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The Secret Agent is based on an actual attempt made in 1894 to blow up the Greenwich Observatory. A labyrinth of greed, corruption, and betrayal, it is the most darkly humorous of all Conrad's tales.
It follows a European secret agent, Adolf Verloc, 'a London shop owner' with anarchist leanings who becomes reluctantly involved in a plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory. Full of great characters, melodramatic irony and psychological intrigue the tale is far from simple, involving politicians, policemen, foreign diplomats and London's fashionable society.
This classic was written at a time when terrorist activity was increasing. Due to its themes of anarchism, espionage, and terrorism, the book still retains great interest from its audience and was regularly cited by the American media after the September 11 attacks. The New York Times described it as acquiring 'a kind of cult status as the classic novel for the post-9/11 age.'
Though the story did not attain popularity during Conrad's lifetime it is still considered to be one of his finest novels.
Having studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, David Horovitch has had a television career spanning over 40 years. One of his most notable roles was in 1984 as Detective Inspector Slack in the first BBC Miss Marple adaptation The Body in the Library. Due to the success of his character, he returned for four Christmas specials. He has had roles in other shows such as Just William (1994), Foyle’s War (2002) and Wire in the Blood (2005) as well as film appearances in The Young Victoria (2009), 102 Dalmatians (2000), The Infiltrator (2016) and Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner (2014). A long time star of the stage, in 2015 he played the role of George Frideric Handel in All the Angels by Nick Drake at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. As well as narrating numerous audiobooks David Horovitch narrated Audible’s multicast drama The Oedipus Plays.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Edward Ogden on 11-23-10
Languid & loquacious language
Wonderfully detailed occasionally to the point of tedium. The use of language is exquisite and the underlying story line is sound, but there is so much detail that some listeners may get lost. The story is deeply evocative of London at the turn of the 19th century. The narration is nothing short of brilliant. In spite of the long and complex sentence structures, David Threlfall brings the characters to life and avoids making the story awkward, no matter how stilted the dialogue to the conteporary ear.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Phil on 01-23-09
The details and descriptions are very good. However the story gets lost in the minutiae. This book needs your undivided attention, ok for the plane if you are not the pilot, not good for the driver when commuting. It wasn't what I expected; I've struggled my way through it. Nine hours and thirty minutes lost.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Steven on 08-25-16
Joseph Conrad's darkly humorous fictionalisation of a real-life attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory is a classic and excellently narrated by David Threlfall. Unfortunately the product itself was faulty, with chapter 4 missing and playing chapter 13 in its place. Audible admitted the fault and refunded my credit without any quibbling. I'm therefore surprised to find that the book hasn't been withdrawn from sale as I was assured that I would be alerted once the fault was corrected.
44 of 46 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 11-05-10
The Secret Agent
I really loved this. Tried to read this book, but my dyslexia got the better of me. Listened to this and was very impressed by the quality of the narration.
It is rightly a classic!
15 of 21 people found this review helpful