Winter 1954 • Vol. XVI No. 1 Joseph ConradJanuary 1, 1954 |

Joseph Conrad III: The Political Novels (Continued)

In Under Western Eyes Conrad's recommendation to charity is heeded on occasion, in The Secret Agent hardly at all. The secret agent is Mr. Verloc, employed by the Czarist embassy to spy upon a group of harmless, aimless and witless London anarchists. To gain a life of comfort Mr. Verloc has chosen the profession of informer and, despite the revolutionary phrases he must mouth, comfort is all he wants. He is entirely respectable in his social impulses, he would no more think of violating the prevalent norms than of submitting to heavy labor, and his scorn for the anarchist chatterboxes with whom he must associate is proper enough to satisfy the most exacting philistine. But Mr. Verloc's ease ends abruptly when his employer prods him to commit a terrorist outrage designed to force the British government into dropping its tolerance of refugee radicals. Cursing the fate that has led him to gamble his life on borrowed rhetoric, Mr. Verloc stumbles into a nightmare of calamities—and the

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