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The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (Barnes & Noble Classics)by Joseph Conrad
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The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad, is part of the #LINK
Set in early twentieth-century London and inspired by an actual attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory, The Secret Agent is a complex exploration of motivation and morality. The title character, Adolf Verloc, is obviously no James Bond. In fact, he and his circle of misfit saboteurs are not spies but terrorists, driven less by political ideals than by their unruly emotions and irrational hatreds.
Verloc has settled into an apparent marriage of convenience. Family life gives him a respectable cover, while his wife hopes to get help in handling her halfwit brother, Stevie. Instead Verloc involves Stevie in one of his explosive schemes, an act that leads to violence, murder, and revenge.
Darkly comic, the novel is also obliquely autobiographical: Joseph Conrads parents were involved in the radical politics of their time, and their early deaths left him profoundly distrustful of any sort of political action.
Steven Marcus is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, and a specialist in nineteenth-century literature and culture. He is the author of more than 200 publications.
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