"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.
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.
"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)
Absolutely would recommend. A classic story, brilliantly read.
This is not a book where a character is a "favorite". That's not a bad thing
I'm not usually a fan of Branagh, but his performance here is incredible. As someone else wrote, he tells this as if it's a ghost story. Completely compelling.
Just overall extreme pleasure in the telling
It's not a story that fills in every detail.... in some ways you want more.
I enjoy history, biographys, and nerdy/ dorky things.
Average, to below average. For its time I'm sure it was a great short story. By modern standards it falls short.
The comparison of going farther down river, symbolized the greed for wealth, and the darkness in a mans heart.
Mr. Branagh was exceptional. I am a fan of his, and would like to find more audio books he has narrated.
When the boat was attacked in the dark by natives.
For a quick listen this book was ok. I wish I would have paid for this title, and not used a credit. It falls a bit short, and ends very dull.
Yes and probably will. This was a great quick listen. The Branagh did a superb job.
My favorite caracter was Manager Kurtz. He was just so intriguing. As soon as you meet him a million questions fill your head. It makes it even more fun to listen to when you picture him as Marlon Brando. (Coppola's Apocalypse Now was adapted after this story)
I thought Conrad did an excellent job of depicting how mythical and mysterious equatorial Africa was, "It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land...but I could not shake off the idea. The snake had charmed me."
This was a great listen. It is written the way that adventure stories are supposed to be written. You really get inside the characters heads. The descriptions of the surroundings, the people, their interactions with each other and the mystery and intrigue are what make Heart of Darkness a tale for the ages.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
Seeing how the book itself is a piece of the English literary canon, I doubt my insights will be that interesting and new. Briefly, the story comprises a boat captain's trek into the African interior during the British colonial period. He comes to hear stories about an exceptional colonial agent who has been living in the deep interior and who has become changed by the experience.
Branagh's retelling is ok. I don't feel that his voice adds too much to the story. It is well done with good rhythm and enunciation. He is obviously a skilled actor and his voice is nice, but I wasn't blown away.
Intelligence, professionalism, understanding
I was awed by the enormity of the setting
Would that people still knew how to write prose such as this.
Serious but fun how is that possible? What is behind the curtain? Perhaps someone should write a precursor story to this.
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
"Apocalypse Now" was based on this. Yes, that movie put it into a more modern view with Vietnam instead of the Congo, but after reading the V.S. Naipaul's book, "A Bend in the River" plus the Kingsolver book, "Poisonwood Diary", I think the Congo is more horrifying. The confusion, the darkness, "the Horror".
Marlowe's telling of this tale makes it an amazing ghost story. The listener characters melt away as Marlowe tells the horrific story of madness that he seems to still be dealing with. The end, when Marlowe is faced with the profound grief of Kurtz' intended and lies to her about his last word is moving. Was Marlowe true to the memory of Kurtz? I believe so.
Branaugh's narration was just as brilliant as I had expected.
Yes I think I would. It was relatively short and the narration was just wonderful.
The most interesting part was wondering if he would ever reach his goal, finding Kurtz. The least interesting part was what he saw along the way, I kind of zoned out during those parts.
Everything! I have listened to over 150 books on Audible, and this was by far the best narration ever. His tone of voice, his pace, everything was perfect.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men...
I could listen to anything Kenneth Branagh reads. He could read me the stock quotes and I would be riveted.
Eclectic and mindful. Enjoy literary forensics with an eye on how the effects of postmodern deconstruction shapes our worldview.
Yes, the story is riveting. Especially if one has spent time in remote areas of the world and experienced the lens of Conrad. Branagh's brings the story to life while keeping the connection while Conrad's Victorian cultural worldview.
Stephen Mitchell's performance of the Tao Te Ching.
He is a professional storyteller.
The indifference Conrad highlights that 'first-world' travelers have on other cultures and role of the expat that endures to this day.
I absolutely recommend it. One, the story is one of the best. Two, it is finally done in audio.
It is incomparable to anything else. It is one-of-a-kind.
While I'm not a huge movie fan of his (he's overly dramatic when he acts)... But for an audiobook, he is perfect, he did an excellent job on this audiobook, far better than any other rendition on Audible. This is the one to get.
All of it was great!
"A reminder to question the conceits of culture"
This is a story laden with history and the shame of that history , also a story that has metamorphosed into Apocalypse Now and Hearts of Darkness: A Film-makers Apocalypse A documentary of the making of the film that resembles some of the struggles in the book. This makes it hard to judge or criticize without those influences prejudicing the commentary.
It is still a poignant story of the worst of colonial Africa, and the attitudes of the period. but at the beginning the narrator comments about how in the more distant past of Britain they had been the savages of the Roman empire giving us a glimpse that power and abuse are timeless.
If you have ever wonder why so many animals are nearly extinct this book and its language is a very good example, the companies main interest is ivory but the one word never mention in the book is elephant and all that this men do is collect ivory. The casual and institutionalised abuse of the locals is I am sure described in a very sanitized way, I suspect that the HORROR was much larger. Conrad also describes and inefficient colonial force and wonder why the people of this lands never just wiped them out, it is ponder many writers have made about other conflicts the best reasoning and perhaps the saddest was by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago “ you surrender because you think “It’s a mistake! They will set things right!” but they is just you, the other "they" are not there to set things right but to implement the new regime and so it goes.
Mr kurtz is not a truly well drawn character and the devotion felt by others seems strange to the modern reader; unlike Kurtz in Apocalypse Now who is charismatic and mad with modern Horror.
A good book to look back and not forget the unlimited inhumanity of man in the pursuit of profit. A reminder to question the conceits of culture and ideology.
"A treat for the senses"
Ever since I first read this novella as part of my studies for A Level English Literature, Conrad's prose transported me to a radically different world where colonial Africa became an arena where mankind itself battled to remain uncorrupted and unaffected by the darker side of humanity. Branagh, as we would expect from a master actor of his calibre, captures this conflict for man's soul excellently as he assumes the character of Marlow and takes us through his journey to Africa, up the snake-like river and into the very heart of darkness.
Superb narration by Kenneth Branagh - he injects such realism into the narrative. He must be my favourite male narrator of all time!
"Superb narration of a timeless classic"
"The horror, the horror" ... timeless classic novel about colonial exploitation and oppression. Beautifully written, full of foreboding from the start. Difficult to switch off; probably best read/heard one uncluttered day from beginning to end as if you were sitting with Marlowe and listening to his tale via Conrad.
"Heart of Darkness - Read by Kenneth Branagh"
I must confess I was initially put off by the "celebrity" author tag, but I am very glad I did get the audiobook. Branagh's reading verged on the lyrical in places - and he makes full use of his theatrical skills.
"An Old Master Brought to Life"
This is the story of a young man who takes on the role of ferry boat captain on an African river when Africa was both unexplored and a mystery to the civilised world. As a book it is both compelling and shocking. It has really been brought to life by Kenneth Branagh whose wonderful narration keeps the pace going and brings the personalities of people to life. It satisfies on multiple levels, firstly as a good story, then in the sense that it made me realise how the world had changed since this was written and actually I was listening to a social commentary on the time when Great Britain had an Empire and knowledge of the world was limited. Finally it is a book which variously amused me, made me angry and has left a mark on me unlike many books that are so easily forgettable.
I will listen again and indeed seek out others from this genre. Well done Audible, good call.
Not my usual choice of book, but I was gripped from the beginning. Kenneth Brannagh really brought it to life
"There's Methody in the Madness"
Terrific performance by Sir KB (an alumnus of Methodist college, Belfast: AKA Methody). Felt dramatic and emotional as apprpriate. The novel is a retelling of a tale and mostly in the storytelling style, hence the appropriateness of the presnetational style.
The story itself is an interesting story. The film Apocolypse Now, closely follows the story with phrases and even names reused. It clearly is an homage to the book.
Whilst far from uplifting the story is a good study of morality and mental balance. It length is perfect if you have a long journey and can complete it in one day. It dropped a star because of the style of language of the book. This is unfair as it was written for a contemporary audience, I guess, and language has moved on since then.
Branagh is a cut above any other reader I have listened to before
If you are a fan of Apocalypse now then you will particularly enjoy understanding where the source material was drawn from.
No doubt a tale of its time but listened to in that context, massively enjoyable.
Conrad's prose in Branagh's voice is a wonderful combination. The power of this novel is enhanced by the actor's sensitive handling of mood and tone. I have found myself listening more than once to some passages, where the author's emotive descriptions reward further attention. The narrative is fast paced and gripping and the creation of atmosphere superb.
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