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 Nalecz Korzeniowski, on December 3, 1857, in Russian-occupied Poland. His father, who was fighting for Polish independence, wrote a poem asking his son to remain "without land or love" as long as Poland was enslaved. Conrad went to sea at sixteen and and served fifteen years aboard English ships. He became the captain of his own ships, sailing to Asia and Africa. He took up writing at the age of 32. It did not come easy: English was his fourth language after Polish, Russian and French, but he wrote with depth and beauty seldom matched. He was offered knighthood, but declined. He died August 3, 1924.