Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 25 November 2010
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.
0Comment| 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 April 2012
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. The only difference is that the colonial undertaking was killing and causing deaths on an epic scale in the search for natural rubber, whereas in Heart of Darkness it is ivory. Conrad, having long been a seaman, had great credibility. At the time of publication, the Congo Free State was trying to fend-off a campaign to expose its terrible crimes by the journalist E.D. Morel. Conrad was taking a courageous stand. His descriptions of the colonialists are not kind. And this is, in many places, is an openly anti-racist novel. The Congo Free State's appalling exploitation of the Congo has been described in Adam Hochschild's book Leopold's Ghost (1999). Though the numbers Hochschild advances for the number of Africans killed are contested, the methods and nature of the exploitation carried out in the Congo are not.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 May 2017
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.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 April 2017
Review is for this edition, not the novel itself. Buy a different version. This one contains some misspellings and grammatical errors. None of the paragraphs are indented, which I found distracting and removed me from the reading experience to a small degree. The cover looks cheaply made. The image on the front cover is visibly pixelated. Both the spine and back cover are blank, without text, which is rather irritating if you want to be able to find it again in your bookshelves.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 August 2016
Not a good copy. Not about the story just the edition. Flimsy with lots of printing errors. Cheaply done. Look elsewhere for a better edition.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 May 2015
Some books stay with you for life. Heart of Darkness is one of them. You can never take it out of your mind. The settings are eerily evocative. The characters go beyond the basic three dimensions. Powerful. Complex.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 October 2015
I have a large collection of classics and don't intend to review them since so much has been written it is rather pointless, but this is so haunting and imaginative, it stays with you long after night has fallen and the sun has gone down.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 November 2015
A really good read, which was recommended to me by a friend. Quite thought-provoking given one of the many themes is the morality of lying. I enjoyed it very much and would recommend to anyone!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 May 2017
Book is brilliant. Editing not so - quite a few spelling mistakes, but not enough to detract from the overall product at the price!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 August 2017
Great quality
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.


Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)