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Heart of Darkness and Other Stories [Hardcover]

Joseph Conrad
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2011 Collector's Library
Heart of Darkness is a short and vividly brutal account of colonial enterprise that has as much in common with the jaded Evelyn Waugh of Black Mischief as it does with any of Conrad's direct contemporaries in the late nineteenth century. It is accompanied in this volume by the tales with which it has been published since 1902, the autobiographical short story "Youth," and the less personal but more substantial tale of an old man's fall from fortune, "The End of the Tether." Though these stories differ considerably in style and content from his later novels, much of his reputation rests upon the words contained in this volume.

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From the Publisher

Performed by award winning narrator Ralph Cosham. Produced by Commuters Library, awarded AUDIO BEST OF THE YEAR for four straight years (Publishers Weekly, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Joseph Conrad was born to Polish parents in 1857. Conrad was orphaned by the age of eleven and was subsequently taught by his uncle, a great influence and mentor. Leaving for Marseilles in 1874, Conrad began his training as a seaman. Conrad joined the British merchant navy and became a British subject in 1886. After his first novel, Almayer's Folly was published in 1895 he left the sea behind and settled down to a life of writing. Troubled financially for many years, he faced uncomplimentary critics and an indifferent public. He finally became a popular success with Chance (1913). By the end of his life on August 3, 1924, his status as one of the great writers of his time was assured.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the horror Nov. 2 2000
Last year, I saw an interview with Walter McDougall on Booknotes about his book, Promised Land, Crusader State : The American Encounter With the World Since 1776. His thesis is that America is torn between two competing & diametrically opposed impulses. On the one hand, we want to be a Shining City on a Hill, uncontaminated by contact with the outside world. But on the other hand we long to bring freedom, democracy, etc. to other nations.
The reasons for this dichotomy have never been presented with more power than they are in Heart of Darkness. It is the story of how the Imperial impulse--bringing civilization to the savages--corrupts the bringers.
Marlow, a steam boat pilot, sets off upriver in Africa to find Kurtz, an ivory trader who has gone native. Along the way, he finds a pamphlet that Kurtz wrote about the civilizing mission of the White man, which ends with the postscript "Exterminate all the brutes!" When, Marlow finds the mortally ill Kurtz, in a camp surrounded by pikes with human heads mounted on them, he has stopped trading for ivory & has instead taken to raiding villages & taking it by brute force. He has abandoned civilized norms and has adopted the methods of the natives.
Kurtz final words to Marlow are "The horror. The horror." When Marlow returns to Europe he meets Kurtz fiance & when she begs to know if Kurtz spoke of her, Marlow tells her that he died with her name on his lips. It is not just the savagery of the natives that is corrupting, it is the very notion of a civilizing mission. Conrad is wrong, of course, but it's a great book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Horror Sept. 29 1998
By A Customer
One of the great short novels in existence. On the surface, Conrad's Marlow is a spellbinding storyteller. Underneath, a psychoanalytical tale of man's baser animistic instincts comes forth, of descent into a primal state outside the moderating bounds of civilized accoutrements. Like Marlow, the reader will be left with the curse of a penetrating view of the world, no longer able to ignore the "horror", unable to accept - or even tolerate - the pretense of the normal routine of "civilized" society. The reader will be doomed to look beneath the surface and see the beast that lurks within each soul, capable of savagery little imagined but now unforgettable. Conrad's literary talents were absolutely first rate - all the more remarkable for a man who was Ukranian born of Polish parents but wrote in English. Concise, penetrating, intelligent, unflinching prose which propels the reader forward on an ultimately illuminating journey of discovery of one's self. Heart of Darkness is a rare combination of great story telling and literary achievement, all in a very concise package.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was pretty good Oct. 3 1999
By A Customer
Unlike some of the other readers here, I thought that HEART OF DARKNESS was pretty good. Not that I understood it the first time I read it either, but you can't write it off as "boring" or "pointless" simply because you have to read it more than once. The more I study the novel and the more I read into its depth, the more I understand it. I really wish some people would do the book some more justice and not crave simple one-liners, who think that they know literature because they read Oscar Wilde and J.D. Salinger. They have a word for those people too - "posers."
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I was disappointed to find "Heart of Darkness" muddled and disjointed. I guess I was prejudiced by "Apocalypse Now" which I thought was a great, if flawed, movie. I did, however, enjoy both "Youth" and "The End of the Tether", especially the prose. I was always a sucker for sea stories. Maybe I'll try "Heart of Darkness" again over the winter.
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