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  • Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

  • By: Joseph Conrad
  • Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
  • Length: 3 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (641 ratings)

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Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

By: Joseph Conrad
Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
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Editorial reviews

After a half dozen sub-par narrations of Joseph Conrad's electrifying and polarizing classic portrait of colonization, Audible has taken matters in its own hands, enlisting dreamy dramatist Kenneth Branagh for voice work that is sure to finally hit the five-star mark. Branagh has won numerous top awards for his acting and directing, both on stage and in film. Audible has chosen wisely in Branagh, who is already well practiced in giving definitive voice to editions of beloved works from the likes of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and C.S. Lewis.

This time around, Branagh brings his charming brand of gravitas to Charles Marlow, a trenchant observer who sails down the Congo toward the end of the 19th-century for a chilling and unforgettable look at what the ivory trade has done to the soul of civilization. As his tiny ship navigates deeper into the jungle toward Kurtz, mysterious wunderkind of the inner station who is almost worshipped by the savage natives, Branagh slowly and gracefully melts into Marlow's chatty paranoia with an instinct for madness that the actor so well acquainted with Hamlet is expected to deliver. Branagh is by turns invigorating and haunting as Marlow emerges from the heart of darkness to perform an act of merciful deceit on the ailing Kurtz's behalf.

Famously criticized by postcolonial scholars for its portrayal of all Africans as less than human, and then equally famously adapted into Francis Ford Coppola's horrifying Vietnam portrait Apocalypse Now, this novel has survived a century of brutal treatments that nevertheless do not mar the beauty of the original text. Whether you treasured this book in high school English class or thought it was too boring to be worth your full attention, Joseph Conrad's essential best work is now finally ready for a proper revisiting thanks to Kenneth Branagh's superior narration. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever.

With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first.

Stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors David Hyde Pierce, Leelee Sobieski, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Acclaimed Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh impersonates Marlow in this recording. Admirably, while fully playing the drama, he never goes overboard. He plays the tale for the great yarn that it is." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

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An exceptional performance!

An utterly exceptional performance by Kenneth Branagh. His imaginative and articulate performance gives a great depth and richness to Conrad’s story.

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A stand out classic

Any additional comments?

This was the first time I had read / listened to this tale, very quickly you could tell you were listening to a classic.
Everything about this book is enjoyable, well deserving of its place upon the literary classics shelf.

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Wow

Most certainly a lesson in both how to write and tell a story. My first Conrad novel. An absolute privilege.

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Wonderful to revisit this book after many years

I wish I had this recording available when studying heart of Darkness at school and later at university. Branagh’s narration is perfect and brings the story alive. Wonderful stuff.

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A fine reading of a great work

While I would not say Brannagh’s voice would’ve occurred to me as Marlow’s, he does a fine job of it.

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Heart of Darkness

Colonisation is bad and I feel very sad for the elephants. A product of its time.

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Greater than I ever thought possible

Greater than I ever thought possible. a shattering story of colonial adventurism as seen through the eyes of the protagonist

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Branagh makes you feel you are there

A great performance by Branagh makes you feel you are with Marlow in heart of darkness.

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Exceptional

Beautiful writing and an exceptional reading from Kenneth Branagh - makes you realise the difference a good narrator can make. A short listen, very worthwhile.

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Gorgeous

An extraordinary, powerful and affecting book, beautifully narrated. I have read it previously but gained more from the telling. A delight.

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