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Why Conrad’s The Secret Agent is the perfect novel for our time

Written after the Heart of Darkness, the novelist's secret agent thriller gains a new relevance today

By Will Self   June 2019

Joseph Conrad's 1907 spy thriller has a surprising degree of relevance today


There is a passage in Siegfried Sassoon’s wartime diaries in which he recounts the experience of sheltering in a dugout on the Western Front during a savage German bombardment, with a group of officers—and men—all of whom were reading the works of Joseph Conrad. At the time Conrad was one of a handful of writers capable of bridging the gap between paramount artistic ambition—repurposed for the machine age by Ezra Pound with his slogan, “Make…

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