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Heart of Darkness

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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.


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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.

30 review for Heart of Darkness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sonanova

    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 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 hair and drinking spoiled milk, meanwhile Conrad is screaming DARKNESS DARKNESS OOOH LOOK AT MY METAPHOR ABOUT THE DARKNESSSSSSSSSSS like a fucking goth on a loudspeaker.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard

        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 similar     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 similarities and differences (for example, contrast and compare the U.S. involvement in Vietnam with the Belgian rule over the Congo. Actually quite an intriguing and provocative question).     Even though it is so much easier to read, this short novel shares with Moby-Dick the distressing fact that it is heavily symbolic. Frankly, I was trained as an engineer, and have to struggle even to attempt to peer through the veils of meaning, instead of just kicking back and enjoying the story.     My solution: when I checked this outta the library, I also grabbed the Cliff’s Notes. I read the story, then thought about it, then finally read the Study Guide to see what I’d missed.     And it was quite a bit. Like, the nature of a framed narrative: the actual narrator in Heart of Darkness isn’t Marlow, but some unnamed guy listening to Marlow talk. And he stands in for us, the readers, such as when he has a pleasant perspective on the beautiful sunset of the Thames at the beginning of the story, then at the end he has been spooked and sees it as leading “into the heart of an immense darkness”, much as the Congo does in the story (hint: the darkness is simultaneously the real unknown of the jungle, as well as the symbolic “darkness” that hides within the human heart, and thus also pervades society — so London, just upstream, really should be understood to be as frightening as the Congo).     My initial take on the story was that it seemed anachronistic and naive. Actually, it felt a lot like Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray . In both books, the main character has inadvertently received license to fully explore their evil inclinations without the normal societal consequences, and yet they both pay the ultimate penalty for their lack of restraint. But my perspective on evil was long ago captured by Hannah Arendt’s conclusion after analyzing Eichmann: evil is a “banal” absence of empathy; it isn’t some malevolent force striving to seduce and corrupt us. Certainly, there are evil acts and evil people, but nothing mystical or spiritual that captures and enslaves, much less transforms us from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde.     Golding’s Lord of the Flies examined similar questions, but did it a way that feels much more modern. If people aren’t reminded by the constraints of civilization to treat others with respect, then sometimes they’ll become brutal and barbaric. But is their soul somehow becoming sick and corrupted? The question no longer resonates.     Even Conrad actually didn’t seem too clear on that question. These two quotes are both from Heart of Darkness — don’t they seem implicitly contradictory?:     The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.   and     Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. 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 sombre 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!’     The former denies any supernatural origin for evil, but the latter alludes to the tragic results of a Faustian bargain — Marlowe sold his soul to see what mortals should never witness.     After pondering the study guide, I could see the allegorical content better. The mystical side of Heart of Darkness isn’t the only thing going on. Like the kids rescued from the island after Lord of the Flies, Marlow will forever be cognizant of how fragile civilized behavior can be, and how easily some slip into brutality — even those that have excellent motives and apparently unblemished characters. This is why he tells this as a cautionary tale to his shipmates on the Thames.     Marlow also received a clear lesson on hypocrisy. I hadn’t seen how deeply “The Company” represented European hypocrisy. Obviously “The Company” was purely exploitative and thus typical of imperialism, but in subtle ways Conrad made it not just typical but allegorically representative. One example Cliff mentions scares me just a bit: in the offices of “The Company” in Brussels, Marlow notices the strange sight of two women knitting black wool. Conrad provides no explanation. But recall your mythology: the Fates spun out the thread that measured the lives of mere mortals. In the story, these are represented as women who work for “The Company”, which has ultimate power over the mere mortals in Africa. That’s pretty impressive: Conrad tosses in a tiny aside that references Greek (or Roman or Germanic) mythology and ties it both to imperialism, as well as to the power that modern society has handed to corporations, and quietly walks away from it. How many other little tidbits are buried in this short book? Frankly, it seems kind of spooky.     The study guide also helped me understand what had been a major frustration of the book. I thought that Conrad had skipped over too much, leaving crucial information unstated. Between Marlow’s “rescue” of Kurtz and Kurtz’s death there are only a few pages in the story, but they imply that the two had significant conversations that greatly impressed Marlow, that left Marlow awestruck at what Kurtz had intended, had survived, and had understood. These impressions are what “broke” Marlow, but we are never informed of even the gist of those conversations.     But Marlow isn’t our narrator: he is on the deck of a ship, struggling to put into words a story that still torments him years after the events had passed. Sometimes he can’t convey what we want to know; he stumbles, he expresses himself poorly. The narrator is like us, just listening and trying to make sense out of it, and gradually being persuaded of the horrors that must have transpired.     •     •     •     •     •     •     •     • Addendum:     Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was written in 1899. A critical event which allowed the tragedy portrayed here was the Berlin Conference of 1884 (wikipedia), where the lines that divided up Africa were tidied up and shuffled a bit by the white men of Europe (no Africans were invited). The BBC4 radio programme In Our Time covered the conference on 31 October 2013. Listen to it streaming here, or download it as an MP3 here. Forty-three minutes of erudition will invigorate your synapses.     Oh, if you liked that In Our Time episode, here is the one they did on the book itself (mp3). ­

  3. 3 out of 5

    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 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 clearly explaining the layers of depth his metaphor can take. oh man...my heart is dark...and i'm also in the middle of Africa...and it's dark...and depressing...get it...get it...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    “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 dreams into slow darkness and his voice takes on a disembodied, spiritua “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 dreams into slow darkness and his voice takes on a disembodied, spiritual cast is iconic and Conrad's vision of history repeating itself as wicked and despotic civilization "discovers" it's ancient cousin is a ubiquitous theme in Conrad's work and one that is masterfully created here. As the Britons and Picts were to the Romans, so to are the Africans to the Europeans and Conrad has demonstrated his timely message. “They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.” A search for hidden meaning, a quest, mysteries solved and others unanswered, self realization and epiphany. Conrad winds it all up in this classic. “The horror! The horror!” ***** 2018 re-read I think there was a recent poll about what was the book you have re-read the most. No doubt for me, it’s this one, read it a couple times in HS, few times in college and innumerable times since. Looks like this is the third in the Goodreads era. As a scholar I have to be concise and methodical, precisely citing and referencing to a given treatise or authority. When reading for pleasure, I’m much more intuitive, allowing my mind to wander and to muse and to collect abstract thoughts and make obscure connections as I read. This time around I payed more attention to this story as it was written, a tale told in the gathering darkness near the mouth of the Thames, Marlow’s voice a disembodied narration spinning an account of a time before but one that is ageless nonetheless. The connection he makes between the Romans coming up the Thames and the Westerners traveling up the Congo is provocative and somber. As always, this is a story about Kurtz and his voice, that eloquent but hollow voice in the darkness, a civilized man gone native, but more than that, a traveler shedding away the trappings of an enlightened age and looking into the abyss. Whether the natives are dark skinned or white with blue tattoos, the image is the same and the message is all the more haunting. On a short list of my favorites or all time, this may be my favorite.

  5. 3 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    From 1885 to 1908, an area in Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium, experienced an intense genocide. Through the Red Rubber system, the people of the Congo were essentially enslaved to harvest rubber. Those who failed to collect enough rubber had their hands chopped off. Some died from disease brought on by the terrible conditions, while others were just flat-out murdered. It is estimated that around three to thirteen million From 1885 to 1908, an area in Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium, experienced an intense genocide. Through the Red Rubber system, the people of the Congo were essentially enslaved to harvest rubber. Those who failed to collect enough rubber had their hands chopped off. Some died from disease brought on by the terrible conditions, while others were just flat-out murdered. It is estimated that around three to thirteen million people died between 1885 and 1908, perhaps 25 to 50 percent of the total population. By the end of this period, the Congo, which just a 100 years ago had hosted the expansive and successful Kongo Empire, had seen its natural resources destroyed, its people mutilated, and its entire society changed forever. The negative legacy of colonialism is strong throughout Africa and across the world, but the Congo is one of the countries that suffered most. This is a horrifying, disgusting legacy. And one that this book does not on any level respect. On the surface, this book can be read as anti-colonialist, a narrative that decries the brutality with which King Leopold II and other rulers allowed African people to be treated. This reading is comforting to us. It feels right. How can we read of their deaths and not feel ashamed? How can we see the heads of so-called rebels on pikes and not find ourselves filled with horror? How can we read a scene in which people walk in a chain gang and not find our deepest sympathies with them? How could Conrad not have felt the same? But I do not believe that is the intent, or, to be quite honest, an accurate reading of the narrative of this book. Conrad’s descriptions and depictions of black people are dehumanizing to their core. No black character in this book feels real, feels like a person we may empathize with and care for. It is in the descriptions of Kurtz’s black mistress, of the slave-boy whose only contribution to the narrative is the line “Mistah Kutz, he dead” - Conrad does not share our empathies. Our horror at their fate and in their suffering is our own, not Conrad’s. The thing about this book is that it’s not a criticism of colonialism, and while reading it as such feels viable on the surface, looking deeper into the narrative makes this book feel odder and odder. This book is a look at the depth of human evil and how that can be brought out when society breaks down. Notice the end of that sentence? Because the reason Africa is the subject of this book is because this narrative fundamentally believes that Africa is a primitive, uncivilized, immoral landscape. Which I find to be an inaccurate and frankly immoral view of Africa. The historical record of our time shows that pre-Colonial African civilization was just as advanced as that of European nations, just as filled with life. Conrad emphatically believes otherwise. And while I am willing to understand on some level that this was an ingrained belief of European colonists, this book pushes this message to a very high degree - it’s irrevocably tied to the message of the book - that I found impossible to ignore. Yes, the idea is also pushed that the people of Europe are really no different from the people of the Congo. I fully admit that Joseph Conrad is getting at the idea that none of us are so evolved and none of us are so civilized ourselves and white society cannot put itself totally above others. Conrad is explicitly attempting to put black people and white people on an equal level of brutality. But this narrative is still fundamentally flawed. The white characters in this book are evil colonists, but they are depicted as people. The black characters of this book are “savages.” They are rebels. They are the helmsman, unnamed in his own narrative and dying ten pages in. Some of them are literal cannibals. The narrative shows a fundamental dehumanization of each “savage” character, undermining any sort of anti-colonialist or pro-African message. And I find that fundamentally disturbing. If I cannot feel any horror within the narrative for a genocide, a time in which culture was destroyed and the environment strangled and thousands slaughtered for the profit of an empire, how can I garner anything from this book? How can I, in good concience, enjoy or recommend this book? I understand and appreciate that many are going to read this review and think I misread the text, because this book is a classic. I would remind them that no work of literature can be kept free from critique because it has stood the test of time. And beyond that, I do not believe this is at all a surface reading. It’s been pushed in the minds of many that reading this book as racist is a surface-level interpretation, but I genuinely and totally believe that the racism is what you get upon close reading. Literary analysis of racist historical works is a polarising and complex topic, and I recognize that many will feel antagonistic towards this viewpoint. I also fully admit that this book makes good use of an unreliable narrator and is one of the most gritty classics I have read as to its depiction of the human soul, and I have nothing against those who enjoyed it. But I cannot enjoy this for those and erase the flaws. I cannot appreciate the literary merit of a book that lacks a fundamental understanding of the humanity of black people. I cannot. And I'm not sure I believe that I should. recommended reading: Chinua Achebe's beautifully rendered essay on Heart of Darkness. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  6. 5 out of 5

    °°°·.°·..·°¯°·._.· ʜᴇʟᴇɴ Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος ·._.·°¯°·.·° .·°°° ★·.·´¯`·.·★ Ⓥⓔⓡⓝⓤⓢ Ⓟⓞⓡⓣⓘⓣⓞⓡ Ⓐⓡⓒⓐⓝⓤⓢ Ταμετούρο Αμ

    «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 «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 ενός ναυτικού (Μάρλοου)που συνειδητά επιλέγει να ταξιδέψει στην Αφρική -καταλήγοντας στην καρδιά του σκότους- ενώ συνήθως ταξίδευε στην Ανατολή. Έτσι ξεκινάει το ταξίδι του Μάρλοου προς το Κονγκό και γίνεται τόσο τραυματικό και φοβερό που μπορεί να θεωρηθεί το πέρασμα του προς την ωριμότητα. Η αφήγηση του είναι ένα γλαφυρό ονειροπόλημα με πολλούς αναχρονισμούς και αναμνήσεις. Καθισμένος μέσα στο αγκυροβολημένο σκάφος Νέλλη στις εκβολές του Τάμεση συναντάει το παρελθόν του και το είναι του στην αφρικανική εμπειρία με σκοπό να γνωρίσει τον κ. Κούρτς,τον ηγέτη όλων των συμβολισμών... Η ονειροπόληση του Μάρλοου είναι μια συνταρακτική αίσθηση για τον αναγνώστη. Ισορροπεί ανάμεσα στο αισθητικό και το επιστημονικό. Το απαλό όνειρο και την καυστική ειρωνεία. Τα συμβολικά γεγονότα και το αιχμηρό συναίσθημα του παραλόγου που καταλήγει μακάβριο και φρικιαστικό. Φτάνοντας στην Αφρική και πριν ακόμα συναντήσει τη «μορφή» (κ. Κούρτς) έχει κάνει μια κανονική κατάβαση στην άβυσσο. Εδώ αρχίζει ο Άδης της αποικιοκρατίας. Μια κόλαση απο βασανισμένα κορμιά,σακατεμένα απο την πείνα και τη δυσεντερία. Τρυπημένα απο σφαίρες ή λόγχες,αλυσοδεμένα και δαρμένα αλύπητα. Αποκεφαλισμένα σώματα ιθαγενών,θυσιασμένα στο βωμό κάποιων ακατονόμαστων λειτουργιών. Εξυπηρετούν βεβαίως τη φρικαλεότητα των αποικιοκρατών στο Κονγκό. Κάπου εδώ μπαίνουμε στην σκληρή κοινωνία των αποίκων και την άσπονδη εκμετάλλευση των μαύρων με τόσο μακάβριες λεπτομέρειες που ο αναγνώστης σίγουρα σφίγγει τα χείλη να μην βγάλει και την ψυχή του μαζί με τον αναστεναγμό οργής και θλίψης. Προχωράμε μέσα στην πυκνή ζούγκλα των μαύρων δαιμόνων που φοβούνται και επιτίθενται. Η άβυσσος είναι το πολύ σκοτάδι, το απόλυτο σκοτάδι που κάνει τη διαφορά ανάμεσα στους αποίκους και την κερδοσκοπική τους λεηλασία και σε αυτούς που υπομένουν τα πάνδεινα για την τιμή του ελεφαντόδοντου. Αιώνες απάτης και φθοράς ανάμεσα στους «πολιτισμένους» και τους «πρωτόγονους». Το χάσμα των υποταγμένων, η φυλετική ανωτερότητα και η γεύση του θανάτου: ΕΞΟΛΟΘΡΕΥΣΑΤΕ ΟΛΑ ΤΑ ΚΤΗΝΗ. Η τελική λύση..! Ευτυχισμένοι οι άνθρωποι που ψάχνουν την αλήθεια τους και δεν τη βρίσκουν ή την κρατάνε για τον εαυτό τους. Η καρδιά του σκότους είναι μια εναλλαγή ανάμεσα στο φως και το σκοτάδι, το καλό και το κακό,την άγνοια και τη γνώση,το πνεύμα και το σκοταδισμό, τον Άνθρωπο και το Κτήνος που θεωρείται ανώτερο λόγω φυλής και χρώματος αλλά δεν το αντέχει. Σε μια κόλαση γεμάτη «τρελές ψυχές»,οι θεωρητικά ανώτεροι άνθρωποι σε σχέση με τους κατώτερους μαύρους προσκυνητές ματώνουν την πνευματική τους υγεία. Δεν αντέχουν τη νομοτέλεια της φύσης, τους απογυμνώνει τους πανικοβάλλει. Προτιμούν την ψευδαίσθηση της στεριάς τους και του πολιτισμού τους. Η Καρδιά του Σκότους είναι μια μέθεξη. Ένα αριστούργημα που πιστεύει στην φαντασία και την πράξη. Που πραγματεύεται-πέρα απο κάθε ματαιότητα που μας περιβάλλει- την ανθρώπινη μοίρα και το φορτίο του καθενός να ανακαλύψει τους στόχους του, να θέσει τους κανόνες για την επιτυχία και να τους ακολουθήσει. *Συστήνεται με αιρετική επιφύλαξη σε αυστηρούς αναγνώστες χωρίς σκληράδα και σε δαιμονικά δικτυωμένους ονειροπόλους. ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ! Καλή ανάγνωση!! Πολλούς ασπασμούς!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    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 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 expressing his difficulty in sharing his experiences with his listeners and his comments on insignificance of some of the dialogue exchanged aloud between him and Kurtz. The bond between the two was much deeper. Whatever words he uses to describe them, no one can really understand in full measure what he had been through. In Marlow's words: ". . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone. . . ." This was the first time I read this book which doesn't seem enough to fathom its profound meaning and all the symbolism. It deserves multiple reads.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Samadrita

    Overrated. Over-hated. Over-analyzed. Over-referenced.

  9. 3 out of 5

    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 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 or by Gods before, Except by the Duke, on his missions, To plunder and to subjugate. He had sliced a path so wide and true, For himself and his army vast, Marking along the trees as he trode, Deeper and deeper into these woods, Holding fast to his own marks, And to the crude compasses of his day, Wary of the beasts and birds, And of dark shadows of the serpents, And the importunities of bugs and bites. Vexed he was by silence and dark, But angered more by lonely shrieks. So we move on in this path of old; Those old trees that the Duke had marked, Now but marshy ground to mire our carts, When will we cross these woods so dark, And reach the sparkle at the other end? That river which we truly seek, That drowned the Duke and freed the Mind: That river so cool, called Sanity.

  10. 3 out of 5

    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 “ 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 hopelessness; A sad departure which is at once trivial and grave. Trivial, for an opportunity wasted and grave, for the fear it raise. Conrad once said, “The temporal world rests on a few very simple ideas; so simple that they must be as old as the hills. It rests notably on the idea of fidelity.”He believed that evil lies in every man and constant, unsparing efforts have to be made to keep it from taking over control. It seems difficult to interpret this context of evil. But on my part, I want to believe that that we are more likely to fall victim to our own follies. As a dear friend once said, “Evil is nothing but an excuse on the part of human beings to escape their own responsibility for the results of their own malevolence.” Our complex minds, subjected to temptations of our own whims, fancies, lust, greed and false notions of superiority, are prone to forgetting these simple ideas and hence, taken over control by darkness, which only leaves its victim when it succeeds in defeating the very essence of being. It renders the mind hollow and catches one totally unaware by its final verdict. In the words of T.S. Eliot: This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper. Heart of Darkness, the novella by Joseph Conrad, is essentially a multi-layered narrative. On the surface it is the adventurous story of Marlow’s search for Kurtz, who for him is a living legend. On one hand it is also a peek into the unconscious of man where darkness resides silently, and on the other, it also brings to mind the glimpses of Dante’s Inferno i.e. the descent to hell. In a very powerful manner, Conrad lays before us the story evoking subjective impressions, as the characters of his story are obscure and their tales are only half-told. Be it Kurtz, Marlow or his native help. Marlow’s search for Kurtz in itself enfolds two interpretations for me. Is it only a search for a company employee who is sick and needs to be hospitalized? Or could it be the search of a man for his ideals? Ideals, which might assure his beliefs? For Marlow, Kurtz is an enigma, a well- intentioned man who is engaged in the cause of civilizing the natives while still sending maximum ivory to the Company. He becomes perplexed when he learns about the savage ways in which Kurtz engaged himself, like killing people and hanging their heads outside his hut. Kurtz came to the place with good intensions, but being with natives for long, he couldn’t restrain himself and succumb to their ways of life. Ways from which he could never again come out. Dying Kurtz told Marlow that his life had come to nothing and his last words to Marlow were “The horror! The horror!” These last words send a chill down the spine and make one wonder how helpless a man can become in the trap of his own vice. The only way to evade this cage is to keep guard of one’s thoughts and to cling to the values of good. Simple ideas which are the toughest to follow.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    780. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad, about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Charles Marlow. Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which enables Conrad to create a parallel between "the greatest town on earth" and 780. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness (1899) is a novella by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad, about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Charles Marlow. Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames. This setting provides the frame for Marlow's story of his obsession with the ivory trader Kurtz, which enables Conrad to create a parallel between "the greatest town on earth" and Africa as places of darkness. عنوانها: دل تاریکی، در اعماق ظلمت؛ قلب تاریکی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ (نیلوفر) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه مارس سال 2002 میلادی عنوان: دل تاریکی، جوانی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: محمدعلی صفریان؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، 1355؛ در 211 ص؛ جوانی از ص 9 تا 64، دل تاریمی از ص 65 تا 211؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی - قرن 20 م عنوان: در اعماق ظلمت؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: فریدون حاجتی؛ تهران، اکباتان، 1365؛ در 184 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، کلبه، 1381، در 184 ص، شابک: 9647545168؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، سمیر، 1386؛ در 184 ص؛ شابک: 9789648940534؛ عنوان: دل تاریکی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: صالح حسینی؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1373؛ در 190 ص؛ شابک: 9644481682؛ چاپ سوم 1389؛ چاپ چهارم 1393؛ شابک: 9789644481680؛ عنوان: قلب تاریکی؛ نویسنده: جوزف کنراد؛ مترجم: کاوه نگارش؛ تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1394؛ در هشت و 123 ص؛ شابک: 9786001219733؛ بزرگوارانی همچون جنابان آقایان: صالح حسینی، کیومرث پارسای، احمد میرعلائی، حسن افشار، و پرویز داریوش،‌ به ترجمه ی آثار: جوزف کنراد؛ به واژه های پارسایی پرداخته‌ اند، کتاب «دل تاریکی»، در سالهای آغازین قرن بیستم میلادی ـ سال 1902 میلادی ـ نوشته شده، چاپ نخست آن به روایتی در سال 1355 هجری خورشیدی در کشور ما منتشر شده است، در داستان فراموش نشدنی کنراد: «مارلو»، ملوان سرگردان، داستان سفر مرموز «کورتز»، و حال جسمی و روحی ​​خود را، طی سفر به قلب قاره ی آفریقا، باز می­گوید. مارلو، پس از سفری طاقت‌ فرسا، و تمام‌ نشدنی و کابوس‌ گونه، سرانجام موفق می‌شود، که در ژرفای منطقه، به کمپ شرکت برسد. اما همه چیز را آشفته، درهم ریخته، و مرموز می‌یابد. سکوت مرموزی بر بومیان ساکن آنجا حاکم است. مارلو می‌کوشد به جستجوی نماینده ی شرکت، به نام: مستر کورتز، بپردازد، اما خبری از او در دست نیست… ؛ قسمتی از «دل تاریکی» نوشته ی «جوزف کنراد» را، اینجا می­کارم: «یادم هست که یکبار به ناو جنگی­ ای برخوردیم، که دور از ساحل لنگر انداخته بود. تو بگو یک آلونک هم آنجا نبود، و ناو جنگی به بوته­ ها توپ شلیک می­کرد. معلوم شد که فرانسوی­ها در آن دوروبرها، به یکی از جنگ­هاشان سرگرمند. پرچم ناو جنگی، همانند لته ­ای شل­ و ول می­افتاد، لوله ­ی توپ­های بلند شش اینچی، از همه جای بدنه ­ی کوتاه ناو، بیرون زده بود، امواج چرب­ و چیلی و پر از لجن، کاهلانه ناو را بالا می­انداخت، و به پایین ولش می­کرد، و دکل­های کوچولوی آنرا نوسان می­داد. این ناو در آن بی­کرانگی تهی زمین و آسمان و آب، ایستاده بود، ‌که معلوم نبود برای چه آنجاست، و توی قاره­ ای توپ می­انداخت. از یکی از توپ­های شش اینچی، تاپ، گلوله­ ای درمی­رفت، شعله­ ی کوچکی زبانه می­کشید و محو می­شد، ذره­ ای دود سفید ناپدید می­شد، پرتابه­ ی ریزی جیغ خفیفی می­کشید، و هیچ اتفاقی نمی­افتاد، امکان نداشت که اتفاقی بیفتد. نشانی از دیوانگی، در این ماجرا بود، و معرکه، حالتی حزن­ آور، و هم خنده ­آور داشت، به گفته­ ی یکی از سرنشینان کشتی هم، که به لحن جدی اطمینانم می­داد اردوگاه بومیان، ‌که آن­ها را دشمن میخواند، جایی پنهان از نظر قرار دارد، این حالت را از بین نبرد». پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    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 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 writer of romantic adventures. Instead, he took a fateful steamship voyage into deepest Africa, an experience which forever changed him. Like the protagonist of the book which his journey inspired, Conrad found horror deep in the jungles. He witnessed the cruel depth of mankind, and not in the barbaric tribes, but in the colonial whites who ruled them. Far from civilization or law, these men became utter tyrants, mad with power and answerable to no one. Having lived under repressive colonial forces in his own troubled Ukraine, Conrad's deconstruction of this human subjugation was both sympathetic and satirical. Apparently unable to detect Conrad's sarcasm, Chinua Achebe accused him of the most profound racism. Doubtless, he was tired of his continent being defined in literature by an outsider. Why Achebe then chose to write his own, much more hopeless, racist, and sarcastic book in an attempt to replace Conrad's, it is difficult to say. When Conrad finally emerged from Africa, he was a different man. He said of the experience that it forced him to cease simply living, like an animal might; instead he found himself saddled with a profound self-awareness. As any writer can tell you, only two things issue from inescapable self-awareness: pain and art. Conrad's writings took a darker turn, resulting in his most contentious and influential work, 'The Heart of Darkness'. While his other stories are not without death and pain, they tend towards lighter fare, none quite reaching its inexorable brooding. Doubtless this is why it garners the most attention, dealing as it does with messy issues like race, nation, and death. The author's literary catharsis leaves us raw and shocked, but then it was always Cornad's intention to use writing as a means to share real experiences with his reader. Though often compared to other adventure fiction of the era, such as Stevenson's or Haggard's, like Melville, Conrad transcends his genre. His tight pacing and evocative, poetic prose help to elevate all of his stories, and here, his language is bolstered by an overriding, passionate, personal message. There is an ever-present thread of philosophy throughout all of Conrad's works, but rarely is it as naked and powerful. In some ways, the great interest paid to 'Heart of Darkness' is unfortunate, as it tends to ignore the rest of his varied and masterfully-constructed oeuvre, but the vast swathes praise and criticism are not misplaced: it is a Great Book.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Fernando

    "Ni tiene confines el infierno ni se circunscribe a un solo lugar: sino que allí donde estemos estará el infierno. Y donde esté el infierno, allí siempre estaremos." Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Hacía más de tres años que había leído este libro y en su primera lectura no me gustó. Simplemente me pareció sin dirección alguna, algo abstracto y divagante. Bueno, efectivamente me equivoqué. Puede que tal vez en aquel tiempo yo no había leído tantos clásicos como ahora ni tenía tampoco tan agud "Ni tiene confines el infierno ni se circunscribe a un solo lugar: sino que allí donde estemos estará el infierno. Y donde esté el infierno, allí siempre estaremos." Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Hacía más de tres años que había leído este libro y en su primera lectura no me gustó. Simplemente me pareció sin dirección alguna, algo abstracto y divagante. Bueno, efectivamente me equivoqué. Puede que tal vez en aquel tiempo yo no había leído tantos clásicos como ahora ni tenía tampoco tan agudizada la capacidad de analizar un texto para elaborar una reseña, por eso sostengo que tanta lectura me hizo bien para volver a leer “El corazón de las tinieblas” y realmente conseguir plasmar otra visión sobre esta novela tan particular. El relato de Charlie Marlow es en cierta forma una extensión de las propias experiencias de Joseph Conrad en el África, más precisamente en el Congo belga durante sus años de marino mercante. Todo lo vivido le serviría para plasmar lo que narra en este libro con el agregado de permitirse soltarse y cambiar ciertos aspectos de lo que él mismo vio para darle mayor profundidad y deatar mayores elementos de ficción en la historia que nos cuenta. A medida que Marlow comienza a navegar en un vapor remontando río arriba para llegar a Kurtz, un enigmático hombre a cargo de la explotación y el comercio del marfil terminará experimentando su propio Descenso ad ínferos de la misma manera que Ulises o Eneas o el mismísimo Dante con la salvedad de que Marlow no tendrá ningún Virgilio para guiarlo en ese, su infierno personal y no elegido, sino impuesto por el azar de su incierta travesía. Es también digno de destacar el profundo enfoque de introspección psicológica que Conrad le imprime al personaje de Marlow, puesto que con el correr de las páginas, comenzará este a desmoronarse mentalmente a partir de su expedición. Por otro lado, tenemos la figura fantasmal y omnipresente de Kurtz, ese hombre desconocido para Marlow que comenzará a tener una influencia total en él para terminar arrastrándolo a un colapso inevitable. Es que en cierto modo, Kurtz representa lo ominoso, lo poderoso y su imagen desconocida generará tanto curiosidad como un temor inherente en Marlow y esos dos elementos lo empujarán hasta querer llegar a conocer a Kurtz a toda costa. Kurtz, durante gran parte de esta novela oficia en cierto modo, con su presencia lejana y opresiva de la misma manera que Moby Dick sobre la tripulación del Pequod en la novela de Herman Melville, ya que todos saben que el inmenso leviatán está allí, oculto, merodeando y al acecho y con el mismo efecto logra alterar los nervios de Marlow hasta que llegue el momento indicado y se enfrenten cara a cara. Creo también que de la misma manera, la jungla, con su poderosa atracción enloquece a Marlow. Todos esos peligros están allí, latentes y le sofocan, apenas le permiten descansar. Cualquiera puede ser el momento en que los seres primitivos que pueblan la selva, arrasen con todo y Marlow lo sabe, por eso debe estar alerta, con los nervios crispados ante el peligro latente. La novela roza también distintos aspectos relacionados a la esclavitud, el comercio ilegal de marfil y la piratería más cruenta ejercida en el continente africano durante el siglo XIX, más precisamente por Bélgica en el África. Dichas prácticas, hoy prohibidas eran moneda corriente para los conquistadores anglosajones que devastaron el continente de ébano. Habiendo releído la novela descubro su poder de atracción, incertidumbre y curiosidad que genera tanto en el personaje principal como en el lector y es este el mejor elemento del que dispone Conrad para mantenerlo a uno atento a la lectura. Dice Marlow en un pasaje de la novela: "Quizá toda la sabiduría, toda la verdad y toda la sinceridad están contenidas en ese lapso inapreciable de tiempo en el que cruzamos el umbral de lo invisible. ¡Tal vez!" Indudablemente, Marlow cruzó el umbral hacia su propio infierno personal y Joseph Conrad lo transformó en un relato convincente.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Orsodimondo

    L'ORRORE Conrad arrivò nel Congo nel 1890 come tanti altri europei alla ricerca di un lavoro, di un’occasione di crescita economica e professionale, attratto dalle panzane che il re del Belgio, Leopoldo II, era riuscito a spacciare per verità, e cioè che in quella (immensa) parte dell’Africa i bianchi stessero cercando di contrastare e arrestare il commercio degli schiavi condotto dagli “arabi”. Arabi mercanti di schiavi neri, principalmente nell’Africa dell’Est, ma non solo. Conrad voleva diventa L'ORRORE Conrad arrivò nel Congo nel 1890 come tanti altri europei alla ricerca di un lavoro, di un’occasione di crescita economica e professionale, attratto dalle panzane che il re del Belgio, Leopoldo II, era riuscito a spacciare per verità, e cioè che in quella (immensa) parte dell’Africa i bianchi stessero cercando di contrastare e arrestare il commercio degli schiavi condotto dagli “arabi”. Arabi mercanti di schiavi neri, principalmente nell’Africa dell’Est, ma non solo. Conrad voleva diventare capitano di marina e sperava che l’esperienza africana avrebbe comportato anche il raggiungimento di quel grado militare. Si trovò davanti una realtà ben diversa da quella che si aspettava: i bianchi in Congo era schiavisti come e più degli “arabi” – ignoravano il rispetto dei più elementari diritti umani – trattavano i locali come materia prima, forza lavoro, bestie da soma – erano crudeli, rapaci, volgari, prepotenti, accecati dal loro potere, violenti, stupratori, assassini, torturatori. Mozzare mani e piedi era pratica punitiva frequente. In realtà erano molto di più, erano autentici genocidari: si calcola che tra il 1890 e il 1905, sempre sotto il dominio belga, la popolazione del Congo si sia ridotta di circa 8/10 milioni di persone. Tutte morte: in nome della “civiltà”, della conquista – tutte morte in nome dell’avorio e della gomma. Conrad rimase colpito e stordito, e da qui è nato questo magnifico libro, probabilmente il romanzo breve in lingua inglese più tradotto e ristampato. Il colonello Kurtz impersonato da Marlon Brando. Marlow è l’alter ego dello stesso Conrad che risalì il fiume Congo – e Kurtz impersona alcuni dei peggiori servitori del Belgio, non necessariamente nati in quel paese, tutti passati alla storia per la crudeltà e il numero di morti (tale Léon Rom usava adornare il suo giardino con le teste degli africani decapitati per punizione conficcate in paletti proprio come nel libro fa Kurtz). Cuore di tenebra è prima di tutto questo: un atto d’accusa del genocidio che i belgi hanno commesso in Congo. Poi, col tempo, è diventato un inno contro la violenza umana in generale, contro l’imperialismo (vedi l’interpretazione datane da Coppola in “Apocalypse Now”). Arbasino disse che alla fine del film di Coppola chiunque avrebbe capito che la guerra è un magnifico sballo. Nonostante la deliziosa ironia del grande di Voghera, “Apocalypse Now” rimane un capolavoro. Ma Conrad all’imperialismo credeva, purché di marca britannica, fino al punto di investire i suoi risparmi in una miniera d’oro vicino a Johannesburg (quindi, sotto controllo inglese – l’imperialismo inglese andava benissimo, era sinonimo di civiltà e progresso). In fondo in queste pagine i personaggi di colore non fanno una gran figura, più che parlare, cantano, grugniscono, emettono suoni. In fondo il razzismo vittoriano (quindi di stampo inglese) in queste pagine si sente eccome. Kurtz è un magnifico villain: non è solo un assassino e torturatore, ma anche un intellettuale che si diletta di pittura, di poesia, di giornalismo, di teoria e pensiero (Sterminate tutti questi bruti!), confermando con penna e inchiostro la conquista compiuta con fucile e mitragliatore. Cuore di tenebra.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pouting Always

    A story about Marlow's journey upriver to rescue Kurtz who has gone wild and controls the natives. I didn't enjoy it the writing was so dry and dense and I had to work to get through all the way to the end. I didn't like the way the natives were portrayed or Africa in general either. I don't understand why Africa and it's inhabitants always need to be symbols for wildness or destruction and I just couldn't get into the story at all. I honestly hate reading classics.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Loretta

    I must have picked this book up to read and put it down three times out of sheer boredom! By the fourth time I picked it back up and powered through somehow. What a tedious bore! Why this book is considered a classic is beyond me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Foad

    خیلی وقت بود تعریف این رمان را شنیده بودم، آخرین بار در کتابی که اخیراً خواندم (اگر بودا را در راه دیدی او را بکش). حال و هوایی که در نتیجۀ خواندن میرچا الیاده و دیدن مستندهای باراکا و سامسارا در من ایجاد شده بود، ترغیبم کرد که این رمان کوتاه را بخوانم. همزمان موسیقی باراکا و موسیقی های دیگر را در گوش داشتم. بعد از خواندن رمان، فیلم «اینک آخرالزمان» را یک بار دیگر دیدم. فیلم برداشت آزادی از این رمان است و به جای تصویر خشک و پرتجمّل اروپایی از تمدّن، تصویری آمریکایی از تمدّن عرضه می کند: موج سوار خیلی وقت بود تعریف این رمان را شنیده بودم، آخرین بار در کتابی که اخیراً خواندم (اگر بودا را در راه دیدی او را بکش). حال و هوایی که در نتیجۀ خواندن میرچا الیاده و دیدن مستندهای باراکا و سامسارا در من ایجاد شده بود، ترغیبم کرد که این رمان کوتاه را بخوانم. همزمان موسیقی باراکا و موسیقی های دیگر را در گوش داشتم. بعد از خواندن رمان، فیلم «اینک آخرالزمان» را یک بار دیگر دیدم. فیلم برداشت آزادی از این رمان است و به جای تصویر خشک و پرتجمّل اروپایی از تمدّن، تصویری آمریکایی از تمدّن عرضه می کند: موج سواری در وسط آتش و گلوله، سوپرمدل های پلی بوی، و انساندوستی آمریکایی: «اول آدم ها را با تیربار از وسط نصف می کنیم، بعد بهشان چسب زخم می دهیم!» چند نکته راجع به نمادهای داستان ۱. اروپا، گور سفیدشده (view spoiler)[کنراد چند بار تمدّن اروپایی را به گور سفیدشده تشبیه می کند، عبارتی که مسیح برای توصیف ریاکاران به کار می برد: «شما به گورهای سفیدشده می مانید که از بیرون نیکو می نماید ولی درون آن از استخوان های مردگان و سایر نجاسات پر است.» این تشبیه مخصوصاً پس از بازگشت از آفریقا با عباراتی جدیدتر همراه می شود: «دیدن قیافۀ آدم هایی که خیابان ها را به شتاب زیرپا می گذاشتند که از هم پولی بسلفند و پس از آن بروند دست پخت گندشان را بلمبانند و آبجوی مهوّع شان را توی خندق بلا بریزند و بعد بگیرند بخوابند و خواب های حقیر و ابلهانه ببینند، حالم را به هم می زد.» آخرین نشانه های این اروپا، این زرق و برق ظاهری، در آستانۀ آفریقا، حسابداری است که در میان گرمای کشنده، در میان نیش بی امان حشرات، در میان مردانی که از تب و اسهال می میرند، در میان سیاهپوست هایی که به قلاده و زنجیر کشیده شده اند و تا آخرین لحظۀ حیات از آن ها کار کشیده می شود، در میان لاشه های دیگ های بخار و لوکوموتیوها، اصرار دارد که همچنان یقۀ لباسش آهار داشته باشد، و تمام وقت با کت و شلوار مرتب سر کار حاضر شود. این جاست که آدم با تمام وجود مسخرگی زرق و برق اروپایی را می فهمد، زرق و برقی که کمترین تناسبی با آن چه واقعی است ندارد: گور سفیدشده. (hide spoiler)] ۲. آفریقا، سرزمین تاریکی (view spoiler)[در این سو اروپاست با تمام ظواهری که برای فراموش کردن واقعیت برای خود ساخته، و در آن سو آفریقاست با واقعیت عریانش، با تاریک ترین زوایای انسانیت. مارلو می گوید: چیزی که مرا به وحشت انداخت، این بود که این بومی ها با تمام رسوم وحشت انگیزشان، آدمخواری شان، آوازهای رعب انگیزشان، رقص های جنون آمیزشان، انسان بودند، ما بودیم. همان انسانی که اروپا با کت و شلوار و یقۀ آهار زده می کوشد از یادش ببرد. در رمان خصوصیات مختلفی برای آفریقا شمرده می شود: تاریک بودن (در عین حضور دائم آفتاب سوزان)، بی زمان بودن، اساطیری بودن، دست نایافتنی بودن. این خصوصیات هر چه بیشتر مرا مطمئن می کرد که سفر مارلو از اروپا به قلب تاریک آفریقا (که خود آن را «زیارت» و «سلوک» می نامد) سفری است به اعماق تاریک، اساطیری و بی زمانِ ضمیر انسانی، برای یافتن باطنی ترین صورت انسانی: کورتز. رمان به سال ۱۸۹۹ نوشته شده، یعنی سال ها پیش از یونگ. (hide spoiler)] ۳. کورتز، آن انسان (view spoiler)[کورتز، گمشده در اعماق تاریک جنگل ها، هدف «سلوک» مارلو است. مارلو بی آن که کورتز را دیده باشد مجذوب اوست، و سفرش نه برای تهیۀ عاج، که برای دیدن این انسان است. اروپاییان (گورهای سفیدشده) تا وقتی نمی دانند کورتز عاج ها را از چه راهی تهیه می کند، از او با تحسین و اعجاب یاد می کنند: منشأ عظیم انرژی، منشأ خستگی ناپذیر ثروت. همه قطع دارند که وقتی کورتز به اروپا برگردد، به مقامی بالا خواهد رسید. خبر ندارند که رسیدن به ثروتی غیرعادی با روش های عادی اروپایی میسر نیست، که اگر بود اروپاییان دیگر هم می توانستند این اندازه عاج تهیه کنند. به محض این که نمایندۀ اروپاییان با کورتز مواجه می شود، قرارگاه او را می بیند، سرهای بریده ای که به تیرک زده، خونریزی های وحشیانه اش، پرستندگان بومی که به دور او می رقصند و به درگاهش نیایش می کنند، به محض این که «آن انسان» را می بیند، فوری با وحشت و نفرت برکنارش می کند (بخوانید: سرکوبش می کند). کورتز در اعماق گمشدۀ تاریکی جای دارد، جایی که اروپاییان هیچ از آن خبر ندارند و هیچ اروپایی (به غیر از سالک داستان: مارلو) قدم به آن جا نگذاشته. کورتز منشأ ثروت (عاج) بی نهایت برای اروپاییان است. و کورتز خدای اساطیری سیاهپوستان است: خدای خشم و جنون. همین ها به نظرم کافی است که کورتز را همردیف چیزی بدانیم که یونگ بعدها «سایه» نامید. هر چند نباید در این قیاس زیادی پیش برویم. زمان نوشته شدن رمان این مفهوم وجود نداشت و توصیفات کنراد از کورتز، شاید دقیقاً منطبق با سایۀ یونگی نباشد. (hide spoiler)] ۴. مارلو، کسی که به روشنایی دست یافته (view spoiler)[مارلو سالک است. خود سفر خود را «زیارت» می خواند. از ظاهری ترین و اخلاقی ترین سطح زندگی (اروپا) به عمیق ترین سطح آن (دل آفریقا) سفر می کند، تا با جنبه ای دیگر، جنبه ای وحشی و مهارناپذیر و اساطیری از ضمیر انسان رو به رو شود. او اروپایی نیست: بر خلاف اروپاییان او مجذوب کورتز است. او کورتز هم نیست: بر خلاف کورتز او از اروپا می آید و به اروپا بر می گردد. اما او سالکی است که این دو جنبۀ زندگی را درک می کند. از سطح به عمق می رود و باز می گردد. هر چند در بازگشت دیگر همانی نیست که رفته. دیگر چیزی بیشتر از زندگی می داند، و اروپاییان برایش تحمل ناپذیر می شوند. دریانوردانی که سال ها بعد او را بر رود تایمز می بینند، او را به «بودا» تشبیه می کنند: آن که به روشنایی دست یافته. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    “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 “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 messroom, and I took my place opposite Christopher Robin, who lifted his eyes to give me a questioning glance, which I successfully ignored. He leaned back, serene, with that peculiar smile of his sealing the unexpressed depths of his meanness. A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces. Suddenly the manager's boy put his insolent black head in the doorway, and said in a tone of scathing contempt: “‘Winnie Pooh - he dead.’"

  20. 3 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    It doesn't get much grimmer than this. 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 It doesn't get much grimmer than this. 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 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.Joseph Conrad explores the darkness in men's hearts in every way feasible in little over a hundred pages, illustrating it with various symbols: the heart-shaped Africa, with the snake-like Congo writhing its way into the heart; the greed for ivory that motivates the employees of the trading company, exposing their dark sides; the looming, brooding jungle; the dark, oppressed natives; the European men (who are as dark spiritually as the Africans they heartlessly take advantage of are physically); the "whited sepulchre" of Brussels, Belgium (whitewashed on the outside but filled with decay and corruption on the inside). No one is exempt from the horror that Kurtz sees in his final moments, except perhaps his intended bride, but only because she's suffering under delusions about Kurtz's goodness and honor. The conversation between Marlow and this woman is one of the darkly (of course) humorous parts of this tale, with a double meaning in almost everything Marlow says to her: 'You knew him well,' she murmured, after a moment of mourning silence. "'Intimacy grows quick out there,' I said. 'I knew him as well as it is possible for one man to know another.' "'And you admired him,' she said. 'It was impossible to know him and not to admire him. Was it?' "'He was a remarkable man,' I said, unsteadily. Then before the appealing fixity of her gaze, that seemed to watch for more words on my lips, I went on, 'It was impossible not to—' "'Love him,' she finished eagerly, silencing me into an appalled dumbness.I found Heart of Darkness hard to wade through in college, despite its short length. It was a lot better this time around: I appreciated Conrad's writing, the way he layered descriptions and symbols until the gloom and horror of it all close in around you. On the con side, it does start to feel repetitive, and most of the characters other than Kurtz and Marlow remain rather flat symbols--especially the Africans and the few women characters, though I liked the two women knitting their black wool who were cast as the Fates. And I cut Conrad some slack here, given that this was written over 100 years ago. He's more open and fair-minded than most of his Victorian-era contemporaries. I'm not much on the unrelievedly cynical and gloomy worldview displayed by this story, but as a work of literature it's an amazing achievement. It wasn't really enjoyable reading for me per se, but it was absorbing, and it's made a permanent impression on me.

  21. 3 out of 5

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    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 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 don't think this book is worthless. In my experience the people I've discussed it with tend to either completely ignore the racism or excuse it and instead focus on the pyschological state of Kurtz or else they see the racism and completely dismiss the pyschological and other symbolic aspects of the book. For me this is not a great novel in the sense of it being one of the best ever written. There are just too many internal tensions and the blurring of the character's and author's perspectives makes this a very uncomfortable read. It is a great book for discussion though if all of its tensions are recognized. There is a powerful message here about how the darkness of the mind (and one's own inhumanity) can be projected onto others and one's environment and there is something very anti-colonialist and anti-racist about that. At the same time, these themes exist side by side with the author's own unacknowledged racism. Knowing that a book was written long ago helps contextualize and explain something offensive but I don't think it ever makes it less painful to read. For me the value in Heart of Darkness is in examining both the story Conrad set out to tell and the one he didn't even realize he was telling when he wrote this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    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. 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. Just enough to allow the candle to hold it's flame and picked up the first Conrad I would ever read It was lucky for me. Somehow, the elements had conspired to allow me this singular moment of authentic parallelism that made the transition to the sea faring universe of Heart of Darkness, palpable and real In the heart of the story, Conrad's work is a treatise into the psychological variables of an innocent, who by design of fate and choice, ends up traversing the 'exotic and savage' wilderness of Africa. It seemed to me that the physical journey might not have been so much real but the beautiful handiwork of a master writer seeking to experiment the delving into the intricate mesh work of a mind's odyssey into his most intimate and savage self. In this respect, the choice of Africa lends an authentic charm to the subject, atleast to the colonial supremacist of the late 19th century with the Industrial Revolution blowing new steam into the proceedings. It was around for time when Europe launched their magnificent campaign to 'civilize' Africa. So, it is quite understandable that the choice of the land was to reinforce in the intended reader's mind the savage convulsions of psychological darkness. The darkness is beautiful and still. The voyage of Marlow deeper into the heart of the land, via the Congo is, nevertheless, accompanied by some of the most beautiful descriptions of nature. Wild, free and untouched, something that I suppose was intended to lend an aura of fear, I found myself rejoicing in the pristine and sepulcrous land, yet untouched. I bought every word of it, and I ate it.(I wonder what the shrinks will make of that.) And if not for the very repulsive idealization of the supremacists which made towards dehumanizing the natives, that lends such an abhorrent aftertaste to my palate;my love for this piece of work would have been complete. Heart of Darkness provides us with some very ponderable interesting characters. Two of my favorites : the educated and nomad harlequin surviving in the wild ;an adventurer, a seeker and the second, Mr Kurtz who is larger than life and a Superhuman persona, embodying madness, as is their due. He represents the lofty ideals of the educated invader who has 'ideas' and big ones too! They could not be forsaken and was considered his duty to share with the world. And he was savagery personified. A man who had given up his cultivated persona and had succumbed to sin and ventured into the darkest recesses and ultimately lost his marbles. But he still exercises a control over those that know him, an enigma, the intense magic that gives a sultry call to the journeyman and leads him astray. Marlow becomes his victim. The darkness almost engulfs him, but an act of kindness serves as his salvation. The darkness belongs to no one. Nor the intended, neither the mistress . It is horror. The horrors! The horrors!

  24. 3 out of 5

    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 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 Congo Free State, perhaps in order to dissuade readers from seeing this as a purely political novel: the Congo is just ‘the big river’, and Brussels is only alluded to as the ‘city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre’. It isn't quite a novel about colonialism, but it is, along the way, extremely damning about Leopold's pet project, jeering at ‘the philanthropic pretence of the whole concern’ and, famously, redefining ‘the conquest of the earth’ as ‘the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves’. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the earth was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. Turning from this to a modern novel like Tram 83, or to the newspapers, is enough to make you throw up your hands and sigh plus ça change…, like the pretentious fuck you are. But if this were just a worthy polemic it would be no more than commendable; as it is, Conrad's universalising smudges turn it into a kind of parable that takes colonialism's quest to spoil the unspoilt parts of the world, and links it with an interior journey towards man's most atavistic instincts. At times this works very well, but at times too it verges on the heavy-handed, and the great sensation of portentous mystery is more asserted than demonstrated. What does work well, I think, is the simple but powerful suggestion that Central Africa and Western Europe are not very different from one another, modulo a few details of timescale. Marlow's moody disquisition at the start, on the Romans who first came to Britain, is fantastic – before we've had any mention of Africa or jungles we get this wonderful evocation of some generic legionary in Dark Ages Gravesend, who could feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him,—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination—you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate. It's no wonder this text has amassed such a huge body of postcolonialist and psychoanalytic exegesis – not all of which, I think, it can really comfortably support. But what it does have is real atmosphere. Like the tale Kurtz whispers on his deathbed, Heart of Darkness seems ‘to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river’.

  25. 5 out of 5

    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 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 through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other’s yarns - and even convictions." And so it is that Marlow (twice removed from Conrad, Mr. Kurtz being thrice removed) comes to tell his tale of the time he once turned fresh-water sailor for a bit. Bent on Conquest More used to the sea, he had to go upstream to an ivory trading post in the Congo, the Central Station, a (view spoiler)[(just one?) (hide spoiler)] heart of darkness, by sailing up a river that is "fascinating - deadly - like a snake." Ships sailed to Africa and elsewhere once, bent on conquest: "Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him - all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. "There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination - you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate." For all the romance of empire, it was heartless and brutal: "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force - nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness." Perhaps they were equally blind to their own darkness? Conquerors and Colonists Marlow differentiates between conquerors and colonists. But he also sees his own group as different from past colonists: "Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency - the devotion to efficiency." The first adventurers and settlers were often brutal: "Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame...bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire…the dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires." Now, more modern colonists were supposedly building businesses. Slightly Flatter Noses It's at this point that Marlow makes his most revealing comment, at least one that establishes a context for the rest of his story: "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 too much." This is perhaps one answer to charges that Conrad (or at least Marlow) is somehow racist. He explains empire and colonialism in terms of misappropriation of the property of other races. No Sentimental Pretence On the other hand, Marlow suggests that it (or something) might be justifiable in some circumstances: "What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to." So, what is justifiable, and what is it exactly that might justify it? Is he appealing to some greater authority? Is it God? Religion? Civilisation? Trade and commerce? Capitalism? Improvement? Savages and Scoundrels Marlow frequently refers to negroes, niggers, half-castes, savages, cannibals, and scoundrels. What can be inferred from this? At one time, he even refers to himself as being "savage" with hunger. There's a sense in which the scarcity of food, the desperation of subsistence living makes all people, even white colonists, desperate. They could even be savage with greed. Still, he assesses the Congolese honestly: "Fine fellows - cannibals - in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them." Marlow recognises that they are "not inhuman". One was "an improved specimen; he could fire up a vertical boiler." Stately and Superb They are capable of improvement, even if they have a different sense of time, no concept of change and progress: "They still belonged to the beginnings of time - had no inherited experience to teach them as it were." They still did things the same way they had always done. From their point of view, there was no need to change, let alone any need for improvement. Equally, the word "savage" isn't always pejorative (etymologically, it derives from a word for a wood or forest). Marlow says of Kurtz' mistress: "She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress." A savage could be magnificent, stately, noble, superb. They didn't need to be improved in order to make deliberate progress. They just happened to live in the untamed wilderness, in the wood, in the forest, in the jungle. Fantastic Invasion It's time we met Mr. Kurtz himself. Like everybody else, Kurtz was in the Congo to make as much money as quickly as possible and get out: "I had immense plans." There was no unselfish belief in an idea worth bowing down before. Only, the Congo changed him: "...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…" Hollow Man So, apparently, as T.S. Eliot would later acknowledge, Western Man is hollow. Yet, for a while, the darkness of Africa allowed Kurtz to rise above his nothingness: "He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, ‘must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings— we approach them with the might of a deity,’ and so on, and so on. ‘By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,’ etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him." He had become a Nietzschean Superman in the wilderness. Yet how was that different from madness? "His soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. "I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself." But Which Brutes? For all the talk of savagery, it is the Europeans who are un-grounded, here and at home. In his madness, Kurtz writes "Exterminate all the brutes!" and famously declares to Marlow, "The horror! The horror!" Yet, by this time, it's arguable that he has turned around and is commenting on European Man, ostensibly Civilised Man, and the underlying brutality of his delusions, not the "savages" around him. Bent on improving others, he has discovered he is the one most in need of improvement. But he might also have realised that it's European brutes who are most in need of extermination. Artist: Matt Kish, illustration of "Heart of Darkness", page 085 http://www.spudd64.com/hod2_codes/hod... Something to Say It's left for Marlow to judge Kurtz: "This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up - he had judged. ‘The horror!’ "He was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of revolt in its whisper, it had the appalling face of a glimpsed truth - the strange commingling of desire and hate. And it is not my own extremity I remember best - a vision of greyness without form filled with physical pain, and a careless contempt for the evanescence of all things - even of this pain itself. No! It is his extremity that I seem to have lived through. True, he had made that last stride, he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot." Just as Kurtz looked into the universe, he saw himself. And so, later, inevitably, Marlow learns that "Mistah Kurtz - he dead." Some Knowledge of Your Self Now, for Marlow, home again, life is conformist, grey, deluded, pretentious, inauthentic and insincere. On the Thames, finally, at the conclusion of Marlow's tale, no longer idle, the yacht seems to resume its course "into the heart of an immense darkness". The heart of darkness is ours. Not Africa's, not the savages'. It isn't the darkness of the wilderness. It's the darkness of the self. Kurtz just happened to confront his in the wilderness, in the midst of the incomprehensible. However, the incomprehensible is just as much inside as outside. "Droll thing life is - that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself." "Mistah Kurtz - he dead" "Remember us - if at all - not as lost Violent souls, but only As the hollow men The stuffed men" T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men".

  26. 4 out of 5

    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 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 is inscrutably at the core of human nature. One of the most dominant themes is the human need to dream. Conrad said it well, “We live, as we dream – alone.” A dream has an energizing quality that propels the way forward. It has an all-consuming life of its own. Yet for better or worse, it is an illusion that keeps a man alive. Marlow, newly appointed as skipper of a steamboat, was drawn by an alluring dream – to follow the river like “a silly bird” to the “lure of a snake”, to a destination that was to become for him the heart of darkness. The sinister nature of this dream was suggested by the powerful associations with death early in Marlow’s journey: his arrival at the white sepulchre city, the decaying rot of a murdered captain, greetings by two black hens and two women knitting black wool. Perhaps, the most poignant depiction of the false redemptive power of a dream was in Kurtz’s beloved, “My Intended”. She saw in Kurtz the embodiment of inspiration and goodness, the sum total of all her happiness. Her quest to Marlow for Kurtz’s last words was heartbreaking. Would the truth have saved her? Perhaps, another theme is deception. Conrad successfully built suspense surrounding Kurtz, the gifted ivory trader. Kurtz was portrayed as larger than life and invested with demi-god status. He was the Voice to be heeded. Yet, Kurtz’s gift of expression was described as "the pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness." Kurtz was in fact a ruthless ivory vampire who plundered the natives. Interestingly too, Marlow’s first glimpse of Kurtz was incongruently, a fragile wisp of a dying man. Conrad let it be known Kurtz was “hollow at the core”. Kurtz’s evil was symbolized by the human heads drying on staves outside his windows. Yet, the seduction of Kurtz’s power was so strong that the natives were grossly deluded even when they were victims of his rapacious savagery. Lastly, there is the unmistakable theme of death. The map that guided Marlow into the interior revealed a yellow patch that was described as “dead in the centre”. The ictus of the heart of darkness is death. Life is but a riddle. No pathos is more eloquent than in Kurtz's final words, "The horror! The horror!" Conrad’s prose may not be immediately accessible but it is finely wrought. There is much one can relish in the palpable beauty of the African jungle rendered in hushed, almost hallowed tones. There is also subtle humor that lifts the looming shades of darkness that close in gradually as the story unfolds. Read this novella. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  27. 3 out of 5

    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 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 the story transcends dealing with just purely the manifestation of racism and colonial exploitation, although such exploitation does of course also play a role in the density of ideas, and, on the surface, forms the main theme of this novel. But the inner, integral theme has to do with the more transcendental issue of how wordly power corrupts the holder thereof; about the inner boundaries set by conscience, and the comfort it brings to remain within those boundaries. Conversely, what happens to your psyche when one crosses these boundaries and enters an area beyond what you were brought up to believe fell within acceptable behaviour? I see Conrad exploring the territory beyond those boundaries, about what happens when an individual crosses the boundaries set by conscience and social conditioning just because he finds himself in circumstances where he can cross these boundaries. Parrallels for such circumstances can be seen in the excesses certain Roman emperors indulged in, simply because they had the power to. They held sway over the life or death of countless individuals, and many of them indulged in this power to excess. However, Conrad uses a fresh setting in which to explore the issue, and it is a setting that is more intimate and personal, and just as disturbing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    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 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 recent book, King Leopold's Ghost, and from Sir Roger Casement's influential "Congo Report" on Leopold's atrocities. "Backgrounds and Contexts" also provides readers with a collection of photographs and a map that bring the Congo Free State to life. A new section, "Nineteenth-Century Attitudes toward Race," includes writings by, among others, Hegel, Darwin, and Sir Francis Galton. New essays by Patrick Brantlinger, Marianna Torgovnik, Edward W. Said, Hunt Hawkins, Anthony Fothergill, and Paul Armstrong debate Chinua Achebe's controversial indictment of the novel's depiction of Africans and offer differing views about whether Conrad's beliefs about race were progressive or retrograde. A rich selection of writings by Conrad on his life in the Congo is accompanied by extensive excerpts from his essays about art and literature. "Criticism" presents a wealth of new materials on Heart of Darkness, including contemporary responses by Henry James, E.M. Forster, Ford Madox Ford, and Virginia Woolf. Recent critical assessments by Peter Brooks, Jeremy Hawthorn, Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan, Andrew Michael Roberts, J. Hillis Miller, and Lissa Schneider cover a ranger of topics, from narrative theory to philosophy and sexuality. Also new to the Fourth Edition is a selection of writings on the connections between the novel and the film Apocalypse Now. This Norton Critical Edition is again based on Robert Kimbrough's meticulously re-edited text of the novel. An expanded Textual Appendix allows the reader to follow Conrad's revisions at different stages of the creative process. A Chronology has been added, and the Selected Bibliography has been revised and updated. My Review: Had I not read the critical edition of this book, I wouldn't have given it three stars. It's dense and chewy prose. It's a bleak story. It's Conrad's most famous and most lasting work because it's so astounding that a man of his era could be this perceptive and say so publicly! Oh, there was much tut-tutting at the time about the awfulness of Congo Free State's condition, but it was disingenuous at best and cynically political at worst. Conrad wrote a human response to a human horror, and he did so by making a White Man out to be Wrong!!!!! Cue gasps! And start the applause. But it is a slog to read, short though it might be. Simply put, Conrad spoke English as a third, yes THIRD language. He did an extraordinary thing, writing in his third language, but to me it felt like it was his third about half the time. Still and all, I am quite pleased to have read the Norton Critical Edition, and to have a real sense of the book's revolutionary place. Quite a good use of my limited number of eyeblinks. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Simona Bartolotta

    3.5 “I think [the wilderness] 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.” Heart of Darkness is as easy to read as it is easy for me to rate it. (That is, not easy at all.) It is the classic example of a work that makes me ask myself what it is I'm rating when I rate my books: si 3.5 “I think [the wilderness] 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.” Heart of Darkness is as easy to read as it is easy for me to rate it. (That is, not easy at all.) It is the classic example of a work that makes me ask myself what it is I'm rating when I rate my books: simply how much I enjoyed them? The ideas they pivot on? Or is my focus the awe they inspire in me? There are cases where I love the writing and not the story, the story and not writing, the principles at the core of the story and nothing else. How should one behave then? This is exactly the problem I have with Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad is a master of English prose, and his words are indeed hypnotizing, some more than others. And yet, as much as I love it, I must also acknowledge that the writing was what posed me the greatest difficulty in reading this. It's normal for the paragraphs to be one page long, and losing the thread is all too easy. The fact that there is hardly a plot does not help in making it appealing to the casual reader. So, no, I wouldn't recommend it as a book to read for pleasure; but I was utterly fascinated by its conceptuality, by the forest, by hollow-man Kurtz. Heart of Darkness is a book I would love to study, but not one I'd reread over and over again like I would a favourite. “And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    George Georgiadis

    Άβυσσος. Άνθρωπος. Ψυχή. Εκπολιτισμός. Αποικιοκρατία. Εκμετάλλευση. Απληστία. Μάρλον Μπράντο. Ζούγκλα. Ομίχλη. Ποταμός. Αποκάλυψη Τώρα. Θεοποίηση. Φράνσις Φορντ Κόπολα. Ψυχισμός. Τρέλα. Φόβος. Χειραγώγηση. Ανθρώπινη Ύπαρξη. "The horror! The horror!"

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