Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

3.8 236
by Matt Kish, Joseph Conrad

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Following his massive--and massively successful--Moby Dick in Pictures, artist Matt Kish has set himself upon an equally impressive, and no less harrowing, task: illustrating each page of Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness.

Kish’s rich, imaginative drawings and paintings mirror Conrad’s original text and serve to illuminate


Following his massive--and massively successful--Moby Dick in Pictures, artist Matt Kish has set himself upon an equally impressive, and no less harrowing, task: illustrating each page of Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness.

Kish’s rich, imaginative drawings and paintings mirror Conrad’s original text and serve to illuminate Marlow’s journey into the heart of the Congo, and into the depths of the human soul. Heart of Darkness is a text ripe for analysis and argument, formally and thematically; it explores matters of imperialism, racism, gender, and the duality of human nature. Kish’s illustrations add another layer, and another voice in the conversation. Heart of Darkness is an essential edition for fans and students of Conrad’s work, but is, above all, a piece of art all its own. Kish’s introduction lends context to his approach, details his relationship and struggle with Conrad’s work, and illuminates his own creative process. An index in the rear of the book catalogs the sentences and phrases that inspired each of the one hundred original pieces of art.

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"The brilliant mind behind Moby Dick in Pictures is back to illustrate Joseph Conrad’s classic."

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Every illustrator, no matter what the project, is confronted with choices. In considering how to approach Heart of Darkness, I had to make a lot of choices, and they were never simple. What struck me while illustrating Moby-Dick in Pictures was just how vast Melville’s novel seemed. It is an enormous book that, to paraphrase Whitman, contains multitudes. It contradicts itself in style and tone in gloriously messy ways and it’s strong enough to carry the weight of the visions of dozens of artists, from Rockwell Kent to Frank Stella to Benton Spruance to Leonard Baskin to, well, me. What I’m saying here is that with Melville, there is room.

Conrad is something entirely different, particularly when it comes to Heart of Darkness. There is a terrifying feeling of claustrophobia and a crushing singularity of purpose to the story. It’s almost as if the deeper one reads, the farther down a tunnel one is dragged, all other options and paths dwindling and disappearing, until nothing is left but that awful and brutal encounter with Kurtz and the numbing horror of his ideas. Where Moby-Dick roams far and wide across both land and sea, Heart of Darkness moves in one direction only, and that is downward.

While it could never have been an easy task to take a well known piece of classic literature and breathe some different kind of life into it with pictures, the inexorable downward pull of this black hole of a story—this bullet to the head—made demands that I couldn’t have imagined. Poe wrote that “a short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it,” and I knew that in order to let Conrad’s ideas knife their way inside, every one of my illustrations had to carry this mood and build toward that ending. But what to exclude? What to leave out? Which path to go down? How to take this story of white men and black men and Africa, this filthy horrible business of ivory and slavery and greed and murder, and show it, really show it, in such a way that this mood would be visible?

Begin with the title: Heart of Darkness. One would think, initially at least, that here is the first visual clue. Darkness. Blackness. Inky swirls of ebony on murky pages. That seemed too easy to me, entirely too obvious. But there was another reason why I knew immediately that this was not the right choice to make. In college, as an undergraduate, I took an introduction to poetry class. A very basic thing, really, just an overview of Western poetry hitting all the proper and expected notes. The professor, though, was not at all proper or expected, and her almost embarrassing passion for poetry put us all on edge and made our minds scuffed and raw enough for the poetry we studied to leave a few scars. At some point, while discussing Requiem by Christina Georgina Rossetti, the professor devolved into another of her oddly personal narrations exploring the poem and its significance to her. It involved her brother, his murder, and her as a young woman in college attending his funeral on what she called the warmest and sunniest day she could remember. At first she was outraged but gradually she broke down—apparently at that funeral then again in front of the stunned class—when she realized that murder could and did take place under the bright and shining sun, where everyone could see. It was folly to think that terrible things happen only in the dark. That experience stayed with me and informed the first choice I made. Conrad’s Africa, the scene of so much death, so much killing, so much horror, would not be a dark place in the literal sense. The sun would shine there, in my images, as brightly and hotly as it does on the happiest of days and that would be the right way, the best way, to look unflinchingly at what Conrad is putting in front of us. Immediately, the world of the novel began to take shape, a place filled with bright acid greens, the patterns of leaves and the shadows of trees, a sickly diseased yellow sky rotten with the kind of sunlight that casts everything into a sharp and lacerating clarity. The first choice had been made.

While Heart of Darkness is set in Africa during the rape of a continent and at the height of what amounted to a racially and economically driven genocide, what disturbed me the most is that these things are hardly confined to that part of the globe or even that period of time. All our history is stained with what Conrad so aptly described as “just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind.” I knew that in order illustrate this book truthfully, I had to find a way to show that what happens in Heart of Darkness is horrifyingly universal. That it doesn’t end there and will probably never end. That this wasn’t just the story of Europeans in Africa, it is the story of humanity, wherever we may go. I needed to find a way to show that at the bottom of it all, we are all complicit in this. We have all profited from it. To do that I had to take these pictures and pull them away from reality, away from what the viewer might be able to connect to a specific time or place or thing and make them something so odd that they could literally be anything. Only then would the names “Africa” and “Europe” and the concepts of “whiteness” and “blackness” fall away so that the reader could see it for what it is—“robbery with violence” and “aggravated murder on a great scale.” Conrad’s Europeans became grotesqueries. Pale, bloated, fleshy monstrosities with gaping slavering mouths, huge brutal hands, and intentionally symbolic heads. Their victims, while perhaps marginally less monstrous, are gaunt and spectrally black. Shades of death, no strangers to superstition, hatred, and violence themselves, lurk furtively in the hidden spaces of a nightmare-green landscape overrun with conquerors, fanatics, and opportunists quick with the gun and the lash. The second choice had been made.

But pictures do not move, they lie on the page frozen in time, static and dead. This is not a choice; it is a simple fact. And yet it was something I felt I could use to my advantage. Heart of Darkness, in spite of being a story about a journey up a river, is rife with a sense of paralysis, stasis, stillness, and futility. In his narration, Marlow relays image after image after image, all of which emphasize this dance of death taking place before him. On his way to Africa aboard a French steamer, he describes how “[w]e pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-house clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness, with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more soldiers—to take care of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in the surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed particularly to care. They were just flung out there, and on we went. Every day the coast looked the same, as though we had not moved.” There is the awful feeling that no matter what is done, what effort is expended, it won’t matter at all. The sun will keep hammering down, the killing will continue, and the awful charade will go on and on. And the relentless dance of death continues, unceasingly and unmercifully. Again, Conrad puts it best when he writes of a warship incomprehensibly firing its cannon into the jungle “and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding.” This “touch of insanity” hangs over the book, the journey, and the final meeting with Kurtz like a cloud of flies on a corpse.

It all eventually comes down to Kurtz. He is the dark polestar at the center of the novel, the rotting heart around which everything circles in the slow maelstrom. Kurtz almost proved to be my undoing. In Moby-Dick, Ahab is at least a kind of antihero whose insane pride and unwillingness to accept divine providence drive him on and on to lash out continually against an uncaring and unyielding universe. Kurtz gives nothing; he only takes. Kurtz is a disease for the reader, a rot that starts almost innocently but ever so slowly sinks deeper and deeper, cell by cell, into the brain like a cancer until what was there before is no longer known and all is Kurtz. Marlow’s curious synthesis of hatred for and terror and worship of Kurtz mirror the reader’s, I think, and definitely my own. It is said many times that Kurtz is “a remarkable man,” but it is not until the climax, the inevitable meeting, that this is made quite clear. Kurtz, a product of all of Europe and now safely nestled in the bosom of the wilderness, astride both worlds, had a vision that “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!'” Initially we may react to this with disbelief and denial. But we can’t help eventually giving in until the surrender is near total. Having to live with this, having to think about Kurtz and his ideas every day for months, having to become complicit in bringing the man to some kind of life through these illustrations took a savage toll on me. Like Marlow, I became infected with his ideas. Like Marlow, I began to see Kurtz as a “remarkable man.” Like Marlow, who admits, “That is why I have remained loyal to Kurtz to the last, and even beyond, when a long time after I heard once more, not his own voice, but the echo of his magnificent eloquence thrown to me from a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal,” I found in Kurtz a dark and welcoming mirror. It seems that Conrad has, in this tale, provided the key for all of us to unlock our own heart of darkness.

And this can be seen, quite literally seen, in the illustrations. Kurtz begins as an icon, a severed head floating on a golden background crowned with a blood-red jewel embedded with ivory, the bleached-white skull-like face of a minor god. The adoration grew as his ideas took root and more and more of Kurtz is revealed—a gaunt and stricken colossus of a man, by no means unintentionally resembling Christ, hanging transcendentally in a green hell no longer brightened by the sun but instead stained with the blackness of his judgment. Kurtz, having retreated deeper and deeper into the wilderness, closer and closer toward that ultimate personal confrontation with reality, has not quietly faded into the solitude of his hard-won knowledge but instead, like a magnet, draws those in his orbit nearer and nearer. This is what it means to read Conrad. That is what it means to illustrate Conrad, and to bring his words into a different kind of life.

Books always end. The reader can delay this in any number of ways, but the final page is always reached unless the story is abandoned. While I had read Heart of Darkness several times in the past, never before had I followed so closely, so uncomfortably, in the footsteps of Marlow. And never before had I felt the death grip of Kurtz so profoundly on both my waking thoughts and my troubled dreams. But, thankfully, it ended. Looking back on this body of work, this step-by-step journey to the heart of darkness and, hopefully, back again, I can see its shape better. I can see how each image was designed with one singular mood, and how that murderous intent was carried through and delivered upon. This book is for me, personally and artistically, a long and slow

Meet the Author

Matt Kish was born in 1969 and lives in the middle of Ohio. After stints as a cafeteria cook, a hospital registrar, a bookstore manager, and an English teacher, he ended up as a librarian. He draws as often as he can, often with whatever he can find. He has tried his hand at 35mm black-and-white photography (with real film and real chemicals), making comics and zines, a bit of collage, and lots of pen and ink. Moby-Dick is his favorite novel.

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Heart of Darkness 3.8 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 236 reviews.
125454984615984 More than 1 year ago
The Book Heart of Darkness was a very well thought out story. I would not have understood any of the book without someone to guide me through, but when someone guided me then it made sense to me. I would not recommend this book to anyone in high school or even college unless you have someone who has experience and can explain the book to you. There is a crew on a ship called the Nellie Waiting for the tide of the Thames River to push them out to sea. One of the crew members names is Marlow, and he is telling a story about his experience in Africa. The reason this book was confusing to me is beacuse there are two stories being told at the same time. This book changed the way I read books beacuse it makes you pay attention to every littkle detail in books and it takes you to another level.
mondrey_michelle More than 1 year ago
I thought that Heart of Darkness was an exceptional book that tells a story about the author’s trip to Africa. I was not sure if I was going to like it or not, until I was half way through the book, because Conrad does a lot of describing and it was a little hard to understand at first. The detail in the book is a key element because it paints a vivid picture for the reader. If reading this book I think that you should go paragraph by paragraph to analyze everything. This book has a touching ending that makes you really think about life. In the beginning of the book Conrad gives a unique perspective by making the narrator of the story the reader. As he wrote it he made a Russian doll effect, by making the reader tell the story to Marlow on a boat and of the story of Marlow’s trip to Africa. I didn’t like how Conrad jumped back between the atmosphere on the boat and what happened in the narration. I think it was hard in the beginning to tell which one was which. In order for Conrad to tell this chronicle in only seventy seven pages and pack a trip that took him a couple months, he had to make some fragment sentences. I think this was necessary but I didn’t like it. The beginning of the book was hard to get through because of the intense detail and futility. When it got closer to the end it was very intriguing and suspenseful. When I first started reading the book I predicted that the sea and the city London would have a big role in the upcoming events. Conrad describes it as a magnificent object that the crew looks up to. Conrad also describes London as a dark gloomy place and I thought that later in the story the “darkness” that they have left behind and the “heart” is the sea of the men’s travels. This was not exactly true but I think there are many “Heart’s of Darkness’” but the main one is the forest being the darkness and how it took over Kurtz’s heart. Overall this was a great story that everyone should read in there lifetime.
DaniM More than 1 year ago
My advanced high school English course read Heart of Darkness this school year. At first look, the book appeared to be dull and uninteresting. After learning about Joseph Conrad's life as a seaman, I couldn't expect any less than a book about a seaman's adventure. Needless to say I was wrong about my first assumption. Old as it may be, this enlightening story is far from tedious. As we began reading the book, we started with some background notes. We made predictions and all I could draw from the book at that point was that it would be about an adventure at sea. We also questioned why Conrad used a quote from Rumplestiltskin as an epigram at its beginning. I figured out after reading it that he put it there to set the moral of the story; a human life is worth more than all the riches in the world. The story is set with Marlow, the main character, on the boat. He is talking about his adventure to meet the incomparable Mr. Kurtz, to his other shipmates and us the readers. The things he saw and the people he met filled this lively journey in to the heart of darkness. That being said, my one prediction was definitely being met while reading this book. As Marlow, the main character's, story unraveled paragraph by paragraph I started to understand what mental torture he was going through. It's a story you have to read slowly to get every single clue. Every part of the puzzle is crucial to understand this particular work of literature. I must say that it made an impact on me. It sharpened my reading comprehension skills and made other books much simpler in comparison. I know for sure that I will remember it, as I get older. I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a complex book to challenge them, and the movie as a companion.
westermantyler1 More than 1 year ago
A great novel needs to take a toll on the reader. Works of darkness, oppression, and horror of this sort can easily become kitch and misuse the emotive pathos of wretched acts. This one stays plenty cohesive and focused. Conrad expertly reflects on the core of evil and plight. His expression of sin relentlessly strikes the reader with pain and embarrassment in one's species; in one's world. The quest for Kurtz parallels Conrad's descent into the heart of the matter as he gets closer to his ultimate revelation about the utter power of evil, or horror, of darkness. We find it is beyond humanity, it seethes from the maw of nature. If these themes seem relevant or intriguing to you, I recommend this powerful accomplishment of a novel.
Bigawilli More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, was originally published in 1899. This book is a mystery where the captain of a steamboat, Marlow, needs to find the rapidly deteriorating Kurtz who has delved deep into the center of the ivory trade. Marlow captains his steamboat up the Congo River in the late nineteenth century encountering new experiences as he goes along on his journey to find the Kurtz who at this time he idolizes. The story progresses quickly, as it is a novella, but because of this it can also be difficult to understand. Though it does progress quickly it does follow through without detours. In the novel the characters also change in their own ways. Marlow, who is also the narrator, changes his viewpoints and ideas of the world. Meanwhile Kurtz has been dwelling in the jungle and has changed everything to a complete opposite of what he was before. The jungle has almost reverted him to a more primitive human having a "heart of darkness" from the evil dealings in which he has partaken. The novella follows through these changes and helps a reader understand the plight of people turning to vices during this period when there is no structure. As the narrator is a captain, the novella is written in an English maritime style of writing using diction of the seas. The novel contains many nautical terms, which may confuse some readers but with patience they could be understood. This diction helps set the mood of being on a ship and helps the reader come close to living the story. I think most high school students would be able to read this book, although more reluctant readers will have a little more trouble wading through the diction and following the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story. However, this edition of the book on my nook is terrible. There are misspellings and improper punctuation that are not in the original paper edition(s). Definitely not for a student who needs to quote passages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book itself is a wonderful read, however, this paperback version is hard to read with its irregular print and there are also no page numbers on the book which makes it very hard to read in class, being the reason I bought this book. Because this is a print-on-demand book, I was not able to return it to a local store and online (said by the sales representative) which makes me very frustrated. Overall this book is cheap and because the story is good, I recommend people reading it though if there's another purpose for reading this book besides personal enjoyment, I would highly recommend buying another version of this novel.
Anonymous 13 days ago
TRFeller 5 months ago
I first read this book for my freshman college English class and had to write a paper on it. At the time, it was the most challenging work of fiction that I had ever read. A few years ago, I re-read it for my Great Books discussion group, and it was a much more satisfying experience as my reading skills had greatly improved. Nor did I find the implicit racism as offensive as I did then, because I have read much worse since and for 1899, the year of its publication, it was not that bad. Then I recently re-read the book again for another book group. It is still a challenging read, but now I could study how Conrad, for whom English was a second language, put words together. It is almost as if each sentence is a story in itself. On the other hand, I now find that famous quote, “The horror! The horror!” to be rather ludicrous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, paints the picture of not only an adventure throughout the African continent; it also depicts inevitable corruption established from fraudulent, tyrannical authority. Through carefully selected diction, the story succeeds in explaining the essence of the exploration through the Congo while contributing to overall deeper meanings, themes, and other various instances of symbolism. Although written over a century ago, the story is undoubtedly one to read for both entertainment and profound significance. The wonderfully implemented use of symbolism in the novel is easily one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story. For example, Kurtz, a character with a respectable reputation, who is worshiped like a god in front of his African tribal followers, is initially rumored to be a remarkable leader who possesses a plentiful amount of ivory, while appearing to symbolize civilization and liberty for his home country of Belgium. However, upon further notice, this turns out to be false in that Kurtz is not the wonderful person that he seemed to be and is more of a tyrant to his people while in pursuit of wealth and power. His image in the story ultimately depicts the “heart of darkness” in that all corruption can be traced back to a single entity. This, arguably more so than any other element in the story, clearly establishes the idea that the novel lives on to this day in that centers of “darkness” do exist (possibly within the best of people) and that some may have vastly altered intentions from what they at first seem. The overall context of the story with its present day relatability presents a substantial reason in itself to read and enjoy the novel and its themes. This novel is particularly well written for a multitude of reasons. With a subtle, but powerful writing style, Conrad ingeniously exposes impactful themes through a brilliantly crafted storyline. The ending will assuredly enlighten the reader with thought provoking ideas and perspectives on society as whole that may not otherwise be generated without this story line and its themes. With that said, this book should be read by everyone as it enlightens the reader in a number of ways from enjoyment to deeper meanings of society, and even history/understanding of colonization in late 19th century Africa. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tay_landers More than 1 year ago
Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness was very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, though some parts were very difficult to understand without the help of others. Conrad chose the decision to make the reader the narrator of the story. This decision made it able for the reader to connect to the characters and their journey. Throughout the book, many literary devices were used. For example, symbolism was used in the entire novel. For example, greed and darkness was portrayed as the character, Kurtz. Also, Mother Nature was transformed into and immortal African woman, and the darkness in the book symbolized evil, just as the light symbolized the good. Another major device used was flashback. The majority of the book was a flashback narrated by Marlow, while he was on a ship drifting into darkness. This was confusing at times, because depicting the flashbacks from the main plot was difficult. Overall, Marlow’s journey into the heart of Africa was told in a very unique perspective. This is definitely a book that will make you think, seeing all of the underlined meanings. It was a very intriguing novel through the use of Conrad’s literary elements and the portrayal of good and evil within the characters. The book was a very dense and challenging 72 pages to comprehend. Though it was challenging, I would recommend the book. It’s a brain teaser, but it was definitely worth the confusion, once Conrad’s true intent was shown through the characters and literary elements used.
EmmaPress More than 1 year ago
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, is a novel about a man, Marlow, and his journey to the “heart of darkness.” In the novel, Marlow’s sanity is put to the test as he travels down the Congo River to the inner station where he is to find a man by the name of Kurtz. Before Marlow’s journey begins he must travel to Africa to receive his steamboat. Upon arriving in Africa, he finds that his boat is leaking and he must wait to begin his journey until it gets fixed. This is one of the many tests to Marlow’s sanity found as the novel progresses. Conrad uses various rhetorical devices throughout the novel to assist the reader in discovering the hidden meaning in the novel. In Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, rhetorical devices such as imagery and symbolism are used to help the reader better understand the journey Marlow is faced with and his struggle to stay sane along the way.    A writer uses imagery when he/she wants to paint a certain picture in the reader’s head. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses imagery in various different ways. For example, in chapter one Marlow describes the terrible state of the natives who have been enslaved and left to die. "Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness…” (page 14). Conrad uses language such as this to evoke emotion from the reader while he paints a vivid picture of the state of the natives. Another example of imagery occurs when Marlow describes the situation in which the natives are shooting them at. “Sticks, little sticks, were flying about – thick: they were whizzing before my nose, dropping below me, striking behind me against my pilot-house… Arrows, by Jove! We are being shot at!” (pg 40). With this example of imagery, Conrad creates suspense. He allows the reader time to think before he explains what is happening to make he/she want to continue reading. Imagery can be found quite often throughout the novel and like these two situation, can evoke emotion from the reader causing he/she to read further into the novel.  In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses symbolism to represent the dark and the light. In the novel, Conrad uses Kurtz to symbolize the dark and the African woman to symbolize the light.  After Kurtz boards the steamboat to leave the heart of darkness the African women appears beside the ship. She stares at the men for a few minutes and then commits a gesture. "Suddenly she opened her bared arms and threw them up rigid above her head, as though in an uncontrollable desire to touch the sky, and at the same time the swift shadows darted out on the earth, swept around on the river, gathering the steamer into a shadowy embrace. A formidable silence hung over the scene" (pg 56). This gesture affirms that the African woman is an extension of the wilderness and a symbol for all that is good in the world, the light. In comparison, when Kurtz’s says his last words “The horror, the horror,” it becomes clear that he symbolizes the darkness. In his final moments before death, Kurtz realizes all the bad he has done in his lifetime. He was an imperialist and conquered African land “to spread religion,” but while fulfilling this goal he enslaved the natives and stole ivory. Conrad uses symbolism in his novel to compare the good and evil in the world.  I recommend that all high school students read this novel. Although it can be a tough read, I believe that it is very beneficial to a high schooler’s learning experience. The way that Conrad uses rhetorical devices helped me to better understand why authors use rhetorical devices and what they mean to the storyline. I don’t think that this novel should be assigned to students to read on their own. I think that it is more beneficial to a student’s learning, although it might take more time, if this particular novel is read in class, with the teacher, and discussed so that the student can gain as much knowledge as possible. After reading this novel, I feel that I have a better grasp on how to read deeper into a novel as opposed to just reading on the surface. 
stephanie-mayle More than 1 year ago
The scope of classic literature can be a very difficult world to explore.  Around every corner is a rhetorical device, behind every tree is symbolism, and each step reveals a new dimension to the plot line.  It is easy to get lost, to confuse yourself in the words and overlook the true meaning behind them.  Classic literature can be intimidating, and the novel, Heart of Darkness, is that tenfold. Joseph Conrad’s best-selling novel encompasses almost every rhetorical element that can be imagined.  Metaphor is one that stands out particularly well.  As noted before, the mark of a great piece of literature often is the use of symbolism in objects, characters, settings, etc.  It is in this that Conrad excels above all others.  He personalizes Mother Nature into an immortal African woman, the evil into the dark, good into the light, and the greed of human nature into the character of Kurtz.  These extended metaphors throughout the novel add a whole new analytical level to the story.  The book is transformed from one man’s African journey to a war between good and evil, and a mystery of who is on who’s side. Conrad also very obviously, and at the same time very subtly, uses flashback.  The majority of the book is a whole flashback narrated by Marlow while on a boat with some friends waiting for the tide to change.  Through this extended monologue, the reader can often forget that there is a plot on the outside of the main plot.  This is yet another example of Conrad’s genius.  By modeling his novel after a matryoshka doll, with each story fitting into another, he adds to the overall complexity of the book and creates a plot unparalleled by any others. Juxtaposition is also often referred to throughout Conrad’s novel.  His adjectives often oppose each other--light and dark, innocent and guilty, hidden and obvious--and create a clash of ideals that promote the reader to critically think.  By doing this, Conrad adds to his story of a world torn between two sides, and the struggles humanity faces because of it.  Each contrast allows the strength of the word to be multiplied, and adds to the depth of the plot as a whole. Overall, reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a decision one won’t regret.  His words shape the English language into phrases that mean nothing and everything simultaneously, and allow a reader to truly create their own interpretations.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone willing to further their own literary consciousness and who appreciates the transformation of simple letters from words into meanings.  As Conrad says, “that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence.”
Josh_Biggs More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s decision to include the reader as a character listening to Marlow’s story first hand was a bold and smart move. Through this decision, Conrad really brought the reader into the story which made it a more enjoyable experience. Conrad’s random switch from present to past time (vice versa) throughout the book was also a unique attribute. Although it could be a bit difficult to fully follow, this helped the reader become more involved in the story, where they were actually sitting there listening to Marlow tell of his adventurous journey into the heart of Africa. Conrad’s use of symbolism to symbolize Kurtz as being the darkness was a brilliant literary move. With using a character, Kurtz, who is at first not well known but further explained and identified as Marlow moves through the congo really captures the essence of the darkness, otherwise known as imperialism and the conquering of Africa for wealth. Conrad implements an unphased and harsh tone towards the horrors and thoughts Marlow faced/overcame, for example towards the beginning of the book Marlow discusses the Eldorado Expedition for gold. Here he explains what happened to the majority of the animals that died but he doesn’t know what happened to the ¨less valuable¨ animals. These ¨less valuable¨ animals turn out to be human beings. This is a very stark and harsh tone, especially because it is also being told of from a sailor, like those on the Eldorado Expedition.  I recommend that all students read this book when they get the chance, especially if you are in an AP or upper level class. However, the book is very dense in content and it is difficult to understand everything going on. One should stop frequently throughout the book and make sure they understand and comprehend what is going on. If this is being done for a project, the movie with same title does not depict the story as Conrad would have wanted it to be done. With a lacking central theme and distinct alterations to the plot, I would not recommend watching the movie, especially before reading the book! In conclusion, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was a very entertaining book with many rhetorical and literary devices that help the reader drastically improve their reading skills. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im still here wqere is new camp for when i come back
WalterEthanGooch More than 1 year ago
During his life Joseph Conrad escaped political persecution in his home country of Ukraine. He then began a sailing career in France, after that he learned English and gained British citizenship in 1886. Even though Conrad was from the Ukraine he is known as one of the greatest English writers.  When Joseph Conrad moved to Brittan he became the Master Mariner and took a voyage to the Congo. One thing I loved about “Heart of Darkness” was the many rhetorical devices Conrad used to paint a picture in the reader’s eyes. The one device that as the most present was metaphor. The entire book was one giant mega-metaphor comparing the “Heart of Darkness” to the evil within Kurtz. When Marlow reaches the inner station where Kurtz was he found that Kurtz had been killing the natives for their ivory. This is the evil from him which Marlow compares to the “Heart of Darkness”. I loved this aspect of the book and how the whole book ties back into itself.  Another reason I liked “Heart of Darkness” was because once you could understand what the words of the book actually meant, you could pick up on implied or hidden things between the lines. For example, when Marlow reaches the inner station he finds the Russian harlequin waiting for them and as he speaks you can pick up that he is almost in love with Kurtz, because he won’t say anything bad about him. Another example is when Marlow and the brick maker talk Marlow accuses him of being a spy for the manager without actually saying it.  In general this book is very well written and has countless rhetorical devices hidden away in it. I think this is a great book to read and to analyze. Reading it will defiantly make you read between the lines, and pick up on things you otherwise would not have. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting and challenging read.
Kristenyeager More than 1 year ago
Attention All AP English Students: Heart of Darkness was overall a very challenging book to read, comprehend, and analyze, so for all of those high school students looking for a short novel to read for a book report;  you probably don’t want to pick this book. Even though this book was a shy 72 pages, those 72 pages made me think harder than any other book I have ever picked up (other  than my math textbook).  Just to put things in perspective; it took my class a span of 45 minutes just to read and analyze the first two pages. It took 45 minutes to read 2 pages!  As my class and I read about Marlow’s adventure and the challenges he and his crew had faced as they traveled up the Congo River in efforts to reach Mr. Kurtz, the faster and easier it got for me to analyze what Joseph Conrad was trying to explain. This book had widen my eyes and made me notice literal devices without trying to look for them. I would open a page and right away I would spot out allusions to the bible, the use of personification, similes, irony, symbolism and the list could go on and on. I am positive that through reading this book I have strengthen my capability of analyzing what I am reading.  After watching the movie and reading the book I would definitely recommend reading the book first because it will make you, the reader create your own image of what Conrad is creating. While in the movie, the director creates an image of what he interpreted from Conrad rather than giving the viewer their own freedom of imagination like how the book does for the reader.
HHSSoccer28 More than 1 year ago
“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad is one of the best books for people seeking to further their skills in reading and truly understanding what you read. “Heart of Darkness” is full of underlying messages that once uncovered unveil a deeper meaning to the story and to the  characters. These messages can be easily found by reading between the lines and understanding some of the rhetorical devices used  by Mr. Conrad. One of the most significant differences between the book and the movie is that the book puts you there with Marlow and  the crew, the movie however is just a movie and a movie cannot convey the true deeper meaning due to fewer details, misinterpretations  from the author to the director and a lack of information conveyed through only words. One of if not the most interesting effects Conrad put into his work is the Russian doll effect, a doll inside of a doll inside of a doll and so on. This effect exercises the mind and adds an incredible depth to the story. Conrad uses many rhetorical and literary elements in his writing, his mastery of these elements of which  he uses to set the book entirely above the movie are some of the most important reasons as to why the book should be read. One of the  elements used is imagery, an example of this is, “She was a savage and superb, wide-eyed and magnificent; there was something  ominous and stately...her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some  struggling" (pg56). “When the mistress lifts her arms above her head "swift shadows darted out on the earth, swept around on the  river, gathering the steamer into a shadowy embrace"(pg56). Conrad describes this mistress as he describes the jungle both mysterious  and full of power. I personally recommend that people read the book first but with great caution, this book needs to be read slowly enough that you can  read between the lines in order to understand what is really happening in the story but not so slow that you get bored with it. This book  is a must read for people who seek to advance their skills in understanding what you read. The movie can be watched but only after the book is read because of the lack of details and deeper meaning in the movie. 
Evannoeld More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a light, casual read, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness may not be the publication for you. However, if an expansion of the mind is what you desire, you should be strongly inclined to give it a whirl. Unlike other examples of early 1900’s literature, from this story one is able to gather not only an intellectual gain; an improvement, by necessity of understanding, in one’s ability to read and comprehend complex and foreign syntax, but also great enjoyment in a story line which attracts an adventurous curiosity from any readers inner childhood Columbus. In addition to reading comprehension, one may gather a deeper knowledge of working use of dozens of rhetorical elements, a skill I am much appreciative of as a future college attendee. Among my favorite of the rhetoric infused by Conrad was his cynical sarcasm, used more than once to point out the hypocrisy and evils of the European ivory workers/imperialists; an example would be Marlow’s calling of the European task noble after witnessing a chain gang. Another facet of interpretation interestingly taken from the book would two of the novels strongest motifs: insanity and futility. Part of the enjoyment I personally had with the book was noticing all the times these two motifs came up and being able to relate such things to the imperialism of many other countries/continents. Lastly, ironically the only thing you came to the review section to read, is my overall recommendation. Well, yes, I would highly recommend this book. Perhaps, although, if you would not consider yourself an advanced reader, it may be helpful to purchase an expanded version which includes a bit of explanation and help in pointing out the subtleties that bring this book, despite it having been written and set a world away, into personal significance. Another option would also be to update yourself while reading with help from sites such as spark notes. Valuable and entertaining read shared with me by my most respected and knowledgeable teacher.
leila Haynesworth More than 1 year ago
Heart of darkness, the novel, is a book worth reading. The novel depicts various rhetorical devices. Symbolism is widely expressed throughout the entire reading. Conrad creates Marlow to be this dark character, so even when there is “light” it never truly symbolizes it. Light generally means purity, success, and other positive things. For some odd reason the “light” in the novel always leads to darkness. Marlow even said “sunlight can be made to lie, too”. Flies in the novel symbolize exactly what they typically symbolize, death. All through chapter one, flies would appear whenever an agent dies. They also reappeared when Kurtz died. There are many more symbols and imagery that fills the entire novel along with more rhetorical devices. In order to find these out, I recommend reading the novel. It is quite a hard task but is worth it if you want a challenge. The reading demands your full attention because you have to focus to understand what is going on. No need to watch the movie afterwards because it is horrible. The novel itself was enough to rate this four stars. It felt too hard to read at first, but don’t give up, once I actually completely finished it I felt so accomplished.
trevcook15 More than 1 year ago
Great Story In the novel, Heart of Darkness, Marlow is telling the story of his trip up the Congo River to the other people aboard the Nellie. Joseph Conrad does an excellent job describing, in detail, what happened during this experience in less than a hundred pages. Much of what the reader knows about the characters comes from the detail that Marlow describes them. The reader doesn’t learn what the characters are like as much from what they actually say. It comes from what Marlow says about what he was thinking while everything happened.   The novel does a great job using pathos to appeal to the viewers' emotions. It is easy to feel the anger and sadness that Marlow feels when the helmsman is killed. It is also easy to feel the brutality of Kurtz. There is a wide range of symbolism within the story as well. Kurtz is symbolized as the dark side of the human race (like star wars). Kurtz is the victim of dehumanization. In his absence from civilization and morals, he is transformed into the cruel, brutal man he died as.  This book is an excellent read, but only if you are an experienced reader or have an experienced reader with you while you read. It is easy to miss important details in the story if you do not read very carefully, so it is important to spend time analyzing what you are reading.