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Summary

Joseph Conrad's searing tale of one of the strangest and most memorable journeys ever taken. Quite simply the scariest book ever written, this is a searing tale of one of the strangest and most memorable journeys ever undertaken - to the heart of a geographical and psychological wilderness from which no-one returns unscarred. For this isn't simply a journey up an uncharted river into a geographical wilderness; rather, it's a trip deep into our collective subconscious.

This story - about what happens when so-called "civilized" human beings go off the rails - was the inspiration for Francis Ford Coppola's movie Apocalypse Now.

Conrad himself had undertaken such a river journey as a ship's captain back in 1889 when he was in his early 30's and before he took to writing full time. Back then, the Congo Free State, as this area of Africa was known, was a Belgian colony under the personal control of King Leopold II. Atrocities were commonplace, to the point where the international community finally had to sit up and take notice; in a report published in 1904, over 3 million people were said to have died as a direct result of European intervention in the area.

It has long been argued whether Heart of Darkness, which first appeared in 1902, was in any way influential in bringing Leopold's violent regime to the public's attention; but whether or not, it remains a searing indictment of human rapacity - and depravity.

Public Domain (P)2013 Creative Content

What listeners say about Heart of Darkness

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Elusive on audio

I really struggled with this one; as an example, I had to re-listen to chapter 4 3-4 times! I think the combination of the narrative structure and the ethereal/mysterious style made it hard to grasp on audio. I definitely wasn't able to catch when it cut back to present day because both Marlowe and the narrator used "I".

While reading the Spark Notes (because that's how elusive the narrative was for me), I felt like I had read an abridged version with many interior portions removed. Marlow and xxx near the natives' fire when Marlow thinks he should strangle xxx? Totally missed it.

Better - more graspable - to read in text, I think.

1 person found this helpful

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Darkly poetic masterpiece, congenial narrator

The congenial interpretation by David Rintoul hits the nail; he manages to enrich this masterpiece of thoughtful poetry by providing it with a deeply reflective, rich sonorous voice - this one of those audiobooks that make you longing for more as soon as you have finished it, or maybe just start over again?

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Amazing

Incredible story, chilling and emotional performance. I've found a new favorite book. Absolute must read/hear.

1 person found this helpful

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I need an synopsis

No doubt it is good. It's just difficult to follow while you commute or work. A YouTube synopsis or explaination should do the trick.

This book is a must as it is an origin of many stories.

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A disturbing exposé of colonial rule

Joseph Conrad knows what he is writing about here. Charles Marlow, is the captain of a ship owned by a Belgium ivory trading company on a trip to the Congo. This is based on Conrad's own experience of captaining a ship on just such an adventure.

It is also about man's descent into darkness and, as he attempted suicide, we can assume Conrad knew something about this too.

The book is deeply disturbing in its exposure of colonial rule, bigotry and racism and the language is shocking for today's readership.

The story soon becomes about Marlow's search for Mr Kurtz who is in charge of a remote trading post. Kurtz is talked of in revered, almost legendary, tones but it is clear that he has gone rogue, if not insane.

In a harrowing scene, the ship is attack when passing through dense jungle by a barrage of arrows and the helmsman is killed. The further up the river the further into madness they drift.
They find the trading station where Kurtz is worshipped by the natives. There are native heads impaled on posts and Kurtz saves the ship from being attacked.

I won't give away the ending but it is unsatisfactory for both men. Certainly this is a psychological story and much of the writing is ambiguous rather than explicit. It is also the study of colonialism and racism.

The book, though short, is profound and influenced the movie Apocalypse Now. If you like Ernest Hemmingway or other manly seafaring adventures with a psychological twist, you will love this.

Very well read.

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Corrupt

Another audiobook riddled with corruption. I take for example a rapid succession from the beginning: the men here are on charge, not 'Change (this latter explaining why they are present quite specifically), and 1900 years ago the Romans here have legionnaires (which are almost 1900 years more recent than 1900 years ago) not legionaries, and indeed here we have Falerian wine rather than Falernian (Falernian being in much esteem with the Romans, but Falerian wine is just nothing, really). Nonsense, corrupt, bin.

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Spectacular

The writing is complex yet the narrator made it accessible. David Rintoul is absolutely superb. I have just downloaded another book he has narrated as I enjoyed listening to him so much.

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  • Imago1
  • 17-02-15

Best Narrator

After listening to all of the previews I selected this narration. I was not disappointed. The emotion with which the narrator spoke allowed me to have a better connection to the text. I have read this book multiple times and found that listening allowed me to perceive and comprehend parts of the text that I had previously glossed over. It was like a new experience altogether. I highly recommend listening to this version.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-05-19

Excellent

Captivating story, clear and engaging narration. For those wondering, this version is not edited for political correctness.

6 people found this helpful

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  • David J. Langrock
  • 19-04-15

Amazing prose, breathtaking story.

Joseph Conrad is simply one of the best writers in the English language. He is both efficient and opulent at the same time. This text is fascinating and it manages to be sympathetic with the protagonist while utterly condemning the empire and culture he represents. The narrator was fantastic as well! I will listen to this one over and over.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Will Y.
  • 08-12-19

Loved It

Evocative prose brings to life the descriptions and interpretations of the narrating character. I felt as if the story itself was a jungle I was traveling deep within. The narrator was fantastic, like I was actually listening to the character recount the story.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel Apple
  • 25-05-19

Great story, well read.

The reader transforms this great story into a first person experience that should not be overlooked.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stacey D Bray
  • 06-01-19

Great narrator, hard-to-follow story.

All of the other options for readings of this book had horrible ratings of the narrators, so I can definitely confirm this one had a very good narrator, but the story itself is so hard to follow without listening to it twice just to understand what's going on.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 05-05-15

Masterfully performed

A true classic and a masterful and intensely felt performance by the narrator David Rintoul.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Javier Sanchez Jr
  • 01-04-22

A Chilling Tale Told by a Great Narrator

The narrator of this audiobook was fantastic. Definitely worth a listen. This is my first time encountering this story and while it was less plot heavy than I anticipated, the narrator really brought it all to life in a way that sounded like listening to a horror story.

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  • Julia B
  • 07-03-22

The narrator!!

Honestly, I think it was the narrator who really brought the prose to life. Great listen.

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  • Max
  • 14-08-21

A classic 'must-read'; better as Audiobook

Before listening to the audiobook, I only remembered vague bits and pieces of this story, most likely via the obscure pop-culture this book has built up over the years. My initial attempt to properly revisit the story was by simply reading it. Perhaps it is because English is not my first language; perhaps it is because I lack a deeper understanding of those finer details that make english literature what it is; I found myself not quite grasping the story as I was reading. I then switched to the audiobook and all became clear. It helps, greatly, to hear the narrator set the tone and decide upon the ways the story 'should' be read,

Overall, with only its 4+ hours, I would say this is definitely a must-read and absolutely a (cult-)classic. There are some descriptions which are now entirely outdated but that is something anyone can expect from a story like this. It is a child of its time.