Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

Book - 1993
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In Conrad's haunting tale, Marlow, a seaman and wanderer, recounts his physical and psychological journey in search of the enigmatic Kurtz. Travelling to the heart of the African continent, he discovers how Kurtz has gained his position of power and influence over the local people. Marlow's struggle to fathom his experience involves him in a radical questioning of not only his own nature and values but the nature and values of his society.
Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, c1993
Series:
ISBN: 9780679428015
0679428011
Branch Call Number: F CON
Characteristics: xxix, 110 p. ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Klinkenborg, Verlyn

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papachaucer May 24, 2020

There's so much going on in this short novel / story. The horror of European pillaging in Africa. The petty concerns of selfish functionaries whose only talent, only virtue, only superpower is to stay physically healthy in a place that routinely kills other Europeans through indigenous people's attacks, through disease, and through technology break downs.
As you no doubt know, the movie Apocalypse Now is based on Heart of Darkness with some exact quotes but moved around. The phrase "for my sins" is much later in the book, and the movie uses it differently, for example.
But the questions of Truth and of moral responsibilities are posed in both the book and the movie. It's a short enough read, so give it a go and see what you think.
In these times where persons of color are writing their own view and voice of some Western Civ stories and tropes, I wonder how someone of that culture(-al) background might re-tell a similar story?

w
wyenotgo
Mar 27, 2020

As with much of Conrad's work, so much has been written about this short novel that I feel compelled to ignore the obvious and meander farther afield, if for no other purpose than to place "Heart of Darkness" into a more personal context, a viewpoint that expresses its relevance to me, at this particular moment in my life. The fact that I've just read it now, in the second week of self-imposed quarantine while a ruthless virus-driven pandemic stalks the world, has cast upon Conrad's work an astringent atmosphere, a somber illumination over and above the lugubrious shades created by the writer. The tale related by Conrad's protagonist Marlow is permeated by a sense of inevitability, of an impenetrable world beyond the control or even the comprehension of 'civilized' man. Such is also the case with this COVID-19 event: neither its future course nor its impact upon each of us personally and on our known world can be predicted with any degree of confidence. What we can say is that it has already changed us, as did Marlow's experience along that river of darkness.
As I followed Marlow's moment of decision, when he was obliged to take one side or the other in the grim contest of wills between Kurtz and the Manager, a choice that may well have determined whether he would survive, I'm acutely aware of the importance of choices that I, my family and the leaders of society are making each day. Marlow had nothing but his own instincts and his grasp on some remote cosmic reality to guide him. The situation he faced was entirely new to him. He was surrounded by a population whose beliefs and state of mind he could not penetrate and with whom he could not even communicate directly. He had no points of reference and his decision could not be delayed.
We are today also trying to find our way through a very dark valley. How appropriate!

a
aam04
Aug 04, 2019

This book was a difficult read as the endless metaphors became tedious and therefore, the plot was hard to follow. I struggled to stay engaged and did not enjoy the style of writing. I may try and re-read this book in a few years, once I am more comfortable with the mature language.

d
downsman
Jan 10, 2019

One of my favourite books to read and to teach. When I first read it umpteen years ago I found it hard work, but I've since realised that that is the point, really. You have to read it slowly, reread parts of it, digest it. Put it into context. And also note what we are told in the book of the internal narrator Marlow's tales, that they are not straightforward in meaning. That applies to the text as a whole. Read it and absorb it all, and you will be amply rewarded. If you want something to read quickly for fun, look elsewhere, folks.

j
jacekwalkowicz
Oct 15, 2018

a pleasant journey into the depth of wild +++

How the author could put that story together is a mystery.

a
Andrew Kyle Bacon
May 17, 2018

Am I glad to be done with this awful book.

To be clear, I enjoy classics. I'm big fan of The Idiot and Dracula, and I read quite a bit and usually very quickly. But this book took me a long time considering its rather short length, and it was a snooze. The prose is so thick as to be impenetrable. There is only ever so much useless, pointless pontification which I can take in with my two eyes before the superfluous excess of verbiage overwhelms my senses reducing me to an aching pile of why the crap am I reading this?

DPLnate Apr 04, 2018

And this also,” said Marlow out of nowhere, “has been one of the darkest places of the earth.” Vivid, hallucinatory, haunting.

r
rslars001
Feb 01, 2018

This story was quite a different storyline than I had ever read before; The underlying messages and plot were not obvious, and certain scenes and phrases really made you think. This is a very challenging book, and I would not recommend letting young children attempt it, on account of gross themes such as cannibalism, and the very classic literary language most children would probably not understand. But, if you are in your teens or adulthood and can handle harder words, then I would definitely recommend this! The story is very exciting, and the characters are very in depth and interesting to read about.

Oberösterreich99 Jan 18, 2018

However much I enjoyed the book, it seemed the underlying messages and themes were more important than the actual characters and their actions. I understood that Kurtz was corrupted by the jungle and reverted to its barbarism, whereas he was once idealistic and had great ambitions, but I felt that the actual extent of his evil was poorly exemplified. By this I mean, the spikes or the personal cult, not the treatment of the natives, which was seen as correct in that time. Although that may just be my reading of the book. Otherwise, the themes were profound and the image painted of imperialism conveys just what it did to the native inhabitants and the people bequeathed with the 'white mans burden'.

q
Quidnuncle
Jun 12, 2017

Conrads semi-autobiographical novel is a must read. Although I t's a compelling, surreal story about African conquest, the true heart of darkness is that which resides within man. Read it then treat yourself to Apocalypse Now (redacted version). Even if you think you know the movie, you'll understand it very differently after this book.

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Sethem
Jun 25, 2019

Sethem thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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rslars001
Feb 01, 2018

rslars001 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Oberösterreich99 Jan 18, 2018

Oberösterreich99 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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velociraptor jesus
Apr 03, 2011

velociraptor jesus thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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mbazal
Jul 24, 2010

mbazal thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Quotes

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ArapahoeMaryA Feb 09, 2017

Like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker.

No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone.

f
fusionlord
Dec 22, 2010

"The horror! The horror!"

m
mbazal
Jul 24, 2010

"The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse. By Jove! I’ve never seen anything so unreal in my life. And outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.”

“The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing us down towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress; and Kurtz’s life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time. . . . I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsound method.’”

Summary

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m
mbazal
Jul 24, 2010

Heart of Darkness (1902) grew out of a journey Joseph Conrad took up the Congo River, and the verisimilitude that the great novelist thereby brought to his most famous tale everywhere enhances its dense and shattering power. Heart of Darkness is a model of economic storytelling, an indictment of the inner and outer turmoil caused by the European imperial misadventure, and a piercing account of the fragility of the human soul.

FavouriteFiction Sep 30, 2009

A sailor takes a ship up the Congo river in search of a ivory trader.

Notices

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mbazal
Jul 24, 2010

Violence: This title contains Violence.

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