Heart of Darkness / Edition 1by Joseph Conrad
Pub. Date: 09/28/2007
Publisher: Coyote Canyon Press
A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.
Joyce Carol Oates on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness:
Heart of Darkness has had an influence that goes beyond the specifically literary. This parable of a man's 'heart of darkness' dramatized in the alleged 'Dark Continent' of Africa transcended its late Victorian era to acquire the stature of one of the great, if troubling, visionary works of western civilization."
- Coyote Canyon Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.25(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
Table of ContentsWith an Introduction by Caryl Phillips and commentary by H.L. Mencken, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Lionel Trilling, Chiua Achebe, and Philip Gourevitch
Heart of Darkness, which appeared at the very beginning of our century, was a Cassandra cry announcing the end of Victorian Europe, on the verge of transforming itself into the Europe of violence," wrote the critic Czeslaw Milosz.
Originally published in 1902, Heart of Darkness remains one of this century's most enduring--and harrowing--works of fiction. Written several years after Conrad's grueling sojourn in the Belgian Congo, the novel tells the story of Marlow, a seaman who undertakes his own journey into the African jungle to find the tormented white trader Kurtz. Rich in irony and spellbinding prose, Heart of Darkness is a complex meditation on colonialism, evil, and the thin line between civilization and barbarity.
This edition contains selections from Conrad's Congo Diary of 1890--the first notes, in effect, for the novel which was composed at the end of that decade. Virginia Woolf wrote of Conrad, "His books are full of moments of vision. They light up a whole character in a flash. . . . He could not write badly, one feels, to save his life."
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It's a dreary London morning. The air is thick with visions of grandeur, bold navigators and fearless conquerors. The Nellie rocks gently on the Thames. So on and so forth, oh the thrills of required reading. This is the enchanting beginning to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Published in 1902 and set during the era of imperialism, this short yet piercing novella details the journey of Charles Marlow, a curious and cynical seaman, into the dark heart of Africa. Marlow has been recently hired by a Belgian trading company. His job is to captain a steamboat down the Congo River to the isolated Inner Station, in search of a mysterious man named Kurtz. Kurtz is the company's best man. He is famed for his work, collecting more ivory than all the other stations put together, and for his fabulous intellect. There have been rumors that he is very ill, thus Marlow is sent to retrieve him and his ivory. Along the way he witnesses just how susceptible humans are to savagery. In the opening scene, Marlow relates the Romans conquering the Thames to the Europeans conquering the Congo River in Africa thousands of years later. Both lands were considered to be inhabited by savages. However, as the reader comes to discover, the real savages are their conquerors. Conrad uses this comparison as a springboard to begin his examination of human nature in its darkest form. The Europeans are consumed by the monsters of greed, power, and racism. One such character is the General Manager of the Central Station. In a conversation with his uncle, he expresses his contempt for Kurtz. His uncle states that "anything can be done in this country" (Conrad 104), this illustrates that the uncivilized environment enables them to act in any manner they please and causes them to lose all moral stability. Although he was once called a remarkable man, Kurtz becomes the ultimate example of an evil man consumed by his own ambition. I found that the author had a penetrating insight of the human mind that he displayed well through his characterization. None of the characters besides Marlow and Kurtz are called by their names, only by their occupation. This exemplifies that their jobs, and their money, rule their lives. The book is full of vivid descriptions of the landscape that nicely create the dark atmosphere that Conrad is going for. These descriptions are coupled with meaty digressions, bursting with profoundness, that beg to be picked apart. In this way, the quality of Conrad's writing is characteristic of a classical text. I actually like that the novella is inconclusive. It was meant to delve into the flaws of human nature and the problems of imperialism, but with no clear alternative. This maintains historical accuracy and also leaves us with the mindset that the world is an imperfect place. The ending gives you an uneasy feeling. This is not normally something that I look for in a good ending but it works for this piece. It leaves a somber and astute impression. Outwardly, the book isn't full of action. As much as a journey via steamboat through the jungles of Africa sounds exciting, it really isn't. It wasn't designed to thrill you or to keep you on the edge of your seat, but if you are a literature buff who enjoys mental exercise this is a hearty read just for you. I would recommend it simply for the appreciation of its literary beauty, but not for a fun read.
Heart of Darkness is a book that is unlike every other, in every way. It is definitely worth reading.
I read this book several years ago in college, while completing my English BA, and was so intensely impressed, I actually chose to write a paper on it. This dark and disturbing tale is perhaps the single best (word for word, paragraph for paragraph) written piece of fiction I've ever read. And, as a lifelong voracious reader, this is no small compliment! It's so beautifully written, it almost reads like poetry -- as though Conrad chose each and every word with extreme care. You will find yourself reading the chilling passages again and again, just for the sheer horrific joy of it! A masterpiece, plain and simple. BUY IT.