Horror awaits Marlow, a seaman assigned by an ivory company to retrieve a cargo boat and one of its employees, Mr. Kurtz, who is stranded in the heart of the Africa, deep in the Belgian Congo.
Marlow's journey up the brooding dark river soon becomes a struggle to maintain his own sanity as he witnesses the brutalization of the natives by white traders and discovers the enigmatic Mr. Kurtz.
Kurtz, once a genius and the company's most successful representative, has become a savage. His compound is decorated by a row of human heads mounted on spears. The demonic mastermind, liberated from the conventions of European culture, has traded his soul to become ruler of his own horrific dominion.
Acclaimed as one of the great, albeit disturbing, visionary works of Western civilization, Conrad's haunting tale dramatizes the stark realities of Africa in the colonial period. Heart of Darkness reflects the physical and psychological tragedies Conrad experienced while working in the Belgian Congo in 1890 and is the basis of Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now.
In Conrad’s epic saga, Marlow, the narrator, undertakes both an outer and an inner journey. The outer journey takes him into the heart of Africa, where he encounters representatives of every colonial stripe. Performing the work instead of simply reading it, Scott Brick emphasizes this aspect of Conrad's classic, clearly conveying class differences and a range of foreign accents, as well as pidgin. Conrad's prose is dense and complex, but Brick delivers it smoothly and gracefully. However, Marlow's inner journey - during which he confronts the mysterious Mr. Kurtz - remains too distant and intellectualized to fully capture the emotional charge of the moment.
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- M. Clare Heitkamp
Classic Book Ruined by Scott Brick