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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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Performance
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  •  
    Phyllis Carbajosa de la Sagrada, Spain 12-23-12
    Phyllis Carbajosa de la Sagrada, Spain 12-23-12 Member Since 2007

    5 stars - books that I will listen to again and again. 4 stars - books that I might listen to again someday. 3 stars - books that I probably won't listen to again. 2 stars - books that I know I will never listen to again. 1 star - books that I should have never listened to in the first place.

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    "A Wonderful Performance by Branagh!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to be better than the print version?

    Yes! By all means. "Heart of Darkness" is one of those overrated classics which is forced upon millions of high school students. Fortunately, the book is under 100 pages, consisting of a style of writing which I find quite tedious - dark allegory followed by metaphor upon metaphor, and let's not forget all the symbolism scattered throughout from beginning to end. It is an important story about Imperialism, racism, hypocrisy and the darkness of human soul. After the first couple of well written pages, it becomes ABUNDANTLY clear that it's NOT just about Africa being the "heart of darkness" but about the characters' own "hearts of darkness". The rest of the novel is pretty much more of the same. If you enjoy reading books that you can pick apart at every turn of phrase - you will probably prefer to read this book. However, you you are like me and find this approach to reading tiresome, you will probably enjoy listening to this book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Africa. Well, it certainly isn't Kurtz or Marlow. Conrad tries so hard at BEING the narrator and so hard at CREATING yet another meaningful metaphor (one that will expose the physical and psychological horrors he encounters) that he ends up sounding cliché, losing the whole point of any kind of symbolism. I do understand that this style of writing was very popular in Conrad's day but nowadays . . . not so much. . . .


    What does Kenneth Branagh bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Kenneth Branagh made the experience of revisiting this novel, more than worthwhile! In fact, I probably would have stopped listening/reading after the first 20 minutes if it weren't for Branagh's performance. He actually brought this book to life! I wouldn't have thought that possible - it's the first time I truly enjoyed this book.


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

    This audible book is almost 4 hours long. I listened to it in two sittings and the only reason why I returned to finish the novel was because of Branagh's performance! I've read this book many times, so I was surprised to find that I really wanted to listen to the very end.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are being obliged to read this book for your literature class, I think you may find that listening to Branagh's performance while reading along with your book, will make the experience far more enjoyable. And if you are a student of English as a Second Language, Kenneth Branagh's pronuciation, diction and overall performance is truly impeccable and will add to your appreciation of the English language.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Carlin Menefee 09-10-12
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    "Beautiful narration, pointless story"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    have the story lead you somewhere or at least leave you with a decided impression what it was trying to say


    Would you recommend Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to your friends? Why or why not?

    no. the narration is absolutely beautiful and the story is detail rich and visually compelling, but it doesn't "go" anywhere. That is to say that when it's over, you're just as curious what it was about as you were when you started. Except you're a littel more depressed and quite tired of the words darkness and silence.


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

    No, but I will not hesitate to listen to another one of his narrations because this one was perfect. In some book narrations, you can't tell the characters apart by the voices used or the reader pauses or adds inflections that don't seem to go with the story.... like the narrator didn't really know what the character was feeling or trying to say. You never get that in this story, and as wild and hopeless and deranged as some bits of it are, that is quite an accomplishment.


    Could you see Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No. The turmoils, revelations and outcomes in it are largely internal to the mind of the main character.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 02-25-11
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 02-25-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Boring"

    I think my title says it all. This was a terribly boring book and a waste of a credit. I normally like to be a little more eloquent in my reviews but I don't have anything more to say about it other than the narrator was decent.

    2 of 12 people found this review helpful
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    Corey Brookyln, NY, United States 06-14-12
    Corey Brookyln, NY, United States 06-14-12 Member Since 2009

    Hi, I'm an alumi of NYU and I'm also huge into MMA. I love books I read a lot and review the stand outs. I'll give you guys the goods.

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    "Look if your in college your going to have to buy"

    Ok first off this book is simply AMAZING a classic that has withstood the test of time. In addition, if your getting ready to go to college your going to get this as assigned as reading so to save you time BUY this book.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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