Heart Of Darkness Audiobook by Joseph Conrad (Review)

Posted by on Mar 14, 2018 in Reviews | 12 comments

Review of: Heart of Darkness Audiobook
Joseph Conrad

Reviewed by:
On March 14, 2018
Last modified:March 14, 2018


Heart of Darkness Audiobook

By: Joseph Conrad

Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh

Published by Audible Studios 11/23/2010

Heart of Darkness Audiobook

4 Hearts rating image Hot Listens

3 hrs and 51 mins

Genre: Fiction

Heart of darkness Audiobook Sample

Heart of darkness Audiobook

4.0 Hearts

Somehow, through required reading and my own pleasure reading through classics in high school and college age, I missed Joseph Conrad’s works. His writing is well over a century old now and he wrote contemporary work in a time when colonialism and imperialism ran rampant, when there were still unexplored places in the corners of the earth, and where men could go on adventures that returned them changed both inside and out.

Heart of Darkness is novella-length, but it leaves the listener with much to ponder during and after the reading. This is an old-style adventure story about a man who tells a tale of his youth when he naively went up the Congo for the first time and encountered native and foreigner, slave and oppressor, cunning and mad, ambition and sorrow, alike, in others and in himself. It’s also a mind bender thriller when Marlow encounters Kurtz and the temptation is presented to succumb to the darkness of greed and power.

The story was front-loaded with foreshadowing in the beginning when Marlow begins to regal his listeners and then the ominous shadowing grows through the story until the darkness is nearly choking. This was good storytelling.

But, the story is also a window into the historical setting of that time. As a reader, I cringed for the arrogant thinking and the horrid treatment that a human can enact against another human. This was not easy to read or stomach. There was enough of an omniscient narrator mindset that looked upon this all as a cautionary tale which redeemed it somewhat for me. The writers and his characters are products of their time. This is not cleaned up for modern sensitivities and ‘enlightened’ thinking, but the unvarnished egotistical thinking of the time period for a European in Africa.

So, it was well-worth delving back into classic English Literature, pondering the thinking of the day, appreciating great writing and a strong story, but also one of the most talented actors of our day.

Heart of Darkness Audiobook Narration

5 Hearts

It wasn’t just that I had the sudden urge to sample writing by a classic author I’d not read before that led me to Heart of Darkness. No, it was that this was a gem of an Audible Exclusive. I picked up a handful of them- classics narrated by celebrity actors. In the case of Heart of Darkness, I enjoyed the rich, trained voice of the fabulous Kenneth Branagh. He captured the essence of Heart of Darkness so well that I got the shivers at times and my stomach knotted up from anxiety like I was right there along with Marlow.

Joseph ConradJoseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski ) was a Polish-born English novelist who today is most famous for Heart of Darkness, his fictionalized account of Colonial Africa. Conrad left his native Poland in his middle teens to avoid conscription into the Russian Army. He joined the French Merchant Marine and briefly employed himself as a wartime gunrunner. He then began to work aboard British ships, learning English from his shipmates. He was made a Master Mariner, and served more than sixteen years before an event inspired him to try his hand at writing. He was hired to take a steamship into Africa, and according to Conrad, the experience of seeing firsthand the horrors of colonial rule left him a changed man.
Joseph Conrad settled in England in 1894, the year before he published his first novel. He was deeply interested in a small number of writers both in French and English whose work he studied carefully. This was useful when, because a need to come to terms with his experience, lead him to write Heart of Darkness, in 1899, which was followed by other fictionalized explorations of his life. He has been lauded as one of the most powerful, insightful, and disturbing novelists in the English canon despite coming to English later in life, which allowed him to combine it with the sensibilities of French, Russian, and Polish literature.

Narrator Kenneth BranaghWikipedia sourced
Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (/ˈbrænə/; born 10 December 1960)[1] is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter originally from Belfast. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and in 2015 succeeded Richard Attenborough as its President. He has directed or starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, including Henry V (1989) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006).
Branagh has also starred in numerous other films and television series including Fortunes of War (1987), Woody Allen’s Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Conspiracy (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Warm Springs (2005), as Major General Henning von Tresckow in Valkyrie (2008), The Boat That Rocked (2009), Wallander (2008–2016), My Week with Marilyn (2011) as Sir Laurence Olivier (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor), and as Royal Navy Commander Bolton in the action-thriller Dunkirk (2017). He has directed such notable films as Dead Again (1991), in which he also starred, Swan Song (1992) (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) in which he also starred, The Magic Flute (2006), Sleuth (2007), the blockbuster superhero film Thor (2011), the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) in which he also co-stars, the live-action remake of Disney’s Cinderella (2015), and the mystery drama adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (2017), in which he also starred as Hercule Poirot.
He also narrated the BBC documentary miniseries Walking with Dinosaurs (starred in 1999) (as well as The Ballad of Big Al), Walking with Beasts (2001) and Walking with Monsters (2005). Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and has won three BAFTAs, and an Emmy. He was appointed a knight bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and was knighted on 9 November 2012.[2] He was made a Freeman of his native city of Belfast in January 2018.[3]

Reviewed by

Sophia Rose Signature

  • 4
    editor rating
Sophia Rose
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.


    • Yep! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. 🙂

    • Yes, there are so many that I’ve stumbled across on my own or heard other people were required that I never had to read. It’s interesting what makes a high school or college book list.

  1. Sophia Rose yet another author I’ve never heard of, Wow sounds chilling. Thanks

    • Glad to add to your list, Debbie. 🙂 Oh yes, it was chilling, but not horror. It was just the way people acted.

  2. I’ve never heard of this author before. Thanks for letting us know about him.

    • Sure thing, Mary! Always happy to make the introductions. 🙂

  3. I hate to admit that I tend to avoid classics. I have a lot of classic audiobooks in my audible account but just can’t seem to get myself to listen to any of them. This one does sound very well done.

    • I have to work myself up into the mood. I doubt I have the gumption to make a steady diet of them, but a few a year work for me. I’ve got two or three left on my audio shelf to pull off and listen to.

  4. This was require reading for one of my college courses and I surprisingly found myself loving this story by Joseph Conrad. I don’t know if it was the ominous settings and storyline that captivated me but whatever it was I still dub this short story/novella as a favorite.

    • That is great, Leona. You’re the first person I’ve encountered who got to read it for school. It really is so well written. Yes, that ominous tone is what gave me the chills as I listened. 🙂

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