The Secret Agent A Simple Tale

The Secret Agent A Simple Tale

by Joseph Conrad


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781718728196
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 07/23/2018
Pages: 282
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Joseph Conrad is remembered for novels like Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim, which drew on his experience as a mariner and addressed profound themes of nature and existence.
Joseph Conrad was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, to Polish parents in Berdichev (now Berdychiv), 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.

Date of Birth:

December 3, 1857

Date of Death:

August 3, 1924

Place of Birth:

Berdiczew, Podolia, Russia

Place of Death:

Bishopsbourne, Kent, England


Tutored in Switzerland. Self-taught in classical literature. Attended maritime school in Marseilles, France

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The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Jenni_Wickham More than 1 year ago
This is a superb seminal work well deserving of its iconic status.  The characters are so deeply cast that the writer draws you in and you actually feel their emotions.  The scenery of London in the era is exquisitely detailed  that the picture forms in your mind like from an artist's brush stroke with every sentence.  The socio political environment of the era is explored and explained in amazing detail from various viewpoints - that of the socialist-labour movement, that of the anarchists, that of the foreign (Russian and French) revolutionaries and diplomats trying to unsettle and overthrow the capitalist fabric; and then its impact on the ordinary citizens. The beginning of the story is bright and cheerful - sometimes portrayed with a kind of Dickensian humour - with The Secret Agent, an anarchist, living a contented and delicately balanced life in his shop in Soho in London with his wife, mother-in-law, and half witted brother-in-law. The tensions in the household is subtly introduced with the wife trying her best to weave the brother she loves deeply and the other into the affections of her husband on whom they are all dependent.  Then a call to a meeting by the russian born Controller of the Secret Agent acts as a catalyst that unsettles the fragile peace.  From then on a series of panicked and desperate actions exposing the dark side of the characters, the fabric of the family falls apart with each chapter until the tragic end. The ending is definitely unsatisfactory.  I innocent are wronged and driven to death and the opportunistic prosper from it.  I cannot help but wish for a happier ending, though I realize that this may have well been the way things might have gone had the characters lived in the era in real life. The third person omniscient POV is a little weird, but that was the norm of good writing in the era.
yooperprof on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Cleverly plotted depiction of nihlism and anarchism amidst the fog of late 19th century London. I did enjoy many of the in-depth descriptions of psychological states. Both conspirators and law enforcers are carefully portrayed, and with ample attention to detail - think of Henry James writing a Dan Brown novel. But I was also dismayed by more than a few passages of turgid prose. Several key "scenes" drag unnecessarily. And maybe it's just my personal taste, but Conrad really does overdo the irony bit.
perfectleft on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Easier to read than most of conrad's work. Prescient? Arguably. More accurately a timely description of the convergence of the industrial revolution with mass media sublimated into "man against society." A post 9/11 reading is too facile in an approach to appreciate the nuances of the characters (izations)... definitely a must read.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
As fan of both Joseph Conrad and the spy novel, my biggest complaint about The Secret Agent is that it was oversold as containing insights into 9/11 and the mechanics of terrorism. The Secret Agent is a good spy story (not great) and the writing is perhaps not quite as dense as vintage Conrad can be. This reader did not, however, perceive any particular insights into 9/11 (unless one thinks it really was an inside job).The story is set in London in 1907. The spy Verloc is double-agent for an unspecified country, presumably Russia, and a member of a small anarchist group. As might be guessed, the characters comprising the anarchists are idiosyncratic to the point of eccentricity. Some members are merely playing, others enjoy the sound of their own voice a bit too much, and one enjoys mixing chemicals to create explosives. At bottom, these anarchists are ineffectual ¿ much talk and little action. Verloc¿s only income besides his pay as an agent provocateur comes from a sleazy little shop where he sells odds-and-ends ¿ and pornography. Vladimir, who runs Verloc out of the unnamed embassy, threatens to cut Verloc off unless he carries out a magnificent operation. The story alternatively centers around Verloc¿s rather odd home life as much as his career as a spy. His wife has married him so that she and especially her developmentally disabled brother Stevie will have some security. When Verloc involves Stevie in the terrorist operation the tale begins its hectic and exhilarating run to the finish.Conrad weaves an interesting tale of political intrigue and psychological insight. To my eye, the book offers only some insight into the way governments deal with terrorist threats and very little of use in understanding the nature of current threats. Reviewers who rediscovered the book after 9/11 larded the book down with rather grandiose claims of prophetic visions. In the Secret Agent, Conrad gave us a good read (probably a very good read at the time of its writing) and one that belongs on the bookshelf with other notable spy literature (like Smiley's People, Kim (Penguin Classics), Red Gold: A Novel and The Human Factor by Graham Greene to name only a few). That should be enough for anyone.
Eyejaybee on LibraryThing 28 days ago
A fantastic read. I first read this novel as an undergraduate nearly thirty years ago and was immediately taken by the sheer plausibility of it's setting and characters.Re-reading it now I was struck by how contemporary it seems, even though it was originally published as long ago as 1908, during a period in which Britain seemed all to gruesomely concerned with the menace of imminent war with Germany.The various revolutionaries and anarchists have their own well defined networks, but so, too, do the police who struggle pot keep tabs on the various foreign nationals of ill repute. Conrad even delves into the depths of political dispute, introducing an unnamed Home Secretary who is daily attacked in the Commons and lambasted in the popular press.All together this is an impressive journal capturing the suspicious and pessimistic zeitgeist of the time, lovingly rendered in Conrad's characteristically flawless prose.An absolute treat - I just wish I had re-read it far sooner.
akfarrar on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Leopards might not change their spots ¿ but works of literature can certainly change their meaning.Once this was a stylish novel of superior language use, playing with the genre of spies and flooring the `le Carrés¿ of the future before they even put pen to paper.Well defined major characters and good descriptions ¿ Dickensian almost but nodding to the modern.This time it was a vicious (as only humour can be vicious) satire on certainties and politics.In a world of ocean sized deceit, where atrocities and terrorism originate in ones friends and where one does not really know `the enemy¿, small lives are wrecked leaving little flotsam to wash ashore.Winnie, whose story this is, is as tragic a figure as you will find in any `Bodice Ripper¿ ¿ she marries, for the sake of her family, the safe middle class man who lodged with her mother; her mother leaves in order to safeguard the prospects of an idiot son; the son, brother to Winnie, is hardly noticed by Verloc, double agent for a seedy government, until he is pressured to breaking point by an enthusiastic know-nothing (young, First Secretary, Mr Vladimir).No one is to blame ¿ next to nothing happens, but a devastating hole is cut out in the reader¿s faith in the essential goodness of the universe.The terror comes with the realisation this is our world ¿ this is the manipulation of modern governments and those agencies set up to protect us ¿ Nothing has changed: If anything, it is more like this than it was at the time of writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are descri ed in such loquatious detail right from the start that i was lost after 10pages as to who was who and had read nothing of the plot. Couldnt go any further and had to stop.
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slow story with an abrupt morality-tale ending. Not worth rereading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh. Then. Well. Thanks for telling me that. X.x
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Huh. That's kinda like me with this one dude. Meh, I didn't even know Umbreo had gold eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No, but Goldthunder does. X.x