Read Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad Online


Heart Of Darkness. The story of the civilized, enlightened Mr. Kurtz who embarks on a harrowing "night journey" into the savage heart of Africa, only to find his dark and evil soul. The Secret Sharer. The saga of a young, inexperienced skipper forced to decide the fate of a fugitive sailor who killed a man in self-defense. As he faces his first moral test the skipper discoHeart Of Darkness. The story of the civilized, enlightened Mr. Kurtz who embarks on a harrowing "night journey" into the savage heart of Africa, only to find his dark and evil soul. The Secret Sharer. The saga of a young, inexperienced skipper forced to decide the fate of a fugitive sailor who killed a man in self-defense. As he faces his first moral test the skipper discovers a terrifying truth -- and comes face to face with the secret itself. Heart Of Darkness and The Secret Sharer draw on actual events and people that Conrad met or heard about during his many far-flung travels. In portraying men whose incredible journeys on land and at sea are also symbolic voyages into their own mysterious depths, these two masterful works give credence to Conrad's acclaim as a major psychological writer....

Title : Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451526571
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer Reviews

  • Rachel
    2019-02-28 22:39

    read this book for the first time in high school. we explored the novella from the perspective of a young adventurer wandering into the congo...hated itread it in my death in lit class...provoked some interesting discussions on race...still hated itread it again for brit lit...talked again about race and imperialism and my professor was so awesome i almost enjoyed the book for a smidgen of a second...but no.rivets rivets rivets...boring boring boring...this 75 page novella takes more time to read than it would take for me to walk from new york to alaska. its worse now because i know the scenes i whould be looking for (crazy man firing cannonballs into the jungle, marlow describing the africans as "lesser beasts" and harder still, marlow not describing the africans and what does this mean?, london is the impentrable heart of darkness the end) but no...i will always be at odds with HOD.

  • Judy Vasseur
    2019-03-03 03:53

    Joseph Conrad makes me think of a Edgar Allen Poe on serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. (Although he is said to have attempted suicide in his late teens so he couldn't have been all that jolly) Most say his writing is dark but I find it funny. Bless my soul! By jove!What makes me think of Poe is the narrative which is like a constant paranoid obsessive-compulsive interior chatter. But I love the way the characters are outwardly totally in control and collected."I smiled urbanely"Yes he smiled urbanely while hiding a murderer in his cabin not four feet from where he entertained the visiting Skipper!!!!!"I think I had come creeping quietly as near insanity as any man who has not actually gone over the border...." Joseph would know.The horror! The horror!YES Joseph Conrad is very funny. Marlow can't seem to get any rivets to fix his steamboat as the weeks go past on the Congo, but gets plenty of cheap cotton fabric and plastic beads, while boxes and boxes of rivets sit split open downstream. Military and organizational dysfunction. Or is it the humidity?"You could fill your pockets with rivets for the trouble of stooping down—and there wasn't one rivet to be found where it was wanted.....And several times a week a coast caravan came in with trade goods—ghastly glazed calico that made you shudder only to look at it, glass beads value about a penny a quart, confounded spotted cotton handkerchiefs. And no rivets. Three carriers could have brought all that was wanted to set that steamboat afloat. "He gets shot at by arrows, ( "They might have been poisoned, but they looked as though they wouldn't kill a cat.") meets a harlequin, sees shrunken heads on spikes through his binoculars, goes through the dark forest and confronts the escaping Kurtz:"I had immense plans," he ( Kurtz ) muttered irresolutely."Yes," said I, "but if you try to shout I'll smash your head with—" There was not a stick or a stone near. "I will throttle you for good," I corrected myself.

  • RussBear
    2019-03-03 00:41

    The horror! The horror!I never understood exactly why this book has been termed a classic and why we still torture school children with it.

  • Mark
    2019-03-13 02:42

    Just fantastic. Not that anything less from Conrad was expected. But regard for something special should never be taken for granted, nor should it be deprived of its appropriate kudos when time allows. Masterful narrative. Better than average characters. An amazing story of a place that time may always forget. I find it funny that many critics cite Conrad's "racism" in regard to the African natives. For one, frankly, criticizing someone from that era and background for holding black people in lower regard is like critizing people today for using the Internet. Mostly for worse, it was the attitude of the day. We can't do anything about it. Move on. Also, I hardly doubt Conrad was necessarily being racist to begin with. The color theme of darkness and black I think has less to do with skin color and more to do with culture, progress, lifestyle and general attitudes in a place of the world that is buffered for everything else. It was a culture that put decapitated heads on spits. Tribes who launched arrows and spears at dudes on steamboats, killing people and shit. It was a people who lived in the dark, musty jungles. Jungles rife with the unknown, with death. I guess "unknown" is the key word here. Darkness doesn't strike fear because it's black, but because you never know when you're going to stub your toe against the dresser or be attacked by a goddamned jaguar. The color of an African's skin is so inconsequential. In fact, that's my part in curing racism in the world -- quit thinking your damned skin color is so important. It isn't! It means bunk! Nobody cares!

  • Faye
    2019-02-22 00:54

    I LOVE JOSEPH CONRAD. I don't even know... there's just something about his writing that makes my brain happy. I generally hate seafaring stories, but his are so much more than that. There's so much depth to his writing, and so much insight into the human psyche. Also, I have yet to read an author who does a more convincing oral-narration voice.Also also... the man didn't even learn English until he was an adult. How he then managed to write in English with more finesse than 99% of English-speaking writers have managed to do before or since STAGGERS me. RESPECT, DUDE. Respect. *bows to Conrad's genius*

  • Jacob Hoerger
    2019-03-06 02:45

    I had a really hard time with this book, even though it wasn't very long. First of all, the constant use of quotation mark (it's a frame story) annoyed me. In addition, the prose wasn't particularly awesome. Sure, there were a couple passages that were memorable, but, on the whole, I wasn't impressed. As for the story, it's about a sailor going up a river in Africa to meet the god-like "Mistah Kurtz." This journey, of course, is a metaphor for a journey into the human soul. I read this book because I thought it would better help me understand T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men. I also understand it is one of precursors to the Modernist movement, so it should definitely be read. I think it's one of those books (I find myself saying this often) that I will re-read and hopefully appreciate more. I probably should have taken more time to read it, and should have gotten my own copy so I could make marks in it. On the whole, I'm glad to be rid of this book, for now. I felt like I was fighting off boredom and incomprehension half the time I was reading it. Have a good day.

  • Steve Keane
    2019-02-25 03:56

    Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and it is an excellent adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I've seen the movie around 80 times and have read the novella at least 12 times. It is a powerful examination of the fine line between civilization and madness and what these things mean to the soul of the individual. In many cases the so-called civilized characters are the most decadent and debased. The story works on you on a subtle but powerful level. A must read for any age.A side recommendation here: the fantasy writings of Robert E. Howard. Everyone knows the generally crappy films of his characters Conan and Kull but the stories themselves often explore similar themes to Heart of Darkness. His characters are very Existential and human.

  • Chris
    2019-03-10 03:33

    Heart Of Darkness didn’t live up to the hype for me. I got far more out of a study of the themes, background, and historical significance than I did out of an enjoyment on the first read. There were quite a few outstanding lines, but the narrative is maudlin and slow. I’m sure it was very progressive for its time in provocative content and style, especially for tying in psychological observation and analysis, and I’m sure that’s why even its form, which now has been repeated and surpassed, is so appreciated by many to this day. It is one of those books which I believe now belongs, stylistically at least, to early 20th century literature, although the message is still going strong.In it, Conrad called out European colonialism, narcissism, and conventional morality for what it was: an arrogant illusion of sanity and progress. Heart Of Darkness was a mordant accusation against western modernism which pretended to be able to tame what is wild in humanity and what is unknown in the universe. It shows how flimsy is our pretense of appearing to be in control and in ‘the know’. We aren’t. We will always be far from understanding the universe if only by virtue of the fact that we are ‘in’ it, and cannot distance ourselves far enough from it and ourselves to achieve complete comprehension of our situation. We are thralls to mystery and the eternal unknown within which we lie buried, and which will forever expand itself through the cosmic wormhole running straight through the center of our being.Conrad uses this novella as a set-up for exploring the dark and cognitively unassimilated parts of our psyche and existence, and this is what he calls the “Fascination Of the Abomination.”“The utter savagery had closed round him—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination…”What we can’t understand, what we can’t fathom, fascinates us, draws us; and yet it is deep within us the inescapable and uncharted territories of the human soul and unconscious mind. The civilized person recoils at the thought of the natural world as an untamed force, but Conrad takes us far inland, into the jungle, where large-framed pictures can’t hide the holes, and aerosol disinfectants can’t mask the rank, bacterial growth of the inhumane, intractable, and inscrutable features of Nature.What can save one from despair in the face of this abominable incomprehension? Conrad mocks the pseudo-answers of habits and custom. “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this [lost]. What saves us is efficiency—the devotion to efficiency.” This idea of custom as the salve to our angst is echoed later in the play by Beckett, Waiting For Godot, who wrote that “habit is a great deadener” which stifles thoughts and questions about life’s meaning which cause us distress. The great unknowns of 1) foreign minds and powers in the universe that threaten to cause one harm, and 2) the post-modern search for the purpose and meaning of life, may appear like two different things, but each one causes a certain amount of anxiety, and both are responded to by developing methods and customs that help us feel like we belong and have a handle on things. An interesting moment in the narrative comes when Marlow comes across a book in a shelter in the dark, usurping jungle which was written on the banal subject of nautical methods; and finds that the “singleness of intention” and “honest concern for the right way of going to work” makes him “forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having come upon something unmistakably real.”The whole point of this story is for the sailor in Conrad to pistol-whip his safe, landlubber-readers with the question: how thin is the so-called ‘veneer of civilization’? He exposes culture as a thin coating which peels in the heat of privation and conflict, and quickly flakes away leaving only the real, bitter, and irreducible ‘hungers’ of the carnal instincts. “No [moral] fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs, and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in a breeze…It’s really easier to face bereavement, dishonor, and the perdition of one’s soul—than this kind of prolonged hunger. Sad, but true.” His infrared scope identifies the vital organs for the kill when he refers to modern man as “stepping delicately between the butcher [food] and the policeman [safety].” Shot through the heart, and Conrad’s to blame!!There certainly appears to be some Victorian misogyny and probably some racism infecting the fin de siècle psychical baggage Conrad carries with him, but I do agree with Joyce Carol Oates who wrote in the introduction that he was much more advanced than others in is era, and did much to bring to consciousness the shortcomings of European imperialism and bias. Specifically he challenged the moral-spiritual squalor of Victorian decorum and opulence, and the tendency of Europeans to believe that they were morally superior to the rest of the less developed parts of the world by right of privileged birth and by dubious evidence of material success.Conrad was intrigued with the contrast between the bewitchment of the untamed wild (the “fascination of abomination,” and the “horror” of Mr. Kurtz), and the cavalier complaisance of domesticated and dissociated society (European greed, and the melodrama of Mr. Kurtz’s fiancée). As an author he may have been experimenting with the idea of how to get back to the raw primordial forces of nature and the unconscious without sacrificing the discipline and stability of reason and community. The Wild is not as safe as it is powerful. “I wondered whether the stillness on the face of the immensity [the dark jungle] looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace… Could we handle that dumb thing, or would it handle us?” And in the end, Marlow returns to his society, to his people and his customs and his habits. As if nothing ever happened. But the spectacle of his conscious duplicity is made very explicit in his final conversation with Kurtz’ fiancée-widow which caricatures the European attitude so wonderfully and magnifies Conrad’s disgust for upper-class theatrics and hypocrisy. A year after Kurtz’s death his engaged is still melodramatically woeful about her loss. She practically swoons all over the place in front of Marlow boasting of Kurtz’s fine modern ideals and righteous superiority, and begs of Marlow to corroborate her convictions about her husband’s worth. Marlow watches her histrionics and finally decides to play to them. Instead of revealing to her that he saw the transmogrification of Kurtz and had witnessed his final words in which he acknowledged the deep and writhing darkness that is life—“Horror! Horror!”—he instead dumbs down the climactic ending of Kurtz and tells instead that he died whispering her name to the very end. Isn’t that nice. But he’s shocked and obviously disappointed that the ceiling doesn’t cave in on him, or more importantly, on anyone else for lying the civilized lie of hypocrisy and egocentrism. “The heavens do not fall for such a trifle.”Did Conrad desire a peeling away of civilization’s mask, and a return to the freedom, mystery, and power of the wild in some sense? Yes and no. I think he saw in it, as did many modern psychologists and philosophers, a raw, unharnessed force that could potentially help to enhance creativity and vigor; or it could be very destructive. Mr. Kurtz went feral, to his own demise and to the demise of others around him, but he successfully escaped the cheap substitute of being a decent citizen which couldn’t quite satisfy the primal instinct for adventure, mystery, and power. Then again, he killed and died. So, there’s that. Tipping the scale either way brings extreme ennui, angst of meaninglessness, suffering, or death.And for anyone who doesn’t know, anything Conrad can do, London can do better, and with less words. Jack London wrote The Call Of the Wild and The Sea Wolf on this same topic, and his authorial execution of the ‘return to the wild’ theme, which was his specialty, is much more muscular and sportive in nearly all of his works. Conrad is much more wordy and formal in his narrative, while London lets loose with a cunning, creativity, and pompous confidence that makes his words cut to the quick and soar above careful writers like Conrad.Search your feelings Luke. You know it’s true. Just my humble opinion. But I’m right.Like this review? Clicking ‘like’ lets me know someone’s reading! For more reviews, visit my blog at and start following!

  • Eh?Eh!
    2019-02-24 04:31

    I haven't read the Secret Sharer portion yet but for the Heart of Darkness part...plodding. Very profound, very deep, but maybe I watched too much tv while still in my malleable childhood and have too short of an attention span; man, this was hard to finish. I was more moved by the impression that J. Conrad was trying so hard to describe an indescribable sense of something, than the actual something he was describing. I think many other books present the same subject while also being entertaining - does that make me uncivilized? So many people loved this book. Why don't I?

  • Heidi
    2019-03-04 02:46

    I believe the book's tagline says it all: "The horror, the horror."I hated this book. HATED. I remember one day when I had done my reading section for English class, not understood a thing, except that they were on a boat and things were happening. Maybe they were being attacked. But in class we kept talking about the man in pink pajamas. I didn't remember any mention of pink pajamas. I could barely force my eyes continue reading the words on the page.

  • Ellen
    2019-02-28 03:37

    This book didn't do anything for me. I clearly missed something, but I don't care enough to find out what.

  • Þróndr
    2019-03-18 04:57

    Reading Joseph Conrad can be described as enjoying a very fine old cognac, savouring every drop of it... and while it can also be sort of intoxicating, it ultimately makes you more sober instead of drunk; more lucid rather than muddled.. This is especially true of Heart of Darkness, because here Conrad brings his multi-layered, dense prose to a new level of mastery. The Secret Sharer has a similar intensity, but here this is more due to the situation in which the Captain finds himself. The story centres predominantly on the two men, the Captain and Leggatt, and Conrad applies the doppelgänger motif in a very gripping and realistic way - and it is indeed based on a true story. The relationship between Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness is different, and they don’t even meet until towards the end of the story – but we, through Marlow, hear about Kurtz, through hints and allusions, and slowly he takes on almost mythical proportions. This journey, which both begins and ends on the river Thames, takes us first to Brussels ("the sepulchral city") before continuing along the coast of Africa, and then finally, after many delays, up the river Congo, bringing us gradually towards the heart of darkness - and all the different characters we meet along the way are a preparation for and point towards one man, Kurtz. The masterful composition of this short novel - where the outer journey perfectly mirrors Marlow’s inner journey, and through him, our journey – also adds to its monumental stature within European literature. To try to sum up the story would be to do it injustice, because every word is dense with meaning; every paragraph is almost like a journey in itself. Conrad's own journey into the Congo changed him profoundly, and this profundity cannot really be conveyed in any other way than by actually reading the story.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Robert Isenberg
    2019-03-03 01:42

    Because my high school was phobic of non-American authors or history, I never read Heart of Darkness as a teenager. Although now, having thoroughly relished its pages, I'm glad I waited for a maturer age. Years after I first scanned Dante and gorged on Apocalypse Now, I see HOD is a very different work. It surprised me in countless ways, and I'm grateful to have explored its jungles when I did.The narrator surprised me most of all, his anti-colonial grumbling, his masochistic drive, and his unsentimental disdain for everything that goes on. His search for Kurtz feels less like a mission than the preoccupation of an obsessive; Kurtz is his hobby, or even his sport, en lieu of anything better to do. I loved the tone of his writing, both eloquent and bitchy, as only a world-weathered Eastern European could write about the world's most godforsaken place.The narrative is funnier than I expected, then in turns weirder, scarier, and more beautiful -- it's a masterpiece from the first description of the open sea to the narrator's final, desperate lie. Apocalypse Now is among my favorite films, but even Brando's rendition of "the horror" pales before Conrad's description of Kurtz's haunting utterance.To then read on, past the jungle cult, and meet Kurtz's "intended," is among the queasiest scenes I've ever read, and I smiled wickedly at every sentence. The Dostoyevskyan web of formality and falsehood was almost too delicious, a whimpering finale to Victorian mores and misconceptions. Conrad's prose laughs louder at English romanticism than any satirist I've read. Even as Britain was finishing its imperial palace, Conrad was ripping up the floorboards. The horror, indeed.

  • Caleb
    2019-03-20 03:42

    I recently read the "Heart of Darkness" portion of the book for my High School AP English class. Overall, I would have to agree with the majority of other reviewers here in saying that this book WAS BORING! Unlike many of my peers, I DO read for pleasure and know a good book when I read one. I'm not lying when I say that I thought that the writing was actually very good. However, the overall storyline was mediocre at best. Yeah, sure, metaphors and a deeper meaning, and all that, blah blah blah boring. I don't much care for all that stuff. If it's not an interesting story I don't much see the point in taking the time to read it. I think Marlow can sum up the storyline of the book when he says "I went up that river to the place where I first met the poor chap" (p. 70) and I think Kurtz sums up how I felt about the book in general when he says "The horror! The horror!" (p.154). I really did not enjoy the book and it was an overall horrid waste of three and a half hours of my life. (Plus time to write a review on this site for my English class)

  • Eric
    2019-02-23 01:56

    When I entered the U. of Chicago, there were graffiti around campus: "'Mr. Kurtz, he dead!' Bird lives!" Now, how hip was that! So, when I found out that the first part of it was from Heart of Darkness, of course I had to read that. I admired Conrad for being a non-native speaker writing in English and I'm still a sucker for the Victorian gentleman thing. I know, totally sick for a Black man. So shoot me! . . . Did/do I see the white supremist viewpoint. Sure. That was out there. The book puts you inside the head of a character and into a time and place that allows you to understand the worldview, one that has thoroughly conditioned our history and still is around. Besides that, it's a great yarn.

  • MacK
    2019-02-23 22:46

    Perhaps this is unfair because I only made it through "The Secret Sharer" before plopping the book down with a satisfied "well that was every bit as pretentious as I thought it would be."Maybe "Heart of Darkness" is the brilliant piece everyone says it is, all I know is that after 50 pages of Conrad's tediously detailed prose I needed a palate cleanser and had to reread part of Harry Potter #7 to get it.

  • Janelle
    2019-03-08 01:32

    Very moving book about both the loving and dark nature of human beings; realistic lacking a fairy tail ending.

  • Longfellow
    2019-03-03 01:50

    Reading this requires singular focus and perpetual concentration. Thus, comprehending a single sentence at times yields a notable feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction. Following a strong compulsion, I picked this up after having finished The Poisonwood Bible, whose setting in Congo from the perspective of a missionary family in the early 1960s suggested to me it would be interesting to read of Marlow’s trip up the Congo River decades earlier. I was not disappointed. Poisonwood emphasizes the inability of the colonizers (and visiting missionaries with their western cultural ideas and dogmatic religious positions) to understand the place they are at and whom they are among. But it also provides a glimpse into the culture and life of the Congolese. Heart of Darkness, on the other hand, offers the perspective of the colonizers, or, more accurately put, the attitude which help found colonization. In Conrad’s novel, we see, through the eyes of Marlow, that exploitation and profit pretty much become the sole reasons for a presence in Congo. The introduction to the edition I read observes that there is some debate over whether Conrad was a “moral” writer, meaning, I suppose, one could argue either that Heart of Darkness is an indictment or that it is simply an observation. I may be projecting my own views onto the work, but I find it hard to read as anything other than an indictment, not only toward colonization, exploitation, and greed, but on human behavior in general. It’s tempting to label the novella’s style as impressionistic, but the density of its descriptions probably makes this an invalid judgment. Nonetheless, as a reader I feel left with mostly impressions; though the specific details themselves faded almost as soon as I turned the page or proceeded to the next paragraph, the impressions they left are going to stick, namely the extension of the jungle almost into one’s very body and the psychological claustrophobia that results. This is an oft-alluded-to book, often simply by references to the character Kurtz, who essentially becomes consumed by the jungle, by delusions of grandeur, and by an obsession with amassing ivory. Here are some famous lines:“Exterminate all the brutes!”“The horror! The horror!” (Kurtz’s last words)“Mistah Kurtz. He dead.”The quotes I think I’d most like to remember, however, are these:“It was as unreal as everything else--as the philanthropic pretense of the whole concern.”“By heavens! there is something after all in the world allowing one man to steal a horse while another may not look at a halter.”

  • Rosemarie
    2019-03-17 06:40

    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad would have to be one of the most complicated books I have ever read so far. I would have to be honest and say that the vocabulary used is advanced and I did have to reread pages a few times to remember what I was reading/understand. At times during the book I had no idea what was going on which made me reread over again. This book was challenging and is good at some points. Througout the book a character called Marlow is on a journey to find Kurtz. This book started in Thames River outside of London and is being taken place in Africa in a journey through the heart of Africa which is the Congo. I love how Joseph Conrad used literary devices througout the story to make us see what was actually going on and explain the darkness in the journey. I would reccomend this book to advanced readers or whom who like to challenge themselves. I will probably want to read this book once again to re-think my thoughts and further study the darkness in the book which when Marlow reaches Africa then thats when the madness starts between Marlow and his illusinations. I give thanks to Joseph Conrad for wrtiting such a complicated book because it made me work harder and search deep within my thoughts to understand. I might as well start challenging myself with other books.This was a good great book that i should have read more then once to understand it. There are many things that the book focuses on. The book is mainly about the journey of Marlow into the Heart of Africa(Congo).Marlow is traveling down the river to find Kurtz. But the deeper he went into the Congo the deeper the darkness consumed him. I think the darkness refers to the way people start changing whitin the Congo. For example Marlow was already showing signs of his madness when he first saw the dead bodies of African people.

  • Christopher Rex
    2019-02-21 23:42

    Conrad is another brilliant writer and social commentator. Though "Heart of Darkness" is the superior of these two short novels, they both delve deep into the Nature of Man (so to speak) and contain great truths on the subject. Like many great short-novels, Conrad packs quite a punch in very few pages."Secret Sharer" examines a sea-captain who hides a murderer who is a mirror image of himself, while "Heart of Darkness" examines a journey into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious "Kurtz." You really don't need to know a whole lot more up-front.....just go read the books. It won't take long and it is well worth it.I liken many of the "truths" Conrad exposes in "Heart of Darkness" to what can be found in "Lord of the Flies" (which I personally think is one of the best books of all time). Basically, there is a very real darkness lurking inside all of us and Conrad is not afraid to tell it like it is. Though many elements of "Heart of Darkness" may come across as "shocking," the reality is that we are the darkness he describes - each and every one of us. Anybody who denies that fact is either ignorant, naive or both.Personally, this book goes better w/ a thorough understanding of the Belgian Congo (specifically) and European Imperialism in Africa (in general). I highly recommend "King Leopold's Ghost." I think that this "backdrop" helps the reader to grasp exactly what Conrad was first experiencing and later writing about. Though the reader can appreciate "Kurtz" and the "Heart of Darkness" without this background, I felt it really added to the experience all-around.I feel all the richer in my understanding of human nature by reading this book. "Heart of Darkness" is amazing and "Secret Sharer" is a nice bonus.Highly recommended.

  • Dewey
    2019-03-15 02:59

    Two well-written novellas by the Pole-turned-Brit Joseph Conrad (at least in language), one being his most famous work and considered among the best the English language has produced. I liked them both, despite being rather different from each other though they are both novellas. The Secret Sharer was rather straightforward and took place in the Gulf of Siam, while Heart of Darkness took place upriver in the Congo I think (if there was a reference, I missed it, but it sounded like the Congo River). Both seem to have characters who side with what they relate with more than they side with justice, a different turn from the Secret Agent although the lack of a role lawful justice had was certainly evident. Heart of Darkness was quite wordy, a lot more than the Secret Sharer or Agent, but is 100% qualitative. It didn't hit home for me in the way Dostoyevsky or Kafka does - maybe because of the ambiguity of the story, one of the most ambiguous stories I've ever read as a matter of fact - but it's hard not to feel like one has entered somewhere dark and mysterious when reading it. Though not as objective as the Secret Agent, Conrad's objective look at British people or other Westerners is evident here as well. Though I can't promise that everybody will like Heart of Darkness, everybody should read it, if only to shame themselves by seeing how a Pole, who didn't speak a word of English at the age of twenty, wrote better than so many native speakers today. That and it is a pretty striking novella that will stir something inside, even if one isn't altogether sure what it is.

  • Daniel2
    2019-03-21 01:50

    I'm a little torn on this one. Clearly,Conrad is a capable writer. Not entirely compelling, but skilled in the art of penned language.The book was a lot of waiting for something to happen. (I know most see it as a social commentary, which it is not, so please do not think I missed the point of any authorial intention.) The only person I wanted to know about was Kurtz and damn it if I got nothing but a maniac on his death bed. Conrad's language is beautiful and thankfully lacks the tactless erudition of his peers, but I wanted to know more about Kurtz; see things from his point of view. He was both the hero and the villain, but I never got to enjoy the whole point of the thing. In the end it was unbelievable that Marlow could admire Kurtz to the extent that he did, because he didn't even know the guy, his knowledge of him was entirely second hand. Who admires a guy whom they nothing about and who is a tyrannical monster no less? Boo.One last thing. All writers, esteemed or not, should use the standard dialogue format. Yeah, yeah I get it-the flow of consciousness and unbroken thought and action-but it's lame. No one is distracted by each quote having its own line. Conrad does himself a disservice by placing his quotes in the body of the thinker's narrative. Please don't tell me there's any real need for it.Anywho, there it is.

  • Natali
    2019-03-02 01:51

    I love allegories, but Joseph Conrad is just so damn hard to get into. Seriously, I just don't understand him. He's a MAJOR rambler and a big fan of referencing to that-one-character-who's-the-uncle-to-that-one-person-you-met-20-pages-ago-and-who-turns-out-to-be-a-major-part-of-the-plot. Which can get pretty annoying after a while. I mean, it was only about 150 pages; I shouldn't have spent nearly as much time on it as I really did. But besides the horrendous and terribly dry writing, the story itself wasn't too bad. As I mentioned above, I love, love, LOVE allegories; there's something about finding a new connection that just makes me happy on the inside (is that too nerdy? I think it is). I really enjoyed the complexity of the natives and Marlow and even Kurtz, despite the fact that he was a total douchebag...and a little bit nuts. The only thing I wished Conrad had expanded on were the characters on the boat at the beginning of the story; I mean, did they just leave? And the ending itself was a bit rushed. I had no sense of closure. But maybe that was the point. To imply that the heart of darkness and the evil of humanity never ends and never will end. Or maybe I'm taking this allegory thing too far.

  • Jeffrey Bumiller
    2019-03-21 07:00

    I view this book as a serious critique of imperialism. I will somehow have to find and read Chinua Achebe's famous lecture, "An Image of Africa: "Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'". I do not see this book as racist, rather, (and this may be wishful thinking on my part) I see it as a story with a main character (Marlow) being dragged out of his ignorant stupor and awakened to the horrors of imperialism and the racism it cannot exist without. As far as the writing goes, Conrad is my man. Intense, unrelenting, and truly dark. One of the darkest books I've ever read. I was thinking of Lord of the Flies and Edgar Allan Poe a lot while reading this.Ok, I will also admit that it was incredibly difficult to not think Apocalypse Now while reading this, it's such an awesome film, is it not?The short story that accompanies Heart of Darkness is also incredible. "The Secret Sharer" is a bizarre and eerie story about a sea captain who, one night, encounters a man attempting to climb up the latter of his ship, subsequently discovering that the man is his doppelganger and also a murderer. Plus they use the word "poop" a lot in the story (another word for the stern deck of a ship.) Ah.. simple pleasures.

  • Lori Anderson
    2019-03-18 01:44

    I was forced to read these two stories in senior year literature. I distinctly remembered my friend and I rolling our eyes at each from across the room as the teacher tore the book apart for symbolism and depth of meaning when all we wanted to do was READ it. Every now and then I was able to pull some random pithy sentiment out of where ever those things come from -- but I didn't remember one thing about the book except that it involved a river, a nut, and Apocalypse Now was based on it.This time around I was able to just enjoy the story. I'm not much of a seafaring person, so I'm sure a lot of the beauty of the literature was wasted on me. I did like it, but I wasn't really overwhelmed with emotion. Worth a reread, but you'll live if you don't.Lori AndersonLori Anderson:The Store Pretty Things:The Blog Facebook

  • H.
    2019-03-08 22:41

    I won't lie: when my AP English teacher started passing out copies of this little relic in class, I groaned internally. I had long heard rumors of how dense the language in this compact, 100-page novella could be. The first reading assignment was torture- I couldn't get any hold on the setting, plot, or any of the characters- until we got to Marlow's narration. It still wasn't the easiest thing to read, but at least it was understandable.Eventually, I started getting a little angry. This seemed like a story I might really enjoy- if only it wasn't such a freaking headache to get into. It's not like it was hard to understand- just tedious and unenjoyable, akin to putting a tin pot over your head and banging it with a ladle.and that is why Heart of Darkness is only getting four stars from me- because a book with such good plot and themes should be written in a way where everyone can enjoy it. That is the epitome of 'good' writing- the ability to write beautifully and eloquently- in a way that most people can understand.

  • Grayson Queen
    2019-03-07 22:42

    I should have read this in a day. I read Crime and Punishment in less time.Perhaps it was because I'm tired of Russian literature. Or maybe excessive use of internal monologue. But I'm thinking it's about the boats. The one thing I hate more than books about horses are books about boats and sailing.Because lets face it, this was about sailing. Or more specifically a about a sailor. A story told by an old sailor about this time he met a strange man. Perhaps this might have been an interesting view of white men in Africa and their perception of the natives. But the truth is that it was about what seamen think about those of us who live on the land. The main character essentially spells this out in a scene where he finds a book left in an abandoned hut. He talks about how he takes solace in the idea of one sailor finding the words of another sailor.I hate stories about sailing. Maybe you do, but I'm too biased to liked this book in anyway other than for in it's time it said something nothing else had said.

  • Jeff Ballew
    2019-03-02 01:53

    Thinking about this book psychologically this book has an interesting premise: an enlightened Renaissance man of sorts goes out into the heart of Africa in search of ivory, loses his mind, becomes a god-like figure in the minds of local tribes, and is to be brought back to civilization. Wow! A mind fractured to pieces through loneliness and isolation, ego sent to the highest of heights, only to be brought back to civilization? Sign me up!Unfortunately, that's all the book has going for it. Conrad seems to through up a smokescreen of words as if he doesn't want the reader to know what's going on (This might have been different if I was reading the book in the late 1800s, but I'm not, and neither are you). His depiction of the Africans seems pretty racist, as none of them have any real character besides being cannibals and followers of Kurtz. This might have been more acceptable at the time, but it makes you wonder why this book is such a classic.

  • Christina Rumbaugh
    2019-02-26 05:56

    I definitely liked it/understood it better the second time around. Especially when read in the "psychological novel" perspective. The Secret Sharer was hardly the "piece of crap" I had pegged it for back in 12th grade. It's actually a very insightful story about a man who learns who he really is by watching and admiring the actions of another man, a stranger, a mirror-image of himself. He is motivated to change his own life by watching and wishing he could be like his mirror-self. He saves the stranger, and that stranger, in turn, saves him!As for Heart of Darkness, it's still that creepy story about Marlow and his journey to find Kurtz keep in the jungle, crazy, emaciated and on the verge of death. "The horror, the horror!" and all that jazz. The Secret Sharer is worth reading... and if you feel like it, you can try Heart of Darkness, but it's not exactly my favorite. 4 stars for the former, 2-3 stars for the latter.

  • Kobey Embrey
    2019-03-13 03:36

    As I read through this book, it was hard to follow parts if the story because of the diction the author used.However, as I progressed, being able to comprehend the message that the author was trying to get to the audience became easier because I became familiar with the author's diction. The background given at the beginning of the book helped me during the duration of the book, such as where the adventure took place and how it progressed. I believe that this book could be suitable for all audiences that can successfully comprehend the material or that are interested in stories that are relatable to this adventure story. The tone that the author used seemed to change throughout the progression of the book from a neutral or happy feeling to almost a somber feel during the last few pages of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to challenge themselves with an interesting plot but difficult diction.