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The Secret Agent

Length: 334 pages5 hours


A classic and thrilling tale of espionage and murder, Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Agent” was first published in 1907. Set in London in 1886, the novel centers around Mr. Adolf Verloc, a spy who owns a small shop and lives with his wife Winnie, her mother and her mentally disabled brother Stevie, above his business. He is also a member of a largely ineffectual anarchist group, whom he meets with regularly to discuss politics and produce anarchist literature. Unknown to his fellow anarchists, Verloc is secretly working for the Embassy of an unnamed country as an “agent provocateur.” Verloc is told by his government contact that he and his associates are to bomb the Greenwich Observatory in London in order to make the British see anarchism as a greater threat and work more actively to suppress it. In scenes alternating between both before and after the bombing, the novel follows the police investigation of the bombing and the family drama unfolding in Verloc’s own home, as Stevie’s inadvertent involvement in the bombing comes to light. Considered to be one of Conrad’s best works, as well as a prescient study of modern terrorism, it is also a searing and tragic story of family love and loyalty. This edition includes a biographical afterword.

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