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Heart of Darkness/The Secret Sharer (Enriched Classics)

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ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP Two of Joseph Conrad's most compelling and haunting works, in which the deepest perceptions and desires of the human heart and mind are explored. EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives readers important background information • A chronology of the author's life and work • A t ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP Two of Joseph Conrad's most compelling and haunting works, in which the deepest perceptions and desires of the human heart and mind are explored. EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives readers important background information • A chronology of the author's life and work • A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context • An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations • Detailed explanatory notes • Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work • Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction • A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential. SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON


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ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP Two of Joseph Conrad's most compelling and haunting works, in which the deepest perceptions and desires of the human heart and mind are explored. EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives readers important background information • A chronology of the author's life and work • A t ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP Two of Joseph Conrad's most compelling and haunting works, in which the deepest perceptions and desires of the human heart and mind are explored. EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES: • A concise introduction that gives readers important background information • A chronology of the author's life and work • A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context • An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations • Detailed explanatory notes • Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work • Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction • A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential. SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON

30 review for Heart of Darkness/The Secret Sharer (Enriched Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    read this book for the first time in high school. we explored the novella from the perspective of a young adventurer wandering into the congo...hated it read it in my death in lit class...provoked some interesting discussions on race...still hated it read it again for brit lit...talked again about race and imperialism and my professor was so awesome i almost enjoyed the book for a smidgen of a second...but no. rivets rivets rivets...boring boring boring...this 75 page novella takes more time to rea read this book for the first time in high school. we explored the novella from the perspective of a young adventurer wandering into the congo...hated it read it in my death in lit class...provoked some interesting discussions on race...still hated it read it again for brit lit...talked again about race and imperialism and my professor was so awesome i almost enjoyed the book for a smidgen of a second...but no. rivets rivets rivets...boring boring boring...this 75 page novella takes more time to read than it would take for me to walk from new york to alaska. its worse now because i know the scenes i whould be looking for (crazy man firing cannonballs into the jungle, marlow describing the africans as "lesser beasts" and harder still, marlow not describing the africans and what does this mean?, london is the impentrable heart of darkness the end) but no...i will always be at odds with HOD.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Judy Vasseur

    Joseph Conrad makes me think of a Edgar Allen Poe on serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. (Although he is said to have attempted suicide in his late teens so he couldn't have been all that jolly) Most say his writing is dark but I find it funny. Bless my soul! By jove! What makes me think of Poe is the narrative which is like a constant paranoid obsessive-compulsive interior chatter. But I love the way the characters are outwardly totally in control and collected. "I smiled urbanely" Yes he smiled urban Joseph Conrad makes me think of a Edgar Allen Poe on serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. (Although he is said to have attempted suicide in his late teens so he couldn't have been all that jolly) Most say his writing is dark but I find it funny. Bless my soul! By jove! What makes me think of Poe is the narrative which is like a constant paranoid obsessive-compulsive interior chatter. But I love the way the characters are outwardly totally in control and collected. "I smiled urbanely" Yes he smiled urbanely while hiding a murderer in his cabin not four feet from where he entertained the visiting Skipper!!!!! "I think I had come creeping quietly as near insanity as any man who has not actually gone over the border...." Joseph would know. The horror! The horror! YES Joseph Conrad is very funny. Marlow can't seem to get any rivets to fix his steamboat as the weeks go past on the Congo, but gets plenty of cheap cotton fabric and plastic beads, while boxes and boxes of rivets sit split open downstream. Military and organizational dysfunction. Or is it the humidity? "You could fill your pockets with rivets for the trouble of stooping down—and there wasn't one rivet to be found where it was wanted.....And several times a week a coast caravan came in with trade goods—ghastly glazed calico that made you shudder only to look at it, glass beads value about a penny a quart, confounded spotted cotton handkerchiefs. And no rivets. Three carriers could have brought all that was wanted to set that steamboat afloat. " He gets shot at by arrows, ( "They might have been poisoned, but they looked as though they wouldn't kill a cat.") meets a harlequin, sees shrunken heads on spikes through his binoculars, goes through the dark forest and confronts the escaping Kurtz: "I had immense plans," he ( Kurtz ) muttered irresolutely. "Yes," said I, "but if you try to shout I'll smash your head with—" There was not a stick or a stone near. "I will throttle you for good," I corrected myself.

  3. 4 out of 5

    RussBear

    The horror! The horror! I never understood exactly why this book has been termed a classic and why we still torture school children with it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    The Secret Sharer should get more attention than it does. Short but very compelling story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Just fantastic. Not that anything less from Conrad was expected. But regard for something special should never be taken for granted, nor should it be deprived of its appropriate kudos when time allows. Masterful narrative. Better than average characters. An amazing story of a place that time may always forget. I find it funny that many critics cite Conrad's "racism" in regard to the African natives. For one, frankly, criticizing someone from that era and background for holding black people in lo Just fantastic. Not that anything less from Conrad was expected. But regard for something special should never be taken for granted, nor should it be deprived of its appropriate kudos when time allows. Masterful narrative. Better than average characters. An amazing story of a place that time may always forget. I find it funny that many critics cite Conrad's "racism" in regard to the African natives. For one, frankly, criticizing someone from that era and background for holding black people in lower regard is like critizing people today for using the Internet. Mostly for worse, it was the attitude of the day. We can't do anything about it. Move on. Also, I hardly doubt Conrad was necessarily being racist to begin with. The color theme of darkness and black I think has less to do with skin color and more to do with culture, progress, lifestyle and general attitudes in a place of the world that is buffered for everything else. It was a culture that put decapitated heads on spits. Tribes who launched arrows and spears at dudes on steamboats, killing people and shit. It was a people who lived in the dark, musty jungles. Jungles rife with the unknown, with death. I guess "unknown" is the key word here. Darkness doesn't strike fear because it's black, but because you never know when you're going to stub your toe against the dresser or be attacked by a goddamned jaguar. The color of an African's skin is so inconsequential. In fact, that's my part in curing racism in the world -- quit thinking your damned skin color is so important. It isn't! It means bunk! Nobody cares!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Keane

    Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and it is an excellent adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I've seen the movie around 80 times and have read the novella at least 12 times. It is a powerful examination of the fine line between civilization and madness and what these things mean to the soul of the individual. In many cases the so-called civilized characters are the most decadent and debased. The story works on you on a subtle but powerful level. A must read for any age. A side recommendati Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and it is an excellent adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I've seen the movie around 80 times and have read the novella at least 12 times. It is a powerful examination of the fine line between civilization and madness and what these things mean to the soul of the individual. In many cases the so-called civilized characters are the most decadent and debased. The story works on you on a subtle but powerful level. A must read for any age. A side recommendation here: the fantasy writings of Robert E. Howard. Everyone knows the generally crappy films of his characters Conan and Kull but the stories themselves often explore similar themes to Heart of Darkness. His characters are very Existential and human.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    I LOVE JOSEPH CONRAD. I don't even know... there's just something about his writing that makes my brain happy. I generally hate seafaring stories, but his are so much more than that. There's so much depth to his writing, and so much insight into the human psyche. Also, I have yet to read an author who does a more convincing oral-narration voice. Also also... the man didn't even learn English until he was an adult. How he then managed to write in English with more finesse than 99% of English-speak I LOVE JOSEPH CONRAD. I don't even know... there's just something about his writing that makes my brain happy. I generally hate seafaring stories, but his are so much more than that. There's so much depth to his writing, and so much insight into the human psyche. Also, I have yet to read an author who does a more convincing oral-narration voice. Also also... the man didn't even learn English until he was an adult. How he then managed to write in English with more finesse than 99% of English-speaking writers have managed to do before or since STAGGERS me. RESPECT, DUDE. Respect. *bows to Conrad's genius*

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Hoerger

    I had a really hard time with this book, even though it wasn't very long. First of all, the constant use of quotation mark (it's a frame story) annoyed me. In addition, the prose wasn't particularly awesome. Sure, there were a couple passages that were memorable, but, on the whole, I wasn't impressed. As for the story, it's about a sailor going up a river in Africa to meet the god-like "Mistah Kurtz." This journey, of course, is a metaphor for a journey into the human soul. I read this book beca I had a really hard time with this book, even though it wasn't very long. First of all, the constant use of quotation mark (it's a frame story) annoyed me. In addition, the prose wasn't particularly awesome. Sure, there were a couple passages that were memorable, but, on the whole, I wasn't impressed. As for the story, it's about a sailor going up a river in Africa to meet the god-like "Mistah Kurtz." This journey, of course, is a metaphor for a journey into the human soul. I read this book because I thought it would better help me understand T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men. I also understand it is one of precursors to the Modernist movement, so it should definitely be read. I think it's one of those books (I find myself saying this often) that I will re-read and hopefully appreciate more. I probably should have taken more time to read it, and should have gotten my own copy so I could make marks in it. On the whole, I'm glad to be rid of this book, for now. I felt like I was fighting off boredom and incomprehension half the time I was reading it. Have a good day.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I believe the book's tagline says it all: "The horror, the horror." I hated this book. HATED. I remember one day when I had done my reading section for English class, not understood a thing, except that they were on a boat and things were happening. Maybe they were being attacked. But in class we kept talking about the man in pink pajamas. I didn't remember any mention of pink pajamas. I could barely force my eyes continue reading the words on the page. I believe the book's tagline says it all: "The horror, the horror." I hated this book. HATED. I remember one day when I had done my reading section for English class, not understood a thing, except that they were on a boat and things were happening. Maybe they were being attacked. But in class we kept talking about the man in pink pajamas. I didn't remember any mention of pink pajamas. I could barely force my eyes continue reading the words on the page.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    This book didn't do anything for me. I clearly missed something, but I don't care enough to find out what. This book didn't do anything for me. I clearly missed something, but I don't care enough to find out what.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris Shank

    Heart Of Darkness didn’t live up to the hype for me. I got far more out of a study of the themes, background, and historical significance than I did out of an enjoyment on the first read. There were quite a few outstanding lines, but the narrative is maudlin and slow. I’m sure it was very progressive for its time in provocative content and style, especially for tying in psychological observation and analysis, and I’m sure that’s why even its form, which now has been repeated and surpassed, is so Heart Of Darkness didn’t live up to the hype for me. I got far more out of a study of the themes, background, and historical significance than I did out of an enjoyment on the first read. There were quite a few outstanding lines, but the narrative is maudlin and slow. I’m sure it was very progressive for its time in provocative content and style, especially for tying in psychological observation and analysis, and I’m sure that’s why even its form, which now has been repeated and surpassed, is so appreciated by many to this day. It is one of those books which I believe now belongs, stylistically at least, to early 20th century literature, although the message is still going strong. In it, Conrad called out European colonialism, narcissism, and conventional morality for what it was: an arrogant illusion of sanity and progress. Heart Of Darkness was a mordant accusation against western modernism which pretended to be able to tame what is wild in humanity and what is unknown in the universe. It shows how flimsy is our pretense of appearing to be in control and in ‘the know’. We aren’t. We will always be far from understanding the universe if only by virtue of the fact that we are ‘in’ it, and cannot distance ourselves far enough from it and ourselves to achieve complete comprehension of our situation. We are thralls to mystery and the eternal unknown within which we lie buried, and which will forever expand itself through the cosmic wormhole running straight through the center of our being. Conrad uses this novella as a set-up for exploring the dark and cognitively unassimilated parts of our psyche and existence, and this is what he calls the “Fascination Of the Abomination.” “The utter savagery had closed round him—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination…” What we can’t understand, what we can’t fathom, fascinates us, draws us; and yet it is deep within us the inescapable and uncharted territories of the human soul and unconscious mind. The civilized person recoils at the thought of the natural world as an untamed force, but Conrad takes us far inland, into the jungle, where large-framed pictures can’t hide the holes, and aerosol disinfectants can’t mask the rank, bacterial growth of the inhumane, intractable, and inscrutable features of Nature. What can save one from despair in the face of this abominable incomprehension? Conrad mocks the pseudo-answers of habits and custom. “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this [lost]. What saves us is efficiency—the devotion to efficiency.” This idea of custom as the salve to our angst is echoed later in the play by Beckett, Waiting For Godot, who wrote that “habit is a great deadener” which stifles thoughts and questions about life’s meaning which cause us distress. The great unknowns of 1) foreign minds and powers in the universe that threaten to cause one harm, and 2) the post-modern search for the purpose and meaning of life, may appear like two different things, but each one causes a certain amount of anxiety, and both are responded to by developing methods and customs that help us feel like we belong and have a handle on things. An interesting moment in the narrative comes when Marlow comes across a book in a shelter in the dark, usurping jungle which was written on the banal subject of nautical methods; and finds that the “singleness of intention” and “honest concern for the right way of going to work” makes him “forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having come upon something unmistakably real.” The whole point of this story is for the sailor in Conrad to pistol-whip his safe, landlubber-readers with the question: how thin is the so-called ‘veneer of civilization’? He exposes culture as a thin coating which peels in the heat of privation and conflict, and quickly flakes away leaving only the real, bitter, and irreducible ‘hungers’ of the carnal instincts. “No [moral] fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in a breeze…It’s really easier to face bereavement, dishonor, and the perdition of one’s soul—than this kind of prolonged hunger. Sad, but true.” His infrared scope identifies the vital organs for the kill when he refers to modern man as “stepping delicately between the butcher [food] and the policeman [safety].” Shot through the heart, and Conrad’s to blame!! There certainly appears to be some Victorian misogyny and probably some racism infecting the fin de siècle psychical baggage Conrad carries with him, but I do agree with Joyce Carol Oates who wrote in the introduction that he was much more advanced than others in is era, and did much to bring to consciousness the shortcomings of European imperialism and bias. Specifically he challenged the moral-spiritual squalor of Victorian decorum and opulence, and the tendency of Europeans to believe that they were morally superior to the rest of the less developed parts of the world by right of privileged birth and by dubious evidence of material success. Conrad was intrigued with the contrast between the bewitchment of the untamed wild (the “fascination of abomination,” and the “horror” of Mr. Kurtz), and the cavalier complaisance of domesticated and dissociated society (European greed, and the melodrama of Mr. Kurtz’s fiancée). As an author he may have been experimenting with the idea of how to get back to the raw primordial forces of nature and the unconscious without sacrificing the discipline and stability of reason and community. The Wild is not as safe as it is powerful. “I wondered whether the stillness on the face of the immensity [the dark jungle] looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace… Could we handle that dumb thing, or would it handle us?” And in the end, Marlow returns to his society, to his people and his customs and his habits. As if nothing ever happened. But the spectacle of his conscious duplicity is made very explicit in his final conversation with Kurtz’ fiancée-widow which caricatures the European attitude so wonderfully and magnifies Conrad’s disgust for upper-class theatrics and hypocrisy. A year after Kurtz’s death his engaged is still melodramatically woeful about her loss. She practically swoons all over the place in front of Marlow boasting of Kurtz’s fine modern ideals and righteous superiority, and begs of Marlow to corroborate her convictions about her husband’s worth. Marlow watches her histrionics and finally decides to play to them. Instead of revealing to her that he saw the transmogrification of Kurtz and had witnessed his final words in which he acknowledged the deep and writhing darkness that is life—“Horror! Horror!”—he instead dumbs down the climactic ending of Kurtz and tells instead that he died whispering her name to the very end. Isn’t that nice. But he’s shocked and obviously disappointed that the ceiling doesn’t cave in on him, or more importantly, on anyone else for lying the civilized lie of hypocrisy and egocentrism. “The heavens do not fall for such a trifle.” Did Conrad desire a peeling away of civilization’s mask, and a return to the freedom, mystery, and power of the wild in some sense? Yes and no. I think he saw in it, as did many modern psychologists and philosophers, a raw, unharnessed force that could potentially help to enhance creativity and vigor; or it could be very destructive. Mr. Kurtz went feral, to his own demise and to the demise of others around him, but he successfully escaped the cheap substitute of being a decent citizen which couldn’t quite satisfy the primal instinct for adventure, mystery, and power. Then again, he killed and died. So, there’s that. Tipping the scale either way brings extreme ennui, angst of meaninglessness, suffering, or death. And for anyone who doesn’t know, anything Conrad can do, London can do better, and with less words. Jack London wrote The Call Of the Wild and The Sea Wolf on this same topic, and his authorial execution of the ‘return to the wild’ theme, which was his specialty, is much more muscular and sportive in nearly all of his works. Conrad is much more wordy and formal in his narrative, while London lets loose with a cunning, creativity, and pompous confidence that makes his words cut to the quick and soar above careful writers like Conrad. Search your feelings Luke. You know it’s true. Just my humble opinion. But I’m right. Like this review? Clicking ‘like’ lets me know someone’s reading! For more reviews, visit my blog at www.bookburningservice.blogspot.com and start following!

  12. 5 out of 5

    M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews

    I'm trying to give this book the most fair/neutral rating I can give, which is a 2.5/5. Both of the stories in here are pretty meh, IMHO, especially heart of Darkness. I've heard plenty about it, but the actual read, especially the ending, was a major letdown. The Secret Sharer is better, though. Both stories are relatively short, but even then I couldn't help but feel that both stories dragged on longer than they needed to. I'm trying to give this book the most fair/neutral rating I can give, which is a 2.5/5. Both of the stories in here are pretty meh, IMHO, especially heart of Darkness. I've heard plenty about it, but the actual read, especially the ending, was a major letdown. The Secret Sharer is better, though. Both stories are relatively short, but even then I couldn't help but feel that both stories dragged on longer than they needed to.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    I recently read the "Heart of Darkness" portion of the book for my High School AP English class. Overall, I would have to agree with the majority of other reviewers here in saying that this book WAS BORING! Unlike many of my peers, I DO read for pleasure and know a good book when I read one. I'm not lying when I say that I thought that the writing was actually very good. However, the overall storyline was mediocre at best. Yeah, sure, metaphors and a deeper meaning, and all that, blah blah blah I recently read the "Heart of Darkness" portion of the book for my High School AP English class. Overall, I would have to agree with the majority of other reviewers here in saying that this book WAS BORING! Unlike many of my peers, I DO read for pleasure and know a good book when I read one. I'm not lying when I say that I thought that the writing was actually very good. However, the overall storyline was mediocre at best. Yeah, sure, metaphors and a deeper meaning, and all that, blah blah blah boring. I don't much care for all that stuff. If it's not an interesting story I don't much see the point in taking the time to read it. I think Marlow can sum up the storyline of the book when he says "I went up that river to the place where I first met the poor chap" (p. 70) and I think Kurtz sums up how I felt about the book in general when he says "The horror! The horror!" (p.154). I really did not enjoy the book and it was an overall horrid waste of three and a half hours of my life. (Plus time to write a review on this site for my English class)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    When I entered the U. of Chicago, there were graffiti around campus: "'Mr. Kurtz, he dead!' Bird lives!" Now, how hip was that! So, when I found out that the first part of it was from Heart of Darkness, of course I had to read that. I admired Conrad for being a non-native speaker writing in English and I'm still a sucker for the Victorian gentleman thing. I know, totally sick for a Black man. So shoot me! . . . Did/do I see the white supremist viewpoint. Sure. That was out there. The book puts y When I entered the U. of Chicago, there were graffiti around campus: "'Mr. Kurtz, he dead!' Bird lives!" Now, how hip was that! So, when I found out that the first part of it was from Heart of Darkness, of course I had to read that. I admired Conrad for being a non-native speaker writing in English and I'm still a sucker for the Victorian gentleman thing. I know, totally sick for a Black man. So shoot me! . . . Did/do I see the white supremist viewpoint. Sure. That was out there. The book puts you inside the head of a character and into a time and place that allows you to understand the worldview, one that has thoroughly conditioned our history and still is around. Besides that, it's a great yarn.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    We were assigned Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' and 'Lord Jim' in our senior AP literature class in high school. I much preferred the former even though I knew only generalities about the European exploitation of Africa and virtually nothing about the example of the Belgian Congo--an instance of exploitation without sanctimonious justifications in terms of "civilizing missions" and the like. We did have The Secret Sharer assigned but I frankly cannot recall reading it. In 1979 Francis Ford Coppola We were assigned Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' and 'Lord Jim' in our senior AP literature class in high school. I much preferred the former even though I knew only generalities about the European exploitation of Africa and virtually nothing about the example of the Belgian Congo--an instance of exploitation without sanctimonious justifications in terms of "civilizing missions" and the like. We did have The Secret Sharer assigned but I frankly cannot recall reading it. In 1979 Francis Ford Coppola took the theme of the novella and applied it to the attempted American take-over of Southeast Asia in his film, 'Apocalypse Now'. He did a good job of it. Read the novella, read something about Leopold's Congo and our Vietnam War, then see the movie if you haven't already.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eh?Eh!

    I haven't read the Secret Sharer portion yet but for the Heart of Darkness part...plodding. Very profound, very deep, but maybe I watched too much tv while still in my malleable childhood and have too short of an attention span; man, this was hard to finish. I was more moved by the impression that J. Conrad was trying so hard to describe an indescribable sense of something, than the actual something he was describing. I think many other books present the same subject while also being entertainin I haven't read the Secret Sharer portion yet but for the Heart of Darkness part...plodding. Very profound, very deep, but maybe I watched too much tv while still in my malleable childhood and have too short of an attention span; man, this was hard to finish. I was more moved by the impression that J. Conrad was trying so hard to describe an indescribable sense of something, than the actual something he was describing. I think many other books present the same subject while also being entertaining - does that make me uncivilized? So many people loved this book. Why don't I?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Georgie D(ickens)

    Ok so this is the hardest book to finish, honestly. It’s just a few pages but I feel like there’s so much information in here, and the author definetely jumps from the narration to a description of the surroundings or an additional mention regarding the characters. It’s confusing, at some point I couldn’t even remember what I was reading a paragraph before. I do appreciate the idea of the whole story, its emphasis on slavery and subtle intrespection on life and its meaning. I think the whole poin Ok so this is the hardest book to finish, honestly. It’s just a few pages but I feel like there’s so much information in here, and the author definetely jumps from the narration to a description of the surroundings or an additional mention regarding the characters. It’s confusing, at some point I couldn’t even remember what I was reading a paragraph before. I do appreciate the idea of the whole story, its emphasis on slavery and subtle intrespection on life and its meaning. I think the whole point of this continuous mention of darkness could be only metaphisically explained.

  18. 4 out of 5

    MacK

    Perhaps this is unfair because I only made it through "The Secret Sharer" before plopping the book down with a satisfied "well that was every bit as pretentious as I thought it would be." Maybe "Heart of Darkness" is the brilliant piece everyone says it is, all I know is that after 50 pages of Conrad's tediously detailed prose I needed a palate cleanser and had to reread part of Harry Potter #7 to get it. Perhaps this is unfair because I only made it through "The Secret Sharer" before plopping the book down with a satisfied "well that was every bit as pretentious as I thought it would be." Maybe "Heart of Darkness" is the brilliant piece everyone says it is, all I know is that after 50 pages of Conrad's tediously detailed prose I needed a palate cleanser and had to reread part of Harry Potter #7 to get it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alismcg

    Heart of Darkness a 5⭐️ ; Secret Sharer a 3⭐️ The intimacy/connection theme—of two individuals in reality unknown to each other—powerfully developed in both stories but in ”Heart of Darkness” with a much greater depth of color and shade, use of symbol and broadness of character development. So beautifully done. “Heart of Darkness” : my 1st Conrad. There’s nothing surface about this writer. He’s a man who knows well solitude’s camp, the maps one’s left to navigate in ones own company, the darkness Heart of Darkness a 5⭐️ ; Secret Sharer a 3⭐️ The intimacy/connection theme—of two individuals in reality unknown to each other—powerfully developed in both stories but in ”Heart of Darkness” with a much greater depth of color and shade, use of symbol and broadness of character development. So beautifully done. “Heart of Darkness” : my 1st Conrad. There’s nothing surface about this writer. He’s a man who knows well solitude’s camp, the maps one’s left to navigate in ones own company, the darkness that threatens to steals ones path. And truths. Truths. Truths. “...the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude—and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core...” One must take ones time to read him and give thought to what he has to share. Perhaps one ends by taking measure of oneself. “It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own , and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.” 🥰 This reader will read more Conrad.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Falk

    Reading Joseph Conrad can be likened to enjoying a very fine old cognac, savouring every drop of it... and while it can also be sort of intoxicating, it ultimately makes you more sober instead of drunk; more lucid rather than muddled.. This is especially true of Heart of Darkness, because here Conrad brings his multi-layered, dense prose to a new level of mastery. The Secret Sharer has a similar intensity, but here this is more due to the situation in which the Captain finds himself. The story c Reading Joseph Conrad can be likened to enjoying a very fine old cognac, savouring every drop of it... and while it can also be sort of intoxicating, it ultimately makes you more sober instead of drunk; more lucid rather than muddled.. This is especially true of Heart of Darkness, because here Conrad brings his multi-layered, dense prose to a new level of mastery. The Secret Sharer has a similar intensity, but here this is more due to the situation in which the Captain finds himself. The story centres predominantly on the two men, the Captain and Leggatt, and Conrad applies the doppelgänger motif in a very gripping and realistic way - and it is indeed based on a true story. The relationship between Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness is different, and they don’t even meet until towards the end of the story – but we, through Marlow, hear about Kurtz, through hints and allusions, and slowly he takes on almost mythical proportions. This journey, which both begins and ends on the river Thames, takes us first to Brussels ("the sepulchral city") before continuing along the coast of Africa, and then finally, after many delays, up the river Congo, bringing us gradually towards the heart of darkness - and all the different characters we meet along the way are a preparation for and point towards one man, Kurtz. The masterful composition of this short novel - where the outer journey perfectly mirrors Marlow’s inner journey, and through him, our journey – also adds to its monumental stature within European literature. To try to sum up the story would be to do it injustice, because every word is dense with meaning; every paragraph is almost like a journey in itself. Conrad's own journey into the Congo changed him profoundly, and this profundity cannot really be conveyed in any other way than by actually reading the story. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Isenberg

    Because my high school was phobic of non-American authors or history, I never read Heart of Darkness as a teenager. Although now, having thoroughly relished its pages, I'm glad I waited for a maturer age. Years after I first scanned Dante and gorged on Apocalypse Now, I see HOD is a very different work. It surprised me in countless ways, and I'm grateful to have explored its jungles when I did. The narrator surprised me most of all, his anti-colonial grumbling, his masochistic drive, and his unse Because my high school was phobic of non-American authors or history, I never read Heart of Darkness as a teenager. Although now, having thoroughly relished its pages, I'm glad I waited for a maturer age. Years after I first scanned Dante and gorged on Apocalypse Now, I see HOD is a very different work. It surprised me in countless ways, and I'm grateful to have explored its jungles when I did. The narrator surprised me most of all, his anti-colonial grumbling, his masochistic drive, and his unsentimental disdain for everything that goes on. His search for Kurtz feels less like a mission than the preoccupation of an obsessive; Kurtz is his hobby, or even his sport, en lieu of anything better to do. I loved the tone of his writing, both eloquent and bitchy, as only a world-weathered Eastern European could write about the world's most godforsaken place. The narrative is funnier than I expected, then in turns weirder, scarier, and more beautiful -- it's a masterpiece from the first description of the open sea to the narrator's final, desperate lie. Apocalypse Now is among my favorite films, but even Brando's rendition of "the horror" pales before Conrad's description of Kurtz's haunting utterance. To then read on, past the jungle cult, and meet Kurtz's "intended," is among the queasiest scenes I've ever read, and I smiled wickedly at every sentence. The Dostoyevskyan web of formality and falsehood was almost too delicious, a whimpering finale to Victorian mores and misconceptions. Conrad's prose laughs louder at English romanticism than any satirist I've read. Even as Britain was finishing its imperial palace, Conrad was ripping up the floorboards. The horror, indeed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tenzom

    Now that I have finished reading Heart of Darkness, I can go watch Apocalypse Now and understand everything happening in the film, even the tiniest nuances such as Martin Sheen grimacing into the murky river like he's constipated, why Harrison Ford looks very un-Harrison Fordy in glasses and short hair. I will also comprehend the meaning behind it all; the war, the savagery, colonialism, imperialism, racism, nihilism, pessimism, everything-ism because I read the novella it was based on. HA HA JU Now that I have finished reading Heart of Darkness, I can go watch Apocalypse Now and understand everything happening in the film, even the tiniest nuances such as Martin Sheen grimacing into the murky river like he's constipated, why Harrison Ford looks very un-Harrison Fordy in glasses and short hair. I will also comprehend the meaning behind it all; the war, the savagery, colonialism, imperialism, racism, nihilism, pessimism, everything-ism because I read the novella it was based on. HA HA JUST KIDDING. DID NOT UNDERSTAND MUCH OF IT ACTUALLY. MUST REFER TO SPARKNOTES. What the fuck was going on in that book? What the hell were you talking about Marlow? And the entire book is about Kurtz who appears in, what, the last two pages and then dies on us? And you know what is "impenetrable"? The language Conrad uses. For someone who could not speak English fluently until in his twenties, he sure has his own dense style and syntax down. Need to read this again. In 30 years.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevinch417

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I went into the book knowing it’s a “tough” read. Regardless, I was really hoping for a book that explored the darkness of humanity and the descent into madness, however I feel like I really missed something major in this book. I got nothing out of it. He spends most of the story talking about the journey to see Kurtz and how mythical this man is, and when he gets to see him, the interactions seem rare and distant to the point where I have no clue what their interactions were or why he was dying I went into the book knowing it’s a “tough” read. Regardless, I was really hoping for a book that explored the darkness of humanity and the descent into madness, however I feel like I really missed something major in this book. I got nothing out of it. He spends most of the story talking about the journey to see Kurtz and how mythical this man is, and when he gets to see him, the interactions seem rare and distant to the point where I have no clue what their interactions were or why he was dying. Then after Kurtz dies, the narrator writes speaks about Kurtz both as if he’s not worth the time of day and like he’s left a permanent impression that will be on his mind every day. When did this happen?? I’ve rarely felt so neutral about a book before. It’s a shame because his actual descriptions of the jungle and varied vocabulary could work so well.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Very moving book about both the loving and dark nature of human beings; realistic lacking a fairy tail ending.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carmel

    I picked up this book with trepidation as I will now openly admit--yes, openly admit--I "fake read" this book in high school (please don't tell Mr. Autry!). For the record, it was the only book I fake read, but I remember being so bored by haughty tone and old-fashioned language that I just couldn't stay awake, page after page! To complete my own honest cannon of literature, I felt that I MUST do a complete, true read of this book. After all, it is in list after list of best books...and Conrad i I picked up this book with trepidation as I will now openly admit--yes, openly admit--I "fake read" this book in high school (please don't tell Mr. Autry!). For the record, it was the only book I fake read, but I remember being so bored by haughty tone and old-fashioned language that I just couldn't stay awake, page after page! To complete my own honest cannon of literature, I felt that I MUST do a complete, true read of this book. After all, it is in list after list of best books...and Conrad is constantly lauded as a ground-breaking, best author. Alas, even with the rosy glasses of age and wisdom perched on my nose, I could not enjoy this book. The dry language (while at times breathtaking: the African jungle! The steamy, ashy, rotting, scary adventure of an unknown land!) mostly put me to sleep the same as it did 20+ years ago in high school. The offensive language ("us Whites" and "those savages") while a part of the culture and language of the time, and possibly hinting toward the author's view of injustice, was difficult to read. Europeans did horrible things in Africa. It is important to know how colonialism ruined the people, the land, and the resources. But this novel at times seemed to gloat in the glory of European expansionism in a way that was hard to read. That said, Conrad is Conrad and this first-person narrative, while fiction, is an important study in who we are, where we've been, and why the historical novels are important. It is necessary for us to study colonialism and commit ourselves to not creating these atrocities again. It is necessary for us to study this narrative and realize how these Europeans felt: morally and physically superior to anything "darker" than themselves (while they themselves had the darkest of souls). Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the end where the narrator visits The Intended (nameless, I believe?) and cannot bring himself to tell her the truth about her fiancee. The start of his own moral quandary, perhaps? In any case, a first light into the darkness.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joel Mitchell

    I would categorize these classic novellas as interesting rather than enjoyable. In them, Conrad displays his usual bleak view of human nature and society. Heart of Darkness records a barely fictionalized account of Conrad’s own experience piloting a steamer in the Belgian Congo. It pairs well with King Leopold’s Ghost (which discusses it at some length). Unlike King Leopold’s Ghost, which reflects current attitudes toward racism and colonialism, Heart of Darkness is loaded with product-of-its-era I would categorize these classic novellas as interesting rather than enjoyable. In them, Conrad displays his usual bleak view of human nature and society. Heart of Darkness records a barely fictionalized account of Conrad’s own experience piloting a steamer in the Belgian Congo. It pairs well with King Leopold’s Ghost (which discusses it at some length). Unlike King Leopold’s Ghost, which reflects current attitudes toward racism and colonialism, Heart of Darkness is loaded with product-of-its-era prejudices. The narrative deplores the dark and horrifying nature of the European characters while at the same time showing a general contempt for the Africans who are on the receiving end of their cruelty. Our narrator’s response to “what evil lurks in the hearts of men” is complex. He is disgusted by the pettiness, greed, and violence of the Belgian traders but fascinated by the charismatic Kurtz who started out with seemingly higher ideals but has done far more horrifying things. His feelings for Kurtz teeter between sympathetic defense and disgusted horror. Trying to untangle the message of this bleak classic provides an interesting challenge. The Secret Sharer features another narrator who sympathizes with a dark-hearted character. In this tale, a young captain hides a fugitive aboard his new ship. He becomes oddly obsessed with the idea that this self-confessed murderer (“justifiable homicide” of course) is his double. Tensions escalate between the captain and his new crew due to the secretive, bizarre behavior required to keep the “secret sharer” of his cabin hidden. While quite different in tone from Heart of Darkness, it includes the same tangled message of a sort of sympathy for a cruel person paired with a cynicism toward society.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John

    You cannot read this book one time. If you do, you are denying yourself a deeper communion with one of the most talented writer/story tellers who has ever picked up a quill. Those confusing meandering mumbles that may have frustrated readers previously can magically resurface and resonate. They jar and frighten. Don’t take my words. Take Conrad’s. “I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is—that mysterious You cannot read this book one time. If you do, you are denying yourself a deeper communion with one of the most talented writer/story tellers who has ever picked up a quill. Those confusing meandering mumbles that may have frustrated readers previously can magically resurface and resonate. They jar and frighten. Don’t take my words. Take Conrad’s. “I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself—that comes too late—a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.” And there is mire where that came from. Conrad’s writing is wrought with pain, doubt and suffering. That is another reason to re-read and relive this incredible book. If your life is perfect and you wake up each day with a welded smile bolstered by positive conditions and orthodoxies, and the lights are always on, you might give it a pass.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Black

    My second time reading this and I still don’t get it. What’s funny is, I’ll probably read it again. From the intro by Joyce Carol Oates: “All art is selective and therefore, from some perspective, unfair; no art can be universal, for no artist is universal; we are all local individuals, shaped by the customs of our tribes. The enduring artist is the creator not of perfect works but of works that transcend the circumstances of their creation and contribute to the aesthetic development of their cr My second time reading this and I still don’t get it. What’s funny is, I’ll probably read it again. From the intro by Joyce Carol Oates: “All art is selective and therefore, from some perspective, unfair; no art can be universal, for no artist is universal; we are all local individuals, shaped by the customs of our tribes. The enduring artist is the creator not of perfect works but of works that transcend the circumstances of their creation and contribute to the aesthetic development of their craft. One need not identify with a writer’s cultural perspective to recognize that he or she may be possessed of unique, valuable gifts; like Joseph Conrad, an artist whose fiction repays close and repeated readings and whose unsparing tragic vision has a particular resonance for the twentieth century...”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nick Loehrke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Personal response: I enjoyed the book. I was never bored of it because the plot unfolded so quickly. I think I will read more by Joseph Conrad. Plot summary: The story is told in first person by an unnamed narrator. The narrator is the captain of a sailing ship filled with cargo. He doesn't know his ship or crew because he was only recently made the captain. The ship was towed to a few barren islands off shore to wait for the right wind to begin its' journey. The captain was restless, so he took Personal response: I enjoyed the book. I was never bored of it because the plot unfolded so quickly. I think I will read more by Joseph Conrad. Plot summary: The story is told in first person by an unnamed narrator. The narrator is the captain of a sailing ship filled with cargo. He doesn't know his ship or crew because he was only recently made the captain. The ship was towed to a few barren islands off shore to wait for the right wind to begin its' journey. The captain was restless, so he took watch at night. While on watch a man from another ship swam over and climbed up. The man introduced himself as Leggatt, and explained he was the first mate of the other ship and escaped after being accused of murder. After hearing this, the captain got Leggatt some pajamas to wear. Instead of arresting Leggatt, the captain took Leggatt to his room and hid him there. The captain changed the ships course had Leggatt jump over board to swim to an island. Recommendation: This book has a high reading level that is hard to follow at times. Because of that, I would only recommend this book to high schoolers of a higher reading level. I recommend this book to someone who likes the challenge of reading difficult, uninteresting books. Characterization: At the beginning of the book, the narrator is very unsure of his abilities as a captain. He is always worried because doesn't know or his crew very well. When the story develops, the captain becomes a little bit more confident in his abilities as a captain, but he is always nervous. He is nervous because he is hiding a murderer on his ship. Hiding the murderer makes the captain more assertive of his power so the crew doesn't get suspicious of him. In the end of the book, when the murderer swims to the island, the captain finally relaxes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elena L

    There are two short stories in this book: Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. I read Heart of Darkness first. Heart of Darkness was challenging to fully understand because the author kept shifting points of view. Also, the language is really difficult. It kind of feels like Conrad is racist to his own race, white because he makes them a "savage." Then, I read The Secret Sharer. I personally like The Secret Sharer better than Heart of Darkness, because I like the plot better. His theme is me There are two short stories in this book: Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer. I read Heart of Darkness first. Heart of Darkness was challenging to fully understand because the author kept shifting points of view. Also, the language is really difficult. It kind of feels like Conrad is racist to his own race, white because he makes them a "savage." Then, I read The Secret Sharer. I personally like The Secret Sharer better than Heart of Darkness, because I like the plot better. His theme is men against nature or men against men. The anonymous captain feels like a stranger to the ship and to his society. After finishing this book, I did some research about Joseph Conrad and was shocked that his first language was not English. His nationality was polish and he was not able to speak English fluently until his 20s. It was interesting how he chose to write his novel in English.

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