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Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh Audiobook – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 284 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 51 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 23 Nov. 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DJNE0C

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Aug. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a yacht anchors in the Thames and the crew settle down one of them, Charles Marlow, recites an experience he had when he took to sailing on freshwater. And so we have here one of Conrad’s most read and studied works, although this is only a novella. First published in serial form in Blackwood’s Magazine this tale still has the power to provoke and stimulate discussion.

Obviously inspired by and based in part on the author’s own experiences this is a story that really grips you. As Marlow takes a job to captain a steamboat up and down the river between trading posts in Africa, he is employed by an ivory business. As Marlow keeps hearing of the genius Mr Kurtz, he is intrigued. But when he actually meets Kurtz things are not what they seem.

Taking in Imperialism and the rapacious way of companies to drain areas of natural resources for their own profits this is something that we are still dealing with today. With the native Africans treated like dirt and looked down upon we also see how the Europeans employed by the company come in different guises, from lazy incompetents to those greedy for profit and gain, all backstabbing each other for their own personal advancement.

We see that Kurtz is from a new way of thought, with the idea of suppressing the native religions and superstitions and trying to make them more like ‘civilised’ Europeans. This novella has come under attack at different times due to such things as supposed racism and so on, but personally I along with many others have found this to be slightly erroneous. Conrad firstly was writing in the language and prejudices of his time, and he does portray the inhumanity shown towards the native population quite graphically.
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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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Everyone probably knows the plot basics of Heart of Darkness and that it inspired the scenario for the Vietnam-war movie Apocalypse Now - if with a significant degree of adaptation. The narrator, Marlow, an English seaman, tells the story of his journey up an unnamed river that can only be the Congo. At the end of the trip awaits him the famous and infamous Kurtz, both master and slave to the brutal trade that is taking place in the depths of an uncharted jungle. 'The horror! The horror!' will be Kurtz's parting words. For both victim and executioner, he has only been able to accept the terrible violence that European exploitation expects of its henchmen by becoming a local blood-cult figure, by bending to his will the forest's darkest, most secret primeval practices.

The awesome strength of Heart of Darkness is in its simplicity. This is a short novella that does not dwell on or get lost in sub-plots. Marlow simply tells his story after the fact, as dusk settles on the Thames over the group of amateur sailors that is his audience. Joseph Conrad's purpose is likewise straightforward: to show us the conflict between the violent animal in man and rationality, and the impulse to do good. Fitting, moreover, with a contemporary art scene that was discovering African and island art, this upends conventional notions of civilization and humanity. The book's appeal is timeless, and it is a classic, told in deceptively straightforward yet effective terms.

But Conrad's masterpiece, published in 1902, also is an invaluable testimony in the historical sense. Though country names are left out, it is clear that the story takes place in the Belgian Congo, then the territory of the secretive Congo Free State, actually a corporation in the ownership of the Belgian king.
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I'm currently trying to read though the classics at the moment and this was one of them. I didn't realise how short it is! the story itself is interesting and I liked the writing style. Plus the imagery was very effective. I can see how it would be appealing to a literacy class as there is evidently scope for it to be analysed in-depth. I think it would have been more enjoyable if so as, on it's own, it's a good read but not one to write home about or keep on the shelf for re-reading.
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