The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale

The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale

by Joseph Conrad


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Such was the house, the household, and the business Mr Verloc left behind him on his waywestward at the hour of half-past ten in the morning. It was unusually early for him; his wholeperson exhaled the charm of almost dewy freshness; he wore his blue cloth overcoat unbuttoned; hisboots were shiny; his cheeks, freshly shaven, had a sort of gloss; and even his heavy-lidded eyes,refreshed by a night of peaceful slumber, sent out glances of comparative alertness. Through thepark railings these glances beheld men and women riding in the Row, couples cantering pastharmoniously, others advancing sedately at a walk, loitering groups of three or four, solitaryhorsemen looking unsociable, and solitary women followed at a long distance by a groom with acockade to his hat and a leather belt over his tight-fitting coat. Carriages went bowling by, mostlytwo-horse broughams, with here and there a victoria with the skin of some wild beast inside and awoman's face and hat emerging above the folded hood. And a peculiarly London sun-againstwhich nothing could be said except that it looked bloodshot-glorified all this by its stare. It hungat a moderate elevation above Hyde Park Corner with an air of punctual and benign vigilance. Thevery pavement under Mr Verloc's feet had an old-gold tinge in that diffused light, in which neitherwall, nor tree, nor beast, nor man cast a shadow. Mr Verloc was going westward through a townwithout shadows in an atmosphere of powdered old gold. There were red, coppery gleams on theroofs of houses, on the corners of walls, on the panels of carriages, on the very coats of the horses,and on the broad back of Mr Verloc's overcoat, where they produced a dull effect of rustiness. ButMr Verloc was not in the least conscious of having got rusty.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Secret Agent is an astonishing book. It is one of the best—and certainly the most significant—detective stories ever written.” —Ford Madox Ford

The Secret Agent is an altogether thrilling ‘crime story’ . . . a political novel of a foreign embassy intrigue and its tragic human outcome.” —Thomas Mann
 “One of Conrad’s supreme masterpieces.” —F. R. Leavis
 “[The Secret Agent] was in effect the world’s first political thriller—spies, conspirators, wily policemen, murders, bombings . . .  Conrad was also giving artistic expression to his domestic anxieties—his overweight wife and problem child, his lack of money, his inactivity, his discomfort in London, his uneasiness in English society, his sense of exile, of being an alien . . . The novel has the perverse logic and derangement of a dream.”
—from the Introduction to the Everyman's Library edition by Paul Theroux

Library Journal

Conrad's unsettling masterpiece—often cited for its prescience—still resonates. A London shopkeeper doubling as a Russian spy is persuaded to bomb the Greenwich Observatory for political ends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641816120
Publisher: Iboo Press
Publication date: 02/14/2020
Series: World's Classics Deluxe Edition , #78
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

I Mr. Verloc, going out in the morning, left his shop nominally in charge of his brother-in-law. It could be done, because there was very little business at any time, and practically none at all before the evening. Mr. Verloc cared but little about his ostensible business. And, moreover, his wife was in charge of his brother-in-law.

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Copyright © 2007 Joseph Conrad.
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