Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heart of Darkness” as Want to Read:
Heart of Darkness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

Heart of Darkness

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  229,664 ratings  ·  7,150 reviews
Charlie Marlow narrates young "inconclusive" trip "to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart" Africa. He captains a steamboat upriver to retrieve Company ivory station manager Kurtz. Ill in body and mind, his voice swayed blacks and "his Intended". "It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention."
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 111 pages
Published 1973 by Penguin Books (first published 1899)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heart of Darkness, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Adam Becker I would say no. The narration style of this book can be quite confusing. He rambles incessantly and changes topics at the drop of a hat, as well as…moreI would say no. The narration style of this book can be quite confusing. He rambles incessantly and changes topics at the drop of a hat, as well as mixes dialog in at random times with no line breaks at all. This book is a massive wall of text, and that it saying something since its just over 100 pages. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Sonanova
Jul 10, 2007 Sonanova rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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
Sarah Fisher
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
...more
Richard
Apr 15, 2015 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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 similariti
...more
Megha

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
...more
Jenny Zhang
This guy's message is so subtle: Africans are depraved/we are all depraved/since I don't care about black people I'm going to let them serve as a metaphor for the depravity of human existence/I like writing sentences that yawn with the utter boredom of pretension, pomp, and waste/I have no heart/that's why I had to put the word heart in the title, etc, etc, etc.

Where's the negative one million stars option, again?
Riku Sayuj

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
...more
George Bradford
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
...more
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
Samadrita
Overrated. Over-hated. Over-analyzed. Over-referenced.
Michalyn
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
...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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 r
...more
Leslie
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.
Edward
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
Ian Cantankeroo-Gazan
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
...more
Traveller
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
midnightfaerie
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
Charlene
In an effort to class up the joint, I listened to this audio book performed by Kenneth Branagh.

I say performed, because it wasn't just a plain reading of the story. He added depth to the observations and took what I might have found to be a boring story and breathed life into it.

I enjoyed this quite a bit and would recommend this audio version to anyone interested in this classic tale.
Laysee
The Heart of Darkness is a slim novel that belies the immense profundity it reveals about human nature. I re-read it after many years and understood again why it left me sober, tearful and broken when the last page was turned. Marlow, the seaman narrator, told the story of his journey into the heart of the African interior and his encounter with the natives and most notably, Kurtz, the ivory agent, a much revered white man. To me, the journey into the heart of darkness is the unraveling of what ...more
Kim

Once again I change my mind about a book I didn't like very much the first time I read it more than thirty-five years ago. Even then I appreciated that it was a signficant literary work, but I didn't respond to it emotionally. If anything, it struck me as a dull.

This time around, my reaction was quite different. I didn't find it dull at all. Rather, I found the experience very powerful, both intellectually and emotionally. Part of that may be due to the fact that over the years I've experienced
...more
Taka
It's OK--

This is the first time I read Conrad after hearing how much of a prose stylist he is and comparisons to Nabokov (something he himself denied with a characteristic quip, "I differ from Conradically"). He is most definitely a prose stylist of the first rank. But in this heavily symbolic book, he is not much of a storyteller. Nothing really happens in the first half. Granted, the observations Charles Marlow makes throughout are fascinating and I was floored by some of them. The second half
...more
Paul Bryant


CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH review for Round 2

**

“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 c
...more
Traveller
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
Manny
Sep 15, 2011 Manny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
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
...more
Ian Cantankeroo-Gazan
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
Dave
I'm sure there are many redeeming qualities and philosophies to be absorbed from this book. However, it really is the absolutely most boring read I have ever attempted to undertake. I should probably give it another chance before condemning it to 2 stars...but, this book seriously made my mind drift away to unrelated places and topics more frequently than any other book I can remember. I would almost rather read Shakespeare backwards on a rollercoaster than pick this one up again.
Aubrey
He was a universal genius...
Disclaimer: If you're white, you're incapable of deciding whether this is racist or not. In regards to this specific text, if you're not black, you're incapable of deciding whether this is antiblack. I am uncertain of the specific dialectics in regards to the African/African American divide, as well as the even more specific regions bordering the Congo whose modern day citizens have to deal with Conrad's aged portrayals whenever someone who thinks they learned somet
...more
Trevor
There are only a couple of points I would like to add to this excellent review here - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... - and even then, mostly nothing of substance. It is twenty odd years since I first read this and didn’t read it again this time, but listened to Kenneth Branagh’s remarkable reading of it. It is hard to imagine this book was written by someone whose first language wasn’t English.

The Company is fascinating in this book – how if you want to create a situation that is blin
...more
Madeline
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is Conrad a racist? 15 343 Mar 21, 2015 10:29AM  
The 2015 Reading ...: World Literature Group Read (Sub-Saharan Africa: March 2015) - Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad 15 40 Mar 17, 2015 06:32PM  
Articles on Apocalypse Now 1 13 Feb 18, 2015 02:34PM  
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • Clea (The Alexandria Quartet, #4)
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • Studs Lonigan
  • A Passage to India
  • A Bend in the River
  • Parade's End
  • Finnegans Wake
  • The Golden Bowl
  • The Rainbow
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)
  • Bartleby and Benito Cereno
  • The Sheltering Sky
  • The Naked and the Dead
  • Absalom, Absalom!
  • The Ginger Man
  • Main Street
3345
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
More about Joseph Conrad...
Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer Nostromo The Secret Agent

Share This Book

“We live as we dream--alone....” 1564 likes
“I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work--the chance to find yourself. Your own reality--for yourself not for others--what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.” 442 likes
More quotes…