Title: The Secret Agent
Author: Joseph Conrad
Page Count/Review Word Count: 269
I first read The Secret Agent because it was required reading for my ‘London in Literature‘ university module, and I’m sorry to say that it was one of only two books from the semester that disappointed me (the other being Mrs Dalloway). There’s just something about Conrad’s writing style that doesn’t sit well with me, and it feels more like a chore than a pleasure.
Still, it does have some unique redeeming qualities, and you’d be a fool to dismiss it out of hand – Conrad’s tale of the vaguely evil secret agent Mr. Verloc is a so-called classic, and you can see why if you re-read it and pick up on some of the nuances that passed you by to begin with. There are also some touching moments with Verloc’s brother-in-law, Stevie.
Steve suffers from a disability, and he’s used as a pawn in Verloc’s game of espionage – I won’t tell you how or why though, because that’s for you to find out if you choose to read the novel. I find it hard to cast my vote either way, and my rating keeps fluctuating between six and seven – it could be anything, by the time I hit the big red button.
In all seriousness, if you’re tempted to read it then by all means, go ahead and read it. It’s a good introduction to Conrad’s work, and much better reviewed than most of it – it’s just not for me, and I don’t think it ever will be.