Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Outside of being a fiction writer, it is documented that Conrad the man himself did not agree with the treatment of the blacks in the Congo that he encountered as a sailor but resisted getting involved in political activism about it, and it makes the most sense to me that he would be reflecting a similar position in his fiction. But don't discount it because it is a way of expressing and drawing attention to the problem and issue.

People would not be talking so much about this particular area in colonial history and thinking about the issues it raises to this day if he had not written about it, which can only be a good thing. Primarily, the trickiness of Conrad aside, I see this novella as preternatural, exotic with a sea journey and the jungle as a setting, beautifully written, about the fascination and compelling mystery of the character of Kurtz and his black heart indeed, the aura and idea of which Marlow appears possessed with.

Quite honestly, I don't find Conrad good at being clear and specific about sketching out his points and characters but more about vaguer ideas and expression about the souls of people and how they are in the world. View all 4 comments. May 21, Adan Garcia rated it it was ok. I only read the "Heart of Darkness" part of the book. The location of the story is very interesting to me, it is a gloomy jungle in the Congo. It kind of sets the tone for the story, it's just dark when you think about it.

The story was alright and the message was OK. It's probably a better read if you understand where the author is coming from. Jun 18, Ryan rated it really liked it. This book's status in the Western canon - for those of us who still believe in the Western canon - has been hotly debated because of the book's implied racism. The book is a story within the story; a group of men sit awake throughout the night on a ship anchored on the Thames listening to a man named Marlowe recount his experiences as a steamboat captain on the Congo River.

As night deepens, Marlowe's story becomes darker and darker.

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He tells how the Belgian Free State modern Democratic Republi This book's status in the Western canon - for those of us who still believe in the Western canon - has been hotly debated because of the book's implied racism. Kurtz is praised as an idealist, one the very best men that Europe had ever produced. As the story progresses Marlowe becomes increasingly obsessed with meeting Kurtz who is stationed deep in the African interior and is ostensibly trading for ivory.

Marlowe finds that the inhumanity of the Belgians increases the further his company penetrates the dark jungles of Africa's interior. The Belgians, despite all of their talk about civilizing the Africans, are motivated by sheer avarice and cruelty. To Marlwoe's horror he discovers that the epitome of inhumanity, avarice, and cruelty is none other than the idealist Kurtz himself.


There is little action in the external world of this story. Instead, the plot is driven by the psychological experiences of Marlowe as he travels up the Congo river. He is increasingly aware that man has a heart of darkness. The racial controversies that surround the book are centered on Conrad's depiction of Africa and Africans. According to Conrad's anthropology, man is a savage at heart; civilization is a thin veneer. This savage heart of darkness is revealed when the Europeans enter the primeval jungles of Africa and literally devolve back to a primitive state.

Hence, Conrad's depictions of Africa and African's is racist. Though Conrad's Marlowe feels sympathy towards the brutalized Africans, he views them with condescension.

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They are "half devil, half child" to borrow a phrase from Kipling in his eyes. Moreover, Africa and the Africans are merely the backdrop for Marlowe's existential epiphany concerning the human condition or, at least the European condition. I defend the book as a good read for several reason. Good literature not only reveals the goodness and creativity of humanity, but it's depravity as well.

May 30, Bailey rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. Heart of Darkness. Although the last time I read this was three years ago, it stills resonates so strongly that I feel the urge to write a review.

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  6. Which is something that I almost never do. This book was not meant to have a thrilling plot that keeps you perched on the e Heart of Darkness. This book was not meant to have a thrilling plot that keeps you perched on the end of your seat. This book is an exploration of the roots of human nature in their most primitive state.

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    I know you are thinking "Oh great. Another one of 'those' books By personifying the landscape, Conrad creates such a poignant picture that you can smell the odor of the enslaved natives as they work and feel the oppressive heat of the air in your lungs. Conrad also somehow seamlessly ties the landscape into an interpretation of human nature, but not in the way that a dark tree represents a dark spirit, but through the idea that in nature the true essence of man is revealed.

    Now that I am writing this is seems a very Romantic idea. Flairs of Romanticism aside, let me just directly quote some of this fantastic imagery and I'm not spoiling anything because this is on the first or second page of the book : "In and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were rotting into mud, whose waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at us in the extremity of an impotent despair.

    Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularized impression, but the general sense of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me.

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    It was like a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares. The brilliance continues and the image of the old woman knitting in the waiting room and the oppressive dark green wall pressing in on either side of that tortuous river forever seared into my mind's eye is a testament to it. And at last, once Marlow has finished his story, the last sentence offers one last piercing image of "a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky- seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.

    May 11, ElRojoCapucha rated it liked it Shelves: semester Heart of Darkness is essentially the story of how society not only keeps the wicked disguised, but also keeps them in check from going completely psychotic. How about a wild and jungle infested setting, full of native tribes, swamp environments, and the slow loss of sanity and human morality? To finish a point I made a couple of sentences ago, this is essentially the romantic not love romantic.

    Romantic style writing. No, but the certainly are similar. This helps amplify the idea that society not only cloaks the wicked, but also gives birth to the wicked once separated from them, what with all the trading, conquest, mad rushes for power, wealth, fame, women, heirs, etcetera. This book did not present as much of a reason for new infuriation, but it certainly got close. Books like these need to be further researched after they have been read.

    The pieces were there, I had read the book. It just takes a bit more time and effort to get said pieces together.

    Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction

    Shelves: african-reads , classics. I read the Heart of Darkness first because I was most curious about the narrative as it was loosely based on his own travels in the Congo during the 's during the Belgian colonialization. As the introduction attests, the broad strokes with wich the story is painted made it a bit difficult for first time readers to follow the plot. It often changes time or setting without letting you know, and leaves a lot of things unsaid. Still,it was an interesting story documenting the savagery mostly on the part of the colonists during that time.

    I think I enjoyed the short stories a bit more as they were each unique tales and told more fluidly. Mar 04, Sharon T rated it really liked it. I've read this novella three times in my life -- once in college, once for a book group, and once for my work as a writing coach and tutor. Each time, I've discovered something different in the work the joys of re-reading! Upon this last effort -- and it is an effort -- I found I especially appreciated its character development, pacing especially the seemingly interminable Chapter One , and fevered, oblique, imprecise language.

    A book I love? A book I'm glad I've had the occasion to re-r I've read this novella three times in my life -- once in college, once for a book group, and once for my work as a writing coach and tutor. A book I'm glad I've had the occasion to re-read, struggle through, and spend time with? Nov 14, John Molina rated it it was amazing.

    I really enjoyed this book a lot. I thought the prose in it was some of the best I have ever read and the psychological aspects of the novel were done extremely well. I don't want to write much more for fear of giving anything away, but I have to say that this is definitely one of the best books I've ever read. Oct 24, Laura rated it it was amazing Shelves: beloved. I read this book in college whilst working out on an exercise bike and sweating buckets The writing was amazing, esp if you think that English was not his first language.

    I felt that I was in Africa. But I felt the character devt of Kurtz was insufficient. Dec 25, Kyle Garner rated it did not like it. Second time I've tried to read Conrad. Will be the last!

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    I can't really recommend Joseph Conrad to anyone. Not that there's any issues with his writing, just…it's really hard to read quickly. Conrad's a smart writer, I think his humor is underappreciated, and his characters are always keenly aware of the psychology behind everything that's going on, and Heart of Darkness is just a classic…I just don't feel like reading his works gave any extra insight that reading about them doesn't give.

    But at the same time, I don't regret reading it. I guess I just I can't really recommend Joseph Conrad to anyone. I guess I just don't feel too strongly about him at all—sometimes reading books a century old, I feel a little "disconnected," and that's definitely happening here. The format of the short story is a good amount of Conrad, and each story doesn't really overstay its welcome. As for each short story: Youth— A comparatively light-hearted and funny account of Marlow's early days of adventure.

    I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. Heart of Darkness— The immortal classic. It's fun to study and analyze, since Marlow himself invites you to, as he himself analyzes aspects to the story as he tells it. At the suggestion of my English teacher, I wrote an essay connecting this story to Joseph Campbell's monomyth, which I'll put in spoiler tags if anyone's interested in the monomyth, or the depths of overanalysis you can bring to this book.

    Both were young promising employees of the Belgian shipping company of the Congo.