Customer Reviews for

Heart of Darkness: (Classics Deluxe Edition)

Average Rating 3.5
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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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    Eh

    This wad okay
    Not as good as id hoped it would be, but you cant like them all

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2010

    Heart of Darkness in a Nutshell

    What comes to mind when reading Heart of Darkness, you may ask? I could answer in a lot of ways. For one, imperialism in Africa and the trouble of acquiring rivets. (Don't worry, you'll understand soon enough.) Once you get past the different wording and strange outbursts, you'll come to find that the author, Joseph Conrad, put in a wonderful moral: even with the light, there will always be some darkness in everyone.
    At first, the novella will look very challenging and you may want to quit. However, if you stick through it, you'll come to find that you've acquired a new perspective on some ideas. From experience, I know I have. The way this book only takes on the negative views of imperialism causes you to only understand half of how the idea works. It would be wise to also read a book on the more positive reasons for imperialism.
    Once you understand the perspective of the author, you'll be ready to read the book. To get you started, you should know that this is a book with hidden meanings, and you should be able to decipher these to gain the full meaning. The novella begins with Marlow, the protagonist, on the Nellie. He and a small group are floating on the Thames as Marlow begins to tell them about his adventure in the Congo and rescue of a man named Kurtz. He starts by telling them of how he got there and goes on to tell about the procedures you must go through to start your adventure. Conrad uses rich diction to describe Marlow's encounters as he works his way up to the inner station.
    The antagonist, Kurtz, is another rich character of Conrad's mind. He is rumored to be ill, causing Marlow to have to retrieve him. The natives love him and won't allow him to leave. This only makes trouble for those trying to recover him. The other problem is that Kurtz does nothing to prevent the natives from attacking people. Kurtz's heart has become to dark. His part is significant, though, as he brings about doubts for Marlow, and shows him a true darkness.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone between the ages of 15 and 16. As long as you go to Lee-Davis and take the pre-IB course for English. If that's not you, then you probably shouldn't bother. I'm not going to lie; this book will be exigent without the right mind set. If you're the kind of reader that likes cutesy stories with happy endings, then this isn't the right book for you. Just put the volume down and walk away, even run if you have to. This book, like the darkness, will devour you alive. For those of us who think we can handle it anyway, well, go for it. I'm not going to tell you that you can't do it; I'm merely stating that you probably won't be able to.

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  • Posted March 31, 2010

    A Navigable Darkness

    Are you a person who enjoys slightly disconcerting yet remarkable and enlightening fiction? If you are, "The Heart of Darkness" should be the next novel you read. "Heart of Darkness" is a journey into a world set apart from civilization, into the deep heart of Africa's ivory country where men are propelled by greed and power. This novella also discusses Joseph Conrad's perspective of how men can become corrupted by moral isolation and the lack of supervision or accountability.
    However, even if you are not interested in any of these things you may still enjoy this novel. I am not a fan of any of these topics, yet I was drawn in by the main character's urgency to reach his destination in the Congo of Africa. While I did not particularly enjoy Marlow's various deep reflections on the mind of man, I wanted him very badly to reach the Inner Station and retrieve Kurtz so that his mission would finally be complete. Perhaps if you read this book you will appreciate Marlow's drawn out opinions on such topics, but I was simply not interested in them as much as I was in him reaching Kurtz and returning safely to Europe.
    "The Heart of Darkness" is challenging to read, yet rewarding. The challenge comes from the rich symbolism and underlying meanings that Conrad uses frequently, and unless you are focused and think carefully about what you are reading, you won't understand the deep, intellectual thoughts that Conrad is trying to convey. Also, the author's point of view changes periodically throughout the book, making it difficult for the reader to know which character is talking. Marlow tells his story most of the time, but there is also a narrator on the same ship as Marlow who occasionally narrates a few paragraphs.
    In my opinion, the ending of a novel makes or breaks it. However, I found the ending of "Heart of Darkness" to be very mediocre, and I did not feel like it made the novel any better or worse. Marlow spent several months journeying to the Inner Station, and he finally reached Kurtz successfully. Unfortunately, Kurtz died soon after. Therefore, Marlow simply returned to England to inform Kurtz's fiancé of her loss and continued on with his life as a sailor. I didn't think it was a very significant or memorable ending.
    As dense and dark as it is, this novella is still navigable for those who are determined to read it. I highly recommend you read it with your English class though, because it is hard to grasp the full meaning of it without guidance. I had to read several paragraphs at home by myself one night, and it was hard for me to focus. I also misinterpreted some parts and needed clarification from my teacher. However, if you put your mind to it, you can penetrate the darkness of Conrad's "literary voyage into the inner self" (back cover).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    Heart of Darkness Book Review

    The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is an eighty page book before its 1902 publication; it appeared as a three-part series (1899) in Blackwood's Magazine.
    In the Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad depicts his journey to the Congo, the heart of Africa, as Marlow a sailor with the desire to explore the unknown. The main characters in this book are Marlow who is Joseph Conrad's alter ego and Kurtz a high positioned individual that went mad as the natives thought him as a "god". Marlow finds himself traveling to Africa as a captain of a steamboat of an ivory trade rout. As Marlow finds himself in the Congo he finds himself in a deeper plot of: hate, revenge, madness, and a race to beat nature; ultimately the heart of darkness. The managers of the Company want Kurtz dead, who has gone off the grid with tons of Ivory whom believes himself to be a "god". Marlow is ordered to travel upriver to Kurtz in hopes of finding him alive, for a little while that is. Kurtz dies just shortly after Marlow arrives and Marlow travels back to England to tell Kurtz's fiancé his last words. In this book Conrad describes the evil in the human nature that will leave your mind to ponder the evil that lives in all of us.
    My finale thoughts on this book are that it is a complete mind twister as you attempted to understand the hidden meaning. I over all enjoyed this book as it was something new and was a great challenge. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to challenge themselves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2010

    Heart of Darkness: The Book

    Heart of Darkness was a very captivating book. It kept me intrigued because of the inferences that had to be made to understand what Conrad was really trying to get across to his readers. Throughout the book you had to "read between the lines" just to get what other authors would have written out for you. This technique made the book challenging but definitely worth reading.
    Heart of Darkness is a book about a man named Marlow. He is a sailor that had an adventurous spirit and now is on a journey with some of his friends. While stuck on the Thames River Marlow begins to recall his journey to the Congo. As he begins, Marlow positions himself like the Buddha and considers himself almost godly; while his friends; used to hearing the story, begin to settle and wait.
    The story begins with Marlow on the way to his job interview. While reading you discover a very interesting characteristic of Marlow; his view of women. Marlow was able to get the interview with the help of his aunt which he finds almost shameful in a way. As he gets to the building where his interview takes place Marlow is greeted by three women who look to be as if in mourning. After the interview he has to go visit a doctor where he gets his head measured. This is an example of the all around theme of insanity because the doctor thinks the size of your head determines your sanity now and when you come back. Marlow is intrigued and ask the doctor if this is really true, the doctor replies, "no one has ever come back."
    Finally Marlow arrives at the first station. As he is looking around, he is appalled at the situation people have put the natives in, treating them as slaves, as the evil ones. When he finally meets the boss he describes him as a devil; the first of many. He then sees the boat he is supposed to use to get to the other stations and finds it halfway submerged in the river. The manager describes it as an accident but later events make Marlow curious as to what is considered an accident here. Marlow eventually meets another worker at the station, the accountant. He discovers a picture in his office and is interested by this. The picture is of a woman blindfolded and holding a lit torch. This symbolizes the way Marlow also thinks of women. He asks who the painter of the photo is; this is where he learns of Kurtz and is instantly struck with a longing to go and talk to him.
    Marlow finally is able to get the boat moving and begins his journey down the Congo. He now has a desire to move quickly in order to help Kurtz. Before leaving Marlow discovers that the manager has animosity towards Kurtz and that he is ill so they are reluctant to go and bring supplies to his station. This gives Marlow an even greater urge to get to Kurtz and get there fast. Just one problem, the manager has decided to accompany him on his journey. Also coming are some "civilized" cannibals and pilgrims.
    As they travel they are met with little conflict. Eventually they come upon a small cottage. Marlow discovers a book inside and is filled with a new since of hope that this country filled with darkness still has some civility left. Further down the river and closer to the station they are attacked. Rushing to get free the helmsman, a native, is speared and killed. Marlow is overcome with sadness by the death of the companion he had made. Eventually they reach the station and discover the owner of the book. He is a very eccentric character and views Kurt

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    THE Challenge

    The book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a challenging yet intriguing book. I practically dreaded coming to English class every other day because I didn't understand anything going on in the book. There were one or two students in the class that understood it and would do some explaining, but my teacher did most of the explaining of the symbolism. This book is pretty much all reading between the lines and thinking outside the box. I didn't enjoy the complexity of this book at all, but I do feel a little smarter now that my class and I have conquered Heart of Darkness. Even though the book was only 76 pages long, it took almost 4 months to read it. I would only suggest this book if you're looking for a complex book and you are looking for to do a boatload of analyzing. But I also suggest it to you because it really shows the shades of grey, where in most books it's mainly black and white. If you chose to take on the Heart of Darkness challenge, all I have to say is: Good Luck!

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    Heart of Darkness

    While reading Heart of Darkness, I had mixed emotions about this book. At first, I was freaking out because I didn't understand any bit of it. I read this book with my tenth grade English class and as we were progressing through the book, we would stop after a couple of paragraphs and discuss what was happening. Without those discussions, I would have been totally lost. We would break down Conrad's sentences and really think about what he was trying to say. You had to think about it deeper to really understand it. I personally did not enjoy all of the complexity. This book is known as one of the most challenging ones, and it definitely was a challenge for me. I am very proud of myself that I was able to make it through the whole book, but I did have a lot of help. I'm not going to lie, but I do feel smarter after having read this book. If you are up for a challenge, then this is the book for you, but if you are looking for an easy book then I wouldn't choose this one. I do recommend people reading this because it helps you stretch your mind while reading and it makes you feel smarter. Conrad did a great job of writing this book, but be prepared to do some major analyzing!

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