This is the only novel that Conrad set in London, and it communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894. Verloc, (a Russian spy who is also working for the police) is ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho.
The Secret Agent is the unsurpassed ancestor of a long series of twentieth-century novels and films which explore the confused motives that lie at the heart of political terrorism. In its use of powerful psychological insight to intensify narrative suspense, it set the terms by which subsequent works in its genre were created. Conrad was the first novelist to discover the strange in-between territory of the political exile, and his genius was such that we still have no truer map of that region's moral terrain than his story of a terrorist plot and its tragic consequences for the guilty and innocent alike.
Introduction by Paul Theroux
(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)
About the Author
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, to Polish parents in Berdichev, Ukraine, and was raised and educated primarily in Poland. After a sea-faring career in the French and British merchant marines, he wrote short stories and novels like Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent, which combined his experiences in remote places with an interest in moral conflict and the dark side of human nature. He died in England on August 3, 1924. Over the last two decades of his life, Conrad produced more autobiographical writings and novels, including The Arrow of Gold and The Rescue. His final novel, The Rover, was published in 1923. Conrad died of a heart attack on August 3, 1924, at his home in Canterbury, England. Conrad's work influenced numerous later 20th century writers, from T.S. Eliot and Graham Greene to Virginia Woolf, Albert Camus and William Faulkner. His books have been translated into dozens of languages and are still taught in schools and universities.