The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale
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The Secret Agent" is considered to be one of Joseph Conrad's finest works and was ranked the 46th best novel of the 20th century by the Modern Library. Set in London at the end of the nineteenth century, it follows the life of Mr. Verloc, a secret agent who is also the proprietor of a small shop that sells, “photographs of more or less undressed dancing girls” and “a few books, with titles hinting at impropriety.“ Verloc’s friends, a group of anarchists, assign him the task of destroying the Greenwich Observatory, but when things go awry, Verloc must deal with the terrible consequences of his actions. As current now, as it was a century ago, Conrad weaves a chilling tale of espionage, exploitation and terrorism that is all too present in our own time.
his feet, buttoned up and ready to go, was no taller than the seated Ossipon. He levelled his spectacles at the latter’s face point-blank. “You might ask the police for a testimonial of good conduct. They know where every one of you slept last night. Perhaps if you asked them they would consent to publish some sort of official statement.” “No doubt they are aware well enough that we had nothing to do with this,” mumbled Ossipon, bitterly. “What they will say is another thing.” He remained
old woman resolved on going away from her children as an act of devotion and as a move of deep policy. The “virtue” of this policy consisted in this (Mrs. Verloc’s mother was subtle in her way), that Stevie’s moral claim would be strengthened. The poor boy—a good, useful boy, if a little peculiar—had not a sufficient standing. He had been taken over with his mother, somewhat in the same way as the furniture of the Belgravian mansion had been taken over, as if on the ground of belonging to her
uneasily Mr. Verloc, darting a wild glance at the door. Mrs. Verloc’s fine, incurious eyes lighted up with a flash of abhorrence. “One of Karl Yundt’s friends—beastly old man.” “No! No!” protested Mr. Verloc, busy fishing for his hat. But when he got it from under the sofa he held it as if he did not know the use of a hat. “Well—he’s waiting for you,” said Mrs. Verloc at last. “I say, Adolf, he ain’t one of them Embassy people you have been bothered with of late?” “Bothered with Embassy
unusually early for him; his whole person exhaled the charm of almost dewy freshness; he wore his blue cloth overcoat unbuttoned ; his boots 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 the park railings these glances beheld men and women riding in the Row, couples cantering past harmoniously, others advancing sedately at a walk, loitering groups of three or
seemed to be broken. She could not face the old woman with the horrible tale. Moreover, it was too far. The river was her present destination. Mrs. Verloc tried to forget her mother. Each step cost her an effort of will which seemed the last possible. Mrs. Verloc had dragged herself past the red glow of the eating-house window. “To the bridge—and over I go,” she repeated to herself with fierce obstinacy. She put out her hand just in time to steady herself against a lamp-post. “I’ll never get