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Heart of Darkness & Selections from The Congo Diary Paperback – August 10, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

With an Introduction by Caryl Phillips
Commentary by H.L. Mencken, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Lionel Trilling, Chiua Achebe, and Philip Gourevitch

"Heart of Darkness," which appeared at the very beginning of our century, was a Cassandra cry announcing the end of Victorian Europe, on the verge of transforming itself into the Europe of violence," wrote the critic Czeslaw Milosz.
Originally published in 1902, Heart of Darkness remains one of this century's most enduring--and harrowing--works of fiction. Written several years after Conrad's grueling sojourn in the Belgian Congo, the novel tells the story of Marlow, a seaman who undertakes his own journey into the African jungle to find the tormented white trader Kurtz. Rich in irony and spellbinding prose, Heart of Darkness is a complex meditation on colonialism, evil, and the thin line between civilization and barbarity. This edition contains selections from Conrad's Congo Diary of 1890--the first notes, in effect, for the novel which was composed at the end of that decade.
Virginia Woolf wrote of Conrad, "His books are full of moments of vision. They light up a whole character in a flash. . . .  He could not write badly, one feels, to save his life."

About the Author

Jospeh Conrad (1957-1924) grew up amid political unrest in Russian-occupied Poland. After twenty years at sea with the French and British merchant navies, he settled in England in 1894. Over the next three decades he revolutionized the English novel with works such as Typhoon (1902), Youth (1902), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), Under Western Eyes (1911), Chance (1913), and Victory (1915).

Caryl Phillips
is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction. His novel A Distant Shore won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Phillips is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library 100 Best Novels
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (August 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575377X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375753770
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on May 21, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Published in 1899, Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS is like a fingerpost for its time, pointing the way of human preoccupations as they probed the final frontiers left in the world to discover, both geographically and intrapersonally, equipped only with a 19th century worldview. Where fear and discomfort with the unknown had once been associated with leaving land and heading into the open sea, Conrad now placed it in turning inward, turning from the sea up a river that penetrates an unknown land.

This is the story related one night to a group of London dwellers gathered on a dock boat in the safety and familiarity of the Thames. The speaker, a garrulous veteran seaman named Marlow, remembers how as a younger man he had pushed for the adventurous assignment of taking a steamboat up the Congo in search of a company's missing agent, Kurtz. His is a tale of horror, of what can happen to a person disengaged from civilization as it is known. This is an atmospheric exploration of knowledge, experience, innocence and morality. Conrad's language is complex but not opaque, has action but also a lot of description. As Virginia Woolf once said, Conrad could not write badly to save his own life.

That his vision requires rooting the horror in a hostile jungle culture and its customs can present a problem for a contemporary audience. The Modern Library has done a good job in introducing this edition with notable criticism, positive and negative, excerpted from across the 20th century, including pieces by Mencken, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and, more recently, Chinua Achebe. This edition also includes passages from Conrad's 1890 journal when he was traveling in the Congo. Several different publishers are publishing this novel, but this edition is the best I found.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By JIM SMITH on November 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Joseph Conrad is NOT for everyone! So many people have had their attention-span shortened by MTV, Television and the Disney version of the TITANIC (hint... the boat doesn't sink and everybody erupts in a unrecorded song from MARY POPPINS), that people have forgotten how great it is to read a well written book with piercing insite,memorable characters, and a haunting theme. The skill of the true wordsmith has thanklessly fallen by the wayside, evidenced by the fact that Stephen King is considered a literary genius (see H.P. Lovecraft for a true genius in both word and plot). If we were to turn off the electronics and allow our pure powers of imagination to work, then Conrad would be abundant treat to our senses. All of his books are fantastic, but HEART OF DARKNESS holds a special fascination for most people who read it. Not to digress, but the Turner Production of "Heart of Darkness" with Tim Roth is very good and I have always loved "Apocolypse Now" (saw it 15 times in the theater). The story is a journey of the soul, as much as it is pure adventure. It is a wake-up call for those who have forgotten what it is to care and become aware of how their lives move forward (and sometimes don't). The setting of a forgotten Africa, wedged and pierced by European superpowers is both mysterious and frightening. We see this now-lost land through the eyes of a naive man, not grounded nor necessarily wise in the ways of the world. The opening reference of the French warship bombarding the forrested coasts shows the overall blindness of the countries who seek to reap the wealth of the land's bounty... throwing artillery shells onto the coast and cannot see if they are hitting anything!Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Katie @ Novel Society on May 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is definitely a book that a person should read. Its all about your own inferences as to what the main point of the book was. For me it was about how the wild can change a person. Its basically about a guy named Marlow and he tells the story of a guy named Kurtz. Kurtz is this "remarkable" person and everyone seems to know about him and what type of person he is. It amazes me how much people admired this guy.

I really enjoyed the way that the jungle was portrayed. It was like its own character. I would also have a dictionary along side you as you are reading. There are a lot of big words and words that we already know that have multiple meanings. Other than that it was interesting and something different.
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By Chad M Flood on February 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Conrad is among the most influential writers of our time, and his masterwork Heart of Darkness proves this. The concepts introduced in this book laid the groudwork for a new outlook on humanity, and his predictions to modern society, specifically the business world, are unparalleled. Read this book and it will give you a new view on the world.
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By SDemo on September 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just as described. Perfect condition and arrived within the estimated time frame. Will shop again from this buyer. Very satisfied customer.
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By Steven G. Smith on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
True story of the Congo and Leopold. An eyewitness account of the red rubber and ivory pillage of the Congo Free State
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