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Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer (Bantam Classics) Paperback – May 1, 1982
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One of the crucial moments of the text is when Marlow discusses Kurtz's last words. He calls Kurtz's final gasp "an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable defeats, by abominable terrors, by abominable satisfactions." However, on page 173 of the Enriched edition of the novel, Marlow says that the words are "an affirmation, a moral victory paid for by innumerable satisfactions." I have checked the text of an old Signet Classics edition and a Norton Critical edition. They both contain the full line. Such a mistake makes me doubt the accuracy of the Enriched version of the text.
I hope I don't sound as though I'm nitpicking. The particular line that I have cited is one of the most important (and one of the most famous) of the novel, and I think its inaccuracy drastically changes the tone and meaning of the scene in which it appears.
Heart of Darkness chronicles the adventures of Charlie Marlow, a sailor and wanderer whose adventures lead him into the Congo Free State (under the control of Belgium) during the height of African Imperialism. As Marlow progressed further and further into the Congo, he confronts the growing darkness of mankind. The novel is often mistakenly taught in schools as a great anti-Imperialism novel, but this is not quite accurate. Almost every aspect of Heart of Darkness is ambiguous. Although Conrad clearly criticizes the false claims of humanitarian motives in imperialism, he does not condemn the act of imperialism. It is not even clear whether Conrad considers the Africans to be human.
Despite all its ambiguities, the Heart of Darkness is an important novel. At the very least, it paints a stunning and painful portrait of the cruelty and inhumanity of imperialist activities. If Conrad is not condemning imperialism, which is likely the case, then the novel ably portrays the underlying racism (and sexism, incidentally) in European thought during the time period.
The Secret Sharer is a short-story included with some copies of Heart of Darkness. The story follows a ship captain who rescues someone from the waters and allows him to stay on his ship, hidden from the ships' crew. The man turns out to have been a sailor on another ship who killed a crew-member during a storm.Read more ›
Heart of Darkness takes place sometime around the turn of the 19th Century. The story is narrated by a worldly and morally ambiguous seafarer named Marlow. Marlow tells us, in great detail, about a voyage he took up the Congo River and his observations and tribulations thereof.
*Some Spoilers Follow*
A main theme to think about is Conrad's repeated thrashing of 19th Century Imperial Colonialism. There are numerous references throughout the book, including the title, of the moral ambiguity, discovery, and tension between "civilized" nations and "primitive" ones and, more importantly, applying this idea allegorically to an individual's internal struggle with his/her own individuality and moral compass.
On the negative side, this book is often over-analyzed to incomprehensibility as eager students and teachers find dubious meanings in admittedly confusing areas. I tend to chalk this up to unfortunate paragraph structure and disappointing anticlimaxes such as Marlow's visits with Kurtz.
Regardless, Conrad wrote a fine tale with historical relevance and personal insight. The trip up the river is especially brilliant. However, do not expect an action packed tale of heroes and villains, but rather think about what the "Heart of Darkness" means.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bantam Classic's Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by provides a nice introduction to Joseph Conrad. Both novellas are wonderfully written an deeply psychological. Read morePublished 14 months ago by RJ Stokely
“Heart of Darkness” is a (1899) novella by Anglo-Polish novelist Joseph Conrad. As a literary work it is an important one, not only for its highly poetic prose, but also for its... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Brent McGregor
In this novel, Conrad shows how British enterprises extracted ivory from Africa at the turn of the century and the colonial attitude towards the Africans whose country they were... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Loves the View
Quality was just perfect! Needed this book for my little brother as one of his classes required it.Published 22 months ago by Davy
failed to tell me that the entire book is marked in with side notes on every pagePublished 23 months ago by Lawrence Bashara
Required reading for my son, I read it too and we both hated it!! Made absolutely no sense. Had to read notes in the back to learn the meaning. Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by Sheri P