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The Secret Agent

Joseph Conrad

Book Overview: 

The Secret Agent is Conrad’s dark, and darkly comic story of a band of spies, anarchists, agents-provocateurs plotting and counter-plotting in the back streets of London in the early 20th Century. The novel centers on Verloc, a shop-owner, phony-anarchist and double-agent, who becomes embroiled in an ambitious terrorist plan to bomb the Greenwich Observatory.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .His single back room, remarkable for having an extremely large cupboard, he rented furnished from two elderly spinsters, dressmakers in a humble way with a clientele of servant girls mostly.  He had a heavy padlock put on the cupboard, but otherwise he was a model lodger, giving no trouble, and requiring practically no attendance.  His oddities were that he insisted on being present when his room was being swept, and that when he went out he locked his door, and took the key away with him.

Ossipon had a vision of these round black-rimmed spectacles progressing along the streets on the top of an omnibus, their self-confident glitter falling here and there on the walls of houses or lowered upon the heads of the unconscious stream of people on the pavements.  The ghost of a sickly smile altered the set of Ossipon’s thick lips at the thought of the walls nodding, of people running for life at the sight of those spectacles.  If they had only . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I have only run across a few writers who can adeptly and accurately plumb the depths of the human soul.

Joseph Conrad is one of those authors and he is on a short list of talented creators who seem to have two fingers on the pulse of primordial man as he still lives and breathes beneath the surfa...more

My ratings are very moody and just generally not to be trusted. Having gotten that fact out in the open for the umpteenth time, I will say that I thought this was a very good book. Love, no. Like very much, yes. I especially hearted the last-ish part with the wife and the train and ole dude's sto...more

Για άλλη μια φορά η πεζογραφία του Κόνραντ είναι πυκνή, σκοτεινή, αριστουργηματική και πρωτοπόρα.

« Ο μυστικός πράκτορας » μια σημαντική και θλιβερή ιστορία βολεμένων επαναστατών που μαθαίνουν πως οι αφηρημένες ιδέες τους δεν έχουν καμία σχέση με τις πραγματικές πηγές χάους, βίας και αναρχίας.

Αυ...more

The Secret Agent is by far the most complex classic I read for this year. It is a classic which is conceptually modern. Built on the themes of espionage, double agents, government policies, politics, terrorism and revolutionaries, it is a dark and tragic tale, and even brutal at times. In the hea...more

I can appreciate this novel is pretty wonderful. And as I read more and more I was fascinated, but I did find it hard going at the start. I think the plot is horrific, and it made me want to research the Greenwich Bomb in more detail. I think it was a pretty daring book for Conrad to release at s...more

One of those books which a lot of people say you should read and now I finally love.

I'm sympathetic to Conrad's style-- I'm clumsy enough in a second language to be amazed at how well he holds up with his fourth.

In short, it's a look at the kinds of people who want to blow things up. The allego...more

In the aftermath of a tragedy people often look towards artists, towards novelists, musicians and poets also, for comfort, the kind of comfort one finds when someone is able to capture an event, or feelings, that you yourself find incomprehensible or unfathomable or inexpressible. For example, af...more

766. The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale, Joseph Conrad
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale is a novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1907. The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr Adolf Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country (presumably Russia). The Secret Agent is one of Conrad'...more

London muddy, rain and soot, mist and fog. In a one-eyed street in Soho, Mr. Verloc runs his small business, a very discreet shop for male customers, confidentially selling a heterogeneous set of newspapers with revolutionary tendencies and discreetly sealed shady merchandise, which are conducive...more

My best friend Joel has a friend Bob who teaches at Rutgers. Nearly a decade ago, before becoming a scholarly expert on Borat, he stated that in terms of literature he wasn't going to bother with anything written later than 1920; what was the point, he'd quip? I admired his pluck. While I'm not s...more

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