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Heart of Darkness

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  296,711 Ratings  ·  9,398 Reviews
Dark allegory describes the narrator's journey up the Congo River and his meeting with, and fascination by, Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious personage who dominates the unruly inhabitants of the region. Masterly blend of adventure, character development, psychological penetration. Considered by many Conrad's finest, most enigmatic story.
Paperback, 72 pages
Published July 1st 1990 by Dover Publications (first published 1899)
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Abhishek Mishra I'm afraid not. This isn't your usual page-turner. The book is layered, even allegorical in most verses. The experience of the first half of the book…moreI'm afraid not. This isn't your usual page-turner. The book is layered, even allegorical in most verses. The experience of the first half of the book was rather draining, and the second half moved faster.
I recommend not to read this as a story, but as an essay. It might change how you understand it.(less)

Community Reviews

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Sonanova
Jul 10, 2007 Sonanova rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who enjoys a good tenth level of hell
Proving yet again that doing a concept first will get you immortalized, while doing it WELL will make you an unknown and forgotten writer at best, I also learned that in Conrad's time, people could drone on and on with metaphors and it wasn't considered cliched, but "art." I blame this book and others like it for some of the most painful literature created by students and professional writers alike.

It was like raking my fingernails across a chalkboard while breathing in a pail of flaming cat hai
...more
Richard
Mar 27, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone: required reading.
    First of all, get this straight: Heart of Darkness is one of those classics that you have to have read if you want to consider yourself a well-educated adult. That’s the bad news; the good news is that this is a very easy book to read — tremendously shorter than Moby-Dick , for instance. And the prose is easy to swallow, so you don’t really have an excuse.

    Having watched Apocalypse Now doesn’t count — if anything, it ups the ante, since that means you have to think about the simila
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Sarah Fisher
May 23, 2007 Sarah Fisher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Never in all my life has 100 little pages made me contemplate suicide...violent suicide. i had to finish it. i had no choice (yay college!). every page was literally painful.

am i supposed to feel sorry for him? because i don't. i feel sorry for all of Africa getting invaded with dumbasses like this guy. oh and in case you didn't get it...the "heart of darkness" is like this super deep megametaphor of all metaphors. and in case it wasn't clear enough, conrad will spend many many useless words cle
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Bookdragon Sean
Feb 09, 2016 Bookdragon Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every reader
Is Joseph Conrad a racist?

Well, that is a question, a question that is extremely difficult to answer. There are certainly racist aspects within Heart of Darkness. However, how far this is Conrad’s own personal opinion is near impossible to tell. Certainly, Marlowe, the protagonist and narrator, has some rather patronising notions as to how the Africans should be treated, and the image of the colonised is one of repression and servitude, but does this reflect Conrad’s own opinions? How far can
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Megha
Mar 20, 2009 Megha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

It was a breathtaking read. There are few books which make such a powerful impression as 'Heart of darkness' does. Written more than a century ago, the book and its undying theme hold just as much significance even today. Intense and compelling, it looks into the darkest recesses of human nature. Conrad takes the reader through a horrific tale in a very gripping voice.

I couldn't say enough about Conrad's mastery of prose. Not a single word is out of place. Among several things, I liked Marlow ex
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Helen Stavraki
Dec 25, 2016 Helen Stavraki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
«Φρίκη, φρίκη »
«Εξολοθρεύσατε όλα τα κτήνη!»

Στην καρδιά του σκότους και στον αφηγητή της (Μάρλοου),το νόημα της ιστορίας δεν βρίσκεται σε καμία περίπτωση μέσα στον πυρήνα της,αλλά απ’έξω, «θαρρείς και το νόημα περιβάλει την ιστορία...».

Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι μια ασύλληπτη τελετουργία, μια δαιμονική πνευματικά μύηση, μια καταληψία.

Η καρδιά του σκότους μπορεί να έχει πολλές ερμηνείες και είναι πολύ φυσικό αφού βρίθει εικόνων και συναισθημάτων.

Όλη η ουσία του βιβλίου επικεντρώνεται στην εμπειρία ε
...more
Riku Sayuj
Feb 04, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tanuj Solanki

Revisiting The Heart of Darkness


After passing past that Castle of Ego,

Laying siege on the very borders of Mind,

We entered the vast and bristling forests,

Of that strange, strange land, that Id,

Which doth divide the knowing, waking,

From the land of dreaming, unknowing.

But this way is much too hard to follow;

And is harder even to describe to you:

We are more likely here to perish,

Here in these vast, dense hinterlands;

For these woods that we see arrayed,

Has never previously been crossed,

By mortal men
...more
Rakhi Dalal
“ Mistah Kurtz. He dead.”
-T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

He came, he saw, he conquered – and then he succumbed and died. Mistah Kurtz. An enigma, who ultimately came to signify the gloomy reality of sin, which closely lurks in the minds of mortal beings and keeps ready to pounce upon the heart and to sink it into darkness at the mere hint of viciousness. Which impatiently awaits the weak moments of vanity, false notions and fickleness to take over control and let humanity die a grief death of hopeles
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Lyn
This is one of my all time favorite books, I've read it many times.

“We live in the flicker -- may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.”

Marlow is not just a narrator or an alter ego of Conrad, but a universal everyman, timeless. And that, to me, is the greatest appeal of this book, it is timeless.

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

The scene of Marlow sitting Buddha like as the Thames drea
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Jr Bacdayan
Jun 01, 2013 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picture Review of Heart of Darkness





Visual Key:

White Man named Michael Cera – represents Imperialism

Sunset – shows the impending darkness that is latently inside man

Sea – represents the Congo River

Moustache – represents author Joseph Conrad who also has his own impressive facial hair

Red Bonnet – is a horrible choice of headwear thus might prompt one to remark "the horror! the horror!" which is also Kurtz' last words
George Bradford
Apr 13, 2008 George Bradford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: truth, villains
When I was a child, my father caught me frowning at a very small gift wrapped package I'd received. The dashed hopes for a larger package were broadcast across my face.

"Dynamite comes in small packages." My father counseled me. The literal and figurative truth of this statement has revealed itself throughout my life.

This story is specifically relevant to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. It is a small book. (Surprisingly small.) And it is pure dynamite. (Super powerful dynamite!)

Conrad later wr
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J.G. Keely
Like contemporaries Haggard and Melville, Joseph Conrad lived the adventures he wrote. He left his native Ukraine to escape the political persecution of his family and became a merchant marine in France, sailing to the West Indies and gun-running for a failed Spanish coup. Soon after, he learned English and became a british citizen, eventually attaining the position of Master Mariner. Had his story ended there, he might have become merely a footnote in history: a successful seaman and minor writ ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
It doesn't get much grimmer than this.

description

In the late 1800s, Charles Marlow is appointed as a captain of a river steamboat for an ivory trading company in Africa. He travels up the Congo river toward his appointment with the steamboat and with fate, in the form of Kurtz, the megalomaniac manager of an ivory trading station two hundred miles up the river.
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 t
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Annie
Sep 22, 2015 Annie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015

The dark masses had begun to congregate. Branches thumping against the glass and iron bars, in rhythm to some obscure, some lost song of the wild. The tendrils of darkness that took birth in the vacuums that the sun's warmth had just forsaken, had started their ascent :first shy, then bold, then complete. And when their majesty was absolute; pieces of the night sky, shining almost silver in the blackness met the pools of shades offered by the oozing earth with a coy surrender.


I opened a window.

...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
“Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that furry visage the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror — of an intense and hopeless despair. 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 honey! The honey!’

“I blew the candle out and left the cabin. Tigger and Eeyore were dining in the
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Ship of Fools

The narrator of the framing story tells us early on who is present on board a yacht sitting immobile in the Thames (a river of commerce and pleasure!): the Company Director, the Lawyer, the Accountant, Charlie Marlow, and the unnamed narrator himself.

The narrator seems to represent us, the audience. Marlow does the talking. The group could almost be the executive that runs a trading company, although what unites them is the bond of the sea:

"Besides holding our hearts together throug
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Michalyn
Jan 10, 2008 Michalyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is a book I read twice and will probably never read again. I try to see this as a "great" novel but I have always wished Conrad had achieved a greater separation between his own voice and Marlow's. For me his inability to do so made it difficult to stomach the inherent racism in the book. The passage that will always stick out in my mind is the one in which the narrator muses that an educated black man is as "unnatural" as a dog putting on clothes and walking on its hindlegs.

That said, I do
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Leslie
Sep 05, 2007 Leslie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know as an English major I am supposed to find this work brilliant and important, but I just don't. I hate it. I hated it the first time I read it, the second time I read it, AND the third time I read it.
Traveller
Jan 13, 2010 Traveller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many people seem to think that this story is just about racism, but that is missing the main point. It is true that much of Conrad's fiction seems racist in tone, but one must take that from whence it comes; he was writing at a time when European Colonialism, (and sadly racism too) was in full swing. It is of course inevitable that writers will reflect some of the mores of their era, and also that some writers will examine the prevailing mores and comment on them.

However, the inner message of th
...more
Warwick

I had thought this was a re-read but, about halfway through, it all started seeming new to me, so perhaps I never finished it the first time round. It wouldn't surprise me – although the book is short, and its plot slight, it somehow contrives to feel extremely dense. Like a pocket Moby-Dick, it begins with a atmospheric Gothic opening and then sort of coagulates into a treacly mass of archaism, narrative grandstanding and morbid watery ruminations.

Conrad is strangely coy about identifying the C
...more
Richard Derus
Book Circle Reads 19

Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: More than a century after its publication (1899), Heart of Darkness remains an indisputably classic text and arguably Conrad's finest work.

This extensively revised Norton Critical Edition includes new materials that convey nineteenth-century attitudes toward imperialism as well as the concerns of Conrad's contemporaries about King Leopold's exploitation of his African domain. New to the Fourth Edition are excerpts from Adam Hochschild's
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Edward
Apr 24, 2013 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Acknowledgements
Chronology
Introduction to 'Heart of Darkness'
Introduction to 'The Congo Diary'
Further Reading
A Note on the Texts
Map of the River Congo


--Heart of Darkness
--The Congo Diary

Appendix: Author's Note (1917)
Notes
Glossary of Nautical Terms
midnightfaerie
Feb 06, 2012 midnightfaerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is an inspiring piece of work, worthy of some of its criticisms but also of its often listed as a classic piece of literature. Taking place mostly in Africa, it tells the story of Europeans going to the Congo in search of goods to bring back, mostly ivory. They do this in the name of "Imperialism", but Conrad makes it very clear from the beginning that there is no civilization creation going on. Through corruption and exploitation of the blacks, the Europea ...more
Markus
Apr 08, 2016 Markus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2016
The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there.

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is one of those books that everyone has been told to read. Whether by a teacher, a relative or even a friend, chances are you’ve had this book shoved down your throat in one way or another.

I started reading it expecting a classic that would land
...more
Manny
Sep 15, 2011 Manny marked it as to-read
Celebrity Death Match Review Tournament, Round 1: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes versus Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness doesn't even bother to show up, but sends its kid sister, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death . Calvin and Hobbes laugh scornfully, but their jeers soon become screams of terror as the Cannibal Women tie them up and eat them alive with guacamole and corn chips.
Pantelis
Nov 01, 2016 Pantelis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read it in my thirties. I have to remake that voyage. I feel a second reading is imperative. Right after or right before I read Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West". Kurtz's death, Mr. Eliot, may be the wimper before the bang (Verdun, Somme). I shall return to this review, someday...
Ian "Marvin" Graye
At the Heart of What Matters

It's a long time since I read this novel.
However, its journey into the heart of darkness, not only geographically, but personally, has become one of the dominant themes of western literature and film, and probably music as well.
It might be possible for a book to match Conrad's, but I doubt whether anyone could better it.
"Apocalypse Now" more than does justice to it in the film context, though it obviously had the advantage of visuals not created solely with words on t
...more
Emily May
Dec 09, 2010 Emily May rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I still don't know what I read here.

I finished this book with one sort-of word spinning around in my head... "eh?"

I read the whole book. Every page, every sentence, every word. And I couldn't tell you what it was about. I think I must have read more challenging books than this - Ulysses, Swann's Way, etc. - but none has left me so thoroughly clueless.
Traveller
Jan 11, 2012 Traveller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-by-men
Many people seem to think that this story is just about racism, but that is missing the main point. It is true that much of Conrad's fiction seems racist in tone, but one must take that from whence it comes; he was writing at a time when European Colonialism, (and sadly racism too) was in full swing. It is of course inevitable that writers will reflect some of the mores of their era, and also that some writers will examine the prevailing mores and comment on them.

However, the inner message of th
...more
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Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa.

Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard Br
...more
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“We live as we dream--alone....” 1900 likes
“It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” 1882 likes
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