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Heart of Darkness Paperback – 29 Nov 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 189 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 78 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (29 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1503275922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1503275928
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

As powerful a condemnation of imperialism as has ever been written (Observer) --abc

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 (Telegraph) --abc

About the Author

Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born British novelist, who became a British subject in 1886. He is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English though he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties (and then always with a marked Polish accent). He wrote stories and novels, predominantly with a nautical or seaboard setting, that depict trials of the human spirit by the demands of duty and honor. Conrad was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English tragic sensibility into English literature. While some of his works have a strain of romanticism, he is viewed as a precursor of modernist literature; his narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many subsequent authors. Films have been adapted from or inspired by Conrad's Victory, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent, An Outcast of the Islands, The Duel, Heart of Darkness, and Nostromo. Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew upon his experiences in the French and later the British Merchant Navy to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a worldwide empire while also plumbing the depths of the human soul. (wikipedia)


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The story opens on board a yacht moored in the Thames but due to set sail for parts unknown; the men aboard are drinking and swapping yarns as they wait listlessly for the tide to turn. The setting sun provides a brooding backdrop and leads one of the men, Marlow, to declare “this also has been one of the dark places of the earth” and launch into a tale.

He’s speculating how the first Roman invaders must have felt sailing up the river into the unfamiliar British terrain in an inhospitable climate populated by savage natives; an interesting parallel to his own experience captaining a river steamboat up the Congo to ‘relieve’ the resident of a remote ivory trading post.

The man at the centre of the mission is the charismatic Mr Kurtz whose trading prowess is second to none due in part to a skill in oratory that gives him a Messianic quality that spellbinds colleagues and natives alike. In fact the natives are so devoted they don’t want him to leave.

Marlow’s engagement, induction and voyage up river is recounted; with hard-nosed detachment as far the physical dangers are concerned, but with more circumspection as regards the psychological pressures that emanate from the jungle beyond the riverbank – the continent’s heart of darkness. He can begin to understand how a white man may succumb to “the fascination of the abomination” that can be found there and be prey to “the growing regret, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate”.

The immensely powerful language (quoted to do it justice) gives the novella the feel of a horror story; as it is – but there’s nothing supernatural here, it is all horribly, if unfamiliarly natural in the time and place that was Equatorial Africa in the time of colonisation.
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I'm not sure how to rate this book. I gave it 4* because I think the author's intention was to manifest the horrifying reality of colonization and he managed to do that in a Gothic non-sensationalist method.

The book deals with colonisation and its cruelty. And that's how it ought to be read. One ought not to expect a happy ending or a story of redemption and freedom. Or any romantic feelings of adventure and escape. Or characters one would be able to identify with. This isn't a book you will "like" or "love" - it's a book that will haunt you. It's a book that will shock you - a book that demonstrates how "respectable" persons can rationalise human brutality.

In the West many people were convinced that that colonization was almost a philanthropic endeavour that brought redemption and civilization to the savage natives. One could say that we are still hold this belief as we invade countries around the world such as Iraq (only this time we use "Democracy" and mythic WMD as our motto as we torture people, bomb cities and steal oil).

The book is narrated by Charles Marlow, a sailor/ skipper who Captains a boat for an ivory trading company along the Congo River. The scenery, the uncertainty and darkness of the Congo jungles creates an eerie atmosphere which becomes embedded to the story. Usually the thought of jungles in tropical locations would induce me to thoughts of beautiful nature and exotic holidays. However, in this instance it came across as sinister.

The author uses prose, which although I wouldn't describe as subtle, it's far from descriptive, in order to convey the cruelty and inhumane methods used by the Colonist against the natives.
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What a book this is! And a free Kindly download into the bargain. I am 58 and have never read it, now realising that most people read it for O Level! Anyway after confusing me to begin with, I started to look into it a bit more only to find that Conrad was there and witnessed some of this awful stuff. I then moved on to King Leopold's Ghost (another Kindle book by the way) and was amazed and horrified at what evil greed produced in the two decades between 1890 and 1910 or thereabouts. Really a novel for all seasons seeing it touches on the darkness of the human heart - and, I presume, an implied message of the need for redemption? Well done for putting it on Kindle - which, by the way, I love, despite being an old technophobe.
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As someone who greatly enjoyed both Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and the video game Spec Ops: the Line (both adaptations of Heart of Darkness and both wonderful examples of storytelling in their respective mediums, in my opinion), it was with great anticipation that I started reading Conrad's apparent classic.

I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. While on the surface the book is a study, if not a criticism, of colonialism, at its heart, if you'll excuse the pun, is an examination of the most savage aspects of the human condition. Conrad presents the story in an interesting story-within-a-story format and I'm not sure there would be a more effective possible way of telling it.

As wonderful as the book is, it is not perfect. My chief criticism would be that the charisma, for want of a better word, of Kurtz is conveyed more through the opinion of the narrator than his words or actions within the story. Perhaps it is an unfair comparison but the character just doesn't have the same presence he had in Apocalypse Now, either when present or absent from a scene.

Overall, this book absolutely deserves its status as a classic and is well worth a read.
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