Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer
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Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  12,358 ratings  ·  614 reviews
The secret sharer relates the conflict of a young captain between his duty to his ship and his loyalty to a young officer who has murdered a crew member.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published December 1st 1950 by Signet Classics (first published 1902)
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Rachel
Aug 14, 2007 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people i hate
read this book for the first time in high school. we explored the novella from the perspective of a young adventurer wandering into the congo...hated it
read it in my death in lit class...provoked some interesting discussions on race...still hated it
read it again for brit lit...talked again about race and imperialism and my professor was so awesome i almost enjoyed the book for a smidgen of a second...but no.

rivets rivets rivets...boring boring boring...this 75 page novella takes more time to rea...more
Judy Vasseur


Joseph Conrad makes me think of a Edgar Allen Poe on serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. (Although he is said to have attempted suicide in his late teens so he couldn't have been all that jolly) Most say his writing is dark but I find it funny. Bless my soul! By jove!

What makes me think of Poe is the narrative which is like a constant paranoid obsessive-compulsive interior chatter. But I love the way the characters are outwardly totally in control and collected.

"I smiled urbanely"
Yes he smiled urban...more
RussBear
The horror! The horror!

I never understood exactly why this book has been termed a classic and why we still torture school children with it.
Mark
Just fantastic. Not that anything less from Conrad was expected. But regard for something special should never be taken for granted, nor should it be deprived of its appropriate kudos when time allows.

Masterful narrative. Better than average characters. An amazing story of a place that time may always forget.

I find it funny that many critics cite Conrad's "racism" in regard to the African natives.

For one, frankly, criticizing someone from that era and background for holding black people in lo...more
Jacob Hoerger
I had a really hard time with this book, even though it wasn't very long. First of all, the constant use of quotation mark (it's a frame story) annoyed me. In addition, the prose wasn't particularly awesome. Sure, there were a couple passages that were memorable, but, on the whole, I wasn't impressed. As for the story, it's about a sailor going up a river in Africa to meet the god-like "Mistah Kurtz." This journey, of course, is a metaphor for a journey into the human soul. I read this book beca...more
Steve Keane
Sep 15, 2007 Steve Keane added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and it is an excellent adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I've seen the movie around 80 times and have read the novella at least 12 times. It is a powerful examination of the fine line between civilization and madness and what these things mean to the soul of the individual. In many cases the so-called civilized characters are the most decadent and debased. The story works on you on a subtle but powerful level. A must read for any age.

A side recommendati...more
Eh?Eh!
I haven't read the Secret Sharer portion yet but for the Heart of Darkness part...plodding. Very profound, very deep, but maybe I watched too much tv while still in my malleable childhood and have too short of an attention span; man, this was hard to finish. I was more moved by the impression that J. Conrad was trying so hard to describe an indescribable sense of something, than the actual something he was describing. I think many other books present the same subject while also being entertainin...more
Heidi
I believe the book's tagline says it all: "The horror, the horror."

I hated this book. HATED. I remember one day when I had done my reading section for English class, not understood a thing, except that they were on a boat and things were happening. Maybe they were being attacked. But in class we kept talking about the man in pink pajamas. I didn't remember any mention of pink pajamas. I could barely force my eyes continue reading the words on the page.
Faye
I LOVE JOSEPH CONRAD. I don't even know... there's just something about his writing that makes my brain happy.

I generally hate seafaring stories, but his are so much more than that. There's so much depth to his writing, and so much insight into the human psyche. Also, I have yet to read an author who does a more convincing oral-narration voice.

Also also... the man didn't even learn English until he was an adult. How he then managed to write in English with more finesse than 99% of English-speak...more
Chris
Heart Of Darkness didn’t live up to the hype for me. I got far more out of a study of the themes, background, and historical significance than I did out of an enjoyment on the first read. There were quite a few outstanding lines, but the narrative is maudlin and slow. I’m sure it was very progressive for its time in provocative content and style, especially for tying in psychological observation and analysis, and I’m sure that’s why even its form, which now has been repeated and surpassed, is so...more
Caleb
I recently read the "Heart of Darkness" portion of the book for my High School AP English class. Overall, I would have to agree with the majority of other reviewers here in saying that this book WAS BORING! Unlike many of my peers, I DO read for pleasure and know a good book when I read one. I'm not lying when I say that I thought that the writing was actually very good. However, the overall storyline was mediocre at best. Yeah, sure, metaphors and a deeper meaning, and all that, blah blah blah...more
Robertisenberg
Because my high school was phobic of non-American authors or history, I never read Heart of Darkness as a teenager. Although now, having thoroughly relished its pages, I'm glad I waited for a maturer age. Years after I first scanned Dante and gorged on Apocalypse Now, I see HOD is a very different work. It surprised me in countless ways, and I'm grateful to have explored its jungles when I did.

The narrator surprised me most of all, his anti-colonial grumbling, his masochistic drive, and his unse...more
Eric
May 07, 2009 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to understand white colonial imperialist psychology, or liking a good jungle story.
Recommended to Eric by: Hum. I Faculty, U. of Chicago, the College
When I entered the U. of Chicago, there were graffiti around campus: "'Mr. Kurtz, he dead!' Bird lives!" Now, how hip was that! So, when I found out that the first part of it was from Heart of Darkness, of course I had to read that. I admired Conrad for being a non-native speaker writing in English and I'm still a sucker for the Victorian gentleman thing. I know, totally sick for a Black man. So shoot me! . . . Did/do I see the white supremist viewpoint. Sure. That was out there. The book puts y...more
MacK
Perhaps this is unfair because I only made it through "The Secret Sharer" before plopping the book down with a satisfied "well that was every bit as pretentious as I thought it would be."

Maybe "Heart of Darkness" is the brilliant piece everyone says it is, all I know is that after 50 pages of Conrad's tediously detailed prose I needed a palate cleanser and had to reread part of Harry Potter #7 to get it.
Janelle
Very moving book about both the loving and dark nature of human beings; realistic lacking a fairy tail ending.
Rosemarie
Nov 25, 2008 Rosemarie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: advanced readers
Recommended to Rosemarie by: Mr. Carson
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad would have to be one of the most complicated books I have ever read so far. I would have to be honest and say that the vocabulary used is advanced and I did have to reread pages a few times to remember what I was reading/understand. At times during the book I had no idea what was going on which made me reread over again. This book was challenging and is good at some points. Througout the book a character called Marlow is on a journey to find Kurtz. This book st...more
Þróndr
Reading Joseph Conrad can be described as enjoying a very fine old cognac, savouring every drop of it... and while it can also be sort of intoxicating, it ultimately makes you more sober instead of drunk; more lucid rather than muddled.. This is especially true of Heart of Darkness, because here Conrad brings his multi-layered, dense prose to a new level of mastery. The Secret Sharer has a similar intensity, but here this is more due to the situation in which the Captain finds himself. The story...more
Haley
I won't lie: when my AP English teacher started passing out copies of this little relic in class, I groaned internally. I had long heard rumors of how dense the language in this compact, 100-page novella could be.

The first reading assignment was torture- I couldn't get any hold on the setting, plot, or any of the characters- until we got to Marlow's narration. It still wasn't the easiest thing to read, but at least it was understandable.

Eventually, I started getting a little angry. This seemed...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
I view this book as a serious critique of imperialism. I will somehow have to find and read Chinua Achebe's famous lecture, "An Image of Africa: "Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'". I do not see this book as racist, rather, (and this may be wishful thinking on my part) I see it as a story with a main character (Marlow) being dragged out of his ignorant stupor and awakened to the horrors of imperialism and the racism it cannot exist without.

As far as the writing goes, Conrad is my man. Inte...more
Grayson Queen
I should have read this in a day. I read Crime and Punishment in less time.

Perhaps it was because I'm tired of Russian literature. Or maybe excessive use of internal monologue. But I'm thinking it's about the boats. The one thing I hate more than books about horses are books about boats and sailing.

Because lets face it, this was about sailing. Or more specifically a about a sailor. A story told by an old sailor about this time he met a strange man. Perhaps this might have been an interesting vie...more
Christopher Rex
Conrad is another brilliant writer and social commentator. Though "Heart of Darkness" is the superior of these two short novels, they both delve deep into the Nature of Man (so to speak) and contain great truths on the subject. Like many great short-novels, Conrad packs quite a punch in very few pages.

"Secret Sharer" examines a sea-captain who hides a murderer who is a mirror image of himself, while "Heart of Darkness" examines a journey into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the myste...more
Natali
I love allegories, but Joseph Conrad is just so damn hard to get into.

Seriously, I just don't understand him. He's a MAJOR rambler and a big fan of referencing to that-one-character-who's-the-uncle-to-that-one-person-you-met-20-pages-ago-and-who-turns-out-to-be-a-major-part-of-the-plot. Which can get pretty annoying after a while. I mean, it was only about 150 pages; I shouldn't have spent nearly as much time on it as I really did.

But besides the horrendous and terribly dry writing, the story...more
Daniel2
Jan 07, 2010 Daniel2 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: neh
I'm a little torn on this one. Clearly,Conrad is a capable writer. Not entirely compelling, but skilled in the art of penned language.

The book was a lot of waiting for something to happen. (I know most see it as a social commentary, which it is not, so please do not think I missed the point of any authorial intention.) The only person I wanted to know about was Kurtz and damn it if I got nothing but a maniac on his death bed.

Conrad's language is beautiful and thankfully lacks the tactless erudi...more
Lori Anderson
I was forced to read these two stories in senior year literature. I distinctly remembered my friend and I rolling our eyes at each from across the room as the teacher tore the book apart for symbolism and depth of meaning when all we wanted to do was READ it. Every now and then I was able to pull some random pithy sentiment out of where ever those things come from -- but I didn't remember one thing about the book except that it involved a river, a nut, and Apocalypse Now was based on it.

This tim...more
Ténzom
Now that I have finished reading Heart of Darkness, I can go watch Apocalypse Now and understand everything happening in the film, even the tiniest nuances such as Martin Sheen grimacing into the murky river like he's constipated, why Harrison Ford looks very un-Harrison Fordy in glasses and short hair. I will also comprehend the meaning behind it all; the war, the savagery, colonialism, imperialism, racism, nihilism, pessimism, everything-ism because I read the novella it was based on.

HA HA JU...more
Thomas
This book was an all-around good book. The intro was very detailed, but could confuse some readers with the vocabulary. This book is for the higher level readers that are able to comprehend the words and metaphors. For example, in the beginning I had trouble with it and didnt know if he was in Britan or the Congo. Joseph Conrad has an interesting way of using insanity to suit a certain event in the book. For example when Captain Marlow is waiting on the ship. He says that he is waiting, and the...more
Jeff Ballew
May 04, 2010 Jeff Ballew rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
Recommended to Jeff by: LOST
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Rumbaugh
I definitely liked it/understood it better the second time around. Especially when read in the "psychological novel" perspective. The Secret Sharer was hardly the "piece of crap" I had pegged it for back in 12th grade. It's actually a very insightful story about a man who learns who he really is by watching and admiring the actions of another man, a stranger, a mirror-image of himself. He is motivated to change his own life by watching and wishing he could be like his mirror-self. He saves the s...more
Naurin
Nov 25, 2008 Naurin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Naurin by: Mr. Carson
Joseph Conrad did a real wonderful job on this book. This book was a challenging book and it was pretty tough for me to comprehend it so I had to reread it over and over again. However I liked the challenge. But next time, maybe Joseph Conrad can make the text a little bit more simple to comprehend. I think the darkness within us and how Joseph Conrad explained the assimilation was excellent. It helped me explain that a lot of things in life, won't go the way you expect it to go. My favorite par...more
Kyle
Nov 30, 2008 Kyle rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like to really analyze what they read, or like and understand old English
Recommended to Kyle by: Mr. Carson
I really felt as if this book was a bad experience. It was to hard for me to understand with all of the old english words in the beginning and the very high vocabulary throughout the book. At certain points it gets intresting to me and easier to understand like Marlow having to lie to Kurtz girlfriend wasn't really a shock. It was also nice to see the changes people go through in the Congo while they go through "The Darkness". But to me it was very hard to get into because it wasn't my type. The...more
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FHS AP Literature...: Heart of Darkness - Helpful Stuff 2 4 Apr 19, 2014 10:09AM  
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  • The Turn of the Screw/Daisy Miller
  • The Portable Faulkner
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  • Alice in Wonderland: The Complete Collection (Illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Illustrated Through the Looking Glass, plus Alice's Adventures Under Ground and The Hunting of the Snark)
  • Four Great Plays: Ghosts; The Wild Duck; An Enemy of the People; A Doll's House
  • Of Mice and Men/Cannery Row
  • Billy Budd and Other Stories
  • Candide and Other Stories (World's Classics)
  • Walden and Other Writings
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  • The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
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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 Bri...more
More about Joseph Conrad...
Heart of Darkness and the Congo Diary Lord Jim Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction Heart of Darkness Nostromo

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“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it much.” 23 likes
“I slipped the book into my pocket. I assure you to leave off reading was like tearing myself away from the shelter of an old and solid friendship.” 13 likes
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