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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 10:30 GMT
And our Book Group's chosen title is...
STEP 1:Heart of Darkness wins your vote
STEP 2: DOWNLOAD it from this page - or read your own copy
STEP 3: DISCUSS the book with other users on World Book Day, Thursday 6 March
Our Book Group has spoken. It has made its choice. And the winning book, which we will read together for World Book Day 2003 is...

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Thanks to the remarkable Project Gutenberg, which converts out-of-copyright texts into publicly available electronic versions, we can offer Heart of Darkness as a PDF document for you to download for free.

Most computers will open this document automatically. You may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to open this PDF document.

But its victory was a close-run thing. As the graph illustrates, it only just saw off a challenge from The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Judging by your e-mails, your views about the book are fairly divided. Richard Dzien from England, for one, thinks people voted for it simply because it's the shortest of those on the shortlist.

But Page from the US sees echoes in the book of current themes of the news. "It seems we are in a place in time where many people who have respect also hold a perverse power over our humanity," she says.

James Donnelly from Kuwait writes that Heart of Darkness is "possibly one of the least sentimental, most honest novels" written in the 20th Century. But he adds that although it's short, it's certainly not an easy read. "It is challenging, demanding, disturbing and unforgettable."

If you are up to the challenge of reading this classic book between now and next Thursday, and discussing it here at BBC News Online with other readers in an e-mail forum on the day, please send your details using the form below. We will be in touch with as many of you who are interested as possible.

Meanwhile here is a reminder of what the book is about. Although it is a dark book, here's wishing you happy reading.

Joseph Conrad, 1857-1924
Description: A tale of imperialism and corruption, Heart of Darkness tells of a voyage by the character Marlow up the Congo to rescue a trading company's employee, Kurtz, who is ill. Kurtz has a successful reputation, but when he is reached by Marlow, it turns out he has elevated himself to being the natives' god. Shrunken human heads are his decorations, and on his deathbed Kurtz realises what has happened to him.
First line: "The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest."

Want to take part in our Book Group? Send us your name using the form below.


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