The Secret Agent Kindle Edition
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- Length: 513 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
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Top Customer Reviews
The immediate subjects are terrorism and anarchism, and I know of no work that uses them with more brilliance or verisimilitude. Conrad's Preface says that he thought it a high compliment when terrorists and anarchists praised its realism, and he indeed deserved it. He brings this truly underground world vividly to life, depicting everything from speech to customs to dress in believable detail. The vast majority of course want nothing to do with such a world, but the peek is undeniably fascinating. Conrad's psychological insight is particularly intriguing and valuable. All this brings up the important - some would say central - point of how Conrad views these characters. That terrorists and other unsavory personages have been sympathetic to it - particularly the Unabomber's obsession with it - seems to strongly suggest that Conrad leans toward them, but a close reading of the text or mere glance at his Preface shows otherwise. He clearly has nothing but contempt for them; this comes across forcefully in the narrator's ironic mockery and Conrad's noting that Winnie Verloc is the only true anarchist - a terrorist jab if ever one existed. In his view, they were pretentious, portentous, and above all, simply ineffectual with greatly exaggerated self-importance.Read more ›
"The Secret Agent" begins early one morning in 1886. Mr. Verloc, a secret agent for a foreign embassy, who lives in a small apartment with his wife Winnie, her mentally ill brother, Stevie, and their mother. Keeping an eye on a particularly ineffectual anarchist community in London, Verloc pretends to be an anarchist revolutionary himself. As the novel opens, Verloc is called in by his new employer Mr. Vladimir. Vladimir, discontented with the apparent lack of production out of his secret agent, and even further with the lackadaisical English police, wants Verloc to act as an agent provocateur, and arrange for a bomb to spur the English government to crack down on the legal system. As religion and royalty are, according to Vladimir, no longer strong enough emotional ties to the people, an attack must be made upon "Science," and he selects the Greenwich Observatory as the appropriate site for action.
The novel introduces us to a range of wholly unsympathetic characters.Read more ›
But if a modern reader approaches "The Secret Agent" as literature, and as a compelling historical document, he or she will be rewarded. Conrad's psychological acuity makes it vividly clear that the terrorists are human -- something that people in the late 19th century were just as likely to forget as we are today. Conrad's focus on their individual humanity is not intended to excuse them, but rather to show how people become entangled in enterprises of violence. Moreover, I at least was amazed at how much in common terrorism in Conrad's day had with terrorism today. A wonderful, if difficult, exploration of an unusual subject.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Came quickly, as described. Depressing slog of a book, but the book seller did right by us.Published 6 days ago by Jennifer
Although it was written in the early 20th century it is very relevant today.Published 11 days ago by Sushi
Husband and wife..the wife married him because he's a good provider to her, her mother, and her slow-witted but great-hearted brother. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Alan Towson
Almost like today with the enemy in our mist. Classic story line with a less notice person causing hell in an otherwise normal setting. Hurray for republishing an old novel.Published 26 days ago by Col Art Loughry, Marine Corps Retired
It is not often that one reads the work of such a master storyteller as Joseph Conrad writing on a genre that we sometimes believe is something that arose after James Bond. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dayle Smith
The author has a great grasp of human psychology. He delves into the motivations and feelings each character has so that you learn more about the characters than in most fiction... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Eric M. Notheisen