Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer.pdf

Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer.pdf


Spotlight Reviews
1.How To Make a 75 Page Story Into a 400 Page Book, December 7, 2002
Reviewer: Robert Derenthal "bucherwurm" (California United States)

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.

2.Into the dark, June 19, 2001
Reviewer: Sergio Flores (Orange, CA United States)

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. This man, Kurtz, is the one who will state "kill the brutes!" in his report, expressing the opinion of so many Europeans regarding most, and maybe all, non-European races.
"Heart of Darkness" can be read simply as an adventure, but there are several, better, adventure books that have better "hooks" and are, at the same time, more easily forgotten. This is an extraordinary short book by an extraordinary author. Do not deprive yourself of a magnificent, early 20th century masterpiece of literature, just because someone was not hooked by it, or because someone read it in high school and it just wouldn't do to read it again. The power of this book is not in its "easy" prose, because its prose is definitely not easy. It is not in an artificially complex prose, either. This second fault seems more the refuge of other writers, plenty of them modern ones, who have confused "good" with obscure, and "better" with unreadable. Conrad knows how to tell a story, and there is a method to this dark tale told by Marlow, a man much closer to Kurtz than he would like to admit. Since the reader is presented only with Marlow's account, the jump from the reader to Marlow to Kurtz and back to the reader is a troubling one. Here is Conrad's mastery. Read the book. If you have read it, try it again. It may surprise you what new revelations prowl its pages.

This 3rd Norton Critical edition is the best I have seen so far. The essays are all good, but Chinua Achebe's deserves special attention: the Nigerian author advocates not reading "Heart of Darkness" at all, a statement that, coming from a writer, is not just surprising, but deeply disturbing. I sincerely believe that this form of intentional ignorance, of voluntary censorship on the part of the reader, only serves to foment a generalized, public ignorance of the world around us.

Customer Reviews
1.The darkness in men's hearts, 19 Jan 2000
Reviewer: philip_brown@talk21.com (Essex, England)

With this novella Joseph Conrad brutally rips away the barriers that men build to hide themselves and exposes the evil that lurks in all men's hearts, waiting for an opportunity to get out.kurtz sails away into the dark continent full of ambition to build a bright shining society where men will be Gods. The result is unspeakable evil. What actually happens the reader never knows. They are just invited to look at the battered result of Kurtz's ambition. Marlowe returns and visits the now dead Kurt's fiancee, but is unable to tell her the truth about her beloved and makes up some romantic tale to spare her feelings. Nowadays Conrad is vulnerable to accusations of racism as he uses Africa to represent the dark continent. As always the politically correct have completely missed the pooint. The evil was in Kurtz, as it is in all men, not in Africa. And Conrad was exposing the wickednesss of colonolism which he was vehemently against, which anyone could find out if they read his works closely. In fact he was not a racist but years ahead of his time.

2.The Secret Sharer, 17 May 1999
Reviewer: A reader

Every day people have moral issues they have to grapple with. They may have witnessed an accident, but decided to keep it to themselves because of fear of getting involved. They might have gone to the store and seen someone steal, but ignored it. When this moral issue has to do with a murder, though the offense can not be taken lightly. This is what happens in Joseph Conrad's story "The Secret Sharer".
In the Secret Sharer, a young captain of a large ship quickly finds himself in a tight situation. A complete stranger finds his way upon his ship during the middle of the night. As the captain hears and listens to the stranger's story about how he killed someone in self-defense on another boat, he welcomes the stranger inside and hides him. In a way the captain often describes himself as being "a stranger on the ship," because the whole crew already knew each other and spent a lot of time together. The fact that the captain and the newcomer were both strangers brought them closer together. This new stranger was soon accepted into the captain's life as being a friend. The captain even hid him in his own personal living quarters. The fact that the captain was housing a known murderer caused a conflict in his life. He had to decide whether to turn the stranger in or persuade himself that it's morally correct to keep the secret hidden.

The "Secret Sharer" compares a lot with "Huckleberry Finn". In Huckleberry Fin and Secret Sharer at least one main character was hiding and not liked by "civilized society". Jim and Huck soon became friends just like the Captain and the Stranger. Throughout the Secret Sharer the young Captain was torn between duty to the ship and loyalty to his new friends. In Huckleberry Finn, Huck was torn between duty to society (harboring a slave was wrong) and his friendship with Jim. The Secret Sharer is a story which I think is definitely worth reading. I specifically like Joseph Conrad's style of writing, his attention to detail and strong story line. Everyone who reads this book can identify with the difficulty of making good decisions.

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (born Dec. 3, 1857, Berdichev, Ukraine, Russian Empire-died Aug. 3, 1924, Canterbury, Kent, Eng.) Polish-British novelist and short-story writer. His father was a Polish patriot who was exiled to northern Russia, and Conrad was an orphan by age 12. He managed to join the French merchant marine and in 1878 the British merchant navy, where he pursued a career for most of the next 15 years; his naval experiences would provide the material for most of his novels. Though he knew little English before he was 20, he became one of the master English stylists. He is noted for tales in rich prose of dangerous life at sea and in exotic places, settings he used to reveal his real concern, his deeply pessimistic vision of the human struggle. Of his many novels, which include Almayer's Folly (1895), The Nigger of the "Narcissus" (1897), Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), and Under Western Eyes (1911), several are regarded as masterpieces. He also published seven story collections; the novella "Heart of Darkness" (1902) is his most famous shorter work and the basis for Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now (1979). Conrad's influence on later novelists has been profound.

Heart of Darkness is a novella by Joseph Conrad. Before publication, it appeared in a three-part series in Blackwood's Magazine (1899). This highly symbolic story is actually a story within a story, or frame tale, following a man named Charlie Marlow, as he recounts his adventure to a group of men, onboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary, at dusk and continuing into the evening. It details an incident earlier in Marlow's life when he, an Englishman, takes a foreign assignment as a ferry boat captain on what readers can assume is the Congo River in the Belgian owned Congo Free State; the name of the country is never specified in the text. Though his job is to transport ivory downriver, Marlow quickly develops an intense interest in investigating Kurtz, an ivory procurement agent in the employment of the government. Kurtz's reputation extends throughout the region.

Publisher Comments:

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 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.

From AudioFile

In HEART OF DARKNESS, Marlow, the narrator, undertakes both an outer and an inner journey. The outer journey takes him into the heart of Africa, where he encounters representatives of every colonial stripe. Performing the work instead of simply reading it, Scott Brick emphasizes this aspect of Conrad's classic, clearly conveying class differences and a range of foreign accents, as well as pidgin. Conrad's prose is dense and complex, but Brick delivers it smoothly and gracefully. However, Marlow's inner journey--during which he confronts the mysterious Mr. Kurtz--remains too distant and intellectualized to fully capture the emotional charge of the moment. G.T.B.

About the Author

Conrad was born on 12/3/1857, in a part of Russia that had once belonged to Poland. His parents were members of the landed gentry, but as ardent Polish patriots they suffered considerably for their political views. Orphaned at 11, Conrad attended school in Cracow but concluded that there was no future for him in occupied Poland, and at 16 he left forever. The sea was Conrad's love and career for the next 20 years; in the British merchant navy, he rose finally to captain, sailing to Australia and Borneo and surviving at least one shipwreck. In 1890 he became captain of a Congo River steamer, but this led only to disillusionment and ill health and this would become the basis for Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness. Reluctantly leaving the merchant service, he settled in England and completed his first novel, Almayer's Folly, already begun at sea. His subsequent works, many of which drew upon his sea experiences, include The Nigger of the "Narcissus" (1897), Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo (1904), The Secret Agent (1907), The Secret Sharer (1910), and Chance (1913). The man who was 21 before he spoke a word of English is now regarded as one of the superb English stylists of all time. Conrad died at his desk in 1924.

Book Dimension
Height (mm) 172              Width (mm) 110


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