I don't know why I keep trying with this author. I abandoned the Secret Agent just as I did with "chance" some time ago.
Assuming to believe in previous lives, I think the spirits of me and Conrad had a serious quarrel in a previous life of ours: Conrad not as Conrad, me not as me.
I had his major works including Heart of darkness and the shadow-line all lined up together for years without having read them. I feel the presence of something unfathomable and weird about all this.
I haven't read any Joseph Conrad since my college days and while The Secret Agent is supposed to be one of his more famous yet accessible works, the prose is still quite dense by contemporary standards.
As a spy novel, The Secret Agent belongs to the understated kind brought to prominence by John Le Carre; Conrad's novel is an obvious influence on Le Carre and for that alone, I believe it is required reading for fans of spy novels....Continua
The more I mull over this book, the more I get out of it, so am glad I persevered. The language it uses is pretty hard going - 30 word sentences etc - and you can't help by being impressed with the vocabulary given this is written in the author's third language!...Continua
I wouldn't have picked up this book to read on my own but it was this month's book for Bibliogoth (the goth reading group here in London). I've not read any of Joseph Conrad's other books, though I do want to read "Heart of Darkness". When I picked it up I was very excited to see that he had dedicated it to H G Wells, for all the books of his that I loved. So I was expecting to enjoy it a lot.
I was a little dissapointed. I found it quite hard to visualise, and the fact that the story kept going backwards and fowards in time without much clarity to be a bit disconcerting. I thought the charcterisation was quite good, particularly towards the end when they went a bit mad. I also liked the way the sister treated her brother, having looked after disabled people for 10 years it seemed quite realistic, even if his speech didn't really. I found it a little difficult to keep all the police characters straight, and sometimes it was hard to tell who was talking. I also felt that it didn't quite give the charcters, particularly the terrorists enough motivation. I didn't feel like they really had a cause they were fighting for, this may of course be different between terrorists now and then, but I think of the characters in Anatole France's 'Revolt of the Angels' written around the same time also had that motivation. The characters in this book all seemed rather weak and helpless. I still want to read 'Heart of Darkness' but this book, while more enjoyable to me than a lot of modern fiction, didn't really compare to other works I've read from the period.