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The Secret Agent a Simple Tale [Kindle Edition]

Joseph Conrad
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph Conrad was born in the Ukraine in 1857 and grew up under Tsarist autocracy. In 1874 Conrad travelled to Marseilles, where he served in French merchant vessels before joining a British ship in 1878 as an apprentice. In 1886 he obtained British nationality. Eight years later he left the sea to devote himself to writing, publishing his first novel, Almayer's Folly, in 1895. The following year he settled in Kent, where he produced within fifteen years such modern classics as Youth, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Typhoon, Nostromo, The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes. He continued to write until his death in 1924. J. H. Stape is the author of The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad (1996) and Conrad's Notes on Life and Letters (2004).

Product Details

  • File Size: 439 KB
  • Print Length: 182 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 146374496X
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0083ZY48S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,545 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incisive portrayal of terrorism January 17, 2013
By Sirin
During every age tarnished by the spectre of terrorism, there are novels attempting to address the phenomenon. The Secret Agent is one of the best. It is hallmarked by Conrad's black humour, a sort of cosmic wry joke on the bleak futility of anarchism, and the damage it inflicts on innocent victims. Mr Verloc is a strange man, disconnected in fundamental ways from the society in which he lives and, also, his wife. When he hatches a plan to satisfy a mysterious agent at the embassy and blow up the Greenwich Observatory, the repercussions are unexpected, and his attempts to retrospectively justify them are portrayed with macabre brilliance by Conrad.

In addition, the descriptions of late 19th Century London - the black crumbling streets, the rain, the horse and carts, the gas lamps, are brilliantly drawn, especially in the books's early chapters.

Anarchism was a mysterious and hugely damaging European terrorist phenomenon for several decades during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Conrad, growing up in Tsarist Russia, knew this well. His vision is an oblique masterly characterisation of this nihilistic force.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece February 18, 2013
This is one of those books that you read really fast because of the suspense--you want to see what happens; at the same time, you know you are skimming through some really great writing, so you know you'll want to read the book over, slowly and deliberately. In short, this is a masterpiece.

Verloc is a dealer in light pornography, a trusted member of a rather inept group of anarchists, an occasional snitch to the police, and an undercover spy, reporting the anachists' plans to an unnamed embassy, which orders him to provoke his group to blow up Greenwich Observatory to bring discredit to the movement and to push England to be tougher on its dissenters. This is the stuff of the typical spy thriller, but Conrad takes it so much further.

Delving into the minds of his characters, Conrad reveals a very bleak picture of humankind: they are not even totally villainous, but only petty, self-seeking, casually corrupt, and, more often than not, capable of hiding their true motivations even from themselves. The London of his story is also bleak, dark, wet, unwholesome. Sounds pretty depressing, right? But it seems very real. This is not a good guys versus bad guys, happily-ever-after kind of book.

The genius of the novel lies in Conrad's ability to convey a characterization indirectly. He says of Verloc, "...he had an air of having wallowed, fully dressed, all day on an unmade bed," and, "Mr. Vorlec extended as much recognition to Stevie (his wife's retarded brother) as a man not particularly fond of animals may give to his wife's beloved cat...." Every character in the book is revealed in a similar manner, and their thoughts are conveyed in such a way that the reader can understand more about the character than he does himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death of an Anarchist November 22, 2013
Adolf Verloc runs a seedy shop in Soho. His wife, mother in law and brother in law Stevie, know his revolutionary associates, but not the fact that he acts as a secret agent for a foreign power. But when a new ambassador demands that Verloc perpetrate an outrage to awaken the sleeping British public to the threat on their own doorstep, Verloc sees his steady income vanishing so he schemes a bomb outrage that has disastrous consequences-personally, not politically...
Still a classic espionage story, and still profoundly relevant. Where once it was anarchists who posed the terrorist threat, later it was the IRA and today the Islamic fanatics-and Conrad has the whole picture down to a 'T'. All involve the murderous futility of their 'cause', all doomed to fail as mankind is too big and varied to fit into their narrow ideals of Utopia, and the whole is still a game between them and the secret services.
Conrad states that the novel is mostly about Winnie Verloc in the situation she is suddenly thrown into, and this and the detailing of each characters psyche gives strength to the plot and whole shape of the book. There was much indignant outrage when the novel was written (1906) over Conrad's having the police colluding and working with criminals in this 'game', but it has proved to be a remarkable accurate account to this day.
Based on a true incident of a failed bomb outrage in Greenwich , Conrad brilliantly opens up this dark and ugly world for public view. A timeless classic that will forever-sadly- have meaning in a world constantly battling a never ending list of fanatics with causes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written tale February 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you have a taste for nineteenth century literature this book will not disappoint. Joseph Conrad has a unique writing style which is both rich in observation and often droll. Few writers would take a chapter for the lead character to walk from his residence to an embassy. Conrad does so and I found it one of the most enjoyable sections of the book.

If you like fast action, this book is not for you. If you like character portrayal and mute comment on human behaviour, this may interest you.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Published in 1907 and set in XIX Century London (ostensibly at the tail end), the characters and plot, if not the mechanics, could have been in yesterday's newspaper. But the talk of hackney coaches and gas lamps, while dated, are compelling. Conrad's detailed writing demands attention, but it allows us to visualize the events, people, places, and things vividly.

Part of the fun is learning about London's geography. Yes, the locations Conrad uses are real and still exist. The Kindle to Wikipedia direct text lookup function is quite useful in this regard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars VERY good story. My only complaint is that it is ...
VERY good story. My only complaint is that it is somewhat difficult to read at times - strictly my personal taste regarding the author's style of writing.
Published 12 days ago by Christopher Robison
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great read
Published 1 month ago by Buck Sanders
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better and is completely up to date regarding human...
On so many levels this book is outstanding. Political, human, story, writing. It doesn't get any better and is completely up to date regarding human emotions and perceptions. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pit
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing story
Ordinary people who were fighting for a cause;not specifically explained.The plot started slowly. Built to a dramatic conclusion.Mrs Veloc' s character was beautifully dramatized.
Published 1 month ago by LLM
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very exciting
I could not get into this book. Nothing seemed real. Not the plot, the characters, any hidden subtleties. Everything and everyone seemed out of place.
Published 4 months ago by Sidney Weber
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Great & Tragic Tale
Don't read Joseph Conrad if you "can't take a punch."

In some ways quite different from his Pacific and African stories, but still a plumbing of the terrible... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerily relevant today
A secret agent, a bomb maker, a police force overly considerate of society. Sound familiar in one or another country these days?
Published 5 months ago by mbh
3.0 out of 5 stars Kept my interest.
The ambience was good and so was the tinge of mystery, altho the story was a bit weak and the ending fell a little flat. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Saul S. Gefter
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Really enjoyed rereading this which had been one of books studied for o level. Had a fab set of teachers mr Robinson and Mrs Smedley who inspired a love of literature, could... Read more
Published 7 months ago by MgMrs. Alyson Bradley
5.0 out of 5 stars Anything but a simple tale
Conrad weaves a complex web of fascinating true to life characters whose separate backgrounds, motivations and personalities expose the realities of anarchists and police alike. Read more
Published 7 months ago by richard dever
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