I'm a high school senior and we're about to read Heart of Darkness in a few weeks, so I figured I'd download this to help me out a bit. It's been an interesting listen. I thought it was pretty humorous that Kenneth Branagh is narrating, as we recently saw him perform in Hamlet after reading the play a few months ago (he was excellent) and he's also the narrator for the documentaries we're watching in History class. What a coincidence! His voice is lovely, enticing almost, so I'm glad that he narrated this. Now, I'll be just about fully acquainted with Kenneth Branagh's voice.
A Traveling Listener
I'd read Heart of Darkness prior to listening to Kenneth Branagh read - what a wonderful experience - listening to him! His concise enunciation and style are perfect to the book.
I hadn't revisited "Heart of Darkness" for decades until I listened to this audiobook. My impressions are simple and intense.
Regardless of the post-colonial critique of Conrad - he was, I believe, remarkably understanding of the wrongs of colonialism for a man of his time - the writing and the psychological depth of the novella are nearly unsurpassed in 19th- and 20th-century English language literature.
In addition, Kenneth Branagh demonstrates here the difference between merely passable or even good dramatic reading, and true craftsmanship. I can't imagine how the publisher lured such an amazing acting talent into doing the narration of a book in the public domain, but Branagh's rendition is the finest of any audiobook I've ever listened to.
I'm deeply impressed with both Conrad and Branagh.
Thank you, Audible.
Very, very good. It's better read aloud than read in a book, I think, at least by Kenneth Branaugh. It aided my understanding and retention.
Avid reader and high school English teacher. Kindle, book, audio - if they could implant books directly into my brain, I'd probably sign up.
Unfortunately, I was unable to fully enjoy Kenneth Branagh's performance because of the changes to Conrad's text. It is beautifully read, but I can't use it for class.
As a high school English teacher, using audiobooks sometimes makes my life easier. I use them to "reread" for class and sometimes in class to help students' comprehension. This version changes certain words and phrases to a more politically correct alternative. When one is trying to teach historical context and purpose along with the story, this is disappointing. While those unfamiliar with the text may not notice the substitutions, I found it quite glaring. As an introduction to the novel for students, I'll go back to the other audio version that I have and use that.
The narrator is excellent, of course, and that's why I purchased it. The story is good. Gets slow sometimes but very interesting and well written if a little subtle.
I've been buying books from Audible for about 7 years now, and this performance is arguably the best. I put it along side Jeremy Irons reading of Lolita, as one of the seminal performances of an artist, for this medium.
Mr. Branagh delivered the story with a passion that made you feel the mood of the characters. However, I felt like our narrator was practicing speed reading.
Way up there!--for two reasons: (1) Conrad's suspenseful romana clef story is wildly compelling, which surprised me because I had avoided it for decades, thinking it was more or less just for guys. Published in 1899, near the end of The Victorian Age, perhaps it did attract more male than female readers at the time, but having just finished it, I can say it is timeless and will appeal to all sophisticated readers, male, female, or otherwise. One of my favorite aspects of the story was its insight into European colonialism and empire-building, in this instance...Africa.(2) But, as well as this dark, sinister tale was crafted and presented by Joseph Conrad, the characters and situations literally sprung to life with Kenneth Branaugh's superlative performance. I am convinced that **no-one** could have brought more realism and understated passion to Heart of Darkness than Branaugh. Hands down, his narration of a story of this type is THE BEST I've heard on Audible to date. He set the bar very high. Henceforth, for me personally, his performance has become the standard by which all others will be judged.
I read "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (by Adam Hochschild), and that was a good look at the European power grabs for territory and the atrocities perpetrated on the people already living there. Joseph Conrad wrote about just such events at the time they were occurring. I might have to revisit my book by Hochschild now that I've heard Branaugh read "Heart of Darkness." I'm also reminded of "The Poisonwood Bible," a novel by Barbara Kingsolver that told of a misguided missionary who believed he was called to Africa to spread The Word. He moved his family from Georgia to the Congo in 1959, a time when that area was in considerable turmoil after foreign colonialism had broken down. The point being that when the Europeans gave up in that area, greed of a religious sort moved in to enlightened "the lost"--and the attempt to frighten Africans into submission continues.
He did all of them so well, even the minor characters. For that reason, I couldn't single one out as the very best. I'm convinced he could read the back of soup cans and have my full attention.
The depths to which man may sink if there are no checks and balances...
"Heart of Darkness" is not for light, casual readers -- say, readers who prefer romance novels, fantasies, etc. It IS for readers who would appreciate a foray into the psyche of man and empires--and the collapse of both.