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Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Editions) 4th Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1,015 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393926361
ISBN-10: 0393926362
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul B. Armstrong is Professor of English and former Dean of the College at Brown University. He was previously a professor and a dean at the University of Oregon and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has also taught at the University of Copenhagen, Georgia Institute of Technology, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Virginia, and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the VisualArts. He is the author of How Literature Plays with the Brain: The Neuroscience of Reading and Art; Play and the Politics of Reading: The Social Uses of Modernist Form; Conflicting Readings: Variety and Validity in Interpretation; The Challenge of Bewilderment: Understanding and Representation in James, Conrad, and Ford; and The Phenomenology of Henry James. He is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of E. M.Forster’s Howards End and of the fourth and fifth Norton Critical Editions of Heart of Darkness.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 4th edition (December 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393926362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393926361
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,015 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was once one of those students forced to read this book at school. I was dragged kicking and screaming to its pages and read it only because I did not want to flunk my English Literature class. I was riveted from the first page, right up to the last paragraph. It is quite simply Conrad's finest book, (yes, I read his other books after this one.) However be aware, this is not everyone's cup of tea. There will be some people who will read this book and think, "Oh God, you have to be kidding!" However if you can get passed this mentality then you are in for a real literary treat.
The story is simple enough, a young Englishman; Marlow (this character appears in Conrad's story "Youth") goes out to Africa to seek his fortune. He is at first idealistic, and full of himself. However he quickly realises that Africa is full of petty bureaucrats who have no idea how to make use of this dark jewel they have acquired. Like Colonists before them, they proceed to ravage and plunder the land of its natural resources. Enter Kurtz, an Ivory Trader who has gone Native. He has become a Renegade, living with his Black mistress in the heart of Africa's interior; systematically turning his back on his supposed civilised self.
Marlow meets Kurtz after an eventful trip up the Congo and finds himself curiously attracted to this strange man who is [very ill], and obviously going insane. Kurtz in turn is an embarrassment to his employers who would rather see him dead than returned to "civilization." Of course this is unspoken, and the hypocrisy of human natures sticks out like a sore thumb in this novel, especially as Kurtz is one of the best Ivory Traders on the Congo route.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would like to address myself specifically to the Norton Critical Edition of this book. The difficulty that many readers face when they pick up a classic, pre-twentieth century novel is that they are not conversant with the history of the times in which it was written. Heart of Darkness can be enjoyed purely as a well written novella, but then you miss so much of what Conrad is trying to say not only regarding the thin veneer of man's social persona (ala Lord of the Flies) but about the evils of 19th century imperialism. What is the story of Colonialism? Do Conrad's derogatory remarks about Blacks make him a bigot? What were Conrad's overall views on life? What were Conrad's personal experiences in the Congo? What did readers think of Heart of Darkness when it was written, and what do the critics think of it today?
The Norton Critical Edition gives you 325 extra pages of material written by Conrad and others that provide answers to the above questions. You don't have to read all of these many articles, of course, but a good sampling of them will make your immersion in this famous story all the more enjoyable and meaningful.
This is a story that everyone should read, and the Norton Critical Edition provides the best format for the reading experience.
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Format: Hardcover
No-one seriously interested in English literature can afford not to read this book. As a central device, the parallel journey into the heart of Africa and the dark centre of the human experience, remains as powerful as ever. The writing in the opening pages, depicting the men and the Thames and the wide possibilities that rise with every outgoing tide, remain as evocative as anything in English. Conrad's subject is barbarity, a theme as relevant now as then. His dark view of the colonial instinct also stands as a warning at this very hour. With "Lord Jim" a thicker, but in many ways easier book to read, Conrad poses the great existential question that was to dominate personal politics throughout the 20th Century, the taking of personal responsibility, the search for personal redemption - as one character puts it: "How to be - Ach! How to be?" With "Heart of Darkness" he articulates what Michael Ignatieff has described as "the seductiveness of moral disgust." Faced with the darkness around him, the character Kurtz advises "exterminate the brutes." His final, dread epiphany, his message from the heart of his own darkness "The Horror! The Horror!" is as chilling now as it was a century ago - a century that has seen more horror than even Conrad could have imagined.
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Format: Paperback
Several people I am acquainted with have questioned my reading of "Heart of Darkness," using as argument the fact that they read it "in high school." Apparently, for these very well-read souls, if the book was in their high school reading list, then it should never be approached again. Well, both the poem of "El Cid" and the novel "Don Quijote" first revealed their wonders to me when I was in high school, and now that I have read them again (and "Don Quijote" complete this time), they have just proved to be timeless classics with something to tell a person of any age. "Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad, is a classic that, given its length, invites several readings, particularly if one goes beyond the "high school-depth" sadly evident in those acquaintances of mine. The different, dark, alien world of the Congo as barely seen through Marlow's eyes, juxtaposed with the author's subtle-but-powerful condemnation of a system that promotes exploitation of those seen as "inferior," is one of this novella's most important, and often missed, commentaries. Marlow is the English sailor who does not, and cannot, understand anything that is not English, from the nameless city across the Channel (Brussels, most probably), to the ghost-like figures that people his employer's offices, to the multi-coloured map that shows how Africa has been carved, to the multi-coloured Russian whose language Marlowe cannot recognize and believes is cypher, to the river itself, to the native inhabitants of the land he is invading. This trip up the Congo river that Marlow tells his shipmates about while on the Thames is a journey after a man's voice, his treasure of ivory, and his report on the natives.Read more ›
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