Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction
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Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  12,234 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction, by Joseph Conrad, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classicsseries, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

New introducti...more
paper, 261 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Barnes & Noble Classics (first published 1899)
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Mark Lawrence
I read this a long time ago, and then again this weekend, and realised that I remembered maybe 5% of it. It's perhaps not that surprising because the existential meandering dominates the actual events, and many of the those events involve lying around being too hot, too sweaty, and too sick, just waiting. That's unfair - events do unfold, characters are met, unpleasantness witnessed, at at the creshendo, blood is spilled. The pace, however, is slow. Nineteenth century slow. Dickens sprints by co...more
Karl
I wanted to read this book mainly due to Conrad's influence on Lucius Sheppard's work. So far I have gone through almost fifty pages of introduction material. That's almost as long a the whole work it self.

The extensive imagery and use of language is amazing. It's hard to imagine in these times of Political Correctness just how harsh these colonial British times were in relation to the population they were "ruling".

This is certainly an intense and thought provoking book. I am amazed I had not re...more
Chory
"Racism Couched in a Critique of Racism"
Certainly it was relevant in 1977 for a black African man with a “western” education to offer criticism of the dominant paradigm of the “western,” “white” status-quo; however, in his article “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Chinua Achebe entirely misses the mark. His assertion is, essentially, that given the novel’s having not been written in the latter half of the twentieth century with the bleeding-heart sensibilities of a “whi...more
Rowland Bismark
A group of men are aboard an English ship that is sitting on the Thames. The group includes a Lawyer, an Accountant, a Company Director/Captain, and a man without a specific profession who is named Marlow. The narrator appears to be another unnamed guest on the ship. While they are loitering about, waiting for the wind to pick up so that they might resume their voyage, Marlow begins to speak about London and Europe as some of the darkest places on earth. The narrator and other guests do not seem...more
Zachariah
Heart of Darkness is an astounding feat of literature, displaying an uncanny command of the written English language, and written by a man who learned English as his third fluent language while in his late teens. I will not spoil the story here, but Heart of Darkness is a strange and grim, yet fascinating, look into the horror that was the Belgian Congo and the horror of human enterprise. The language may at times seem difficult for after-all, it is the common British-English of 1899.

As greatly...more
Bailey
Heart of Darkness. favourite book.
Although the last time I read this was three years ago, it stills resonates so strongly that I feel the urge to write a review. Which is something that I almost never do. [And please ignore any grammatical errors]
Some people are hindered by Conrad's extensive imagery and skim through it in search of an obvious plot that easily moves from point A to B and end up sorely disappointed. This book was not meant to have a thrilling plot that keeps you perched on the e...more
Ryan
This book's status in the Western canon - for those of us who still believe in the Western canon - has been hotly debated because of the book's implied racism. The book is a story within the story; a group of men sit awake throughout the night on a ship anchored on the Thames listening to a man named Marlowe recount his experiences as a steamboat captain on the Congo River. As night deepens, Marlowe's story becomes darker and darker. He tells how the Belgian Free State (modern Democratic Republi...more
Bethan
I gathered from the introduction to my copy that there seems to be a debate about Conrad's treatment of colonial and racial issues in Heart of Darkness: whether Conrad is exposing and condemning it or just reconfirming white European rule. From what I could see, it seemed to be that Conrad appears to be reflecting what is probably the average person's position on it: predictably a mixture.

Apathy, inertia because it does not adversely affect the white person, because it is what the majority goes...more
Christopher
Loads of boring details, not quite enough story.

While it was interesting to read Conrad's take on the exploitation of the African subcontinent and the treatment of the native peoples during the colonial era, this book failed to live up to its legendary reputation as a literary classic. The story moved ploddingly slow at times, getting mired down in mundane details and unimportant tangents, while at other times it would fast forward through events.

I actually found Conrad's short story "Youth" (...more
Shiloh
Nov 22, 2008 Shiloh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shiloh by: Mike Start
This book was the Heart of Darkness story, plus Youth, Amy Foster, and the Secret Sharer short stories by Joseph Conrad. I read the Heart of Darkness first because I was most curious about the narrative as it was loosely based on his own travels in the Congo during the 1800's during the Belgian colonialization. As the introduction attests, the broad strokes with wich the story is painted made it a bit difficult for first time readers to follow the plot. It often changes time or setting without l...more
Sharon T
I've read this novella three times in my life -- once in college, once for a book group, and once for my work as a writing coach and tutor. Each time, I've discovered something different in the work (the joys of re-reading!). Upon this last effort -- and it is an effort -- I found I especially appreciated its character development, pacing (especially the seemingly interminable Chapter One), and fevered, oblique, imprecise language. A book I love? No. A book I'm glad I've had the occasion to re-r...more
Diane
This edition of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and assorted other short stories (fiction) sports the title work along with "Youth", "Amy Foster", and the popular "The Secret Sharer". Although the stories do attempt to harken to our adventurous side, the idea of darkest Africa or the coast of China doesn't have much appeal anymore. However, the stories are still timeless in their psychological stripping down of humanity to show that we, much like any other "tribal nation", are still animalistic. We...more
John Molina
I really enjoyed this book a lot. I thought the prose in it was some of the best I have ever read and the psychological aspects of the novel were done extremely well. I don't want to write much more for fear of giving anything away, but I have to say that this is definitely one of the best books I've ever read.
marie
The writing was amazing, esp if you think that English was not his first language. I felt that I was in Africa. But I felt the character devt of Kurtz was insufficient.
Alan
Set in the Congo Free State (which later became the Belgian Congo) - this book was the inspiration for Apocalypse Now. Marlon Brando was told to read this book before playing the part in the movie - as he would be playing the part of the remarkable Kurtz.

Conrad put a lot of thought into this... the Thames and the Congo River.... Kurtz finding the right words in the things he sees - including his life. Hell - I can't find the right words trying to write this.

I'm not the biggest fan of the style...more
Laura
I read this book in college whilst working out on an exercise bike and sweating buckets... how's that for an atmospheric reading experience?
Tamira
This collection of short stories contains Conrad’s “Youth,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Amy Foster,” and “The Secret Sharer.” I read the collection for “Heart of Darkness,” and so this review focuses on that story.

Conrad frames “Heart of Darkness” within two separate narratives: the central character Marlow recounts his experience travelling into the Congo to a group of unnamed companions, one of whom, as the actual narrator of the story, narrates Marlow’s recounting. In other words, the first-person...more
Bill
At first, I wasn't thrilled. The short story "Youth," included in the book, introduced me to one of Conrad's favorite rhetorical devices: using catalogues in descriptions. If written well, they are great in providing definitions; if not, it's like getting pounded over the head: "Day after day and night after night there was nothing round the ship but the howl of the wind, the tumult of the sea, the noise of water pouring over her deck. There was no rest for her and no rest for us. She tossed, sh...more
Christina
There is so much packed into every word of Heart of Darkness that if you’re not careful, if you don’t slow down and contemplate every word the story and beauty of the novel will fly by unnoticed. I think that’s why so many people don’t give Conrad’s classic novel the credit it deserves.

Here’s a man for whom English is a third language, and, yet, Heart of Darkness is so beautifully written - almost like a long poem.

“The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The was shon...more
Maranda
Youth was a cute short story. It is the story in which the character Marlow is first introduced to the reader.

The story is basically Marlow at a dinner party reminiscing about his first time at sea and is largely autobiographical. Marlow tells the tale about the ill-fated voyage to the East and the transportation of the ship’s cargo (coal). Though every bad thing that could have happened to this ship did, all the seamen survived and Marlow remained in good spirits through the entire journey—tho...more
Matt
In short, not a big fan of this one. It's possible my lack of interest in this book was due in part to reading it in spurts crammed on the metro, but I don't think that played a huge role in the 2 star rating. The stories themselves (notice the title says "Heart of Darkness" AND selected stories) were okay, although "Heart of Darkness" was based on some truth and was a little... dark. What I really didn't like was how all the stories were in third person, yet told from a narrator who speaks in f...more
Ian James
Don't bother. This is an awful novel. I don't care if this is a classic, it is a big waste of time.

I read this years ago, but recently I accidentally read it again, because I mistakenly thought that I couldn't have finished it the first time, since I had no recollection of what actually happened in the end.

In actual fact, NOTHING happens. The whole book leads, very slowly, up to some supposedly awful event deep in the jungle, and yet we never get to understand exactly what that is. The narrator...more
Jeff
Conrad explores the "darkness" of imperialism and the subjugation of sorts of "others" in this book of Belgium's occupation of the Congo river during the ivory trade. Filled with deep moments of insanity and discomfort, Marlow, the protagonist ventures to understand the failings of Kurtz, a mythic figure of imperialism that has been wrapped in the darkness of his submersion into Africa.

Interlaced, there are limited commentaries on Africa and the outright denial of a foreign culture versus the ca...more
Josh
I can't really recommend Joseph Conrad to anyone. Not that there's any issues with his writing, just…it's really hard to read quickly. Conrad's a smart writer, I think his humor is underappreciated, and his characters are always keenly aware of the psychology behind everything that's going on, and Heart of Darkness is just a classic…I just don't feel like reading his works gave any extra insight that reading about them doesn't give. But at the same time, I don't regret reading it. I guess I just...more
J.C.
May 27, 2013 J.C. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: literature lovers, people who love Apocalypse Now
"The horror, the horror!"

Heart of Darkness is definitely not a book to read lightly. I had to read it for my Brit-lit class, but i took my time with it instead of rushing it (during the semester you have so much reading to do that you don't get to READ everything), finishing it a week after the class was over. Better late than never, right?

This book is quite a mouthful. The sentences are long, thick with symbolism about heavy, thinker-minded topics. I like the scenario, it's more situation based...more
Tj Covey
I believe that the author’s purpose in writing Heart of Darkness was to demoralize imperialism. Conrad, the story’s author, points out flaws in imperialism such as the mistreatment of the natural resources and the native people. I do not believe that the author did a very good job of getting his message across. While the author presents several reasons why imperialism was wrong, he never presents anything in the text to suggest an alternative to this system.
I believe that the theme of Heart o...more
Mathew Whitney
This is a great selection of 4 short stories by Joseph Conrad. Each story showcases Conrad's mastery of the English language (which he learned as an adult) as well as his knowledge of seafaring and exploration of psychology and philosophy.

Each story is very loosely based on some aspect of his own life, lending the depth of experience to his story-telling. He displays a nearly unmatched ability to blend adventure with a deep exploration of the human mind (especially in Heart of Darkness).

Unlike m...more
Merinde
Hmm. Youth was an enjoyable short story. Amy Foster was better, and the way he dealt with reactions to foreigners there really made me more open to reading The Heart Of Darkness. It's racist, probably, but well. The main character of Amy Foster is a Pole, as was the writer, and everyone in the English backwater he ends up thinks of him as a savage and treats him as such. So that made me doubt how much he agreed with the dehumanizing view the main character has of the native inhabitants in The He...more
D
Aug 13, 2012 D rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone desirous of wading through the classics/studying human nature
Shelves: classic, drama
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David
Aug 12, 2011 David added it
I fould this like the more comprehesive review below, states that is novel the hart of darness was like a script from an….a.leval exsam paper on higher engilsh
Conrad, an emotional man subject to fits of depression, self-doubt, and pessimism, disciplined his romantic temperament with an unsparing moral judgment (my words)…when people undertand the world, poltics to them is just a game of chess for the interlectual, for the greddy..selfish a turn of the roulette wheel
(His worlds).. by the power o...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 Bri...more
More about Joseph Conrad...
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“The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence. In a dispassionate view the ardour for reform, improvement for virtue, and knowledge, and even for beauty is only a vain sticking up for appearances as though one were anxious about the cut of one’s clothes in a community of blind men.” 6 likes
“how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man's untrammelled feet may take him into by the way of solitude-utter solitude without a policeman-by the way of silence-utter silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbor can be heard whispering of public opinion? 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.” 1 likes
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