No wonder Conrad described Melville as "romantic. Thanks to both of them for sparring us more. The story feels unfinished without knowing the reasons for the behavior of Kurtz and his descent into madness. Did his base desires and actions propel him or was The Horror in his mind?
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This is the second time I've started this book. I tried to read it in my late teens but could not deal with the brutality toward the Africans by the Europeans. I'm not sure that the "darkness" Conrad refers to is the same "darkness" I see in the book. But I get the feeling that Conrad's contemporary readers at time of publication would have been more horrified at the way Kurtz "went native" so to speak.
How many people obey the rules for fear of what society would do to them if who they really are were to show? The darkness that will stay in my head is the wholesale destruction of a native society for greed and profit - a destruction that continues today in that area of the world. This book lacks any subtlety in its transparent meditation on morality and purpose.
Perhaps this book was a bold, groundbreaking novel in its heyday for its bleak observations about human nature and the ways men abuse each other. But the novel reads more as a philosophy dissertation than as the jungle river expedition of its premise. There are numerous scenes where the narrator is so involved with his longwinded diatribes about the way the world works, that the actual world of the book becomes impossibly imperceptible to decipher what is actually happening to the characters. This story is certainly a overhyped classic, and deserves to be best remembered at this point as just the brilliant "Apocalypse Now.
Joseph Conrad begins his novella by having the sub-narrator, Charlie Marlow, talk about the Romans conquest of England centuries before. The only thing I could think Conrad or Marlow was doing, was to justify invading Africa, since this was not first instance of colonization. That goes along with a doctor telling Marlow he would love "to watch the mental changes, on the spot" of people who travel to Africa.
But I'm thinking They're the people being kidnapped and murdered and sold into slavery. The book is pretty darn racist, but I guess some people still are today, a century plus later. I think Conrad was either ironically OR unconsciously matching the general racist thoughts of early 20th century people.
If he went out pointing most reader's inherent racism in , he might have lost a lot of his readers at the start. They wouldn't have finished the book. But it is hard to say what writers were thinking, especially writers so far in the past. I'm not entirely sure that the book is ABOUT even Africa, since the book mainly seems to be about a character named Kurtz he is the only character actually given a name except for the sub-narrator , even if Kurtz is first met twenty pages near the end.
The book seems to say the "wilderness" has affected him and certainly not stealing large amounts of ivory and using less that savory means to go about doing that. So instead of Africa, the book is about a pretty horrible guy. Maybe that is why the book is so short. The modern library edition I have has an excellent piece by Chinua Achebe who can sum it up better than I can: "..
He is one of the famous Afican writers, after all. The writing was wonderful at times, which is why I guess the book has survived so long. And it's still quite a puzzle. I have a confession to make. I bought this book simply because I loved the cover, which you actually have to see in person to fully appreciate, and because it has deckled edge pages. Shallow, I know. However, after reading Katie's thoughts on it over on her thread, I decided to give it a go sooner rather than later. Lucky me - this is one of those rare books that pull you into its pages and won't release you until you have finished the last word on the final page.
A tale of dark adventure An empty stream, a giant silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side.
The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once- somewhere- far away- in another existence perhaps.
There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence.
Heart of Darkness (Collins Classics) by Joseph Conrad - Read Online
And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect. I ended up sparknoting it because my English teacher expected us to read the entire thing between two classes. Based on that, I didn't think it sounded too great. I know this is a ridiculous claim to make without actually reading the book but I did read parts of it and just couldn't get attached.
Review of the audiobook narrated by Kenneth Branagh: If you have to read Heart of Darkness, I heartily recommend letting Kenneth Branagh read it to you. Actually, this is not the firs time I have listened to this book.
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In high school, I read it out loud to myself, because that was the only way I could make the page-long sentences resolve into meaning for me at the time. While I am one of the best narrators ever, I probably preferred Branagh. I mean, his voice is amazing! The editing of this audiobook was unfortunately not perfect. They didn't do a great job with the breathing, but that's pretty easy to tune out. More disconcerting were the constant changes in volume. I would realize that Branagh had gotten very quiet and would be thinking about turning up the volume when suddenly Bam!
You have been warned. I get annoyed at people who call this book racist for 2 reasons. If we start trying to erase our past bad behavior, we'll never learn anything in the future. Conrad obviously felt exactly the opposite of how the characters treated the Africans in the story. This book tells a story about European colonialism, but its very obvious that the author was showing great condemnation and contempt for it, not supporting it at all. Beautifully written, but I've read too much about international development to actually feel for the narrator.
It's too much of a pity party for him. The main argument of this story, is that without society's pressure to determine good and evil and an appropriate way to behave, there is the potential to act in a truly evil way. This story is a good analogy to unchecked power as well. The story itself doesn't carry the weight since I watched Apocalypse Now before reading this story. The elements are there and the unchecked aggression and evil are great, but there is a difference between controlling an area for profit, to obtain ivory, and a soldier using natives to butcher an enemy.
My perception is a bit tainted because of the order. However, even without the extreme elements, it is a demonstration of how those who have power unchecked can lead to horrible behavior. Favorite Passages:"You should have heard him say, 'My ivory. It made me hold my breath in expectation of hearing the wilderness burst into a prodigious peal of laughter that would shake the fixed stars in their places. Everything belonged to him--but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own.
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That was the reflection that made you creepy all over. It was impossible--it was not good for one either--trying to imagine. He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land--I mean literally. You can't understand. How could you? These little things make all the great difference.
When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him--some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence.
Whether he knew of this deficiency himself I can't say. I think the knowledge came to him at last--only at the very last. But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude--and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating.
It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core. I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night Oh, I wasn't touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror--of an intense and hopeless despair.
Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision,--he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath--"'The horror! The horror! Better than I remembered it, from my reading as a teen. I'll set myself on Achebe's side, though, when it comes to Heart of Darkness in relation to Africans. Six-word review: Not sure what I just read.
Extended review: Most likely it was very good. But enigmatic, or so they say. Not that I'd know; maybe it's just me. I've read some fairly tough stuff in my reading career, but this one made me feel like a borderline idiot. I followed the narrative, or thought I did--a frame tale with one Marlow being the narrator of the adventure and all his remarks being written down by his unnamed listener.
I couldn't make out the reason for the use of this device in this instance. What would have been lost--what would even have been different--if the putative narrator had penned a first-person account of his experiences going upriver into the African jungle to find Mr. Why deliver it all as if second-hand?
I don't see it. As for the narrative itself, I am not accustomed to having any difficulty with nineteenth-century prose, American or British or even translated Russian, no matter how quirky, rambling, vocabulous, or convoluted. The half-crazed internal monologues of Poe's characters and Dostoevsky's haven't slowed me down. I can handle the archaic styles of George Eliot and Walter Scott and Nathaniel Hawthorne, not to mention poetry of earlier centuries. There's nothing in Conrad's diction or syntax that I can't understand.
I've read plenty of literature that goes for mood and atmosphere and allegorical meaning without actually having anything resembling what we'd think of as a plot. And yet I'm holding my copy of Heart of Darkness, open to the two-thirds mark, where I'm rereading passages for the third or fourth time and asking: What is this really saying? What am I missing? What's going on? Is it a ghost story? Are we supposed to take references to Kurtz's disinterred remains and his skeletal appearance as meaning what they seem to mean?
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Summary of the Book Marlow experiences a lot during his journey to the heart of Africa. Frequently Bought Together. Heart of Darkness. Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Add 3 Items to Cart. Rate Product. I was utterly disappointed by the quality of this book. Such a legendary novel printed on the cheapest quality of paper that is available on earth. Can't get past a few pages!
The yellow blot of paper populated with smudgy black print thoroughly disgusted me. Please go for a different edition! Think twice if you are going to buy this. Tania Shwe Certified Buyer Nov, He was hired to take a steamship into Africa, and according to Conrad, the experience of seeing firsthand the horrors of colonial rule left him a changed man. His introspective need to come to terms with his experience lead to Heart of Darkness , which was followed by other fictionalized explorations of his life.
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He has been lauded as one of the most powerful, insightful, and disturbing novelists in the English canon despite coming to English later in life, which allowed him to combine it with the sensibilities of French, Russian, and Polish literature. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. Sorry, the book that you are looking for is not available right now. Books with a similar title. In Stock.
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