Conrad, Joseph

The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907)


The novel is set in London in 1886 and follows the life of Mr. Verloc, a secret agent. The novel deals broadly with the notions of anarchism, espionage, and terrorism. It portrays anarchist or revolutionary groups before many of the social uprisings of the twentieth century. However, it also deals with exploitation, particularly with regard to Verloc's relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie.

The Secret Agent is said to have influenced the Unabomber - Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski was a great fan of the novel and as an adolescent kept a copy at his bedside. He identified strongly with the character of "the Professor" and advised his family to read The Secret Agent in order to understand the character with whom he felt such an affinity.

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