We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh Audiobook

Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh is now in Channels.
How to Listen
  • To access Channels, you'll need the latest version of the app.
  • iOS - Tap the Channels icon on the main menu.
    Android/Windows - Tap on the hamburger menu and select Channels
  • Tap on the Celebrity Voices: Classic Stories channel to listen to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh.
Unlimited listening to Channels is included with Audible membership. Learn more
Channels requires the latest version of the
Audible app for Android, iOS, and Windows 10.
Regular Price:$24.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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

4.2 (3052 )
5 star
 (1536)
4 star
 (872)
3 star
 (416)
2 star
 (155)
1 star
 (73)
Overall
4.1 (2668 )
5 star
 (1257)
4 star
 (729)
3 star
 (456)
2 star
 (158)
1 star
 (68)
Story
4.6 (2659 )
5 star
 (1885)
4 star
 (505)
3 star
 (187)
2 star
 (49)
1 star
 (33)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    mark blackburn VIC, Australia 01-09-11
    mark blackburn VIC, Australia 01-09-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Absolute joy"

    Kenneth Branagh must have been born to read this book. He is mesmerizing. Don't wait, get this!

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 10-31-11
    Jefferson 10-31-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2280
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    331
    304
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1330
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The (Beautiful and Appalling) Horror!"

    Kenneth Branagh gives a mesmerizing reading of Heart of Darkness, bringing out all the darkly beautiful surfaces and bleakly existential undercurrents of Joseph Conrad???s novella, as well as convincingly voicing all the characters, from the sensitive and scarred British Marlow to the slimy Belgian trading company men, creepy Russian disciple, and charismatic and appalling Kurtz and his ever-grieving fianc??e.

    The book has been criticized for portraying Africans as sub-human, and it is true that Conrad (and hence Branagh) gives almost no voice to the native population, but I find in Heart of Darkness less racist condescension towards the Africans and more moral outrage towards their European colonial exploiters.

    The nearly four-hour audiobook, during which Marlow recounts his journey into the Congo to find the ???genius??? trading agent Kurtz, quickly caught me and carried me inexorably towards ???The horror! The horror!??? and its haunting aftermath. It left me stunned and grimly impressed (though somehow not depressed) by its disturbing depiction of the raping of Africa by colonial powers like Belgium (taking countless tons of ivory in exchange for worthless glass beads and shabby fabrics, imposing incomprehensible laws onto the native peoples and brutally punishing them for the slightest infractions, and so on), and by its timely application to the developed world???s current exploitation of the Congo (???conflict minerals???) and of Africa in general (diamonds, oil and other resources). But the greatness of the novella lies in its transcending specific examples like Africa and universalizing the heart of darkness to include England in the time of the Romans and all human beings in any time, exposing the heart of darkness in all of us.

    14 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JimmyC 09-20-15
    JimmyC 09-20-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Finally!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to be better than the print version?

    I have loved this story for a very long time, but for some reason it never resonated and moved me until I listened to Kenneth Branagh bring it to life! 'nuff said!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J 09-10-15
    J 09-10-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not the stuffy classic I was expecting"
    What made the experience of listening to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh the most enjoyable?

    I wasn't assigned to read this in school, but it was a good whispersync deal. Learning that the film "Apocalypse Now" was based on the story also inspired me to listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kurtz is a mysterious and intriguing real big baddie. So much of the book examines him, though he is present in the story only a brief time


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    His voice acting displays many emotions as the tone of the story changes. It is easy to understand which characters speak. He is excellent!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Margulies Knoxville, TN 09-08-15
    Aaron Margulies Knoxville, TN 09-08-15

    Ani Rotseh Likroh

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Kenneth Branagh is amazing"

    Kenneth Branagh does an amazing job reading this most difficult of books. He brings it to life so that it can be understood. Listen to this book. Then read the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob M. 07-15-15
    Rob M. 07-15-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book! "

    it was my first foray into Audible and not one to be regretted. highly recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Die Falknerin 12-06-13 Member Since 2008

    Painter, musician, bibliophile...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    673
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    852
    136
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    46
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A book made to be heard"

    "Heart of Darkness," for me, is a book meant for listening. The language, the economy of description, and the brevity of the story are all the more engrossing when read aloud. Phrases ring in the memory: "My ivory, my intended..." So many more.

    Conrad's characters continue to live in the imagination: the now world-weary Marlow, the mad charismatic Kurtz, the odd little "Harlequin," the innocent fiancée. Africa itself is a character larger than life. Who could ever forget these people, or these places?

    I came to this book later in life, long after reading Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost" and studying African politics at university. So I did not come from an educational system that assigned this for college prep. But when I did read it, it began a long love affair with Conrad and his "voice," if you will, that spins the English language into gold.

    I truly think Conrad is someone it takes a bit of life experience to appreciate fully. "Heart of Darkness," like Hesse's "Steppenwolf," is often read very early in life, but both improve on acquaintance. I read each one at least once every five years and find new insights every time. I hope you'll re-read Conrad if he was "forced upon you." There isn't a writer quite like him, and few are as rewarding.

    Branagh's narration surprised me. I love him as an actor but didn't know if he would be right for old Marlow the storyteller without a little more age on him! I was wrong. His narration was all it should be.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 04-26-13
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 04-26-13 Member Since 2015

    World Champion Parallel Parker

    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    117
    84
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent Rendition"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Genevieve Arcata, California, United States 09-07-11
    Genevieve Arcata, California, United States 09-07-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    55
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A masterpiece throughout"

    K. Branagh renders this masterpiece its due - moves to my favorite performance of this great work.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane 08-03-11
    Diane 08-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    183
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    153
    105
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    16
    0
    Overall
    "Great Story and Narrator"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Mr S. M. Pike
    Lancaster, Lancashire United Kingdom
    6/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narration stiff"

    Narration stiff and cadence unnatural, hard to follow. Not what I was expecting from Kenneth Branagh.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Russell
    5/21/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing!"

    Superb narration, having read the book myself I can't believe how Branagh's performance modernises the book. He also closes the gap between Apocalypse Now and the novel that inspired it. More signature performances please

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • dot_stockport
    5/20/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "interesting"

    as an artefact of the late nineteenth century this book, with its focus on a white mans fascination with another white man cannot do justice to collonialism. However, this is a fictionalised account of imperialism written by a witness and its not pretty. the prorangonist is a european who does not claim to understand the cultures that are being trampled over and from this position of disassociated ignorance there is no way that he can represent anything but his own view. but even from this problematic stance he starts to humanise a period in global history which by its very scale is apt to seem anonymous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • John Paul Jones
    5/20/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too ambiguous to enjoy as a story"

    I found the story utterly lacking in detail and therefore ambiguous throughout.

    For example we're told that Kurtz is an astonishing man of near unsurpassed brilliance, but we're given no detail whatsoever as to why. Consequently I found myself unable to share the deep respect and interest that every other character in the book seems to have for this man, at all.

    Granted there may be a number of individual sentences or passages that have great value to the English language for their construction, but in my opinion this is no good if they don't also serve to provide the detail necessary to convey a compelling story, which they don't.

    The narrator whispered too much and was over dramatic in places for my taste.

    About me, for reference: I love classic fiction for two reasons: first is the originality of the stories which are usually compelling, and second is the vocabulary and construction of language, which is so much more eloquent and attractive to me than modern prose.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    5/13/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just bliss"

    Such a strange eerie story. So beautifully read - Kenneth Branagh has such a rich, expressive voice. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S. Goodyear
    Bradford, West yorks
    4/13/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Haunting and beautiful"

    This classic text was beautifully narrated and evoked such vivid images of the events taking place that you could imagine yourself part of the story each time you listened.
    Anyone who enjoys a well written and decadent story should listen to this recording. I have read the story many times but to hear it read to you by such a well spoken and emotional voice is fantastic. Kenneth Branagh is amazing as the story teller and with his perfect diction and English accent transports you back in time to the setting of the tale without affectation or pretence.
    Although the subject matter is dark it is a joy to hear the tale told.
    A must listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • fishfanatic
    4/6/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very deep."

    Fantastic story that formed the basis for the film Apocalypse Now. Far better than the film and vastly more expansive in scale.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    UK
    2/27/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book"

    Lovely performance from Mr Branagh. The story has a beautiful sense of vagueness, as of memories of the distant past. Though, like memory, some specific events are in crystal-clear focus. The ending, out of Africa, suffers slightly for the very same vagueness that worked so beautifully up to then.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • petitbilbo
    Brussels
    1/30/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent performance by Kenneth Branagh"

    Yes, this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. A masterpiece of world literature read by Sir Kenneth, no doubt a master of his art.

    But, although it really is well done, very well read and even the music is well chosen, I have a problem with the concept of "signature performance". As flawless as was Kenneth Branagh's performance, I'm sure I've had the same quality by other, less well known readers...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cathy
    9/29/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So long as you are not offended by dated language of 'savages' and such , well worth it"

    Some of the language, though very much of the era of publication sits a little awkwardly for a contemporary audience, but well worth it.
    I had forgotten how much quality narration can add to the enjoyment of an audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.