Why Conrad’s The Secret Agent Is The Perfect Novel for Our Time

Will Self at Prospect Magazine:

And it is here—at the level of physics—that the fates of the characters in The Secret Agent are truly decided: for they all—the criminal and the legitimate—run things too close, or simply let them fall. Conrad, surely, in his depiction of Verloc’s murder and its aftermath, surpassed all others—contemporary or otherwise—in his evocation of what it might be like to take a life, and the immediate psychic consequences for the killer: the complete and utter loneliness of Winnie Verloc after the murder is foreshadowed by this beautifully exact evocation of a psychic state, seen from within: “Her personality seemed to have been torn into two pieces, whose mental operations did not adjust themselves very well to each other.” A deracinated Polish aristocrat who tried to reinvent himself as a tweedy English country gentleman—the pseudonymous and multilingual Conrad knew all about being torn in pieces.

more here.

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