Inspired by an actual terrorist attack on Greenwich Laboratory in 1894 ‘The Secret Agent’ is arguably Conrad’s greatest work. Mr. Verloc, the spy, is roused to action by his masters. He is to instigate an act ‘of destructive ferocity so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable, almost unthinkable; in fact, mad’. All does not run smoothly however and leads to Mr Verloc’s wife, Winnie, demonstrating how quickly rational equilibrium can change to frenzied destruction. Setting his story in a subterranean grimy London peopled by deceptive, dishonourable characters, Conrad not only reminds us of the futility of mindless aggression but also of how near it is to the surface of human behaviour.
About Assembled Stories: Over the years the national press have reviewed Assembled Stories titles as "excellent", "remarkable", "entrancing", "superb", "magic for sure", "masterly", "wonderful", "a class act" and "a splendid example of audio at its best".
Ce que les auditeurs disent de The Secret Agent
- Pierre Gauthier
Those who know Joseph Conrad only from “The Heart of Darkness” are in for quite a surprise as this novel is completely different both in theme and style from his best-known work.
‘The Secret Agent” is almost entirely set in London and exoticism is limited to things Parisian. Though it turns out that all characters (except a simpleton and a crippled old lady) have a very dark side, many are quite engrossing. Unexpectedly, since the plot is quite noir, there are frequent comical elements.
The prose is exceptional with descriptions at times worthy of Dickens and a suspense that is quite constant. It is unfortunate, however, that certain strings are not attached in the end, regarding for instance what happens to the grandmother or how the shop is (presumably) uncovered and searched by the police.
Written before World War I, the novel presents an uncanny number of features that ring a contemporary bell: anarchists plotting against democracy, Russia trying to pull strings to destabilize the West, terrorists killing themselves with their own bombs, etc.
Overall, it is a very worthy read.
- alex sullivan
Dont waste a credit
I heard this was a classic spy novel bit I was hesitant to commit due to the mixed reviews. Perhaps the printed version is a better experience, but the audio version is hard to tolerate; its the first audiobook I did not finish.
The story seems to jump around to the point of confusion. The author writes almost in a victorian style of incessant description of mundane details. Major plot points seem to be rushed and its very difficult to stay engaged in a plot that has much promise.
The Day of the Jackal is a much better rendition of a turn-of-the-Century espionage. And Woman in White far surpasses The Secret Agent in a suspenseful period piece.
The narration was adequate. I don't want to blame the performance for what may have been a writing or editing flaw. Voices were distinguishable and the tempo and inflection carried things along. Alas, the narration was not enough to prop up the overall experience.
I'm very sad to say this was the most frustrating audiobook and I regret having it on my wish list for so long. Save your credit and find a more fulfilling book.
- Ann Edwards
Slow and confusing
What did you like best about The Secret Agent? What did you like least?
The Secret Agent is because I was assigned this for an English class. I had planned to use this as a way to reference back to it when I finally wrote the paper. My main complaint about this audio book is that the chapters do not match the book. This made it useless as a reference.
Would you be willing to try another book from Joseph Conrad? Why or why not?
I would not try another if it is set up in the same format.
What does Peter Joyce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Peter Joyce did a good job in his performance.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
I have seen the movie adaptation of this book. I enjoyed the book more than the movie.
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