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Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Edition)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Hear of Darkness

The book to me was okay. I mean if you like a book that sounds like a poem all the way threw it then it's probably going to be a book for you. Other than that the book was good. I like the story of a man who is trying to get a job but ends up fighting for his life. When...
The book to me was okay. I mean if you like a book that sounds like a poem all the way threw it then it's probably going to be a book for you. Other than that the book was good. I like the story of a man who is trying to get a job but ends up fighting for his life. When I first read the title Heart Of Darkness I thought it was going to be about something totally different. But see surprise can be a good thing and in this case it was.

but one thing about the book i liked was that i couldn't really connect with the book. because alot of books i read i can. so maybe it was the fact that i chose a book i dont' usually read to read instead.

posted by zebrakowz on January 7, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Didn't grab my heart

I'm somewhat torn. The English Major in me would really like to give this book a higher rating. The reader in me has a hard time doing so.

I thought that approaching it a second time as a seasoned English Major would result in a better perspective. Admittedly, I thi...
I'm somewhat torn. The English Major in me would really like to give this book a higher rating. The reader in me has a hard time doing so.

I thought that approaching it a second time as a seasoned English Major would result in a better perspective. Admittedly, I think I got more out of the plot this time and see much more depth and symbolism in the book...but I still found myself struggling to stay awake at times.

What's sad is that this is not necessarily a slow paced or boring book. It's filled with exploration, political intrigue, violent deaths, savage attacks and other moments of suspense and tension. And yet, it is also filled with lengthy monologues on the nature of man and the perspectives of our narrator Marlow (who is actually a secondary narrator if you want to get technical, since he's telling the story to an unnamed narrator who appears very little in the book at all...a very strange setup).

The craft or structure of this novel is intriguing and I suspect is a large reason why this is such a classic. As I mentioned briefly above, the narrative style is a little different. The "official" narrator of the book is an unnamed man sitting on a boat. However, the meat of the story is actually told by another man on the boat (Marlow) who is actually telling this story to our unnamed narrator. There are also segments where Marlow is re-telling something someone else said to him or something he read, thus leaving us three or four times removed from the actual events of the story. His spoken narrative is also sometimes a little disjointed and sometimes conversational as though he's lost his train of thought while telling the story or he's distracted or interrupted by something or someone on the ship with our actual narrator.

The book is full of symbolism and allusion. It can definitely be taken as a commentary on many different aspects of Africa, colonialism, Imperialism, savagery, humanity, principles, beliefs, truths, and many other high level themes. However, the book doesn't seem to come up with any concrete answers about any of these and even leaves us in the darkness as to exactly which commentary we should be paying attention to. Truly, many social commentaries leave off just short of prescribing a plan of action, but they generally make their arguments fairly clear. In the case of Heart of Darkness, I feel like I came away more muddled than when I began. Yes, I acknowledge that oppression of so-called savages is not to be condoned, but I knew that ahead of time...and honestly, I'm not entirely sure that oppression is the core meaning of the novel.

I appreciate that this novel has depth to it that I don't understand. It's definitely a difficult novel that's hard to truly access. It's high level plot and themes are intriguing, but I don't feel that they stand well enough on their own to warrant an outrageous following. In order to truly appreciate this book, I feel that it requires very in-depth study and discussion of weeks or months. Maybe I'm just looking for too much, and if that's the case, then my view of the book goes down even more. Maybe I'm just obtuse and missing the point, which means my review is unfortunately lower than it should be.

Whatever the reason, I don't love this novel and don't anticipate reading it again. If somebody else reads it and loves it and wants to discuss it with me and turn me around, I'd gladly open a discussion, but for now, I stick by my rating.

posted by theokester on June 15, 2009

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  • Posted January 7, 2010

    Hear of Darkness

    The book to me was okay. I mean if you like a book that sounds like a poem all the way threw it then it's probably going to be a book for you. Other than that the book was good. I like the story of a man who is trying to get a job but ends up fighting for his life. When I first read the title Heart Of Darkness I thought it was going to be about something totally different. But see surprise can be a good thing and in this case it was.

    but one thing about the book i liked was that i couldn't really connect with the book. because alot of books i read i can. so maybe it was the fact that i chose a book i dont' usually read to read instead.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2000

    Good Storytelling

    I felt I was sitting across from Marlow, who is telling the story of his experience in the Congo. This novel is different from most in that it is written so that the reader is listening to someone's story related rather than the reader feeling s/he is there as the story happens. The style matches that of someone telling you his experience as you listen. This makes the style somewhat choppy and sometimes confusing as to who is speaking, the narrator or another character. Nonetheless, I found myself gripped by the tale. I read the book in one sitting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2015

    Katrina Silverblade's bio[slightly derpy]

    Name :: Lieutenant Buttface<p>Gender :: walrus flavored potatoe<p>Age :: 400[looks to be about 17]<p>Species :: elf<p>Height :: about 4'3<p>Looks :: long copper hair that is slightly curly. It reaches her waist. She has sharp green eyes and, like all elves, pointed ears. She is odly short for her age. She always wears a tight fitting black leather jumpsuit and knee-high tight fitting black boots<p>Crush :: none...<p>Dragon-crush[the dragon she wants to have a bond with] :: Saphira<p>Weapons :: a bow that when she pulls back the string, an elemental arrow materializes on the string, a long curved blade, and a water gun[jk]. She has a small dagger hidden in her jumpsuit<p>Personality :: wary, kind and gentle, very fiery temper if you threaten her friends or family, quiet and shy sometimes<p>Parents :: Ariana Silverblade[mother, dead], James Silverblade[father, dead], Thomas Silverblade[brother, dead], and Selena Silverblade[sister, alive]<p>Likes :: being with friends and family, sometimes being alone, reading, singing<p>Dislikes :: timber wolves, most dragons[bad experiences]<p>Special Powers :: nature, shapeshifting[when threatened or angry], and ice<p>History :: when Katrina was only 3, a large group of dragons attacked her village. They killed her whole family except her brother and sister. She an her siblings escaped from the flames and hid in a nearby forest. The dragons kiled everyone in the village. The siblings cared for eachother. They survived for a while. Then, when Katrina was only 13, she and her siblings were out hunting. She and her sister heard a scream. They recognized it as their brother, Thomas. They met up with each other and went out looking for him. They came into a clearing and found him lying on a bed of moss, surrounded by a pool if blood<p>Other :: ask<p>Siggy :: &#9830KatriNa&#9830<p>|__KatRiNa__|

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Not for the feignt of heart

    The reading feint of heart that is. If you can't get through the first two chapters of this, you will never read the book. It also takes the ability to visualize beyond the words, read between the lines and place yourself back in the late 1890's with its style of writing and the age they lived in.

    All that being said, this is a tremendous work, well worth the effort.

    And of course, once you've read it, you will see where Francis Ford Coppola got his inspiration from for Apocalypse Now.

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    Challenging but Thought-Provoking Read

    Heart of Darkness is an adventure novel and frame narrative by Joseph Conrad and was published by J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd. in 1902 (month unknown). Heart of Darkness is Marlow's story of his epic and eye-opening adventure into the heart of Africa. Marlow signs as an ivory trader with a Belgian company during the height of great European imperialism. As he voyages through the extensive Belgian Congo, he witnesses the grave atrocities colonists have committed against black natives. He finds them receiving appalling treatment, starved and slaving for their captors. Throughout his expedition, he hears exciting stories of fellow ivory trader Kurtz, who appears larger-than-life. However, upon meeting him, he discovers Kurtz's obsession with ivory, which has turned into savagery. Joseph Conrad's main purpose in writing Heart of Darkness-and Marlow's reason for recounting his experiences-is to explain the horrors of imperialism. Marlow's disgust of European imperialist reflects author Joseph Conrad's view that imperialism is hypocritical. Imperialists view the African natives as savages, and justify their colonization of African lands by stressing the need to civilize them. This attitude, however, contradicts the Europeans' savage treatment of natives, making them slave for their captives or starve. Although Heart of Darkness is thoroughly thought-provoking (and less than a hundred pages), actually reading the novella is a challenge. Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness in turn-of-the-century Britain, and the diction can be painfully hard to understand. Reading this book is like trudging through thick molasses, because of its tedium and difficulty. Because of this, Heart of Darkness is not recommended for casual or light readers, and is most suitable for high school seniors or college students. However, this challenge can be rewarding to the student serious about exploring influential and meaningful literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2010

    The Search for the Heart of Darkness

    At first, when hearing the title, your brain may run through many ideas of what the Heart of Darkness just might be. Perhaps you're intrigued, or maybe even turned off, but all in all, it begs the question, what exactly is the heart of darkness? The Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, is a tale of man that goes out seeking the adventure of the unknown, but winds up finding something that seems to make an impact on him for forever, and perhaps, maybe his tale will make an impact on you too.
    The tale begins as you travel with Marlow when he enrolls in the company to command a steamboat that will travel up the Congo. You get to take a look at his fascination for maps, his desire for the unknown. However, it doesn't take long for his thrill of adventure to dwindle down. We see through Marlow's eyes what the company has made of the natives. We see the inhumanity of it all as Marlow refers to natives saying, "They were dying slowly- it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now- nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation" (Conrad 83). Marlow seems to struggle with exactly what he recognizes them as, referring to them as creatures, and even its, but yet we know he is haunted by the sight, and feels compassion as he latter on goes to offer bread to one of the natives only to watch the native expire before his very eyes. His journey continues as he commands the steamboat in order to get to the inner station, and for his personal interest of discovering a man known as Kurtz. Kurtz appears only in words at first, he is talked about amongst the people, admired and hated, but known for his obsession of ivory by all. He remarks that, "He was just a word for me. I did not see the man in the name any more than you do. Do you see him?... It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream" (Conrad 97). Marlow begins to wonder if he will ever actually come across this supposed legendary man, if even a man at that.
    Seeing through this view made me think about the idea of imperialism a bit more. It made me think about what exactly imperialism is, and how it gets to that point. Conrad did a pretty exceptional job of showing imperialism through his characters and plot that kept on unfolding until you get to the very root of it all. Conrad achieved what every author should, he made me think, he made me question. He did a brilliant job of symbolizing his numerous ideas through unforgettable quotes, perhaps one of my favorites, "The offing was barred by 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" (Conrad 164). In this quote he lets us know that the darkness is much closer than we think.
    Of course, when you begin, it may make you feel frustrated at first when you pick it up trying to grasp all of the ideas. Yes, the language at times may be hard to interpret, or the symbolism may seem to run pretty thick. But don't become discouraged, I promise that if you hold on, and have the motivation to understand, you will draw something from this great literary work. You may even find what it is exactly that you think the heart of darkness is, perhaps to you, it is something beyond imperialism

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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    A highschooler's Prospective

    Jungles, natives, danger, unpredictability, and eager moments are all words to describe adventure. Adventure, being what it is holds many words in its description, bringing with it the excitement that is also found in Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad. In this book the main character, Marlow, finds himself in an expedition through the unknown Congo of Africa. As Marlow grew up, he made it his goal to one day be an explorer. This led him to become a seaman when he grew older and eventually found himself a job on a steam boat going right into the "heart" of Africa through the river the Congo. As Marlow continued up the river, as stated in the book, he felt that "Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world." (p. 105) In this native area where everything was much simpler and realistic he found that all of the minds in The Heart of Darkness were not of the same mind set as Marlow and that they were out to kill and steal ivory for their own profit. This is where Marlow finds that the Heart of Darkness was not the jungle itself, but the hearts of the people trespassing into the natives' land. Of course no book could be complete without some odd ends that lead to some confusing encounters.
    Many would say that there is a simple pressing fact: Marlow wants to explore uncharted areas; however, as the reader reads on they will find that Marlow is actually searching for a person named Kurtz. Kurtz is a filthy, crazy, and ivory obsessed liar, but hey, if other people like the man, then Marlow should too, right? First I don't really understand why anyone likes Kurtz, but Marlow manages to get a guy killed trying to find this maniac. The workers loved him because he brought in more ivory than any other station combined, but I'm pretty sure I would get out of there if I saw ".those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way." (p. 137)
    Those of us, who can realize when things get too heated, know when to get out of that situation. However, in Heart of Darkness Marlow goes straight into the danger, bringing with him excitement and eagerness for the reader to know what is going to happen next. Although some of the encounters seem at first glance to be pointless, such as when Marlow rambles on about missing rivets for the steamboat in a couple dense pages, all of the encounters intertwine into one big idea that Conrad eventually ties together. The book may come across as dense and long, but as I got deeper into the book I started to understand the context of the book and eventually it was like I was there, along with Marlow diving deeper and deeper into the "Heart of Darkness."

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    A book for the Library

    A very stimulating book. Theres not much more that i can say but that. I think that if you enjoy thinking about the past and having your personal views twisted and molded into something new, then this book is right for you. Give it a try. I think your going to be surprised how darkness can affect people. Not being able to see or understand another human being and therefore not being able to sympathize with them was what imperialism was all about. So again, i repeat, try the book out. What do you have to loose?

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    Heart of Darkness

    The book Heart of Darkness was a very good, complex book. With the book being so complicated you have to "read between the lines" to determine what Marlow, the main character that is really Conrad portraying himself, is trying to say. I think you can never fully understand this book, because there is so much information combined together that you can't depict everything. At times you're not going to understand what is going on, you might even think that Joseph Conrad is crazy for writing such a crazy book. Although the book is hard to follow you want to read is because it really shows you how good literature is written.
    It starts out with five people in a boat; the lawyer, the accountant, Marlow, the director, and us. Yes, how Conrad has written the book makes it seem like you are on the boat. The book starts out as the five crew members stuck adrift on the Thames. During that period of time Marlow positions himself as Buddha and starts to reflect on the journey he made up the Congo River to save Kurtz.
    Heart of Darkness is not an easy book to read, but once you work through it you'll feel as though you've become smarter in the process.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    Book Review of Heart of Darkness

    Book Review of Heart of Darkness
    Many people believe that they know everything there is to know about Heart of Darkness. However that is not the case, every time you read this novel you can always pick out new information that you didn't realize about it before. Regardless of what you have heard from other book reviews of Heart of Darkness I am here to say that this novel is one of a kind. If you are the type of person who likes an easy read, then this is not the book for you. When I first read this book it took me a while to understand everything that was going on. Sometimes I would even have to reread parts for them to make sense. Joseph Conrad, the author of this novel, really tries to "mess with your mind" so to speak with some of the challenging phrases and words he uses. I'm not saying that this book is impossible to read, you just have to be really good at "reading between the lines". This book is one that most teens should read before college just like I did. It really helps to teach you what in depth literature is about.
    This book takes place in the mid- 1800s with Marlow and his experiences on the Congo River. The whole book, Conrad is really trying to hint at the fact of internal and external struggles between good and evil. Conrad also resembles Marlow, the character in the book because this novel is based off of his time period. Joseph also puts a lot of symbolism in this book. An example of this would "All of Europe contributed to the making of Mr. Kurtz". This symbolizes that Mr. Kurtz was so important because Europe had make him that way. But now they just wanted to kill him. So it is little phrases like that one that really make your mind think about what Conrad is really trying to make you understand.
    All in all Heart of Darkness is a must read book. I would recommend the novel, however like I said earlier depending on how strong your literatures skills are, will determine how much of the story you actually can comprehend. If you can take the time and sit down and actually take each section piece by piece and understand the meaning then you will come to learn that there is way more to literature than just vocabulary, grammar, etc. Conrad helps you to see beyond all the pages and take you to a time in his life when he lived. I hope you will read Heart of Darkness because it is one that you will truly never regret reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2010

    Heart of Darkness was one of the greatest novels ever written. Its structure and complexity will influence other writers and literature scholars for centuries.

    Many great novels have come and gone throughout the centuries. But out of all of the great novels, Heart of Darkness still stands as one of the most complex books ever written. Heart of Darkness was a new revolution in writing. The way it was written, how it was written, and the time period the book was written all contributed to its legacy. Heart of Darkness has influenced many great novelists throughout the years.
    Heart of Darkness is about the adventure of a seaman named Marlow going down the Congo River in Africa to meet the master-minded ivory trader, Mr. Kurtz. Marlow is depicted as Conrad, and Conrad uses Marlow to tell about his experiences when he actually went on the Congo River as a seaman. Marlow is telling the account of his journey on the Congo River to four other men in the story; the captain, a lawyer, an accountant, and an unknown narrator, while on a boat called the Nellie on the Thames River. Marlow works for the Belgian Company, which trades ivory along the Congo River. While Marlow was at the office waiting to meet with the head of the company, he sees two women in black knitting in the office waiting room; and is then led to a doctor's office to have his head measured. This is another example of Conrad's use of symbolism. He travels to Africa and arrives at the Central Station, where he meets the general manager. The general manager is portrayed slightly as an antagonist. The manager does not like Kurtz because he fears Kurtz will take his job. Marlow waits at the Central Station for many months to wait for his steamer to be repaired after it had been wrecked. One night, he overhears the manager talking to his uncle. The manager tells his uncle that Kurtz is deathly ill and is afraid that Kurtz will take his position.
    After the ship is finally repaired, Marlow and his crew set out on the Congo River to go to Kurtz's station, only to be attacked by ruthless natives. The natives attacking the ship are thought to be inhuman, but are not. Marlow finally makes it to Kurtz's station, and meets the Russian who explains the might and glory of Kurtz. Marlow finally meets Kurtz before Kurtz dies. Marlow is disgusted and angry with the way things are in Africa. He complains to Kurtz about the awful treatment of the Africans and points out the harshness toward the Africans. Marlow learns that Kurtz is treated and hailed as a god by the Africans, and his power made him power hungry for enslavement. Marlow stays and listens to Kurtz talk about his life at the Congo. Soon after, Kurtz falls even more deathly ill, and asks for Marlow to come in and be with him in his last moments. As Kurtz fades away, his last words spoken were "The horror, the horror!" Marlow sails back to England, and meets with Kurtz's fianc&#233;. After his fianc&#233; talked to Marlow, she asked what Kurtz's last words were. Marlow tells her that Kurtz's last words were her name, to hide the darkness that Kurtz revealed as he died.
    Joseph Conrad used this novel to tell what he saw in Africa. In Africa, he saw extreme enslavement of the Africans. They were called "savages," and the Europeans wanted to civilize them. The Europeans used the political principle of Imperialism to civilize the Africans. Conrad saw harsh treatment among the Africans. He was very disgusted and angered by the enslavement and impure treatment that the Africans were enduring. You could say that Conrad wrote Heart of

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    A Challenge

    The Heart of Darkness, in my opinion, is probably one of the best books ever written. At first, I dreaded coming to English class every other day, knowing that I was going to be forced to read this book that I did not understand one bit. To my surprise, I actually started to enjoy the book about one third of the way through. Perhaps it was my English teacher, who explained most of the book and some hidden meanings between the lines, or maybe it was the fact that we just read and read until we got used to the flow and rhythm of the book. I must admit, reading the Heart of Darkness was the most challenging thing I have yet to achieve in any English class I have ever taken. Though this book took a very long time to read and understand, even though it is only 79 pages, I feel like I can understand any type of writing/novel now without difficulty. Do not let the amount of pages in this novel fool you, each paragraph is very complex and has many different stories within a story. If you are looking for an easy read, I would not recommend this book for this. If you are looking for a way to extend your knowledge and thought process, this would be the perfect book for you! Good luck!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2007

    Heart of Darkness

    The book `Heart of Darkness¿ was on with awesome detail and imagery. This book has many difficult parts to read but also had some interesting, 'mind numbing' parts. I felt that if not for my English teacher explaining what the book meant, then I would not have understood the book. Finally I feel that the writer Joseph Conrad is a literary mastermind. He is one on the best writers of his time but have a very interesting style and method.

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