Monday, April 7, 2014

Audio Book Review: "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

This novella tells of Steamboat Captain Charles Marlow's experience travelling up the Congo River in Africa.   During this time, Marlow becomes fascinated with the man in charge of the station that is his destination on the river - one Mr. Kurtz.  This station is deep within the African wilds, and Kurtz has been there for some time.  There are troubles to be had with the natives, attacks on the ship, and some shady dealings among the Company managers that are on board.

The story is set during the time of European Colonization of the African Continent.  At first look, the title seemed only to mean the heart of the unknown - the deep dark jungles of Africa.  But I think the book is more than that; it is looking at the motives of humans and a great many are darkly motivated - no matter skin color.  That it is somehow expected that the black-skinned native Africans are evil naturally, and that the good white man is superior.  But here, there are more instances of the white man bearing ill-will on his fellow man.  I have a feeling that literature scholars have probably studied this work for all sorts of symbolism and hidden meanings that I'm just not about explore - but feel free if you are so interested.

This is such a short book that I'm not sure why I decided to listen to the audio version of it.  Oh yeah, KENNETH BRANAGH!  Also, the audio is pretty short as well - roughly 4 hours - and I figured that I'd listen to it in one ride to and from school.  That didn't quite happen (the ride was shorter than expected) so my listening experience was broken up over a couple weeks.  I don't recommend that.  There were some parts of this that I found confusing as it was, and that was only compounded by taking a long break in between listens.  The language is beautiful, and Branagh's narration is wonderful and fraught with emotion.  And while a good part of the adventure was exciting, I still had trouble getting into the rest of it.  I think this will require a reread at some point, but I'm not terribly excited about that prospect and will likely put that off for quite a while.
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh
Audible Signature Classics, 2010.  First published 1899.
3 hours 51 minutes
Source:  Purchased New



Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

It has been a few years since I read this one and I didn't love it. I think reading an edition narrated by Branagh might be the perfect way to reread it!

Ruth said...

Whenever the question "What is your least favorite book?" comes up, I have always said of Heart of Darkness. But I wonder if I would have had a better overall feeling about it had i listened to a great audio version of it. Anyway, I did enjoy the Sparknotes video of Heart of Darkness. It was definitely amusing.

Heidi’sbooks said...

My kids hated this book when they read it for school. I read it as an adult and thought it very profound. I did have to reread the ending like three times before I figured out what happened. But, I really liked the book and respected the author for bringing out the issues in the Congo.

Rob said...

I loved Branagh's narration of this. It was just perfect.

Joseph said...

I was ambivalent on this as well. It was entertaining and easy to read. It has some poignant moments, but a few flaws in my opinion. I'm not certain why it is considered "great" by so many.
My own review:

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