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

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Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction, by Joseph Conrad, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

* New introductions commissioned from today's top ...

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Overview

Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction, by Joseph Conrad, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

* New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
* Biographies of the authors
* Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
* Footnotes and endnotes
* Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
* Comments by other famous authors
* Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
* Bibliographies for further reading
* Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
One of the most haunting stories ever written, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness follows Marlow, a riverboat captain, on a voyage into the African Congo at the height of European colonialism. Astounded by the brutal depravity he witnesses, Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz, a famously idealistic and able man stationed farther along the river. What he finally discovers, however, is a horror beyond imagining. Heart of Darkness is widely regarded as a masterpiece for its vivid study of human nature and the greed and ruthlessness of imperialism.
This collection also includes three of Conrad’s finest short stories: “Youth,” the author’s largely autobiographical tale of a young man’s ill-fated sea voyage, in which Marlow makes his first appearance, “The Secret Sharer,” and “Amy Forster.”

Features a map of the Congo Free State.

A. Michael Matin is a professor in the English Department of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. He has published articles on various twentieth-century British and postcolonial writers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593081232
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 69,085
  • Product dimensions: 7.96 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

A. Michael Matin is a professor in the English Department of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. He has published articles on various twentieth-century British and postcolonial writers.

Biography

Joseph Conrad (originally Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. His parents, ardent Polish patriots, died when he was a child, following their exile for anti-Russian activities, and he came under the protection of his tradition-conscious uncle, Thaddeus Bobrowski, who watched over him for the next twenty-five years. In 1874 Bobrowski conceded to his nephew's passionate desire to go to sea, and Conrad travelled to Marseilles, where he served in French merchant vessels before joining a British ship in 1878 as an apprentice.

In 1886 he obtained British nationality and his Master's certificate in the British Merchant Service. Eight years later he left the sea to devote himself to writing, publishing his first novel, Almayer's Folly, in 1895. The following year he married Jessie George and eventually settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. He continued to write until his death in 1924. Today Conrad is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of fiction in English -- his third language. He once described himself as being concerned "with the ideal value of things, events and people" in the Preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus he defined his task as "by the power of the written word ... before all, to make you see."

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jósef Teodor Konrad Walecz Korzeniowski (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 3, 1857
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berdiczew, Podolia, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      August 3, 1924
    2. Place of Death:
      Bishopsbourne, Kent, England

Read an Excerpt

From A. Michael Matin's Introduction to Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction

Heart of Darkness (1899) is one of the most broadly influential works in the history of British literature. The novella’s diverse attributes—its rich symbolism, intricate plotting, evocative prose, penetrating psychological insights, broad allusiveness, moral significance, metaphysical suggestiveness—have earned for it the admiration of literary scholars and critics, high school and college teachers, and general readers alike. Further, its impact can be gauged not only by the frequency with which it is read, taught, and written about, but also by its cultural fertility. It has heavily influenced works ranging from T. S. Eliot’s landmark poem The Waste Land (1922), the manuscript of which has as its original epigraph a passage from the book that concludes with the last words of Conrad’s antihero Kurtz, to Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible (1998), which updates the tale to the years shortly before and after independence, when the Belgian Congo became the nation that is known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nor has its artistic influence been limited to literature; to cite only the most famous instance, it served as the basis for Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now (1979), which transposes the story, in both place and time, to Vietnam and Cambodia during the American-Vietnamese War and recasts Kurtz as a renegade American colonel. Its various homages aside, in its original form Heart of Darkness has for several generations influenced the literary and moral outlook of innumerable readers. Yet while the text is widely recognized as an indictment of the greed and ruthlessness that generally drove European imperialism in Africa, most readers are unfamiliar with the fact that the setting is the event in imperial history so uniquely horrific in its sheer scale of suffering and death that it has been termed the African Holocaust. As Conrad himself would characterize the situation in the Congo nearly a quarter of a century after his novella was published, it was “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience” (“Geography and Some Explorers,” p. 17).

Set during the era of heightened competition for imperial territories that historians have termed the New Imperialism, Heart of Darkness is loosely based on Conrad’s experiences and observations during a six-month stint, in 1890, in the Congo as an employee of a Belgian company, the Société Anonyme Belge pour le Commerce du Haut-Congo. This was five years after the 1884–1885 Berlin Conference, a meeting of representatives of the European powers to establish the terms according to which much of the continent of Africa would be divided among them. During this meeting, King Leopold II of Belgium, skillfully playing the jealousies and fears of rival powers off one another, astonishingly managed to secure as his own personal property over 900,000 square miles of central Africa—that is, a territory roughly seventy-five times the size of the diminutive country he ruled. Under humanitarian pretenses, Leopold’s agents, who had begun the process of conquest several years earlier, effectively turned the so-called Congo Free State into an enormous forced labor camp for the extraction of ivory and, later, after the worldwide rubber boom in the early 1890s following the popularization of the pneumatic tire, rubber. In addition to outright murders, the slave labor conditions led to many deaths from starvation and disease as well as a steeply declining birth rate. Even during an era in which most Europeans viewed imperialism as legitimate, the appalling circumstances of Leopold’s Congo (it would officially become a Belgian colony in 1908, and Leopold would die the following year never having so much as visited the territory) led to international outrage. Conservative demographic estimates place the region’s depopulation toll between 1880 and 1920 at 10 million people—that is, half of the total population—with the worst of the carnage occurring between 1890 and 1910. Not much was known outside Africa about the conditions of Leopold’s rule when Conrad was there, but in the several years before he began writing Heart of Darkness, in 1898, it became an international scandal, and regular reports appeared in the British and European press denouncing the abuses. Even before the publicity and protests, however (which would peak several years after the novella’s publication), Conrad had seen enough on his own to be thoroughly disgusted.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 191 )
Rating Distribution

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(69)

4 Star

(48)

3 Star

(37)

2 Star

(21)

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(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 195 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 17, 2009

    The Most Mind Expanding Book You Can Read

    My English teacher told us near Halloween of 2008, that we had to read a book called Heart of Darkness. He said it would expand out mind and we would feel smarter after reading it. I didn¿t believe him and I didn¿t believe any book could make ME feel smarter. I had already heard from people in my grade that it was boring and hard, yet from my trusty English teacher, I heard it was very good. I started reading the book with a positive attitude and found it quite confusing after the first couple pages. Then, by the end of the first chapter I found myself wanting to read more. I found it to be intriguing how each sentence can be perceived in different ways. As I kept reading the book, I got more and more interested. Joseph Conrad had to be a brilliant man to write a book filled with such meaning and context to each sentence. The book had flashbacks which did confuse me at first but as soon as my wonderful English teacher explained it I understood. I compare Joseph Conrad to Shakespeare, because in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad had an underlying meaning to his sentences, like Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet. This book wasn¿t exactly easy, but it was a challenge and it made me actually use my brain. It made me think about how Conrad wrote the book and how he was feeling while he wrote this. I asked myself all these questions and pondered on what I believe is the main message in this book is. I believe that the main message that he is trying to perceive is that man kind is scared of the unknown and no matter if we are ¿civilized¿ or not we are still animals. The Europeans thought that they needed to ¿civilize¿ the natives because they didn¿t understand technology or Christianity, but really the Europeans were the ones who needed to be civilized. The Europeans were taking land from the natives and taking their ivory at whatever cost. They would kill for money; I don¿t think that¿s very civilized or Christian. I really believe that the message that we are all animals was the main perceived message that Conrad tried to get to his audience. <BR/>I really did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anybody who wants a challenge. Even if you aren¿t that good at reading I would subject that you read it and if you have any questions to go to a teacher (if you¿re in school) or get Spark Notes, to help you understand some of the difficult parts in the book. It¿s very rewarding and if you are looking for a wonderful intriguing, mind expanding book, then I definitely recommend Heart of Darkness.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2009

    A Must Read

    Heart of Darkness is a book filled with mystery from the very first page. Literally, as Joseph Conrad begins his classic tale he uses a strange, yet genius way to lead in to the book. The excerpt is from Rumplestilskin, the beloved fairytale creature. With just 76 pages the book is anything, but a short story. Conrad took reading between the lines to a whole new level. If you want a quick, easy read I do not recommend this book. It is intellectually stimulating and will challenge every aspect of your knowledge. It is great book for anyone who is willing to dissect the pages and use your mind to uncover every aspect of the novel. This book is well worth it, because later, if you choose, you will be able to go back and read it and it will seem that you just stared a new book. A book that can only be summed up by two words; the horror.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2006

    Uderappreciated and Not Understood

    If I were to pick the top 5 books that have influenced my life, this would always make that list, and quite frequently it would be number one. This is the masterpeice from the foremost stylist of the 20th Century. This book is so dense and carefully written that everything is calculated and deliberate in promoting his many themes. No one has looked harder or longer into the human heart than Conrad did. This book will change your life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very Dense

    I greatly enjoy classic literature, but this book was too dense to stimulate me.
    Although the plot/storyline could be excellent, the author writes this book with too much description about extremely minor details that make it difficult to get through. He takes 2+ pages just describing two women knitting.
    This book is definitely not for younger readers or readers who need excitement.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    Excellent Prose Although a Bit Dry

    I had always wanted to read Heart of Darkness because it's the basis for one of my favorite films, Apocalypse Now. Having read it, I'm glad I did, although I can't say it lived quite up to my expectations. Conrad is an excellent writer, truly a master of English prose. His writing is intelligent and contemplative of the greater human condition. It's also a bit dry even at the best of times. And Conrad often tells his story through a third-party narrator, which further removes the reader from the action. Heart of Darkness explores some of the atrocities committed by the Belgian ivory trade in Africa in the early 1900s, back when the world was a larger and less-explored place. Although Conrad's motives seem altruistic, his depiction of the 'savage' African natives will make some uncomfortable, as will his frequent use of the 'n-word.' There are three additional stories included in this volume, 'Youth,' 'Amy Fisher' and 'The Secret Sharer,' none of which I found quite as compelling as Heart of Darkness. There is an interesting Introduction and Notes by A. Michael Matin, which explores Conrad's immigrant background and British naval career and how both impacted his life and his literature.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    Wonderful

    This book does not get the credit it deserves. I think this is partly because most people would not stick through the subtle beginning. This novella offers wonderful insight into the period of imperialism and into the depths of what it does to those involved. It has strong messages and themes that are ever more relevant today. Barnes and Noble offers a great edition of this book - the endnotes really help you to understand the context of the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    A Subtle Masterpiece

    This book is not a swashbuckling adventure it is a subtle yet compelling look into human nature. I recommend this book. Its imagery and its ability to portray emotions, particuraly struggle, coruption, and confusion, is beautiful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Alaha

    Kota?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Kota

    Girl.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2014

    tristen/Lace

    Guy or girl?

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  • Posted October 11, 2013

    Heart of Darkness is one of those "frame stories" - in

    Heart of Darkness is one of those &quot;frame stories&quot; - in other words, it's a story within a story.




    The main character's name is Marlow and he is sitting on a boat with three of his friends. In the boat, Marlow is telling his friends about the time he led a steamboat through the Congo River into the heart of darkness. There was a lot of colonization going on in Africa at the time, all from different nations. Along the way, Marlow stops at these different trading ports and sees white men utilizing the black natives to harvest Ivory. It wasn't a pretty site and Marlow saw a lot of people dying.




    Marlow's goal, however, was not to go and witness those tragedies. It was to hunt down a man by the name of Mr. Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz tends to change every man he ever talks to. Not only is he very influential, but he has also harvested more ivory than any of the other agents in the entire Congo region.




    The language of the book is little bit tough, but all in all I give the book 3 stars. It's good enough to read all the way through, but I doubt I'll ever read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be well-read an

    This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be well-read and educated.  The book is fantastic, and like several true classics, it has little plot.  The purpose of Conrad's book was not to entrance the reader with a glorious plot but instead to comment on the nature of man, hence the title.  While you may need a study guide to help you get the most from the work, it's definitely worth the effort.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    Short but Powerful Classic!

    Excellent 'gateway' book to spark an interest in the rest of the Classics! After reading this book, you will have a deeper appreciation of its movie adaptation, "Apocalypse Now."

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I felt so sad when I read some of the reviews :( However, Conrad

    I felt so sad when I read some of the reviews :(
    However, Conrad is not for everyone. He requires us to work by appreciating our intelligence and relies on our own experiences with people to make our own judgements and use our own perceptions of reality and nature. Also it is definitely true that for a lot of younger students (high school) this is just plain boring. I think the only younger students who will enjoy this book are those who are interested in literature rather than just a commercial book that sells.

    I think this is a great collection of some of Conrad's stories put together in one book where it is easily accessible. They all read quickly and in different but equal ways are interesting, intriguing and unique.
    All of Conrad's works are difficult, tense, psychological and have many different motifs, symbols that adds to the intricately layered themes. His characters are always human, 3-D,and characters that we can analyze in depth from any lens we may wish to dissect them.
    Conrad, wrote in another era, with different values, different beliefs in a much different world than ours. His reality was much different than ours, however his analysis of characters, environments, situations is always brilliant and I find it that he always gets to the core of human nature under different circumstances and times that can hold true even centuries from today.
    He gives a great deal of detailed descriptions, flash backs which can sometimes confuse the reader, which sometimes can be overwhelming and a negative point for many modern readers. However, we must remember during Conrad's time this was how things were done.
    Conrad's writing style is quite unique, original and his syntax, diction, word choice are brilliant, also very different from his own time, due to not being a native English speaker. This all adds to a writing style that uniquely and solely belongs to Conrad which for me is charming and a selling point (not always for others unfortunately).
    I love this book and would recommend it to anyone who wishes to see the colonialism period from a different set of eyes with different interpretation and to get to the &quot;heart of darkness&quot; of human nature, this is a MUST READ COLLECTION.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Kurtz... monster or angel?

    That is the question I am left with at the end of the title story here... and isn't that the question everyone is left with when it comes to summing up a life? And isn't "the horror, the horror" a valid set of last words? I don't know... what I do know is that this story has given me a lot to think about... mixed with images that may forever be burned into my imagination. And really - isn't that what all truly great literature ought to do?

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Intense, Inspiring, Philosphical... & More

    It was a great book. I HIGHLY recommend reading it slowly and then rereading it again. Make sure to pay very close attention to the little details and watch for the symbols. Also, I would recommend making notes in the margins. Do not skip a page, a paragraph, or even a word because that alone could make or break the book.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    lovely.

    When I was told we were going to read Heart of Darkness in my language class, I was scared and nervous I was going to fail. I heard from other people that it was going to be hard and not easy to understand. I felt that I wasn't going to get through this book. The first chapter I was lost, I didn't know what was going on and I would zone out. In chapter two I started to understand what was going on and was starting to be able to comprehend what was going on. By chapter four I was so into it and thought that it was the best ending and really left me shocked. I really got into it. By the end of the book I was able to tell my teacher what was going on and tell him what was being said between the lines. Conrad used such descriptive writing and hidden messages it made the book so interesting to read and listen to. I had to use my mind to use the messages to the book. I personally like this book and although it was challenging to read, it made me a better reader and kept me in tuned the whole time. I recommend this book but I'm going to warn all you readers it's hard to start off with it.

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  • Posted February 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    complete disappointment.....

    i saw this book and was all excited when i bought it, thinking it to be a good book. i was sadly mistaken. it gets off of the main thought way too much, making you go back to see what the general idea was. this read became more of a chore than an actual read. a complete waste of time.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2008

    Truly a thought-provoking read

    As the title suggests, this is truly a thought-provoking read. Full of ironies and dark depictions of the human soul, one who is looking for some philosophy mixed with adventure will not be disappointed. The main character of Kurtz becomes very real, but possibly even more real is the ubiquitous darkness surrounding the characters, places, and deeds in this book. Note: Don't read into the cries of racism some might provide there are no anti-black sentiments in this book. Some people are apt to castigate a book for bearing any hint of a negative portrayal of certain peoples, and in this case, the black natives are not even demonstrated as poorly as the white imperialists! This book is an exploration into the human psyche, so don't pay any regard to the contemptuous remarks of simple minds.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2007

    Excellent and Misunderstood

    Many will claim the message is overdone in literature. Of course where do you think they got it. THE NOVEL IS GENIUS. get the ideas of a superior modern race out of your head and understand that this is a classic for a reason: it is from an earlier time in history. How can you critique perfection.

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