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Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh | [Joseph Conrad]

Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.
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Audible Editor Reviews

"The horror! The horror!" In this brooding and justly celebrated novella of 1902, seaman Charles Marlow is cruising quietly down the Thames at dusk with some friends. As night begins to fall, he tells them of his harrowing journey down an African river in search of the unscrupulous and near-legendary ivory trader named Kurtz, a quest deep into inky spiritual and symbolic darkness. Acclaimed Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh impersonates Marlow in this recording. Admirably, while fully playing the drama, he never goes overboard. He plays the tale for the great yarn that it is. But had he taken more cognizance of its trajectory and subtleties, he would have made the listening experience far richer than he has.

Publisher's Summary

Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever.

With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first.

Stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors David Hyde Pierce, Leelee Sobieski, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

Listen to more Audible Signature Classics.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Acclaimed Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh impersonates Marlow in this recording. Admirably, while fully playing the drama, he never goes overboard. He plays the tale for the great yarn that it is." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    David Kfar Saba, Israel 09-14-12
    David Kfar Saba, Israel 09-14-12

    An avid audio fan, I listen mainly whilst walking my dog. I enjoy many and varied subjects,history,travel,espionage,crime,anything good

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    "Compelling,Outstanding"

    I was obliged to read "The Ni**er of The Narcissus" by Conrad at High School,and was so completely bored that I have stayed well away from Conrad in the 50 years since then.
    When I saw that Kenneth Branagh was the narrator for this book,and discovered that the film Apocalypse Now (one of my favourites) was based on Heart of Darkness, I decided that I would give Conrad another chance.
    I am so gratified that I did !
    A"'rattling good yarn", but so much more than that, a convincing picture of imperialism at its worst, the story of a tortured soul with almost no checks on its power and paranoia ,the story presents so many moral questions that are as disturbing in todays world as they should have been then.
    Kenneth Branagh is superb,superb,everything on the river and in the jungle comes alive. Please give us more

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Valentine Gloucester, MA, United States 09-04-12
    Kathleen Valentine Gloucester, MA, United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2011

    So Many Books, So Little Time

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    "Sheer genius"

    Conrad's strange, frightening and bizarre story is one that has always haunted me since I first read it in high school. Now, forty years later, Kenneth Branagh's intense performance brings it breath-takingly alive. This is a deep, strange, haunting work and, in its own way, more relevant than ever. Sheer genius.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prof. Neil Larsen 09-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Branagh is the master!"

    After listening to Branagh's dramatic reading of Conrad, everything else pales. The average reader of audio books, especially of fiction, is good as long as he or she doesn't get in the way of the work itself, allowing it to speak for itself. All too often, they are such bumbling idiots that they don't even bother to learn the correct pronunciation of the foreign words that crop up in, say, Conrad or Henry James. This is as true of American as it is of 'native' British readers of English-- and is scandalous enough. But with Branagh, Conrad's tale comes so vividly alive THROUGH him, even as he remains absolutely faithful to its text, that one feels that one is finally reading it--hearing it!-- for the first time. Branagh, with his Shakespearean training, INTERPRETS as he reads, speaks, BECOMES what he narrates. I had to rip myself away from this recording, and, if it had been possible, would not have moved an inch until finishing it. I'm a professor of literature, and I now can't imagine ever teaching THE HEART OF DARKNESS without having my students listen to Branagh's rendering. More, please, more from this great master!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina United States 08-18-12
    Christina United States 08-18-12 Member Since 2015
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    "A pleasant surprise"

    I didn't know what to expect going into this title. Although it isn't my usual literary genre, I really enjoyed the story, and especially the performance by Branagh. It isn't something I would suggest for light reading (or listening), but if you want something to help you ponder the darker side of humanity, this is a lovely tale.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alissa McCarthy Scottsdale, AZ USA 08-13-12
    Alissa McCarthy Scottsdale, AZ USA 08-13-12 Member Since 2009
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    "One of the very best Audible books I've ever heard"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to be better than the print version?

    This audio version was definitely better than the print version. Branagh's acting ability breathes life Marlow's character and better projects the central theme of hypocrisy.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh?

    I found that the way he voiced Kurtz to be amazing! He created a voice for him that made it more clear why Marlow so struggled with the ambiguities of Kurtz's "unsound methods."


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    Kenneth Branagh is one of the finest actors of his generation. His voice is like silk and I could listen to him read the phonebook.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely!


    Any additional comments?

    A compelling story made all the more so by the narration. This is not the book you had to read in high school, this is the story as I'm sure Conrad meant it to be heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Sherman, TX, United States 08-13-12
    Martha Sherman, TX, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Listen to Branagh's voice!"
    Would you listen to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh again? Why?

    I might listen again only because I don't "listen" as well as I "read" a book. I seem to pay more attention when I read than when I listen, maybe because I'm more of a visual than auditory learner.


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    His voice is exquisite. A pleasure to my ears to listen to his voice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samantha 08-10-12
    Samantha 08-10-12
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    "Metaphorical genius"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to be better than the print version?

    Listening really helped me understand what was actually going on. This book is a really rough read and if your tripping over yourself reading it you'll never understand, the audio really really helps you to get whats going on and get the metaphors that go with it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Marlow, he was the teller of the story and the only person that was not good nor was he evil.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Naomi 07-23-12
    Naomi 07-23-12
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    "Easy listening"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Easy listening after a somewhat tedious description of the setting in the first twenty minutes or so.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IAN Montreal, Quebec, Canada 07-06-12
    IAN Montreal, Quebec, Canada 07-06-12 Member Since 2010
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    "keeper"
    If you could sum up Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh in three words, what would they be?

    Marvelous simply marvelous.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh?

    The horror.


    Have you listened to any of Kenneth Branagh’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    first one. I'll look for more.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Had me so focused on the story and perfomance i almost ran out of gas.


    Any additional comments?

    I'll keep this book ready to listen again. Marvelous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sally G. Bergman San Francisco, CA USA 06-25-12
    Sally G. Bergman San Francisco, CA USA 06-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A book I could read again"

    The writing is so powerful and the performance by Kenneth Branagh so exceptional that I could read this book again and again just as I might enjoy again seeing a favorite Broadway play. This was entertainment at its best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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