of studying it rather than reading it for mere pleasure.
emmakendon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this as preparation (along with Cary's Mister Johnson - next) for reading 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe. It's been on the shelf for years and I thought I had read it before, as a child on a visit to Sri Lanka, but perhaps not.Although it's a short book, it took me an age to read, to begin with because I was relishing the language, the descriptions and Marlow's sardonic oratory style. After a while, perhaps I am tired, my mind kept drifting away from the text, snatched up by the few moments of action. I loved Kurtz' last words 'The horror!', which Marlow was unable to tell Kurtz' Intended (and how when he lied to her the world didn't stop turning). I was chilled by the treatment of the natives in their chain-gangs, as well as by the range of mad, greedy, salivating characters scattered along the journey (particularly the Russian and the chap in charge of bricks). The hungry cannibals' restraint was one of many mysteries, and the man looking after the state of the 'road' which seemed to mean shooting negros fo rno apparent reason (pp19-20) was one of many horrors. Probably my own ignorance of the apparent aim of Marlow's appointment spoilt, for me, the contrast of what he found, so I didn't get as much out of the book as I might. Perhaps the Cary and the Achebe will help.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I hate to do it, but I'm taking the rating down to 4 out of 5 stars. I'm not sure why, but this time around, Joseph Conrad did not manage to induce the same level of fascination as he did the first couple of times I read this book. Maybe because the last time I read it was for a class, where we got to discuss it so much.It's the story of Marlow, the classic man of the sea, and his trip down the river Congo to find Kurtz, the company man said to have native. But instead of being drawn into the story, this time I felt like Conrad was deliberately keeping the reader at arms' length. Marlow is telling the story, and an unnamed male listener is telling the reader what Marlow says. Then Marlow tells the listener who tells us what Marlow says somebody else says. Still with me?Maybe the point of all those layers was to make the reader question the story a little more, to ask one's self how much you really know about someone else if all you know is what they say.Anyway, it was good to read it again, but not as great as I remembered. I'm not sure why, but it must be a change inside me, because I *LOVED* this book back in college.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A novel about the destruction of a people and a land at the hands of colonial power. A novel about evil in its most human form. Heart of Darkness is not racist as some have ridiculously suggested. It is a novel that argues against the vile deeds wrought in Europe's colonies. It is a novel that argues the relative nature of morality. I don't necessarily agree with all of its conclusions, but it is brilliant.
raggedprince on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading Conrad sentences is a bit like pulling teeth. But he really hits the spot sometimes.
mccin68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marlow is sent into the african congo to retrieve an unresponsive agent, Kurtz where the lines of civilization, wild human nature and quest for power blur.
bookwyrmm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried to read this when it was on my summer reading list in high school; I think I got to the third page before I gave up. This time, I toughed it out to the end. The story was not bad, but just dry. It actually felt more like an essay or memoir than a story. Conrad does play with some interesting concepts, and I guess that is why it is a classic.
lindsay7564 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Most certainly would not recommend this book. It had a good theme, interesting characters, but I found it borderling painful to read.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really didn't get on with this. It would have been fascinating to 'see' Africa as it was before political subdivision, but it wasn't really that sort of book. Unless you were prepared to get with the symbolism there was no story. It was just too obscure for me. I do salute the author, however, for such skilful writing in a second (or even third?) language. Better than some writers achieve in their first.
crom74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been a while since I have read this particular book, so I thought I'd give it another go. Actually, I listened to it as read by Scott Brick. The only thing I remembered going into the story was Kurtz and the fact that Kurtz was movitized by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. I did not remember that the book was set in the African Belgian Congo or the fact that ivory played a large role. Also, I did not remember the character of Marlow - sad to say as he is the main character. Anyhow, I loved it. I remember loving it the time I actually read it as well. Conrad does a incredible job of enabling the reader to feel as if he/she is a part of what is going on. Fantastic wordage as well. I know there are other meanings to the book, but what I take away is that man (woman) is always only a hair away from madness. That is, we all have things that we would make that venture - into madness/darkness - to achieve. It was great listening to Brick read this tale. Ah, there is also a gratuitous use of the "N" word. It's not totally irrelevant as that was how things were back when the book was set. Anyway, just a warning for those who are bothered by such things.
SanctiSpiritus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fiction, and the non-fiction. The prose are not for the unexperienced reader. Part of this great story explains of the ills of colonialism at the turn of the century. It posits probably, an accurate account of what one may have seen on the ground and "up country" at that time. Conrad certainly opens the pages of man's baseness, his sordidness. I eagerly anticipate reading his other works.
larsbar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is easily one of the best five books I've ever read. The constant use of metaphors, anthropomorphism, and the portrayal of evil personified by Kurtz are so magnetic that as I read it I feel, alongside Marlow, as if the foliage is closing in around me and I'm starting to go crazy. Also, I very highly recommend "Apocalypse Now Redux," the film adaptation, which is one of the best book-to-film adaptations, and thus one of the best films, ever. It brings a truly tactile portrait of the foreboding aspect of nature to the tropes of the Vietnam war film, making it a wickedly unconventional slice of the genre pie.
gmillar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I hadn't seen "Apocalypse Now" I might have absorbed this book differently. For me, the "stream of thought" style of narration by Marlow was a little too bumpy to read. I can appreciate that it was modern and adventurous writing for its time and might even be considered as "literary" by some, but I have enjoyed other Conrad offerings better.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amazingly, I'm reading this for the first time in my 40's. But I can't imagine I would have understood it very well when I was younger. Mr. Conrad makes ample use of Africa as a symbol of darkness but the real darkness doesn't lie in the external world. It has always lain in the depths of the human soul. It doesn't take living in a savage land to find oneself unmoored from goodness and right. Anytime external restraints are lifted is the time when man must grapple with his own soul and what he can do and what he will do. Mr. Conrad's capturing of that truth and all the horror of that truth is masterful.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness is a tale of a seaman, Marlow, who pilots a boat up the Congo River around the turn of the 20th Century. His mission is to make contact with an ivory trader named Kurtz on behalf of their mutual employer. Kurtz is a mysterious fellow who not only has a unique relationship with the nationals, but also has an uncanny ability to provide ivory for the company. As Marlow's journey progresses, he becomes more and more eager to meet Kurtz, all the while becoming more and more disgusted with his fellow expatriates. It's a dark and dreary tale, but so very well written. As a good Lutheran, I had to admire Mr. Conrad's ability to paint such a realistic of human sin. The pity is, he also seems to have no concept of or use for forgiveness and the ability of God to bring about good even amongst us petty, nasty humans. I'm tempted to hang onto this book for its craftsmanship, but I don't know if I'd ever care to delve into Mr. Conrad's world again.--J.
Dottiehaase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read together with State of Wonder for book club. Heart of Darkness, set in the early 1900s, is narrated by Marlow, a sailor who journeys to Africa under the employment of the Company, a Belgian outfit conducting trade in the Congo. Marlow¿s journey is a journey into ¿the horror¿ of imperialism. Natives of the Congo are brutalized by Company agents and forced into Company service; the resplendent natural resources of the country are raped for profit. In the heart of the Congo, Marlow meets Kurtz, a reputed Company Chief who represents humanity¿s capacity for evil. They return to port and then onto Europe.Marlow listens to Kurtz talk while he pilots the ship, and Kurtz entrusts Marlow with a packet of personal documents, including an eloquent pamphlet on civilizing the savages which ends with a scrawled message that says, ¿Exterminate all the brutes!¿ The steamer breaks down, and they have to stop for repairs. Kurtz dies, uttering his last words¿¿The horror! The horror!¿¿in the presence of the confused Marlow. Marlow falls ill soon after and barely survives. Eventually he returns to Europe and goes to see Kurtz¿s Intended (his fiancée). She is still in mourning, even though it has been over a year since Kurtz¿s death, and she praises him as a paragon of virtue and achievement. She asks what his last words were, but Marlow cannot bring himself to shatter her illusions with the truth. Instead, he tells her that Kurtz¿s last word was her name..