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Download The Secret Agent Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Secret Agent Audiobook, by Joseph Conrad
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,949 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joseph Conrad Narrator: Alex Jennings Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 1999 ISBN:
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Joseph Conrad's anarchists, together with Verloc the police informer, inhabit the seedy underworld of metropolitan London in a gripping plot of political intrigue and espionage. The story, in part inspired by the notorious attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory in 1894, probes the anarchy and violence underlying English society and relationships. The plot focuses on the marriage of Winnie Verloc to a thoroughly domesticated pornographer and spy. Looking back to Dickens in its bleak vision of London and forward to the works of Graham Greene, The Secret Agent is one of Conrad's indisputable masterpieces. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 2/10/2014

    " While Joseph Conrad wrote this novel more than a century ago and the story is set in London in 1886, it is still timely with the predominance of terrorism in the news today. The novel deals largely with the life of one Mr. Verloc and his job as a spy interacting with secretive agencies and groups. Moving away from tales of the sea Conrad had begun to write more political novels focusing on contemporary themes of which The Secret Agent is a notable example. The novel deals broadly with the notions of anarchism, espionage, and terrorism. At the end of the Nineteenth century England, with its relative political freedom, had developed as a haven for radicals and other expatriates from the continent. Conrad leans on this to portray anarchist or revolutionary groups before many of the social uprisings of the twentieth century. The plot to destroy Greenwich is in itself anarchistic. Vladimir asserts that the bombing "must be purely destructive" and that the anarchists who will be implicated at the architects of the explosion "should make it clear that [they] are perfectly determined to make a clean sweep of the whole social creation." However, the political form of anarchism is ultimately controlled in the novel: the only supposed politically motivated act is orchestrated by a secret government agency. I believe that in his own subtle was Conrad is successful in building suspense while slyly ridiculing the questionable activities of the anarchist secret agent. While the novel is based on a true story I nonetheless enjoyed reading and wondering - would the bombing of Greenwich Observatory succeed? More recently, The Secret Agent is considered to be one of Conrad's finest novels. I enjoyed it as a novel about the city of London in a "City Literaryscapes" class at the University of Chicago, while the New York Times sees it as "the most brilliant novelistic study of terrorism". It is considered to be a "prescient" view of the 20th century, foretelling the rise of terrorism, anarchism, and the augmentation of secret societies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Reed | 2/2/2014

    " After adjusting to Conrad's "wordiness" in this novel I began to appreciate the genius of the story and writing. At times I lost myself; at times I was lost. But in the end the weight of his powerful skill at characterization, his refusal to create a whodunit, and chilling reminder of humanity/ the flaws of humanity that permeate the 'terrorist' and the government I found myself quite glad at reading the book through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 arg/machine | 1/30/2014

    " Another certified Conrad classic. In the public domain with a free electronic copy available here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Calypso | 1/27/2014

    " This is an excellent & fascinating book. Conrad outdoes himself and probably produces a better book than he did in Nostromo. But I love Nostromo, I respect The Secret Agent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 1/23/2014

    " Ultimately a rewarding read, although it took a while to hook me totally. Edwardian London is the setting for a range of anarchists, from the society dreamer Michaelis to the poisonous bomb making Professor. Verloc, a self-important low grade double agent, is cajoled into committing an outrage which has tragic consequences. Conrad's genius is in focusing the drama of the situation only on Verloc's domestic situation, in particular Winnie, his conventionally-behaved wife. The political games and posturing of ministers and embassies sit uncomfortably on members of the proletariat they are supposed to serve. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 1/22/2014

    " This book was a slow start for me. It's a style of writing I'm not used to these days, but once I got into it, the story flowed nicely and it was a thoughtful, interesting read. I enjoyed having to read and think about what I was reading. The characters were interesting, the story well-crafted and tragic. Mr Verloc, the spy, caught in a tragic situation and his wife Winnie, taking care of him, her simplish brother Stevie and her mother, having to deal with unexpected death... Also an interesting, if unresolved interplay between the Assistant Commissioner (unnamed) and Chief Inspector Heat, each with his own motives and thoughts on dealing with the key 'incident'. I'm glad I worked my way through the story, it was quite excellent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corwin | 1/19/2014

    " I really don't know what to say about this except that it's brutally comic a depiction of the absurdities and futilities of people and the conniving institutions that some of them serve. Joseph Conrad may be one of the best writers in English literature for getting his points, sentiments, and images across without the awful verbosity of classic Victorian writers. Nor does he fuck around: there's an unforgiving honesty about this guy, yet nonetheless he lets fall some very clever jibes of sarcastic humor. If you like bad endings, this is a great one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Conrad Mullins | 1/16/2014

    " Memorable; superbly written and darkly funny "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard | 1/16/2014

    " A bit of work, but worth the effort. Strange, sad, and a little scary. "The Professor" is an amazing character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Derek | 12/24/2013

    " Covers a really interesting subject and time period (turn-of-the-century anarchism). Weird to read a Conrad novel in an urban setting. Recommended. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen Mendeck | 11/18/2013

    " Did you like Anthem by Ayn Rand? If so, this should be right up your alley. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Luke Low | 11/18/2013

    " Love this book. Some really great turns of phrase, although Conrad gets a little over excited about demonstrating his grasp of the English language for the most of it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 carl theaker | 11/15/2013

    " Another chewy Conrad, the London scene and the agent goings on do make it bearable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Neil | 11/8/2013

    " Not my favorite as far as Conrad is concerned. Decent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanna | 11/6/2013

    " Having never read any Conrad before, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Some passages are amazingly relevant today and I really liked his prose style. I will certainly be reading more of his novels. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Neil Denham | 12/29/2012

    " really tedious. i know many regard it as a classic, but i found any story there is in there is swamped by odd details, confusing political ramblings and side musings that appear unrelated. perhaps i am just not clever enough to 'get it'... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 9/13/2012

    " Redeemed by it's ending, but still not great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J. | 6/10/2012

    " I think Conrad was like Carver (you never thought you'd see that comparison, did you?): he should have stuck with the short form, which in Conrad's case was the novella. I don't think you could call anything Conrad wrote "short". This was a great story stretched out over much too many pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meakin Armstrong | 6/9/2012

    " Thought I'd re-read... ok, falls apart a bit toward end... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gareth | 4/2/2012

    " Superb novel that's startlingly contempory to our own time of terrorist cells and self-interested authority figures. Well drawn characters and a lot of dry humour that which again feels quite modern. A great entry point for readers new to Joseph Conrad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nabilah | 12/23/2011

    " Decent plot with awesome ending accentuated by great writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cyrus | 12/14/2011

    " You know when a book is going to be a struggle when you are half way through and only one plot development of note has happened. Atmospheric, but not one of his best. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Garrett | 12/6/2011

    " A rather drab and uninspiring book of little consequence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Howard | 10/1/2011

    " Conrad from 1907 with themes of espionage and terrorism but it's no epic. Instead it focuses on a handful of strongly-drawn characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin Brock | 7/16/2011

    " Starts of slow, but eventually picks-up near the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe Hofmann | 7/13/2011

    " Well, I finally made it through a Joseph Conrad novel. Very dark, sacrificial lambs and all that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 3/27/2011

    " Before John le Carre and Ian Fleming, spies and agents were a pretty unglamorous bunch. The first half is more a who-got-offed than whodunit, and Mrs. Verloc gradually takes over as a warm, human character beneath the politics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin | 3/9/2011

    " Mix the world's first spy/terrorism novel with Conrad's incredible command of language and you have a well-paced, engaging and deeply philosophical novel. A very good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J | 3/4/2011

    " Conrad was writing about Terrorism long before 9/11. Someone should make an Apocalypse now of this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 2/5/2011

    " Good book, Hitchcock stole a scene from it. I guess one thing I don't get is, why do people decide to kill shit after reading it? It's not that kind of book, I don't think. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 1/30/2011

    " What a bleak view of humanity - a very depressing book, though well worth the read due to the characterizations and story-line. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lucian | 1/16/2011

    " Perhaps I was not yet a sophisticated reader to appreciate this book properly when I read it, but until I reread it, I can only say that I remember it as the weakest of the books by Conrad that I have read. "

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About the Author
Author Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski) (1857–1924) was born in Ukraine. Raised by an uncle after the death of his parents, he educated himself by reading widely in Polish and French. At age twenty-one he began a long career sailing the seas on French merchant vessels, after which he went to London and began writing, using the romance and adventure of his own life for his incomparable sea novels.

About the Narrator

Alex Jennings, a distinguished two-time Olivier Award winner, has starred in numerous Royal Shakespeare and National Theatre productions; his films include The Four Feathers, The Wings of the Dove, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.