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The novella is literature's most compellingly roaming form and Conrad absolutely owns it with Heart of Darkness. I first read Conrad in high school, with throngs of other pimply kids. I liked it sure, but didn't understand all of the conflciting currents of this brilliant story. I was re-introduced to Heart of Darkness when I recognized it in Francis Ford Coppola brilliant Apocalypse Now. During the last few years I've been on a huge Conrad kick, listening or reading to Lord Jim, Victory, The Secret Agent, Nostromo, etc.
The man is simply amazing. It is incredible to think that he could write better in his 3rd language (English) than most writers could ever hope to write in their first. In this way, he shares a lot with Nabokov.
Anyway, this is one of those few works I constantly return to for its humanity and for its inspiriation. Kenneth Branagh's reading of HoD is amazing in both its depth and nuance.
48 of 53 people found this review helpful
I had not read any Conrad until recently, and was mildly surprised Conrad had four novels on Modern Library's Top 100 list (more than any other author). Having now completed the four Conrad novels on that list (Nostromo, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent, and The Heart of Darkness) I definitely enjoyed this version of the Heart of Darkness the most, yet I did not find any of these "must reads" except to gain, first hand, a historical perspective on modernist literature.
Conrad's writing of around 1900 is essentially modern and the earliest novels I have found in which "God is dead". This is not at all explicit, but is subtly, yet distinctly, implicit. In the 1880's Nietzsche declared "God is dead" but it took a while before novels began to explore this viewpoint. I was not expecting this outlook when I started Heart of Darkness, I was expecting a dark adventure novel. I found the writing excellent, but was surprised by the modernist outlook and style elements.
Some have considered Heart of Darkness racist, as the novel clearly objectifies native Africans. I would contend that Conrad objectifies everybody in his novels. There is racism, but it is the racism of the the society and characters, not of the author. The author seems to point out the absurdity, and mindless conformity, of racism (and many other social constructs). The novels are not about story, or about character, but instead are impressionistic interpretations of the author's nihilistic existentialist world view. The author's language is rich and powerful with exaggerated and non-linear descriptions.
Sometimes a book makes a "best" list because it is truly great, sometimes because it is very good and was a creative first. I think the latter applies to these Conrad novels.
There is a strong similarity of fundamental outlook between these four novels. I am happy to have read them all, but won't recommend them all to my daughter...I will recommend Heart of Darkness.
The narration by Branagh is wonderfully perfect and this narration makes this a really wonderful first Conrad.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Such a strange eerie story. So beautifully read - Kenneth Branagh has such a rich, expressive voice. Highly recommended.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
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!
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
Great story & superb narration. Downloaded the book on a whim & Im glad I did.
Beautifully read, an absolute classic. Was one of those books I had been meaning to read for so long, and am glad I chose it as my first audiobook.