384 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 0.96 in
March 1, 2007
Barnes & Noble Classics
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 159308305X
ISBN - 13: 9781593083052
Read from the Book
From Steven Marcus’s Introduction to The Secret Agent Ever since the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent has figured prominently as an object of exemplary reference. In the incessant stream of published commentary, analysis, opinion, and moralizing reflection that such a devastating event inevitably brings forth, Conrad’s novel has been repeatedly annexed as both illustration and in support of a wide range of interpretative perspectives. For the most part, journalistic commentary has focused upon the figure of the Professor, and has included incidental references to the more bloodthirsty utterances of the other anarchist characters. In 19061907, so this line of discussion goes, Conrad had clairvoyantly perceived the catastrophic consequences that the European traditions of radical and revolutionary political theory, ideology, and practice were to bring about, and The Secret Agent is to be understood by us today as in this sense both prophetic and minatory.Other readings of a more centrist” persuasion stress the symbiotic relation between the police and the terrorists, that they often come from the same basket.” The elaborate game” in which continuous surveillance by the police authorities and toleration of radical political dissent are simultaneously played off against one another creates a situation of stress and conflict in which government, imperfect enough as it is, tends to over-respond on the side of se
From the Publisher
The Secret Agent
, by Joseph Conrad
, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics
series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics
- All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influencesbiographical, historical, and literaryto enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
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 Conrad’s 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.
About the Author
Joseph Conrad is recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest English language novelists. He was born Jozef Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski on December 3, 1857, in the Polish Ukraine. His father, a writer and translator, was from Polish nobility, but political activity against Russian oppression led to his exile. Conrad was orphaned at a young age and subsequently raised by his uncle. At 17 he went to sea, an experience that shaped the bleak view of human nature which he expressed in his fiction. In such works as Lord Jim (1900), Youth (1902), and Nostromo (1904), Conrad depicts individuals thrust by circumstances beyond their control into moral and emotional dilemmas. His novel Heart of Darkness (1902), perhaps his best known and most influential work, narrates a literal journey to the center of the African jungle. This novel inspired the acclaimed motion picture Apocalypse Now. After the publication of his first novel, Almayer's Folly (1895), Conrad gave up the sea. He produced thirteen novels, two volumes of memoirs, and twenty-eight short stories. He died on August 3, 1924, in England.