The Secret Agent

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Joseph Conrad

Narrated By: Ralph Cosham

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks

Date: April 2009

Duration: 8 hours 53 minutes

Summary:

Inspired by an actual attempted terrorist attack in nineteenth-century London, The Secret Agent offers a chillingly prophetic portrait of contemporary terrorism, even famously inspiring the Unabomber. The literary precursor to the espionage novels of such writers as Graham Greene and John le Carré, Conrad's intense political thriller resonates more strongly than ever in today's world, where a handful of fanatics can still play mad politics and victimize the innocent.

Mr. Verloc is a double agent who operates a seedy shop in Soho, where he lives with his wife, her mother, and her idiot brother. When Verloc is assigned a dangerous act of sabotage, it has disastrous repercussions for his own family. Conrad paints a corrupt London underworld where terrorists and politicians, grotesques and foreign diplomats, fanatics and fashionable society are surprisingly intermingled. As Conrad brilliantly explores the confused motives that lie at the heart of terrorism, his savagely ironic voice is concerned not just with politics, but with the desperate fates of ordinary people.

"One of Conrad's supreme masterpieces...one of the unquestioned classics of the first order that he added to the English novel."-F. R. Leavis

Genres:

  • Nancy

    Nobody in The Secret Agent comes off very well. The protagonist is fat and vulgar. His wife is obsessed by one motive and has very few ideas otherwise. The anarchists are by and large a pitiful, ineffective lot. The spy hunters are consumed by bureaucratic feuds and personal considerations and work at cross-purposes. The most admirable character is a mentally slow youth. This is not a mystery (I won't say anything about plot in case someone actually has any doubts halfway through the book about how things are going to turn out), and it is not a conventional spy story. It is a domestic tragedy.

  • Albert

    It isn't a story about the sea. Instead, it is a spy novel. The writing is somewhere between Edgar Alan Poe and (slow motion) John LeCarre. I enjoyed it very much. I think some readers will find the old-fashioned prose and slow pace of the action a bit uncomfortable. No, it isn't Jason Bourne dishing out violence every few minutes. It is about communists bent on bringing down the society of law and capitalism. Listen and enjoy. There is a surprise twist at the end.