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Editorial Reviews

Michael Thompson's performance of this 1902 classic demonstrates subtlety and power. His voice is sonorous and his inflections are convincing. Thompson's narration captures the brooding nature of Conrad's protagonist. We follow Marlow up the Congo River as he discovers the nuances of the trading business, and the mystery of Kurtz, a legendary Ivory trader who he meets far up the river. The inhabitants of the region show a godlike reverence towards Kurtz, and Marlow must decide whether he feels respect, horror, or pity for the man and the imperialistic machine that drives him. Heart of Darkness is Joseph Conrad's masterpiece. It exposes infernal truths about the human existence.

Publisher's Summary

"Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings....And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect."

The place is the Belgian Congo, "darkest Africa" of the late 19th century. The narrator, Marlow, describes his experiences running a river steamer for the Company and the cruel colonial exploitation that was practiced. Marlow goes into the jungle in search of the mysterious and powerful white trader Kurtz, hoping to find answers and explanations in that shadowy figure's character for the evil surrounding him.Film director Francis Ford Coppola based his Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now on this classic story.

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  • Jenn
  • Reno, NV
  • 08-05-17

Pay attention!

Heart of Darkness is a celebration of words and phrases. It less about the melody and more about the voice of each instrument played perfectly. I suppose it is like a Grateful Dead concert: the instrument is celebrated not the melody.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A classic made better by a good performance

I read this book for a literature class and didn't really understand it but after picking it up here I found that I could follow it better. I thought Thompson did a great job with the narration, I didn't have any problems understanding him. I'd recommend this version over some of the others offered.

It is a book that you need to concentrate on or it's easy to get lost and because of that I had to listen to sections over again to understand them but it wasn't particularly long so that wasn't much of an issue.

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  • Performance
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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 03-25-14

Rotten Dead Hippos

I really think that "Heart of Darkness" is like a memoir for this author. Joseph Conrad was in the British Merchants Navy and worked his way up to captain. While serving, he traveled into the African Congo and maybe he got his inspiration for the book and maybe Marlow's madness is some kind of symbolism from Conrad's past. Many readers label him as an racist because he depicts on the Black in a disregardful manner, but I don't think that is the right message that Conrad was trying to express.

If you do your research on this author, you will realize the he was a Polish descent and didn't adopt his new language until later in life. I really think that he took many of his experience and put it in the "Heart of Darkness." For example, the smell of rotten dead hippos could be a symbolism of death or danger, because hippos usually sense danger in the river and feel threaten by other prey.

I wasn't a literature major in school, but even I know that this book goes much deeper than it's title. It makes you want to read it more than once to reveal something else. Maybe it's a story of nature vs. nurture, or fight for the fittest. Whatever it might be, it will take me a while to get to the point of the book. I just think that Conrad was brilliant in all levels at writing this book.

  • Overall
  • Rodger
  • West Memphis, AR, United States
  • 09-03-10

What the?

I know this is supposed to be a classic but it just never got off the ground. I really only bought it because some fellow students said it was a great book and I should definitely read it. They must have read it for a class that had a really good teacher. Just about the time I thought it was about to finally get started and things were going to pick up, it was over!. I really don't get it. I never got Apocalypse Now either. Except for Robert Duvall. I will absolutely be willing to listen to anyone willing to point out what I missed. But after the first pass I would have to say skip it.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Terry
  • Old Orchard Beach, ME, USA
  • 10-04-07

better

on the third time that I downloaded this book it finally came in so that I could understand it. If you are getting this because of "Apocalyspe Now" don't bother. interesting but not great.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Frank
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 07-19-04

Disappointing

I am honestly not sure if it was the book itself or the reader, but I struggled to stay awake every time I listened to this. What started out as interest fueled by enjoying "Apocalypse Now" soon turned into a relentless struggle against sleepiness.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful