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Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 10 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 4th Revised edition edition (10 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393926362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393926361
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'As powerful a condemnation of imperialism as has ever been written' --The Observer

'Once experienced, it is hard to let Heart of Darkness go. A masterpiece of surprise, of expression and psychological nuance, of fury at colonial expansion and of how men make the least of life... endlessly readable and worthy of rereading' --The Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'One of the most compelling and influential works of English literature in the last century' - Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Harris on 13 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
Some readers seem to have difficulty with this short novel. It's certainly not easy reading (Conrad never is, though I love his prose style), but is a challenging, thought-provoking and highly absorbing character study. The journey is as much into a mind breaking down as it is a physical journey down the Congo River. I found it richly rewarding (both the 1st time and when I read it again recently). It probably says more, in a short space, than any other novel about human existence, civilization and human excesses (with the possible exception of "The Fall" by Albert Camus). Powerful stuff - if you like a strong poison then try it (and then check out Conrad's great full-length novels: "Lord Jim", "Nostromo" and "Under Western Eyes").
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mash on 25 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What struck me about Conrad's tale was the richness of his descriptions. The way he combines words in a highly unorthodox way succeeds in giving sections of the work a very disturbing feel to them. I suspect this stems from English being Conrad's third language. In any case, it gives the text an unpredictable tenor that keeps the reader in a state of unease, just as the author intended.

The themes are no less profound. I particularly enjoyed Conrad's critique of Western civilization - comparing the tribesmen with the supposedly superior whites and comparing the Congo with the Thames of 1000 years ago.

For all its virtues, this book is quite disorientating and requires careful reading. At several points I had to reread pages to determine who was talking to whom. In particular, the point at which Kurtz finally makes his appearance is (perhaps intentionally) skimmed over without fanfare. I feel that another read or two is in order.

This Penguin Classics edition comes with some extras. Some, like the analysis of changes made between the typescript and the book, are for enthusiasts only. Others, such as the timeline and explanatory notes are essential to any reader. It's a slim volume that is appropriately sombre-looking.

A genuine classic.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Steve W. on 30 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
At the very dawn of the 21st century, the front page of a major UK broadsheet newspaper (The Daily Telegraph), summed up the previous 100 years as "the century of 'Heart of Darkness' and 'The Waste Land'". Yes, this short novel, actually first published (I think) in 1899, presciently captures the horrors that are to come once "civilized" men of the industrialized West gain dominion over the Earth. I first read this book about 25 years ago - and, as a callow youth, I barely understood a word of it. Yet its symbolism enthralled me and I have been compelled to return to it 4 or 5 times since, each time gaining a deeper insight into what Conrad, through his imperfect narrator Marlow, is struggling to say. The writing is superb, the themes immense, and the setting in Africa's dark heart (counterpointed with the scenes on the Thames) sensational. One day I hope to emulate Graham Greene and reread the book while travelling up the Congo by boat. But I know I must be prepared for a dark, dark journey... and one that fails to reach a neat and tidy conclusion.
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180 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Gerund on 18 Jan 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is specifically about the Kindle edition of The Heart of Darkness, and more specifically:
# Publisher: Public Domain Books (9 Jan 2006)
# Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
# ASIN: B000JQU7A8
Reviews between editions seem to be frequently amalgamated and so it is important to note this is about the free (at time of writing) version.

Please also note that this review is about the 'edition', not the actual story itself and is therefore no reflection on Conrad's writing.

Having made myself clear on what I am reviewing (hopefully!) then my opinion is this:

Download some samples of other versions and pay some small amount for a better text. I struggled with half of this version before resorting to the actual book that I already owned. There are two major problems:

1. The style of writing and the protagonist Marlow's delivery makes very frequent use of dashes (en or em rules). This Kindle edition uses double hyphens, viz --, with no spaces, as in 'There were cases of them down at the coast--cases--piled up--burst--split!', which makes reading awkward and detracts from the narrative style.

2. Carriage returns are used frequently in error and seemingly at random. It is possible to identify new paragraphs as they are correctly indented but, having a line finishing after the first word for example, implies the end of a paragraph. However, the non-indented start of the next line shows that the text was meant to be continuous. Checking several examples with the Penguin text edition shows that these frequent carriage returns are, indeed, in error.

This edition is not recommended for reading on the Kindle.
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110 of 118 people found the following review helpful By phil451 on 19 Jan 2000
Format: Paperback
With this novella Joseph Conrad brutally rips away the barriers that men build to hide themselves and exposes the evil that lurks in all men's hearts, waiting for an opportunity to get out.kurtz sails away into the dark continent full of ambition to build a bright shining society where men will be Gods. The result is unspeakable evil. What actually happens the reader never knows. They are just invited to look at the battered result of Kurtz's ambition. Marlowe returns and visits the now dead Kurt's fiancee, but is unable to tell her the truth about her beloved and makes up some romantic tale to spare her feelings. Nowadays Conrad is vulnerable to accusations of racism as he uses Africa to represent the dark continent. As always the politically correct have completely missed the pooint. The evil was in Kurtz, as it is in all men, not in Africa. And Conrad was exposing the wickednesss of colonolism which he was vehemently against, which anyone could find out if they read his works closely. In fact he was not a racist but years ahead of his time.
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