©, (P)2002 Commuter's Library
There seem to be three "unabridged" listings of this novel by Audible, presumably by different narrators. This one is very well narrated and the narrator captures that special atmosphere for which Conrad is noted in most of his fiction. I would rate this narration very high and a good representation of a novel I enjoyed reading years ago.
For a number of years, especially during my working years in the Niger Delta in the early nineties, I took a pocket book copy of the book with me wherever I went.
This book is relatively little known but it provided the inspiration for the very well known movie 'Apocalypse Now'.
The message of the book can easily be summarised as 'the downfall of the White Man in Africa', because it describes in depth what happens to a well educated and civilised western man, set loose without limits in a kind of self-created kingdom. Gradually, all self-control wears of and civilisation becomes but a shadow of its former self.
To those who have spent time in Africa, to those who like the flowery style of the early 1900's, this is a must-read. And the way in which it is brought on audio is very good indeed. None of the richess of the language and story content of the book was lost, and it was a pleasure to listen to. Most recommendable.
I have read Heart of Darkness several times over the years, but never enjoyed it more than through this AudioBook. I can't compare this version to the others in Audible's collection, but I can say with certainty that this is one of the great short novels in the Western lexicon. It never fails to grip, yet as its title suggests, goes deeper and deeper in theme as it moves up the Congo. It is also surprising, and a little horrifying, how relevant it still is today. I found myself re-listening to several pages over and over, then playing them for my wife as well.
This was the first time I have "read" this classic work, and it's something every literate and literary-minded person should read. But its imperialistic themes and colonial sentiments are hard to sympathize with nowadays, and I believe that it is often studied today more for the insights it gives us into late Victorian (1898) attitudes toward Africa than for the story itself. The listener should be forewarned that much of the language and imagery now seems quite racist. I greatly admire Ralph Cosham's narration, but it was hard for me to listen to him reading some of the passages in this novel, and I probably won't listen to it again. Having said that, it is indeed a classic and is worth experiencing for that reason.
Originally thought Apocalypse Now just alludes to this book, then found out it's just a modern adaptation of Heart of Darkness, set in Vietnam, but with pretty much the same characters, including the names. Lots of allegory, so I didn't really get it the first time, but I read it a second time, as I usually do, and made much more sense and was a lot cooler.
This is the most ridiculously verbose writer I have ever come across in 20 years of avid reading/listening. Every verb is preceded and followed by one or more adverbs, even things as simple as "he said". When your lucky every noun comes with one or two adjectives, when you are not lucky, prepare to be sent halfway insane with irrelevant fantastic metaphor or simile piled neck deep. Its so meandering and insignificant and without end...it is like... here I will show you what its like... its like having death approach your doorstep, while you are laying in bed, your old body tired yet not ready to depart this wondrous and difficult life, stealing in through your front door, like an intruder you awake to find rifling through your underwear drawer and you find your heart stop from fear and panic only to start again, thumping, thumping as if it would come out of your chest, making time like some tribal drum beat in an ancient village in the remotest parts of the darkest Africa before there was time or written history.
There. See what I mean? You can't even remember what I was talking about when I started that tangent, it didn't add anything to my review, it was just a waste of your time to read. That's what this book is like. Its enough to make a person go bananas or long for a time and place where there were no ipods. I would rather be in 19th century Congo with the protagonist than listen to this again.
You ever have a friend who is a lousy story teller, drags out the most inconsequential nonsense with the lengthiest meandering B.S.? One who tries to impress you with an extensive, yet none the less superfluous vocabulary? That's this guy.
I would try one more.
I haven't read any of his others.
The concept was interesting...just didn't like how it was carried out.
"Deeply thought-provoking and beautifully read"
This is a wonderful book, having recently read it I was amazed to discover how much hearing it added to the sense of mystery and of horror experienced. Highly recommended (but not if what you are after is light entertainment!)
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