Heart of Darkness Audiobook
By: Joseph Conrad
Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
Published by Audible Studios 11/23/2010
3 hrs and 51 mins
Heart of darkness Audiobook Sample
Heart of darkness Audiobook
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
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 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.
Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (/ˈbrænə/; born 10 December 1960) 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. He was made a Freeman of his native city of Belfast in January 2018.