《黑暗之心》被譽為20世紀最具影響力的中篇小說，其奠定了作家約瑟夫．康拉德（1857–1924, Joseph Conrad）在文壇上的地位，知名的文學理論家愛德華．薩伊德（Edward W. Said, 1935–2003）給予這部小說極高的評價。這本小說問世之後，成為文學批判的寵兒，其所觸及的討論包括殖民主義、後殖民主義、種族歧視、現代主義、精神分析、女性主義等等。美國大導演柯波拉（Francis F. Coppola）的知名電影《現代啟示錄》（Apocalypse, 1979），便是以這本小說為雛型。
Heart of Darkness, like many of Joseph Conrad’s novels, is based on his own experience as a sailor. This story is closely connected to the period that he spent working for a Belgian trading company on a river steamer on the Congo River, which he captained for a short time. He returned sick, and disillusioned with the Belgians’ imperialistic attitude to the local people.
There are two narrators in Heart of Darkness: an anonymous narrator on board the Nellie and Marlow. The first narrator starts the novel and then introduces Marlow, who then in turn tells his story. At the end of Marlow’s story, the anonymous narrator then finishes the novel in his own words. This technique is called a frame narrative.
The main story in Heart of Darkness is the part narrated by the sailor Marlow. He tells some other sailors of his experience as the captain of a steamboat on a large river in Africa. Marlow’s job is to transport ivory, and then to go and bring back the company’s best ivory agent—Mr Kurtz—who is believed to be sick.
After a long delay because the boat has to be repaired, they sail up the river. They find Kurtz, who seems to have become a leader for the local people. Eventually, Marlow gets him onto the boat, but Kurtz dies on the way back down the river.
The word “darkness” from the title has different symbolic meanings in the text: the jungle, evil, corruption and exploitation. And it seems that, in the end, Mr Kurtz has picked up the “darkness“ rather than taking the “light“ to the people.
The novel is an attack on colonialism and imperialism, although it has been argued that Conrad dehumanizes the Africans, making them no more than a part of the dark and dangerous jungle.
Heart of Darkness has been translated into many languages and adapted for radio and television. The most famous adaptation is Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now (1979).
● Helbling Classics（經典英文文學改寫）
● Helbling Fiction（當代原創英文小說）
1. About the Author（作者簡介）：介紹作者，幫助認識創作背景。
2. About the Book（本書簡介）：介紹故事內容概要，幫助了解故事的背景與旨意。
3. Before Reading（閱前活動）：設計各種問題和活動，幫助暖身，啟發各種探討與學習。
4. After Reading（閱後練習）：設計各種深入的問題和題目練習，幫助復習內容，加深英語的學習印象。